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Scholarship Recipient Eager to Pay it Forward

Hannah Hankins '11.  Photo by: Jeff Watts.

Hannah Hankins ’11 knows firsthand the difference charitable giving can make. The Minnesota native received a merit scholarship to make her dream of attending AU a reality, and came to D.C. wide-eyed and ready to explore the university and surrounding community with a keen awareness that she might not have had the chance were it not for the generosity of AU alumni donors.

“I’m from a tiny town in rural Minnesota, but I always knew I wanted to go to school here in the heart of the political world,” says Hankin. “AU provided that – with a perfect balance of a close-knit campus with the opportunities of the nation’s capital.”

It took Hankins little time to delve into multiple fields of interest on and off campus. The public communication major and international studies minor took part in one of AU’s many Alternative Break programs during her freshman year volunteering at the Center for Creative Non-Violence, the nation’s largest homeless shelter.

As a sophomore, she secured an internship doing press work for her home-state senator, Amy Klobuchar, channeling what she has learned in the classroom into real-world experiences, which have in turn led her to pursue more opportunities outside of the classroom.

Since joining the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity, she has proudly dedicated more than 50 hours per year to community service. “I love that AU’s campus and student body is so service oriented. There are always new ways to get involved in our community, and the drive toward activism is really amazing,” she says.

Hankins’ decision to stay in D.C. the summer after her sophomore year to intern with the communications department of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free-Kids proved a truly memorable experience. She got to work with the organization when they passed the landmark legislation that finally gave the FDA regulation over tobacco.

“The benefits I have gotten from my experiences are truly more than I ever could have anticipated,” she says. “They have helped me decide on a career path, establish contacts in my field of interest, and given me invaluable real-world experience.”

Now in her junior year, Hankins began another internship in September with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, doing research for the 2010 Senate races. She plans to study abroad in spring 2010 for even more real-world experience.

Through her endeavors, Hankins is guided with the knowledge that she has the power to help others realize their goals just as donors helped her get to AU. She hopes to make it possible for other students to share in the AU experience someday through her own donations.