The Colgate Scene
May 2006

Finding a clear path

[Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

When Erin Hanna '06 was a sophomore, she thought she was headed for a career in clinical psychology. So she spent the summer of 2004 working at McLean Hospital's Franciscan Child and Adolescent Inpatient Unit near Boston, on a Jim Manzi Fellowship. Lucky for Hanna, she had the encouragement and the resources to explore her options early.

"I don't handle powerlessness well," said Hanna, who was raised in Tucson, Ariz., and is the first member of her immediate family to attend college. "Often, patients are dealing with things out of their control, so I had even less control. I found that I would rather fight for people's rights than try to heal them after they've been violated."

Moving forward, Hanna, a double major in psychology and Spanish, selected her courses and co-curricular activities accordingly. She chose Cognitive Psychology and Law over less interdisciplinary courses. She joined the Upstate Law Project, and worked at the Legal Aid Society in Utica.

She spent the summer after her junior year in Nicaragua at Ixchen Centro de Mujeres, on an internship organized by the Foundation for Sustainable Development, funded by an Alumni Memorial Scholars grant. "I sat in on therapy sessions, wrote a successful grant to help establish lab service, participated in legal mediations and the preparation of legal documents, and accompanied lawyers to court."

Today her path is clear: she's interested in public international law, specifically in Latin America. But first, she is weighing her law school options and waiting for financial aid and grant commitments. With the highest GPA of any senior student-athlete at Colgate, she is one of three finalists for the NCAA's Walter Byers postgraduate scholarship, which could provide $21,500 for two years of graduate study.

"NYU has a strong public service commitment, and guarantees funding to any first- or second-year law student for public interest summer placements. The University of Arizona is deeply involved in community work in Tucson, where I can make a difference right away."

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