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Her World Expanded

Hannah Blaser poses on a hillside

Hannah Blaser on a hillside in Scotland during a semester studying abroad.

May 2017

When she looks back on her time as a St. Ambrose student, Hannah Blaser is happy with everything she did and how much she has grown.

"I also recognize it was this environment, it was so good for that. My four years at St. Ambrose, the classes I took, my professors — all of these things made it easier to accomplish what I have done," she said.

Hannah graduated May 13 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Strategic Communications and second major in Writing.

She came to St. Ambrose as a member of the SAU Honors Program and said her participation led to close friendships and an expanded view of the world.

About 40 first-year students are admitted to the program each year, and as a group, they fulfill general education requirements with honors core classes and complete community service projects. Hannah's honors class was the second at SAU. She said the core classes were focused on topics she would not have chosen to study otherwise.

"The classes were real interesting and definitely changed some of my opinions on things and my view of the world," she said, adding that change began with her first honors class, which focused on religions and building empires, as well as volunteering at the refugee resettlement agency World Relief in Moline, Ill.

Hannah was very involved in campus activities. She was a three-year editor for the campus literary publication, Quercus; a two-year Student Government Association senator; a three-year staff writer for the student newspaper, The Buzz, and this year she was editor-in-chief. Hannah also studied abroad in Scotland for a semester.

Hannah said her SAU experience changed her.

"I think all of it together made me more willing to change my opinions on things, but also to just be more compassionate and understanding of the world around me. Before I came to St. Ambrose, I graduated in a senior class of less than 70," she said, adding her hometown of Orion, Ill., is very small. "Now, when I am faced with a challenge or a question about the world, or how something is or should be as far as social justice goes, I have a lot more background and I am able to answer those questions more compassionately and thoughtfully than I had before." 

Hannah will graduate magna cum laude, a proud achievement but, she said, not something she accomplished alone. "It is less about what I did and more about all of the things the people around me did," she said. "My parents helped me a lot, as did my whole family. So many of the professors here have made such an impact on my life and just affected everything — from adding my creative writing major to classes they thought I would like to now writing me letters of recommendation. I would say I've been blessed and I am grateful for the people in my life."

Hannah is pursuing work that will allow her to continue writing and/or a chance to serve in the non-profit sector. She admits feeling some anxiety about future challenges she may face living outside the SAU community's support system. "But really, I am just thinking about how great it has been," she said.

"I feel, when you go to college, those four years are set aside for you to grow. It's about your personal development and it is OK if you don't know exactly what you want and you are taking all of these different classes. I think college was a great opportunity and not just because of the degree."

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