Hannah Lee Flath transferred to Northeastern after spending her freshman year of college elsewhere. As a human services major, she found her fit on campus and quickly got involved in student organizations, campus activities, and experiential learning opportunities that have led her down a path that connects the nonprofit world with that of healthcare and development policy. Along the way, she also picked up minors in law and public policy as well as international affairs.
Here is Hannah’s story…
Before transferring to Northeastern, Hannah was an economics and calculus combined major. She did not know what human services was or that she could major in it until she visited campus and she met Human Services Program Director Lori Gardinier. Hannah gravitated towards human services after hearing Professor Gardinier talk about the experiential learning opportunities available beyond only co-op–such as service-learning, study abroad, and research–and how she could dive right into these experiences. She also found that human services fit more with her interests and extracurricular activities, such as the public health and advocacy work with the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life that her and her family have been involved in since she was five-years old.
During summer 2015, Hannah participated in Professor Gardinier’s Dialogue of Civilizations study abroad program in Lusaka, Zambia. Alongside 20 other Northeastern students she spent about a month in the African nation’s capital city engaged in service-learning activities and studying health and human services. Hannah and her peers discussed urban health conditions and youth service problems, and created a drug and alcohol abuse and addiction prevention curriculum for children in urban schools. She helped run a day-long health workshop during which she taught young girls about sexual and reproductive health. Hannah says that it was the experiences through this study abroad program that shaped her interest in public health and global development.
“It was in Zambia that I began to understand the connections between the nonprofit world and the world of healthcare and development policy, which has defined the rest of my academic and professional path.”
Hannah credits several classes at Northeastern for transforming her understanding of human services and public policy.
“Global Human Rights” with Dan Urman opened Hannah’s eyes to how the micro-level human services work she had been most familiar with affects the greater good on a global scale. The course material helped her to think on a macro level and prompted her to add law and public policy as a minor. Hannah appreciated Professor Urman’s wealth of knowledge and his connections, which he used to bring in guest speakers that added real value to the course content without sacrificing the natural flow of the class.
Rebecca Riccio‘s “Strategic Philanthropy and Nonprofit Management” taught Hannah about the grant-giving process. In this class, Hannah learned to identify key social problems and their place within the broader society through an experiential philanthropy process Northeastern Students4Giving (NS4G). Her and her peers selected a funding priority, created a request for proposals, and marketed the grant to local nonprofits in Greater Boston working in the selected priority. Hannah also learned how to evaluate organizations’ impact in their communities, and how to make the difficult decisions of which nonprofits to fund and which to tell “no.”
Hannah has been very involved in service-learning since arriving at Northeastern. In 2015 she was a service-learning teaching assistant where she managed service-learning placements for several classes and served as a liaison between faculty, community partners, and students.
In the following year Hannah went on co-op as a service-learning program assistant for Northeastern’s Center of Community Service. During this six-month period, she expanded upon her teaching assistant role and helped to implement high-level projects, such as planning and implementing the center’s spring EXPO event that served over 700 stakeholders. Hannah was also involved in analyzing qualitative surveys and providing recommendations for changing curriculum, staff training, and partner relationships based on the findings.
“I think I’ve only had transformational experiences at Northeastern.”
Hannah went back out on co-op in January 2017. She is once again studying public health in Africa, but this time from Cambridge, Massachusetts as Africa region project assistant at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Hannah supports the IHI Africa Region team’s global operations and its projects in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Namibia. She also manages the organization’s internal and external communications through weekly and monthly newsletters. Hannah has been able to bring her knowledge of human services and of the public health language to manage relationships and work effectively in this role. For example, Hannah took a human services research class from which she has been able to apply research writing skills to write a chapter of an article that will be published by the World Health Organization. Though the research class was not one of Hannah’s favorites, she has already found it extremely useful for a career in public health.
Hannah graduated in May 2018, four years after transferring to Northeastern. She will be working at IHI working as a Project Coordinator working in their Open School program. She still has time to decide, but she hopes to take a couple years off to work before returning to school to pursue a master’s degree in public health.
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