Class of 2014 Success Stories: Building a strong leader

Honors College graduate hopes to change the world

hannah-burkhart

By Marie Dunn-Harris

Anyone who has come into contact with Hannah Burkhart knows how much she loves being a Falcon. The successful English education major in the Honors College can’t say enough about how thankful she is for her education and the time she spent at BGSU.

“Bowling Green provided so many opportunities for me; I came here and felt at home instantly,” she said.

Burkhart chose BGSU after being accepted into the Alumni Laureate Scholarship program, which provided amazing opportunities.

“I had dinner with the ambassador of Kenya at the president’s house and I had the chance to interact with alumni at the Academy of Distinguished Alumni dinner,” she said. “These types of experiences really built my love and appreciation for BGSU because I was interacting with all these people who went here and they have so much love for BG, and that’s how I feel. I love it here so much and I want to be able to give back.”

One of the highlights of her time here was being a peer facilitator in the Honors College. Her role was to act as a liaison between the professor and students in a critical thinking class for first year students.

“Our first meeting is the Friday before classes start. They have just moved in and I always had someone very emotional since they just said goodbye to their parents, or someone is upset by their totally new environment and college syllabus,” she said. “They’re just so overwhelmed and for me to be there and say, ‘hey, it’s going to be ok, I was right where you are and I turned out fine,’ is a good feeling.”

The skills-based class helps freshmen transition from high school to college.

“They’re going to encounter so many ideas in college that they need to critically think about,” she said. “We don’t want them to be a sponge and accept everything they hear. We want them to ask the right questions and ask how that fits into their beliefs and value system.”

Burkhart hopes to teach high school English and her interaction with younger students gave her the experience she needed. She also enjoyed seeing the progress they made.

“What was really exciting for me is I saw my students go on to do great things on campus. It was wonderful to see them grow,” she said.

Burkhart taught the class with Dr. Allan Emery, an associate professor of English, who considers her a true colleague both in and outside of the classroom.

“With her excellent understanding of course concepts, Hannah has served as an invaluable model of critical thinking; with her equally excellent understanding of the minds of first-year students, she's also helped individual students succeed in the course," Emery said.

Burkhart was also involved in the Honors Mentorship Program where she guided a younger student with a similar major through the Honors program. And, she was the recipient of the Bashore Scholarship, which recognizes students who actively pursue a liberal education by enrolling in a variety of courses and participating in a variety of extracurricular activities.

Outside of the Honors Learning Community, Burkhart was very involved on campus. She was on the 2013 Homecoming Court, a Campus Tour Guide, president of Way Campus Fellowship, and was recognized as one of BGSU’s 2014 Top 10 Outstanding Seniors. She was also involved in the BGSU Leadership Academy and LeaderShape, which she calls “life changing.”

“BG provides a ton of leadership opportunities and I recommend any of the seminars they do. I’m still impacted by what the speakers had to say, one, two and three years later,” she said.

Burkhart’s love for Bowling Green is infectious. She’s been known to catch her friends not wearing orange on Falcon Friday and she appreciates every opportunity she was given.

“I want everyone to leave here with a positive experience, and if in any way I was able to help someone get there or have a positive outcome, that’s the best reward for me,” she said.

One of Burkhart’s favorite professors was Dr. Stephannie Gearhart, an associate professor of English, who describes her as one of the best students she has taught at BGSU.

“Every class was enhanced by her insightful comments and questions,” Gearhart said. “Other students responded well to her because of her ability to make clever observations accessible to the entire group. Additionally, her sense of humor helped create a warm environment in which to learn.“

Since Burkhart is graduating in December, it’s not an opportune time to be hired as a teacher. She plans to continue working at Bittersweet, Inc., a school for adolescents with autism, until she finds a job teaching.

“I just want to change the world,” she said. “I’m starting with education because I want people to have equal opportunities. I truly believe English, no matter what you do in life, can help you achieve your goals.”