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Hannah Henson AC ’22

Career Development

Hannah Henson

Hannah came to Smith with a plan but soon discovered that “as a low-income, first-generation college student, I had no idea how to ‘do’ college.”

After spending the first semester doing what she felt she was “supposed to do” by focusing on her major requirements, she felt burnt out. Hannah decided to branch out and take courses that “felt good” to her. An English course reinvigorated her love of reading and opened her eyes to the “magic of literature and the power it has to connect people and communities.” She quickly switched her major.

A confluence of interests, courses, activities and people helped Hannah define her career path. After taking Psychology of the Black Experience, Hannah worked with the course professor, Nnamdi Pole, and Professor Loren Cahill from the Smith School for Social Work to create a senior research project focused on literature used in middle school classrooms.

“The Lazarus Center staffer was like a secret weapon in my pocket when I got confused. She gave me answers to questions that I didn’t know I needed to ask.”

For her concentration in Community Engagement and Social Change, she worked in a third-grade classroom at the Smith Campus School. Add to the mix her fulfilling experience working as a tour guide for the Smith Office of Admission, and Hannah found her calling: breaking down racial, class and gender bias in education.

But, how to find a job? By the middle of her senior year, Hannah “was terrified that my literature degree wouldn’t pan out into a career path.” She took a resume writing workshop at the Lazarus Center for Career Development and worked extensively with the teacher on an individual basis to build and leverage a network, locate job openings, prep for interviews and negotiate salary.

The Lazarus staffer “was like a secret weapon in my pocket when I got confused,” Hannah says. “She gave me answers to questions that I didn’t know I needed to ask. I could have asked her for help with anything regarding my job search and she would’ve been more than happy to step in.”

Today, Hannah enjoys working in the Cornell Admissions Office where she is often the first point of contact for applicants to the Cornell MBA program, particularly women and candidates from marginalized communities.

“My Smith experience helped hone my skills for connecting underrepresented folks to resources to help guide them through places that have been gatekept for a long time. After working with the Smith admission team, all the research I’ve done on race and education, and the learning I did as part of my CESC concentration, I have a lot of passion for this kind of admissions work.”

About Hannah


English Language and Literature (major)


Employer: Cornell University