The Norman Transcript

July 9, 2009

OU alumna named Jack Kent Cooke Scholar

Transcript Staff

Recent University of Oklahoma alumna Heather Hansen has been named a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar, the first OU student to win the award.

Recipients demonstrated outstanding records of achievement in academics, service, leadership and community involvement.

The foundation selected 30 individuals from among 678 nominations nationwide to receive graduate scholarships of up to $50,000 per year for up to six years of study. Last year, awards for the first year of graduate study averaged $36,000.

Hansen, the daughter of Anita and Thomas Hansen of Springfield, Mo., graduated with distinction from OU in 2007 with a double major in international studies and psychology and a minor in Spanish. She plans to pursue a master's degree in international affairs at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in New York City.

Hansen's career goal is to work with development and aid organizations on the design, implementation and evaluation processes pertaining to displaced persons and refugees. She is interested in a career with such organizations as the International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps or the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Next month, Hansen will complete two years of service in Jordan with the Peace Corps. There, she has taught English as a foreign language and organized several local health initiatives, such as Women's Regional Health Workshops and a successful effort to educate children about dental hygiene.

At OU, Hansen served as vice president for the Mercy Initiative and developed that group's awareness campaigns about HIV and world poverty. In addition, she co-organized the campus World Aid Fair in 2007 and volunteered at the Women's Outreach Center as a breast cancer awareness consultant and on the AIDS awareness committee. Active in the Psychology Club, Hansen was the PR chair and planned the monthly meetings. She also served on the academic misconduct board and academic appeals board.

Holding several jobs throughout her academic career, Hansen was a research assistant for industrial organizational psychology, a teaching assistant for the Civil Rights Movement course, a math tutor, and a note taker for disabled athletes. A member of the women's Ultimate Frisbee team at OU, she also participated in many charity 5K runs.

Additionally, she volunteered in several community organizations, such as the Red Cross and the Cleveland County Literacy Program as well as on the executive committee for the Norman Community Children's Literacy Project.

While at OU, she was a Leadership Scholar in the College of Arts and Sciences and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Psi Chi National Honor Society in Psychology, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Golden Key International Honor Society. Additionally, she received first place in the Psychology Department's research design competition.