Senior Profile: Hannah Zajac

What is your major and minor?

I am a Philosophy and Sociology double major.

What are some of the jobs you held while at McDaniel?

I worked for Residence Life, was a Peer Mentor my Sophomore year, and I was an Advisory Board member my Junior year.

What organizations were you a part of at McDaniel? What positions did you hold?

I was a member of the Women’s Basketball team, ran Outdoor Track my Sophomore year, and was a part of the Food Committee. 

Have you enjoyed your time at McDaniel? If so, what did you enjoy the most?

I have immensely enjoyed my time at McDaniel. I think McDaniel understands the special group of people that comes into their space and does not take advantage of it. I have really enjoyed the activities it has hosted and created space for, from small to large, that continued to hold space for such authentic connection and enjoyment to exist. 

Who do you think was/is your best mentor?

I believe my best mentor were my professors. I could not possibly narrow it down to one, and they have all impacted my life in such a great way. To truly see someone beyond the glimpses of only what classes and grades give you, my professors saw more in me. From loaning money to afford textbooks, to engaging in deep, personal conversations – I felt seen and cared for. Also, to Cathy Gunther and Ann Mathias – you made my college experience more than wonderful. Thank you!

Describe your favorite memory at McDaniel.

My favorite memory is orientation week at McDaniel. Although my experiences I have accumulated along the way are no match for any ordinary day, orientation solidified a sense of new beginnings for me. I felt hope, excitement, and passion again for the first time in forever. Some people never get that opportunity, even though it’s one everyone deserves. It was pretty magical. 

What are some of the challenges you encountered and how did you overcome them?

I encountered a lot on my own here, while family and friends were far away in Houston. From personal and financial loss, to mental and physical struggles, McDaniel helped. I overcame most of my challenges with vulnerability. McDaniel really stepped up. Although some things weren’t perfect, the people who truly cared about me showed up. Professors, coaches, faculty, and friends. I’d say being honest about so many vulnerable things changed and saved my life.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I plan to go to grad school to continue my love of learning. I can only thank those who currently work at McDaniel for unfolding this chapter in my life – I wouldn’t be going if it weren’t for them. I hope to make some more beautiful memories and experiences.

What would you tell yourself as a first-year student at McDaniel?

Life still holds some magic, I promise. There’s always more to come.

Where do you see the world in 10 years?

I see the world as a place longing for humanity and friendship. The world will finally slowly become tired of carrying past grudges, worries, or expectations that do not matter. People will own who they are and embrace themselves a little more. Life is too special to continue to treat it like a surface-level experience. And, I also think more people will embrace that being kind IS in fact cool. I sure hope so. And, hopefully as a collective team, as humans, we can start to help people and situations that truly need it and deserve it. 

How do you reflect on your senior year during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic?

It is honestly a time that always felt nostalgic, even in the moment. To not experience community around the corner, in-person, and feel the energy of people around you was hard. It was definitely taken for granted in previous years. I wish we all could have shared a “normal” time our senior year.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the McDaniel community?

McDaniel may seem cliche at first with their mottos, but once you look back and recognize the change that has developed in your life, it’s indisputable that McDaniel changes lives. I also would love to give a lil shoutout to everyone who was truly themselves or was able to find themselves on campus and contributed to such a wonderful college experience. Whether I even know you personally or not, you made a difference. Thank you!