Grad's passion for working with children and sports led her to pursue degree in community sports management

Friday, December 11, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.

Brooke Hanna didn’t struggle with what she wanted to study upon enrolling at ASU. She had been working with children and in sports, separately and together, for a long time. “Two of my passions have led me to where I am now,” she said.

Hanna, the School of Community Resources and Development’s fall 2020 Outstanding Graduate, winds up her senior year receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in community sports management.

In her time at ASU, Hanna benefited from a New American University Scholarship, the President Barack Obama Scholars Program and the Wal-Mart Foundation Associate Scholarship Program.

She has been working at Residential Programs for Youth, a group home and emergency shelter for children.

“Many of the kids I work with have gone through so much trauma in their young lives. They could really benefit from having a positive role model,” said Hanna, who is from the central Arizona town of Coolidge. “That is why I try to connect with them and set a good example for them in any way that I can, every single day. My hope is to help them build their confidence, believe in themselves and make positive choices that will lead them towards a brighter future.”

She said Assistant Professor Eric Legg taught her an important lesson while she took his sports and recreation for youth course: A child should have at least three nonparent, adult role models in their life.

“This is one of the many developmental assets that I learned in his class, but this one stuck with me the most because I always keep that in mind as I try to be a positive role model for all the kids that I work with at Residential Programs for Youth,” Hanna said.

Students still in school should follow this advice, she said: “Do something now that your future self will thank you for.”

“This means doing the assignment as soon as you can rather than waiting until the night that it’s due. It means doing your dishes when there’s only a few in the sink, because soon enough the sink will be full. This advice does not only apply to your short-term future self, but also long-term. Put in your best effort for every course and learn as much as you can now. Work hard, study hard, save your money, take care of yourself mentally and physically now. The you five or 10 years from now will be so thankful.”

Read on to learn more about what Hanna learned during her time at ASU and her plans for the future.

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

Answer: That I’ve actually met so many people and made many connections during my time at ASU, despite being extremely introverted and struggling to start and continue conversations with people that I don’t know well. This is important to me because I overcame my introverted-ness on many occasions at ASU. Now I know that I have the ability to do so if I really want or need to.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because I wanted to remain close to my family. Plus, I knew that ASU was a well-known university with several prestigious schools and programs. I was also intrigued by some of the things that I had heard from friends who attended ASU before me, such as the fact that there are four different campuses with free shuttles traveling between each one, the all-you-can-eat dining halls and the diversity among the ASU community. 

Q: What was your favorite spot to study, meet friends or to just think about life?

A: I was an on-campus student for the past four years. My favorite study spot was Hayden Library! Trying to do schoolwork or study in my dorm/apartment was often difficult because there were so many things around that could distract me. I enjoyed going to Hayden and being surrounded by others doing school work as well because it got me in the right mindset to focus. Plus, it was usually nice and quiet.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation, I am going to continue at my job that I started at the end of June 2020, which I also used for my senior internship this semester. I am the recreation coordinator at a residential care facility. It has been a very fun, sometimes challenging, rewarding job that I love going to every day. My responsibilities mainly consist of planning and facilitating recreational activities for the youth residents. I get to work with kids of all ages up to 17 years old, doing a variety of activities from sports like basketball and hockey to more creative activities like painting and making slime. I plan to stay there for a while, while also working on growing my sticker business, BA Creations, whenever I have time outside of work. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: From my experiences working with kids, I have begun to realize how many kids do not get to grow up in happy, safe and healthy living environments. This is the issue that I would tackle because no child deserves to grow up without responsible, loving, caring parents or guardians. I would start some sort of organization that would help with this issue in some way, maybe by getting more children adopted into safe and loving families, or by getting parents the help they need to be better parents.