Student Spotlight: Shayna Han '15

Publication Date

Hometown: Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Major: History
Minors: Chinese and Political Science

Why Union:
I loved the beauty and its historical feel. The people I saw – driven, passionate, funny, intelligent and vivacious – were who I wanted to be. And I constantly heard how accessible professors were. What I admired most was the Minerva program as a way for students to get involved and as a social partner to Greek life.

Most inspiring classes:
I loved Model United Nations. At Union, it’s a dedicated course and very intense. It sharpened my writing, researching and presenting skills. My Sophomore Research Seminar was about Betty Friedan and the Feminine Mystique. The course deepened my knowledge and understanding of American feminism and gender inequality issues. I also enjoy courses with Professor Stephen Berk, an outstanding scholar, professor and lecturer. Like many of my professors, he cares not only about students in the academic sense, but in the broader sense of how you are outside of class and what you like to do.

Also excited about:
Speakers Forum, my history class on the Tudor and Stewart queens, my History of Math class, ReUnion fireworks, Springfest and my upcoming term abroad to Shanghai.

Favorite study spot:
The Nott Memorial. It's so quiet you can hear your own thoughts, and with all the light shining through the gorgeous stained glass windows, it is the most unique, beautiful place to study.

Three things I'm passionate about at Union:

  • Being a tour guide. I love meeting prospective students and talking about Union.
  • Being treasurer of Speakers Forum. This club gives students the power to do great things, and it's given me invaluable experience in running events.
  • Hillel. From cooking together Friday nights to the Birthright trip to Israel to the friends I've made, Hillel has become a part of my identity and my spiritual home. This year, I'm super excited about organizing the Hillel newsletter.

Other passions:
Reading, writing, traveling, exploring new cultures and languages, politics and government. As a summer intern for my state assemblyman, I researched and drafted a legislative resolution, K1037, which calls upon Congress to explore the viability of the universal cellphone charger. The electronic waste that occurs when someone gets a new cellphone, and consequently a new charger, adds up. My resolution asks Congress to look into whether a universal interface can be adopted, similar to the plan adopted by the European Union. K1037 was adopted by the New York State Assembly in May 2012. It was sent to congressional representatives after that.

The most surprising thing about Union:
Everything comes back to Union – the first college radio station, the first non-sectarian institution of higher education, the first planned college campus, the inventor of the first laser. Union is an old school, but it is one that both remembers its history and looks to its future.

How I'm making Union better:
I organized a Speakers Forum event that brought Bill Nye the Science Guy to campus winter term. A crowd of more than 900 filled Memorial Chapel. It was wonderful to hear the excitement and energy of students anticipating his visit and even more amazing to hear afterwards how great the talk was. I am continually inspired by other students to dream big.

Looking into the future:
Travel and see more of the world, perhaps by joining the Peace Corps or doing similar volunteer work. Ultimately, I'd like to be a journalist – like Sixty Minutes’ Lara Logan. I don't want to stand by watching history, I want to make history. Working for a politician and perhaps running for office myself are very appealing.

Advice for incoming students:
Become the person you want to be. Get involved. Find your passions. Never be afraid to make mistakes.