University announces Hannah Graham Award

Scholarship to help students do public health work in French-speaking, developing country


Second-year College student Hannah Graham. 

The University announced the Hannah Graham Memorial Award Friday during a launch event at OpenGrounds on the Corner. The $10,000 award will help one student per year do public health work in a French-speaking, developing nation.

About two-dozen people, including students, faculty and community members, attended the event. As reporters set up their equipment and administrators trickled in, two screens displayed photos of Graham from birth through her college years. Graham, a second year College student at the time, was killed after being reported missing last semester from the Downtown Mall.

Pat Lampkin, vice president and chief student affairs officer, said the award would ensure Graham leave behind a positive legacy. Lampkin worked on developing the award with Associate Dean of Students Julie Caruccio, the Center for Global Health, Global Health Studies faculty, University President Teresa Sullivan’s Office and John and Sue Graham, Hannah’s parents.

“[The award represents] the intelligent, energetic, service-oriented [person] that [Hannah] was,” Lampkin said. “Her goodness will manifest itself in students of the future.”

Sullivan echoed Lampkin in discussing how the award represented a small positive outcome of Hannah Graham’s disappearance and death.

“I think one of the hardest things for us to do is to look for the good that comes out of something evil,” Sullivan said. “Hannah’s legacy will live on for us in helping students do things that she loved to do.”

John Graham said the award, which combines French, global public health and service, would help students do the work Hannah would have done herself, had she completed her studies.

“Hannah was accepted to a summer school in Lyon, France last year and returned from [that program with a] love of all things French,” John Graham said. “Shortly after returning last August for her second year of studies, she applied to the Global Health Studies program.”

John Graham said the summer program in Lyon further cemented Hannah’s love of French culture, which began when she started a French immersion program at age five. Hannah had also entered the University intending to go to medical school, but instead grew interested in global public health.

“We hope that through this award, part of Hannah’s legacy will be helping those living in challenging circumstances,” John Graham said.

Dr. Rebecca Dillingham, the director of the Center for Global Health, said the award would follow an annual cycle, hopefully cementing its continued existence. Students working with a faculty advisor, Dillingham said, will apply for the award in the Fall. Students’ proposals will include the developing, French-speaking nation in which they would like to work, and Dillingham said the Center for Global Health and Global Health Studies faculty would also assist interested students.

In the spring, students can take additional preparatory coursework and, in the summer, students will do an eight-week public health project in partnership with a local community organization, Dillingham said. When students return, they will write about their project in a capstone-like experience.

“We worked together to design an award that has a cycle…to prepare for an engagement that makes a measurable difference,” Dillingham said. “We imagine and expect that that partnership will not reach an end after an eight week field placement.”

Specifically, Dillingham said she hoped students would continue partnerships and projects from year-to-year.

“We hope and expect that other students will pick up those threads,” Dillingham said. “I know that the Grahams have indicated that they would like to be involved in and aware of those projects.”

First-year College student Claire Romaine, a member of the Center for Global Health Student Advisory Board, attended the event, despite not knowing Hannah personally.

While the Center already sponsors an award to do summer projects in public health abroad, Romaine said she thought the award was a fitting tribute to Hannah’s memory.

“I’m really interested in French and public health, and I think it’s inspiring to know that the University community has come together [to create this award in Hannah’s honor],” Romaine said.

John and Sue Graham will join a representative from Lampkin’s Office and two representatives from the Center for Global Health and the Global Health Studies program as part of the five-person board making final award determinations.

“Initially it will be a single student who will receive $10,000 to support travel and additional costs… over the year of [project work],” Dillingham said.

However, as the Hannah Graham endowment grows, more students may receive awards.

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