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Christina Hanley ’06 has spoken German since she was twelve, but it’s a Latin phrase that describes her philosophy of life: carpe diem. “My mom used to say that to me in the morning before school to remind me to make the most of each day,” says Hanley.
She followed her mom, Christine Wright Hanley ’76, in coming to Skidmore, and she has clearly followed her advice ever since she arrived. Early on she parlayed a sprained ankle into a four-year job as an athletic trainer, and she put her language skills to work as a peer tutor in German. As an environmental-studies major she honed her interest in sustainable development by adding a minor in business to her German minor, and she enjoyed business courses so much that she became a business coach as well.
Hanley also jumped at the chance to do a semester’s field work in Australia on the environmental and financial viability of businesses such as tourism, logging, hydroelectric power, and farming. She took on two internships, one as a research assistant in a brain-injury study at the University of Maryland, and another with the Saratoga PLAN land trust, undertaking a fiscal analysis of the county’s green infrastructure plan. Oh, and she was a varsity rower, runs and skis, and makes time to enjoy a busy social life too.
For her senior project, Hanley teamed up with two classmates to study perceived and potential threats to boating and fishing—such as new regulations, traffic, lakeside development, invasive species—should Saratoga Lake become a supplemental source for the city’s drinking water. Hanley found in her interviews that “a lot of misinformation” about the lake and the other proposed source, the Hudson River, has made it very difficult for planners and citizens to decide which is better. If the lake is chosen, she says, there may be “inconvenience for many Saratogians,” but on the plus side, “it will make them manage the whole watershed more sustainably if they know that their drinking-water source may be affected by their actions.”
This exploration of competing interests—environmental, political, commercial—was a perfect warm-up for Hanley’s next opportunity. She was selected for a highly competitive internship funded by the German Academic Exchange Service. The program supports students from the US and Canada in two-month internships with members of the German parliament, the Bundestag. Hanley chose a placement with the Green Party, which is well established in the German government. “Germany is a world leader environmentally,” she says, and “the Greens are influential in policymaking.” She also expects to work with the Committee on the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety, which includes representatives from all the political parties holding seats in the Bundestag.
The internship will cover her living expenses in Berlin, where she’ll be in September and October as a new session of parliament starts up. The award is “an extraordinary accomplishment,” says Mary-Elizabeth O’Brien, Skidmore’s director of international affairs program and Hanley’s faculty advisor. “Christina is uniquely talented and dedicated.”
And eager to seize the day—or, as they say in German, nützen den Tag. —KG
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