by Aaron Flake, 2015 PR Intern
It was the first day of my junior year at Barton.
At the time, I took a course dedicated to John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost, and had no idea who my other classmates were. “There would only be other English majors,” I remember thinking, as I waited alone in a classroom only lit by cracks of light. I arrived early and the closed blinds barely let the sun shine in. But soon after, another student appeared in the doorway.
I felt a smile quickly spread across my face.
Hannah Finkelstein, who was also a junior, and one of the friendliest people I know, walked into the classroom with her schoolbag and a cup of Starbucks in hand. “Good morning, Aaron!” she smiled back. At first, that morning was just another Monday of many to come, but after seeing someone with such a warm spirit, I knew it would be a great day.
If you have ever been to Barton for a tour or even an orientation session in recent years, it is very likely you have seen Hannah somewhere across campus. She is quick to miss if you are not paying attention, since she is constantly on the move, but if you have ever had the honor of talking with her, you know how bright and compassionate she is as a student and as a person.
Hailing from New Jersey, Hannah always knew she wanted to be a teacher, but was not sure about which focus to pursue, until she encountered American Sign Language one day. Hannah was already familiar with Spanish and even Hebrew, but something about ASL inspired the end of her search. “I found myself fascinated by American Sign Language and decided to pursue Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing major. After I realized what I wanted, the major narrowed my search for schools, which eventually brought me to Barton.”
When Hannah knew what path she sought for her education, she and her mother drove to Barton for a campus tour. Not long after, she found a kindred spirit in Angela Cobos, assistant director of campus visits. “When I entered the building, I walked into a hug from Angela, whom I had only spoken to over the phone,” shared Hannah. “I was taken aback by her warmth and excitement in my visit.”
After walking around campus alongside Cobos and Barton alumnus Tanner Medina, then a student ambassador, Hannah began to picture herself on Barton’s campus. She imagined hanging out with friends at Bully’s, studying beneath sunlight on center campus and reading a good book. “I knew I was home,” she recalled.
Hannah’s Barton experience started in the fall of 2012, and while she began building her bright future in education, she also began building everlasting friendships among her peers. Some of her closest friends at Barton include Allison Dellinger, a theater major; Keisha Parker, a mass communications major; and Michaela Trefethen, who also pursues the Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing major. In the same year, the friends worked together towards a goal that stretched beyond the halls of learning, and it became known as PriscillaPlace, a small business specializing in handmade stuffed animals and clothes for children. With Michaela as its founder, Keisha as its social media/marketing leader, Allison as its webmaster, Hannah as its correspondence leader and their friend Amy Cogan as its representative for public relations, the women of PriscillaPlace believed that through this new business, they could teach children kindness and spread the joy of giving. Allison, who has also worked with Hannah in Barton theatre productions, views Hannah as “one of those rare people you can count on, not only to get things done, but to do them with excellence.” Keisha described Hannah’s work ethic as “tremendous.” And Michaela not only found a partner for PriscillaPlace, but she also found one of the best friends she has ever had.
Along with the women of PriscillaPlace, Hannah also found a friend in Jared Tice, Barton’s Dean of Students, who eventually became her supervisor. Dean Tice became a mentor for her as well, encouraging her to pursue graduate school after realizing her limitless potential when she had yet to realize it herself. Since Hannah’s freshman year, Dean Tice has overseen the Orientation Team that welcomes incoming students with open arms, which she joined during her sophomore year.
Now a senior at Barton, Hannah has become such an amazing student leader on campus. Along with being a part of PriscillaPlace and the Orientation Team, she is involved with Barton’s theatre community and has acted and danced in a multitude of shows and musicals over the course of her four years; she helped establish the campus’s Social Justice Resource Center, which holds weekly meetings where participants discuss issues against the LGBT community, consent, feminism, and other public concerns; and, most recently, she has become a part of Barton’s Greek life by joining the Theta Omega chapter of Delta Zeta. Hannah continues to look ahead, because she believes her future is an ambitious one.
“After completing my graduate degree, I want to provide similar opportunities that I have been afforded at Barton College,” she explained. “I want to pay those opportunities forward to future students. I hope to impact lives the way admissions counselors, student leaders, and mentors have done for me during my time at Barton. I cannot imagine another place in the world that would allow me to give tours of the campus I love, welcome more than 900 new students during the last four years, get to know the lives of more than 85 residents, interact with faculty members, begin a legacy by establishing and founding the Social Justice Resource Center, and participate in a sisterhood that will last a lifetime.
No matter where life takes me, I will always know that my time here at Barton has been one of the most meaningful chapters in my life,” Hannah added. “I owe this institution a great deal for helping me discover who I am, and helping me discover my own happiness.”