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Hanna Hankins
Hanna Hankins

UTSA Spotlight: Terry Scholar Hanna Hankins set her sights on UTSA while in high school

By Lynn Gosnell
Special Projects Writer

(May 15, 2008)--Hanna Hankins' high school record displayed an impressive degree of academic talent and service to her school and community -- so impressive that she earned early admission to the UTSA Honors College. The 2006 salutatorian of Foy H. Moody High School Science and Health Center in Corpus Christi had set her sights on attending UTSA, a university that offered the quality of education she was seeking, the opportunity to receive financial support and a clear path to achieve her educational goals.

And there was one other benefit UTSA offered, and that was the chance to be within visiting distance of her family. Hanna wanted to be able to visit her grandma, Jackie Hankins, who lives in Rockport, Texas, as well as her younger brother, sister and especially her dad in Corpus Christi. In recent years, Hanna's dad, Troy, had worked hard to keep his family united after a difficult period of time when alcohol and drugs tore the family apart.

"I was born into a drug-addicted family, and though I was the first child of three, my birth did not prompt my parents to cease their drug use," Hanna wrote in a scholarship application.

When Hanna was in first grade, she and her two siblings were removed from their home. Hanna moved in with her grandparents; her brother and sister were placed together in foster care. Her mom went to prison, and her dad went to a substance abuse treatment center.

Eventually, Hanna went back to live with her mother, but the reunion was short-lived due to her mother's continued drug and alcohol abuse. Her father, on the other hand, remained clean and sober -- the family reunited under his roof. Today, Hanna describes her dad as very supportive: "He wants me to do something with my life."

Always a serious student, Hanna continued to excel despite her family's struggles. And she began to form the seed of a career goal -- to become a dentist. To get a head start on a medical career, she rode her bike 10 miles round trip to the local health careers high school. She became certified as a pharmacy tech while in high school.

Hanna also is a member of the first UTSA class of Terry Scholars. The Houston-based Terry Foundation, created by Howard Terry and Nancy Terry in 1986, provides funding for outstanding Texas high school graduates with financial need to attend select public universities in Texas.

Being accepted into UTSA's Honors College and receiving the full four-year scholarship helped propel Hanna to the next step on the path to achieve her educational goals -- acceptance into the Dental Early Admission Program at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

Being admitted into the competitive 3+4 program means that Hanna is on track for early admission to dental school. (Students complete four years of biology in three years, essentially working a year ahead of their classmates.) After her junior year, she'll start dental school. Just seven years after beginning college, she'll have earned both a B.S. and a D.D.S.

Hanna's slender frame and youthful appearance belies an inner strength and incredible focus. While her pre-medical program keeps her busy -- she studied to take the Dental Admission Test this spring -- she dreams of returning to a pastime she also learned in high school -- scuba diving. "I'd like to learn horseback riding, too, and do more outdoor activities."

"I have no life right now," she says, with a rueful grin. She relies on a network of Terry Scholars for support, fun and friendship. And she has her chinchillas, Jaksi and Powder, to take care of. Powder is a five-year-old male, and Jaksi is a four-month-old female. Besides being cute and companionable, the pets are low maintenance. "They hop on your lap when you're doing homework."

Ann Eisenberg, associate dean of the UTSA Honors College, sees a bright future for Hanna. "She's committed to moving herself to a place in the world that she didn't come from."

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About the Terry Foundation

Terry Foundation scholarships are awarded for a student's freshman year of college with up to $20,000 per student per year in funding to cover tuition, fees, books, on-campus room and board, and miscellaneous expenses. At the discretion of the foundation's board of directors, the scholarship may be renewed annually up to four years.

Howard Terry, a successful businessman in banking, construction, real estate and energy and his wife, Nancy Terry, created the Houston-based Terry Foundation in 1986 with the goal of making a lasting contribution to higher education in Texas. Rather than endow faculty chairs or fund buildings, the Terrys focus their philanthropy on supporting students who attend public colleges and universities.

UTSA is one of four public universities that host the Terry Foundation Scholarship Program, the largest private scholarship program in Texas. Other participating schools include University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, University of Houston and Texas State University-San Marcos.

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