Claire Hansel Will Realize Hers
Claire Hansel began her college journey more than a decade ago. She will earn her degree in December and, this month, she received special recognition because of her heritage.
“I started working right out of high school, but my jobs lacked challenge. I knew I wouldn’t find more challenging positions without a college degree,” said Hansel. “However, I married young, and with us both as college students, it was difficult to afford the double tuition.”
Hansel will receive a bachelor of science in accounting degree from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, thanks to help from the scholarship from Osage Nation. She served as the representative of the Osage Nation at the Dreams to Degrees second annual national education dinner in Washington, D.C. on May 25 after winning an essay contest describing what the scholarship meant for her.
The Osage Nation, located in Pawhuska, Okla., was one of three honorees at the dinner sponsored by Scholarship America. The other honorees were Travelers Insurance and Dell Inc. See video of honorees below.
Hansel did not take the traditional path to college. She attended Cypress Community College, California State University – Fullerton, and will graduate from UMKC alongside her husband, Roger Hansel, also a student at the Bloch School.
“The biggest challenge during college was that there were many other events happening in my life that seemed to interfere with my completing my college degree. Half way through my undergraduate degree, I was making monthly trips from Los Angeles to Kansas City to be closer to my family.”
Raised in a military family and never having a permanent place to call home, Hansel decided to return to K.C, where her family still resided.
“Fortunately, the Osage Nation allowed me to transfer my scholarship to universities in Kansas City,” said Hansel.
Her dream is to work for one of the “big four” accounting firms, then work internationally. She plans to get a master’s or law degree, also using her scholarship from the Osage Nation.
“I was always interested in business. As a little girl, I envisioned myself ‘suited up’ in a conference room. Initially, I studied international business, but felt that accounting equaled job security which was really important to me after experiencing the recession in Los Angeles and lack of job availability,” said Hansel.
When asked about the qualifications for the Osage Nation scholarship, Hansel said it was an easy process due to the help from Scholarship America.
“It was a simple process, but I had to apply each year while I was in school,” said Hansel. “I received the scholarship due to my heritage. Both my older brothers received scholarships and used them for their undergraduate and master’s degrees, as well.”
According to Hansel, her knowledge of her family ancestry was minimal. She credited Congresswoman Shannon Edwards with helping with the research.
“My grandfather’s grandmother belonged to the Osage Nation Tribe. My grandfather still tells stories about time spent around the reservation and in Pawhuska.”
Hansel said she visited the Osage website to reapply for the scholarship and decided to enroll to learn the language. “In a generation, there will only be a handful of people remaining who will know the language. Anyone can enroll in the language lessons online, and it’s a really fun and interactive learning process.”
“My first thought when I found out I had been granted a scholarship was gratitude that the Nation was giving the funds. Receiving it made me feel fortunate. The process wasn’t extensive, and I will have less financial burden as a result of it,” said Hansel.
She said it has allowed her to participate in more organizations and become immersed in her classes without the worry of excessive student loans.
“One organization I belong to, Beta Alpha Psi, runs a low-income tax clinic to give back. More than 40 returns were prepared per week during tax season. I am grateful, and I made a pledge to give back as a result of the scholarship,” said Hansel. She serves as president of Beta Alpha Psi.
The scholarship funds go directly toward her tuition, and without the scholarship, the financial impact would be a challenge.
“As an accounting student, I am aware of the interest that can accrue on loans, but now I don’t have much anxiety regarding my financial situation or need to take out loans,” she said.
Hansel said she had a special message to The Osage Nation members at the Dreams to Degrees dinner.
“It’s overwhelming to put into words, but I want to say ‘thanks for the opportunity.’ I know how fortunate I am to receive the scholarship, for the flexibility and for the opportunity to represent the Tribe,” said Hansel. “My journey through college has consisted of three attempts. I knew I couldn’t continue as a non-traditional student. I needed to finish. I feel a sense of accomplishment, of relief,” concluded Hansel.
She had one other reason to finish college: her mother is a military mom, serving as a captain in the navy, is on active duty and is very accomplished in her career.
“I want to make my mom and my family proud.”
Each of the three honorees at the dinner had two students recognized in videos at the ceremony.
|Wandra Brooks Green, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications