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Abby Hannifan

Class of: 2012
Hometown: Leawood, KS
School: Arts and Science
Major(s): Medicine, Health & Society, Latin American Studies


Throughout her freshman year at Vanderbilt, Abby nurtured an interest in Latin American peoples and culture by volunteering as an adult English-as-a-Second-Language instructor at Woodbine Community Center, mentoring a 12-year-old Hispanic student through her service-learning Spanish class, and participating in a Manna Project International alternative spring break trip to Honduras. With the generosity and technical support of Ingram Scholarship administrators behind her, she traveled to Jinja, Uganda, the summer after her freshman year with Northwestern University's Global Engagement Summer Institute. Equipped with the tools of an increasingly popular approach to sustainable community development called "Asset-Based Community Development" (ABCD), she and her teammates, assigned to a rural HIV/AIDS clinic called St. Francis Health Care Services, trained villagers how to grow mushrooms as a micro-enterprise solution to poverty and poor health.

Returning from her transformative summer immersion, Abby was eager to implement her newfound knowledge of how health-related programs are initiated and sustained effectively. She served as Co-Fundraising Chair for the Inter-American Health Alliance, which promoted intercultural exchange around campus and rallied support for a preventive and primary care clinic in the Western highlands of Guatemala called Primeros Pasos. In addition, she volunteered as Media Materials Co-Coordinator for the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health's World AIDS Day event. To continue her involvement with Manna Project International, she served on the board and as a spring break site leader to Ecuador. Her two most fulfilling sophomore activities, however, were the continued mentoring relationship with her McMurray Middle School student, as well as the partnership she formed with Siloam Family Health Clinic, a non-profit providing quality medical attention to uninsured and under-insured patients in Nashville's greater metropolitan area. Through Siloam, Abby solicited donations, translated class materials, and formulated an incentive structure alongside enthusiastic dietitians and nurses to create a nutrition curriculum called “Mision buena sazon” for Latino residents of the Clairmont apartment complex. Abby's Summer 2010 was spent designing a certificate program in "Community Development" for Unite For Sight, a global health non-profit at Yale University working to eliminate preventable blindness and health disparities in the developing world via social entrepreneurship and capacity-building. Her fall 2010 was spent in Santiago, Chile (as well as Argentina and Peru), feeding her fascination with Latin American culture, language, and history.


Throughout the latter part of her junior year, and on into her senior year, Abby got involved with the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health’s Student Advisory Council, and now serves as Co-President. She is also the Community Outreach Director for Nashville Mobile Market, a social enterprise bringing healthy, affordable fruits and vegetables to the “food deserts” of Nashville. Her summer 2011 was spent in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, working as a Women’s Health Education volunteer at Primeros Pasos, the same organization for which she fundraised her sophomore year. Throughout her 9 weeks, she designed a community development project curriculum for 96 indigenous K’iche’ Mayan women. Returning with a new and fervent interest in women’s health and empowerment, Abby plans to fulfill her Ingram senior internship at Thistle Farms, a local non-profit that rejuvenates women with histories of violence, prostitution, and addiction, and teaches them to manufacture natural bath and body products. She will also be working as an intern at Ensworth High School as an assistant in their service-learning department, to share all the profound lessons Ingram has taught her about the many meanings and manifestations of service.