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Scholarship winner has her eyes on the stars 

Your Dream is Our Dream: Hana Hasanovic

Wyoming — Senior Hana Hasanovic has always been mesmerized by the night sky.

Since age 7, she has loved stargazing with her toy telescope. From the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Upper Peninsula she would pinpoint the constellations she’d heard legends about and search for planets and celestial bodies millions of miles away.

“It’s so fascinating to learn about how all of that works and to realize there is so much more to discover,” she said. 

Hana’s path to discovery is just beginning. She is the recipient of the prestigious Aerospace Engineering Scholarship from University of Michigan, awarded by the Grand Rapids – Alumni Association for the University of Michigan. The total award is $19,000 spread across four years. She recently received the award at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and will begin at U of M this fall. 

Hana Hasanovic has dreams of being an engineer at NASA (courtesy)

We sat down with Hana to discuss her dream of creating space-related technology to explore the galaxies.

What is your dream? To be an aerospace engineer. “I’ve always been interested in astrodynamics. I want to be in the mission control room and really help with lunar landings. If you don’t have a pathway to get (to the moon) then nothing else really matters.”

Hana, whose father, Nihad Hasanovic, is an engineer for GE Aerospace, wants to be the designer more than actually going to space.

“I always wanted to build a rocket or telescope. When the James Webb Space Telescope launched two years ago, I woke up at four in the morning on Christmas Day because it was launching at five.”

At U of M, she plans to pursue degrees in aerospace in a five-year combined bachelor’s and master’s program and then pursue another master’s degree in business administration. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? “Working for NASA or SpaceX or something like that. By that time I would have liked to have experienced a couple launches and been a part of that.”

What have you done to work toward your dream? Hana has already spent time at U of M, participating in the Michigan Math and Science Scholars program the summer before her junior year, in which she focused on forensics and physics.

“We got to do four-hour math problems that made us cry,” she said.

She also participated in a weeklong program last summer at the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University. 

On the computer side of things, Hana has been active with Girls Who Code, for which she participated in another program at University of Michigan, working on web design and cybersecurity. Over two summers, she created a site with an advocacy focus on the effects of climate change in Michigan, and a Space Invaders-inspired video game, which she presented to professionals in the gaming industry.

At Wyoming, she’s taken many advanced classes in her areas of interest.

“I’ve taken a lot of math classes, AP Chemistry and physics. I did dual-enrollment computer science and Science Olympiad. I kind of decided to take any opportunity that would help benefit me.”

Wyoming High School math teacher Eric Retan, left, senior Hana Hasanovic and history teacher John Doyle, right, congratulate Hana after she received her scholarship (courtesy)

How have your school and teachers helped you work toward achieving your dream? Hana named a slate of teachers, including math teacher Eric Retan, history teacher John Doyle, National Honor Society advisor Logan Klepac and English teacher Kim Hang Tran, for encouraging and supporting her.

She also credits now-retired Wyoming Intermediate School sixth-grade teacher Kellie Self for recognizing her interest in science. 

“(Self) gave me the book “Hidden Figures.” She signed me up for a science camp. She introduced me to (NASA mathematician) Katherine Johnson. She gave me my first coding book. That’s how I started to learn how to code.

“She turned this almost fantastical dream into a reality.”

Also in sixth grade, she met then-senior Bryan Rosello. The Wyoming High School grad had just received the U of M Aerospace Engineering Scholarship at that point, and Hana took notice. 

“He’s also been kind of like a distant inspiration — this kid from Wyoming who also wanted to study NASA and who was going to the University of Michigan. (Rosello graduated from U of M with an aerospace engineering degree and is now an engineer at Velo3D, which makes metal 3D printers using technology widely adopted by the space industry.)

Hana Hasanovic graduated May 22 from Wyoming High School (courtesy)

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from pursuing your dream? “It’s very simple, but it’s definitely to never give up. There have been so many adversities that I have faced personally or even academically … There have definitely been times when I have experienced imposter syndrome and lots of anxiety.

“But I’ve always known the level of excellence that I wanted to achieve, and so having that and continuing to not give up, and (seeing things come to) fruition — that is the lesson right there.”   

Read more from Wyoming: 
Afghan student shares story of escape, survival & the hero who helped him on the way
Fourth-graders use their voice to lift up peers

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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