Sponsor Spotlight: Kathy Hanna
About Kathy Hanna
From a small town in Maine- the most northeastern part of the US- Kathy was always fascinated by different cultures, languages, and travelling. Spending part of her own high school experience in Brazil, Kathy built an exciting international career spanning various roles in law, banking, and HR. While working for large multi-national companies through Asia and the US, she earned the role of Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources at Royal Philips Electronics. In 2004, Kathy jumped from atop the corporate ladder to start her own management consulting company. Ingenium Consulting Company successfully focuses on executive coaching, organizational effectiveness, and leadership development. Kathy has been a Shanghai Sunrise sponsor since 2015 and has supported two students.
Why did you decide to become a Shanghai Sunrise sponsor?
My grandmother was an incredibly smart, independent woman who successfully ran a small business- while raising five children. All with only a sixth-grade education. The family had recently immigrated to the US when she was young and could only afford to send her brother to school. I am passionate about equal access to education- regardless of someone’s circumstances. I learned about Shanghai Sunrise from a friend and found the mission and values to really resonate with me. Like many Chinese families, my family values include the importance of hard work and education. I come from a family of moderate means with four children, and my parents could not afford the high tuition costs of university. As the oldest, I started working when I was in high school to earn money for school. I was fortunate to be accepted into a top US university. Between scholarships, loans, and working- I was able to attend. In graduate school, thanks to a scholarship that I won, I could live my dream of working in China.
Without the generosity of donors and the opportunities provided by my schools, I would not be where I am today.
In China, public tuition (a.k.a. free tuition) stops after ninth grade. Many families cannot afford to send their children to high school. The importance of high school in China cannot be underestimated. It paves the way for higher education and may determine one’s quality of life and opportunities. I often think about my grandmother. I am thankful for her support and guidance throughout my life. What else would she have accomplished if she had continued her education, attended university?
How has becoming a sponsor impacted your life?
It is wonderful to learn about the students- how their lives are positively impacted by education and their experience with Shanghai Sunrise. I have also met many wonderful people who are involved in Shanghai Sunrise. I hope in some small way to contribute to the student’s future.
Tell us about your experience at Shanghai Sunrise events...
Shanghai Sunrise events are always an opportunity to meet new people who are passionate about sponsoring education for a brighter future. It is humbling and very satisfying to hear from our students- particularly those who have graduated and share their stories- and the volunteers who are passionate about making a difference.
What has been the most memorable moments in your time as a Shanghai Sunrise sponsor?
Meeting the students! This is an opportunity to get to know them, their families, and to learn first hand how Shanghai Sunrise is helping shape their future. One of the most rewarding aspects is receiving my student’s letters- or other communications- and sharing a small part of their lives. I’ve been a sponsor since 2015 and have sponsored two students. My first was a lovely senior whose original sponsor dropped out before she was able to complete high school. When she graduated, I sponsored a very smart and inspiring young man who struggled with medical and mobility issues. He completed high school and is currently a university student! Not only is he thriving in his studies, but he’s also involved in leadership activities.
What advice would you give to someone in the community who is considering sponsoring a student with Shanghai Sunrise?
Do it without hesitation and encourage your friends to do the same! Sponsoring a student and/or volunteering will have a lasting impact not only on him/her, but also on their families and communities. Removing some of the financial hurdles and levelling the playing field so that students may attend school and reach their potential is something worthwhile.