As a California native, University of Montevallo senior Hannah Waki moved thousands of miles to find the University she will forever consider home.
“I truly cannot put into words the amount of gratitude I have for the University and the people who I have met in my time here,” Waki said. “The memories, opportunities and relationships I have created here are something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
As a fifth-year senior double-majoring in biology and chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry, Waki has placed academic achievement as her top priority at UM. However, it’s far from the only thing she has been involved with during her time as a Falcon.
She has been a starter on the UM women’s soccer team for the past four seasons, during which she has accumulated a bevy of Gulf South Conference athletic and academic honors. She has also served as a tutor in the Learning Enrichment Center and is a Montevallo Maven.
Last summer, Waki received a firsthand look at her future career when she was selected to serve as an intern at the National Center for Functional Glycomics at Harvard University Medical School. The internship was made possible through a partnership with one of UM’s distinguished alumni, Dr. Richard Cummings ’74.
During the internship, Waki primarily studied the purification of proteins found in serum, a technique that could one day be used to diagnose certain diseases.
“I am very grateful for the time I spent there, as I was able to further cultivate my research skills. This in turn deepened my appreciation for the field of science as a whole,” Waki said. “Dr. Cummings, as well as the members of his lab, gave me invaluable mentorship. In my short time there, I walked away with more knowledge and advice than I could have ever imagined.”
After earning her bachelor’s degrees in May 2022, Waki plans to combine her passions by attending medical school and coaching soccer in whatever capacity she can.
She credits the extended family she found at UM with laying a foundation for all of her future success.
“I knew I belonged at Montevallo when I met the faculty and staff,” Waki said. “For me, finding a school where I felt comfortable and confident in my advisors was paramount to me. I knew I would be supported every step of the way in my academic journey here. There is something special going on here; you can feel it when you walk on campus. I may originally be from California, but I’m proud to also call this place my home.”