Alumni Profile: Dayana Hankins, B.A. International Studies '10

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Originally from Lima Peru, Dayana Hankins comes from a diverse background that shaped who she is today. Her father comes from a Chilean and Peruvian family, and her mother is from Colombia.

UAA alum Dayana Hankins

As a child Dayana studied in a private French-speaking school in Lima, Peru, where French became a natural language. "I always thought after I finished high school I would attend a University in France, however, life had other plans for me." she said.

At age 15, Dayana graduated from her high school in Lima and began applying to colleges. "No university would take me because I was too young," she said. Later, she went to the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas to study International Commerce. But by the end of her second year, she dropped out.

Dayana eventually decided to study foreign languages. She studied three years of English while taking a course in a French institution, Alianza Francesa, to become a French teacher in Lima. "I worked teaching children, teenagers and adults. It was fun but very exhausting," she said.

In 2007, Dayana moved to Alaska after falling in love with someone from Homer. "He was a UAA graduate and encouraged me to attend the university," she said. Two months later, she started her first semester at UAA.

Since Dayana speaks three languages, has traveled to many different countries and is fascinated about other cultures, she looked for a degree that could encapsulate her interests and also be useful in other countries. "I knew I wouldn't be good at International Business, so I chose International Relations instead."

The International Studies program at UAA intends its students to focus on a particular area of the world. "I chose to pursue the European track because I enjoy expanding my knowledge about European culture, history and politics. I was also able to get my degree in English, too," said Dayana.

As a student, Dayana was a member of the Alaska World Affairs Council and was given the opportunity to attended many speeches. "Many of the speeches I saw were given by foreign presidents, it was such an honor to attend." During her senior year she became part of Golden Key Honor Society and the Heifer International Club.

In summer of 2010, Heifer International Club traveled to China with UAA professors Dorn Van Dommelen (Geography and Environmental Studies) and Mara Kimmel (Political Science). In China, Dayana explored agricultural development focusing on sustainable 'agro-ecological' systems. "The trip allowed me to understand how sustainable agricultural development can help solve some of the world's food security, poverty and environmental problems," said Dayana.

Dayana always felt it was important to be a good student. She was constantly working to overcome her language barrier and spent lots of time with her professors. "I would try to learn and understand their passion for the subject they taught," she said. "Graduating cum laude from UAA was one of the greatest accomplishments of my life."

"UAA is my alma mater and the place in which I found my real inspiration in life."

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