Skip to main content
Hannah Johnson
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Hannah Johnson

Graduation year: 2024

High school: IC Catholic Prep

Hometown: Elmhurst, Ill.

Majors: Psychology; art   

Activities: Varsity track & field, Reading/Writing Center peer tutor and writing fellow, Phi Rho sorority

Internships: Unity Point Robert Young Center in Moline, Ill.; Linden Oaks Behavioral Health in Naperville, Ill.

Post-grad plans: Attend Northwestern University to obtain my master's in counseling with a concentration in child and adolescent psychology.

Why Augustana?

During my college search in high school, the mantra my parents kept repeating over and over was "Can you see yourself there?" At Augustana, not only could I see myself on campus and walking to class, but I saw all of the opportunities laid out for me to succeed.

I chose Augustana because of the academic environment that would challenge me, the faculty members who would support me, and a campus life that would encourage me to take leadership roles, get involved and develop my interests.

Are you where you thought you'd be when you first came to campus?

Not at all. College is a difficult enough transition period, filled with identity struggles, deciphering values, and even just living away from home. Add a global pandemic and "difficult" doesn't even begin to cover it. My freshman year-self struggled immensely with mental health, with motivation for schoolwork and things I enjoyed. 

So no, four years ago I didn't think I'd be excited about my future plans, have made so many friends I can't imagine leaving, and be so filled with purpose and passion.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

Too many people to name, but I'll try. My mom, who instilled in me my steadfast nature and never once doubted that I'd do great things one day. My dad, who gives me 10 solutions to every problem and tells me he's proud of me at least once a day. 

All of the faculty I've encountered at Augustana, but particularly my advisor, Dr. Szafran, who always answered my millions of emails; Dr. Nordling, whose faith in me gave me the confidence to apply to grad school; and Miss Brakel Packer from CORE, who read 14 personal statements, answered panicked emails and jumped for joy upon my commitment to a program at Northwestern. 

My amazing roommates and best friends — Victoria, my rock to lean on since freshman year; Allie, my fire-breathing advocate whose laugh is infectious; and Erika, a ray of sunshine on a rainy day and always down to rant, every day. 

All of my friends, family and pillars of support and community that have given me the scaffold to succeed.

Peak experience?

Studying abroad in Amsterdam, drawing while studying the masters was probably one of the greatest experiences I could have had the privilege to do.

What surprised you?

I was surprised by how invested faculty are in your well-being. You'll hear a million times that you're more than a number at Augustana, but it won't ever cease to surprise me how true it is. The number of professors willing to accommodate and work with you, who genuinely care about your success and are equally invested in your potential is crazy.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used my Augie Choice to help pay for my study abroad experience. I took a drawing class in Amsterdam for J-term 2023. It was an enlightening and enriching experience I don't think could be replicated anywhere else.

What will you miss the most?

Definitely the people. My roommates, my teammates, my professors, my coaches and my friends. That may be a copout, but it's the truth — when you attend such a community-oriented school, friendships are cultivated and become a staple in day-to-day life. I can't imagine not seeing the people I do every day in just a few short weeks.

Advice for the Class of 2028?

Just go for it. Your worst case scenario in your head is probably not the reality of the situation, so just go for it. Go up to a group of people and introduce yourself. Apply to the school that you're not sure you'll get into. Ask questions that may sound stupid but serve you. Take the risk.

"Hannah’s departure from Augustana will be bittersweet! I know she is destined for greatness in grad school and beyond, but I’ll also miss our conversations about all things big and small. Hannah puts her whole heart into everything that she does, and she lives life with curiosity, deep empathy and a profound sense of humility. Her future clients will be so lucky to have her in their lives (as am I)."

– Dr. Jamie Nordling, associate professor, psychology and neuroscience