Students of SPU: Liberty, justice for all

Passions for faith and education motivate SPU senior to make a difference

Hannah Chung, Staff Writer

Senior Hannah Waterman is an honors student majoring in political science. She is currently in Washington D.C. interning in the Senate. (Courtesy of Shannon Waterman)

Senior Hannah Waterman, an honors student and political science major, has found hope despite her plans shifting throughout her college journey.

“If the past year and a half has taught me anything, it’s that plans change, and that’s okay,” Waterman said.

Waterman began her college planning with the hope to graduate in five years, but she was surprised shortly after with an unexpected message announcing that Seattle Pacific would be one of many colleges moving to remote learning due to the worldwide pandemic.

“I was so dependent on plans and what was going on that it shattered my reality that everything will go the way I planned it to,” Waterman said. “I expected to march through college with a planner in one hand, just getting things done, and very rapidly that kind of faded away where I was back in my childhood bed taking classes, and that wasn’t where I imagined myself at all.”

Despite her plans changing, Waterman has made the most of her circumstances. She has chosen to grow by making meaningful connections with her professors, faculty members, and other students, which have been the foundation of her learning experience at SPU.

Waterman encouraged current students to bond with friends, staff and faculty during their time in college. Due to the intimate, small campus, deep bonds can happen easily, and Waterman is grateful to SPU for giving her the opportunity to foster relationships with so many of her peers.

The pandemic was not the only thing that changed Waterman’s perspective on the world.

“College changed my perspective in a lot of ways,” Waterman said. “I grew a lot as a person as far as just having new experiences. In the broader sphere, it’s taught me a lot about my ideas on justice and why I believe that.”

Waterman grew up in a small town with a certain set of beliefs that prompted her to search for new perspectives.

“I grew up in one very specific evangelical path,” Waterman said. “Coming out of that bubble definitely exposed me to a lot more. Looking back, I wanted to learn.”

Through her time at SPU, Waterman has discovered a way to combine her passions for faith and justice.

“I didn’t quite know how to reconcile those feelings with the theology that I had grown up with,” Waterman said. “Something that I’m very, very thankful for with my time at SPU is that my theology now is the reason for those beliefs. Those two parts of my identity support each other at the same time.”

Moving forward, Waterman hopes to make a difference by taking every new opportunity presented to her, including an internship with the United States Senate. Waterman has participated in student leadership at SPU, which prepared her for this incredible opportunity where she will spend fall quarter in Washington D.C.

“Things are finally starting to come together,” Waterman said. “I only found out three or four weeks ago, so it was a mad dash to find housing and fix credits, but it’s all settling down now.”

Though Waterman’s college experience did not perfectly align with her original plan, Waterman said that the last four years have helped her discover who she is, what she believes, and why she believes it.

“My expectations both have and haven’t been met, but I’m thankful now for the ways they haven’t been met,” Waterman said. “I think my experience was exactly what I needed.”