Halimo Hassen '17 named a Schwarzman Scholar

by Mika Jehoon Lee | 12/19/16 11:06am

Halimo Hassen ’17 has been named a Schwarzman Scholar, making her one of 129 students worldwide to win a fully-funded scholarship to complete a one-year master’s degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing next year.

Hassen, a sociology major from Atlanta, will be Dartmouth’s third Schwarzman scholar after Jacob Gaba ’16 and Jordyn Turner ’16, members of the program’s inaugural class. At Tsinghua, Hassen intends to pursue a master’s degree in international affairs, concentrating on public policy. 

Hassen wrote in an email that she applied for the Schwarzman scholarship because it offered a well-rounded experience. She added that besides pursuing her academic discipline, she is looking forward to living with students from all over the world and traveling throughout China.

Hassen said that when she first came to Dartmouth, she was unsure about what she was going to study and dabbled in many academic departments. She eventually chose to major in sociology because it could help cultivate both her qualitative and quantitative skills.

As a sociology major, Hassen completed two research projects. Last winter, while taking “Education and Inequality,” Hassen explored the social gap between first-generation low-income students and their wealthier peers. She also analyzed feminist blogs’ representation of gender, race and ethnicity in her “Sociology of Gender” course last spring. 

Sociology professor Janice McCabe, who taught Hassen in both classes, wrote in an email that she was impressed with Hassen’s willingness to explore challenging issues surrounding inequality.

“[Hassen] asked pressing and difficult questions in both classes, encouraging her peers to challenge their assumptions about why schools are unequal, for example,” McCabe added. “She was also able to lighten the mood with her wry sense of humor – an amazing skill to have when discussing a heavy topic without taking focus away from its importance.”

On campus, Hassen was involved with the First Year Student Enrichment Program. 

“Education is something I’m very passionate about and is especially valuable to those that are one of the first in their family to attend college,” Hassen said.

FYSEP director Jay Davis ’90, who has known Hassen since the pre-Orientation portion of FYSEP during her freshman year, wrote in an email that he came to value Hassen’s commitment to helping first-generation students thrive at Dartmouth.

“[Hassen] broke her foot roller skating the last day of our session,” Davis said. “The resilience and creative determination that she demonstrated (suddenly on crutches and in a wheelchair for her first term at Dartmouth) was a perfect prediction of the success she would find throughout her time at Dartmouth.” 

Hassen’s advice for younger students seeking fellowships or other post-grad opportunities is to be personable and to surround oneself with kind people. 

“Remember those that have been there for you from the beginning,” Hassen said. “Have fun, don’t take life too seriously and show regard for others. Maybe you won’t be the richest in terms of dollar signs, but you’ll be rich in a different sense.” 

In the future, Hassen hopes to become an entrepreneur, publish fiction pieces and design a fashion line with her best friend.

“Above all, I want to have a personal success that translates into making the lives of others better,” Hassen added.