Senior DeAngelis enjoys dancing and educating local students
From taking classes in the College’s theater and dance department to skipping across the screen to Public Enemy’s hip-hop single “Fight the Power” in a video promoting Spike Lee’s campus visit and other Speaking, Hearing, Opening Up Together (S.H.O.U.T.) weekend events, Hannah DeAngelis ’12 was born to dance. “I love dancing at Colby,” DeAngelis, a native of Readfield, Maine, said.
In fact, DeAngelis is a proponent of “spontaneous dancing all over campus,” she said, explaining that part of what she loves about dancing is that you don’t have to be good at it. “Dancing helps people let go of their inhibitions….It makes people smile,” DeAngelis said, and as a member of The Bridge’s steering community, she’s been striving to make people do just that.
Through the campus club, DeAngelis, an anthropology major and women’s, gender and sexuality studies minor, participates in a number of community outreach programs that help Waterville teenagers to overcome their inhibitions and take pride in their sexual orientation and in themselves.
Last January, DeAngelis worked with Professor of Education Lyn Mikel Brown to revive the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at Waterville High School. “My high school reminds me a lot of Waterville’s,” DeAngelis said. “[It was] really challenging to find ‘out’ role models.”
Now, DeAngelis is thankful that her support system on the Hill is so understanding, and she is working to establish similar communities of compassion among younger generations. Already, the high school’s GSA has become visible, according to DeAngelis. “I’ve seen a lot of group members grow to become leaders….They’ve gotten a lot braver,” she said.
In addition to her work with GSA, DeAngelis spends time teaching health classes in Waterville schools and is working to develop a new youth center at the Universalist Unitarian Church downtown. DeAngelis volunteers off-campus because it gives her a change of perspective and the opportunity to see the types of issues that people in the community are dealing with.
“Sometimes my priorities on campus get a little skewed,” DeAngelis said, referencing those days when she feels overwhelmed by class readings and assignments. In comparison, “High school students just seem more grounded,” she said.
DeAngelis is currently working on an honors thesis about hate crimes in Maine. She is focusing on a program called the Diversity Leadership Institute that formed in response to two hate crime incidents that took place in the 1980s. As part of her thesis, DeAngelis is plans to create a short summer program modeled off of Colby Conversations on Race (CCOR) that would help empower adolescents to take charge in their communities. “It’s really all about trusting students to be leaders,” DeAngelis said.
After graduating in May, DeAngelis hopes to continue her work in this vein. She says that her dream job incorporates extracurricular education on hate crime prevention. “Essentially, it’s about teaching empathy,” she said.