Behind the Scenes: Questions for Caroline Hanna
By Jennifer Potanka '11, Staff Writer
What is your position at the College? What does a typical day at work entail?

I’m the director of media relations, so my primary job is to work with print, television, radio and web reporters. I pitch them story ideas about Amherst, help them track down the information they need for stories or put them in touch with the appropriate sources on campus. I also write for the College’s website and other publications, help out with various Public Affairs events and serve on several committees, among many other things. As for a “typical day,” I don’t know that I have one; I do a lot of writing and attending meetings, but that can all change if a reporter calls. I might end up running out to help with a television reporter’s broadcast, on the phone trying to track down a faculty member to comment on some current event or just at my computer typing away. No day is ever the same for me.

Where did you grow up?

Slingerlands, N.Y., a little town outside of Albany. I actually went to the same high school as economics professor Jessica Reyes.

What was your childhood like?

Pretty normal, honestly. Nothing out of the ordinary — I have a wonderful mom and dad and a fantastic sister, and I grew up playing sports (field hockey, lacrosse and soccer) and music (I play the French horn, piano and guitar) and hanging out with friends.

How did you end up in Amherst?

My last job was at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. I really, really loved (and still love) the institution and people there, but kind of outgrew it after a couple of years. For a number of reasons, I came to the realization in early 2007 that there wasn’t really a next step there for me. At that point I saw the posting for this job and decided to apply.

What is your family like? Do you have any pets?

Well, I married a friend I met my first week of college (Howard Hanna, who works in Academic Technology Services on campus, incidentally) and we just recently adopted a cat. (Ask Karen Lee in the CCE for the story about that.) I still see my own parents a lot and spend a lot of time with my sister, numerous in-laws, grandparents and six crazy nephews and one wonderful niece. My family and great bunch of friends are the number one priority in my life.

What is your favorite place in the world?

Besides my house, that would be without question my family’s camp on Lake Champlain in Westport, N.Y. It’s on the water but also near the Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid and not too far from Montreal. It’s such an oasis.

Do you have a favorite Val meal?

I haven’t eaten at Val in a long time, so it’s hard to say. I’m a fan of the pizza and the salad bar. I patronize Schwemm’s a lot, and for a while I would only eat the Tuscan Turkey sandwiches. Now whenever I go there I have the Harvest Pesto Pack.

What is your favorite thing about Amherst College?

The people, the people, the people. Everyone is just amazing here. And not to be too nerdy about it, but I do love the College’s mission and the real commitment to learning and teaching here. I think a lot of people on campus take that for granted — not every school walks the walk the way Amherst does.

Do you have any hidden talents?

My left thumb is double-jointed, so I can do some fun tricks with it. I used to be a pretty good water-skier, but it’s been a while since I’ve been on skis. One thing that only a few people know about me is that I’m a distant relative of Thomas Jefferson. True story.

What is your favorite hobby or activity?

Reading and running and hiking with my husband and/or friends. And travel! My husband and I are pretty passionate about getting out and seeing the world. Every couple months or so the wanderlust kicks in and we have to take a trip somewhere.

Do you have a daily routine before and after work?

I’m usually an early morning gym-goer, so I try to get there somewhere between 6 and 6:30 a.m. After work, I like to relax. I’ll help my husband make dinner — he’s the chef in our household — and then we watch “Jeopardy!” together. It’s our nightly ritual.

If you could meet one person, past or present, who would it be?

My grandfather on my mom’s side. He died when my mom was 18, so I never got to meet him. As for someone living — gosh, there are too many to list. I would of course be thrilled to be introduced to the president first and foremost. Also high on my list, though, is Paul Simon, my favorite artist ever. What an amazing writer, musician and person he is.

How many years have you worked at Amherst? Did you work anywhere else before coming to Amherst?

I’ve worked at Amherst now since 2007. I’ve also worked at Colgate, as I mentioned, as well as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.; a business magazine called Folio: in New York; the publisher Scholastic, also in New York; and the Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper while I was in grad school.

Issue 02, Submitted 2010-09-15 01:54:48