Hannah Bernier
Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, Supported by Glenn and Sally Goss
Forty Acres Scholars Class of 2022
Hometown
Scottsdale, AZ
High School
Desert Mountain High School

As a kid who grew up in the Sonoran Desert, I am no stranger to paths. The trails winding from my neighborhood into the mountains were my playground, and it’s no surprise that many of my beliefs and perspectives have been shaped by the desert. If my life up until this point has taught me anything, it is to consistently and joyfully practice relentless curiosity: to take any interesting topic and pursue it until I overflow with information and passion. As a child, this curiosity took the form of mushroom hunting and marveling at the geologic history of my home state, Arizona. This mindset took on new forms in high school, when I joined the International Baccalaureate program and spent countless hours researching women mystics for my Extended Essay, began to mountain bike competitively for the National Interscholastic Cycling Association and Mountain Bike Association of Arizona, and became interested in a career that addresses environmental issues. I learned to embrace nontraditional approaches to problem solving and appreciate that some questions don’t have straightforward or even singular answers; this is why I chose to pursue mechanical engineering, a open-ended field with a multitude of opportunities. In one of my favorite books, When Women Were Birds, Terry Tempest Williams states, “When women were birds...to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.” To me, this celebration includes cherishing meaningful connections between people, finding awe in the natural world, and advocating for issues that affect humanity and the environment. To continue this celebration and exploration at UT Austin is a great thrill and honor.

Major:

Biology 

Other Academic Interests

Computational Engineering, Environmental Science 

What drew you to the Forty Acres Scholars Program?

Many people have asked me in the last few months: Why Texas? And the reason at the forefront of my mind is always the Texan sense of community that I felt from the moment I arrived at the Austin airport to my introduction to the Forty Acres Scholars Program. Every person I have met who is involved in this program is passionate, warm, and welcoming. This group is unique and interesting while still celebrating the successes of others. I looked at those who surrounded me at Finalist Weekend–students, scholars, staff, and the Texas Exes–and thought, “These are the people who I want to learn from and to grow with.” And it’s a wonderful privilege and joy to get to do just that!