From the Local Soccer Pitch to the World Stage, Widener Senior Serves the Community
While at Widener, Hannah Berard ’22 has had the chance to volunteer in Chester, intern with the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, and sail around the world – all experiences helping her nurture her passion for giving back.
- College of Health & Human Services
- College of Arts & Sciences
Not many college students can say they’ve interned for the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. Hannah Berard can.
The Widener senior spent summer 2021 working on the press team for the embassy in Islamabad. The internship, through the U.S. Department of State, was virtual but no less impactful.
Hannah was responsible for creating social media content for the embassy’s accounts, including posts about the environment, women’s rights, diversity, the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, and more. She watched State Department and White House press briefings and sent news updates to the team on the ground in Pakistan.
And through her internship she got a close look at the turmoil in neighboring Afghanistan as U.S. troops withdrew in late August and the Taliban took over.
“I was watching it unfold, not just from the news,” said Hannah. “I learned that we, as America, are involved in so many different aspects and have a major influence on the world as a whole. Whether we want to or not, we have this influence.”
On the surface, interning for the embassy’s press team was an unusual choice for someone double majoring in social work and psychology. But in many ways, it perfectly aligned with Hannah’s interest in international social work and her goal of working with immigrants and refugees.
“The experience made me more passionate about what I want to do,” said Hannah. “It’s incredible how quickly someone can become a refugee. This is a crisis and it’s happening in so many places around the world.”
Hannah credits her Widener education with preparing her for this global internship, as well as for her local community involvement, and her future goals, which could potentially include international service in the Peace Corps.
Professors are great about connecting what we learn in class to the real world. Social work is a broad field, involved in so many different domains. Widener has helped me take my academics and what I’ve learned in classes and apply it not just in the Chester community, but to the whole world in general. — Hannah Berard '22
Hannah’s interest in international social work was nurtured at sea. She spent part of her sophomore year taking part in Semester at Sea, a program in which college students sail around the world while taking classes. Hannah discovered a passion for sustainable tourism and giving back to the places she visited.
When not traveling, interning, attending classes, or giving campus tours, Hannah can often be found on the soccer pitch. She plays outside back for the Pride women’s soccer team and serves as team captain. “I wanted to play soccer in college and I fell in love with the Widener community,” said the Massachusetts native. “You always seem to know people on campus.”
Hannah has combined her love of soccer and community involvement as a Pride Service Site leader, a program in which students act as volunteer coordinators for a community partner in Chester. Hannah coaches soccer at neighboring Stetser Elementary School, part of the national Soccer for Success afterschool program. She says of her local involvement: “While I was living in Chester while at Widener, I wanted to become a part of the Chester community.”