Survivor and Advocate
Senior Ashley Hahn’s lifelong passion for community service began when she was barely a toddler who tagged along with her father to local fire department events in her hometown of Allamuchy, N.J. At Bryn Mawr, the same commitment to community drew the psychology and political science double major to the Praxis program, where she was able to develop her career goal to become an advocate for victims of abuse.
As a 2014–15 Thomas J. Watson Fellow, Hahn will now have the opportunity to develop this goal with a global perspective. After she graduates, she will use the award to travel to the United Kingdom, Australia, Guatemala, Brazil, Kenya, and Ghana to research the approaches taken by organizations in different societies and cultures to assist children recovering from traumas such as abuse, exploitation, poverty, and armed conflict.
Hahn’s aspirations toward advocacy come from a deeply personal place: She is a survivor of child abuse, and others close to her are survivors of domestic violence.
In her first Praxis experience, Hahn worked with children between the ages of 3 and 6 with psychological, behavioral, and emotional issues in a Norristown, Pennsylvania, preschool intervention program as part of an educational psychology course taught by now-President Kim Cassidy. That opportunity evolved into a summer internship through an Alumnae Regional Scholarship in her sophomore year. During the summer of her junior year, Hahn was awarded the CEO Summer of Service internship and began a volunteer position as a domestic violence counselor at the Women’s Center of Montgomery County, where she became interested in the legal process surrounding domestic-violence law. When the opportunity arose for the summer internship to extend into a yearlong volunteer position as a court advocate for victims of domestic violence, Hahn was encouraged by several of her professors to incorporate the opportunity into a Praxis Level 3 course.
“My Praxis faculty advisor, [Professor of Social Work and Director of the Law and Social Policy Program] Raymond Albert, really helped me think about things in ways that I’ve never thought about before and helps me tackle major philosophical and ethical debates that I’ve encountered as a court advocate,” Hahn says.
Hahn now serves as a domestic-violence counselor, domestic-violence court advocate, and a court-appointed special advocate for children. Her work directly informs her thesis, which will examine victim empowerment and paternalistic intervention for justification in situations of domestic violence.
Of her Watson Fellowship, Hahn says: “This is honestly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to combine my passion for helping children with my desire to travel. Through the experience, I hope to explore my identity as an abuse survivor and learn different approaches to helping children that I can utilize as a political and legal advocate for abuse victims.”
Molybdenum—It Does a Body Good
As any kid who has read a cereal box knows, the human body needs minerals like calcium and iron in order to function properly. But molybdenum?
“Molybdenum isn’t as well known to the general public as are metals like iron, copper, and zinc, but it’s extremely important to human health,” says Chemistry Professor and Dean of Graduate Studies Sharon Burgmayer.
Since 2000, Burgmayer and her research team have been examining the relationship of the metal molybdenum to human health—with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Recently, the NIH awarded a $285,000 grant extension to the team to continue the research for three more years.
“Of approximately 60 known molybdenum enzymes, humans and other mammals possess four,” Burgmayer explains. “Of these four, one recently identified molybdoprotein is involved in activating certain drugs, and one is absolutely required for proper brain and neurological development. The goal of our project is to gain a more detailed understanding of how the environment around molybdenum in molybdoenzymes is critical to the enzyme behavior.”