Toward a Healthier World
Hanna Blaney is one of our “original” kids—her parents Jim and Martha Blaney were members of the Design Team that conceived of the school and wrote our charter back in 1994. Jim was one of our first Governing Council presidents. Hanna attended Sedona Montessori School from the time she was two years old, and as a first grader was one of the 45 students sitting at school desks in the Sedona Public Library when our school opened in August, 1995. Classes were held in the library for three days, then in the Baptist Church on Deer Trail until the modular classroom for Lower Elementary was ready for occupancy three weeks later.
Who knew at that time that Hanna would go on to do her part to change the world for the better—before she was even 25 years old. Hanna, who attended SCS through 7th grade, says during her time here she had great experiences that fostered intrinsically driven pursuit of ideas and interests. “It set me up for independent thinking and success.” After SCS, Hanna attended the college preparatory Orme School in Mayer and Verde Valley School where she graduated from high School.
After earning her B.A. in Biology and graduating as a Phi Beta Kappa member from Reed College in Oregon in 2011, Hanna wanted to spend time in India researching the lives of women. With the help of two Oregon physicians, she created a project to record the stories of widows in rural India. But, says Hanna, “I was so moved by their stories that I wanted to find a way to help them.”
She founded a co-op venture based in Andhra Pradesh, with the mission of providing safe and secure employment for at-risk widowed and abandoned women. She named it SHELTER International. In addition to promoting financial shelter, the co-op provides a safe emotional space for these women to connect with one another and learn valuable skills. SHELTER employs 12 widows who have gone from being homeless to being able to provide food and shelter for themselves and their children. Their product: sanitary napkins, which are sold through a network of community health care workers. Although Hanna’s goal is for SHELTER International to be entirely self-supporting, it currently needs donations to help fund the project. Visit www.shelter-int.org to help.
Meanwhile, Hanna just started her second year with a scholarship in the Medical Doctor/Masters of Public Health program at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. “I like to look at the big picture of public health,” she says. “Seventy percent of the people in hospitals have preventable conditions, and I’d like to make an impact in that area. Being an M.D. gives you an inside picture of what’s going on in the body, and it’s important to have that understanding when dealing with public health issues. I’m still trying to figure out my path, but I’d like to do a specialty that gives me time for public health work and research as well as treating patients.”