Brittney's story

While in high school, Brittney Hahn focused on a future that included college and a career that would change the lives of teens who’ve struggled just like her.

Disconnected from her parents, Hahn had been living with her grandmother until she became ill while Hahn was in middle school.

She eventually moved in with a family friend but was forced to find a new living situation during her sophomore year after the woman stole her savings.

Hahn reached out to her father. But the arrangement was short lived; he landed in jail a year later for drug trafficking.

With nowhere else to go, Hahn began living between grandparents.

“I soon realized that school and work were the only stability in my life.” said Hahn, 18, who graduated from Groveport Madison High School in June.

Hahn spent most of high school without a permanent address. Research shows homelessness is a barrier to success that is difficult to transcend. According to a study by the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, more than a third of the 3.5 million homeless citizens in the United States are considered to be children.

Homeless children are more likely to have behavioral and cognitive delays and health issues.

Homeless children typically attend two different schools per year and are disciplined twice as often as their non-homeless classmates.

Hahn, however, refused to be defined by her circumstances.

At Groveport Madison High School, she focused on her studies, earning a 3.4 grade-point average. She spent her senior year serving as the school’s student council president. She juggled homework with her part-time cashier job at Kroger, eventually she acquired a 2005 Ford Focus.

“Despite her circumstances, she always maintained a positive attitude,” said Stacy Reed, one of Hahn’s teachers, who became emotional during an interview. “She’s done so many selfless acts to simply make the lives of others better.”

“Brittney said once before that I make her stronger, but she makes me strong also.”

Hahn’s circumstances inspired her to make a difference.

Hahn has over 200 hours of community service, which speaks to her desire to give back. During her junior year Hahn lead a service project with DECA at her school, where they collected Easter baskets for children in the community. “I collected so many baskets, we had to give them to two other communities.”

During her senior year she lead yet another project for DECA, fulfilling the Christmas lists of over 10 families. “I can recall a year where all I got was a knitting book… I was grateful for what I had, I just didn’t want anyone to feel what I felt.”

After her own struggles applying to college, she focused her DECA project on helping homeless students fill out their college and financial aid applications.

“People often think you help people by going downtown and passing out $50 bills a very generous thing to do,” Hahn said.

“Just talking to people can help them. So I want to live the rest of my life helping other people, and people just like me.”

Hahn said the project, Money for Majors provides after-school training for students in need of resources to prepare for college.

“I feel like my life has a bigger purpose,” she said.

This fall, Hahn is headed to the University of Cincinnati to study nursing so she can become a substance abuse nurse. She isn’t ruling out social work or nonprofit and community leadership.

Written by David Helm, Groveport Madison Class of 2017

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