Hannah Willis, psychology ‘18 and ‘21, has a passion for helping others.
Born and raised in Cookeville, Willis lost her vision in the eighth grade. She went to the Tennessee School for the Blind from ninth to 11th grade before coming back home to graduate with her original class.
“During my time at the blind school, I did everything possible,” Willis said. “Goalball, golf, wrestling, track, swimming, forensics, cheerleading, student council. You name it, I did it.”
Being close to home, Tech was a natural fit for Willis. After taking some time away from classes for the birth of her first child, she returned to Tech to pursue a psychology degree. Now, she is working on her master’s degree in counseling and psychology with a focus in clinical mental health.
“I love people and I want to work with people,” she said. “When they’re struggling, I want to help walk with them through those struggles.”
The Accessible Education Center, where Willis works as a graduate assistant, ensures that all students have equal access to Tech’s academic and physical environments.
“Definitely one of the biggest challenges of being a Tech student is having a disability; just having stigmas attached to the disability makes communication and mobility definitely a challenge.”
Her position in the AEC has given Willis the opportunity to help other students with disabilities get the most out of their education and time as a student.
“My biggest advice is to get involved. Join a club. Get those relationships going and then it makes your experience so much more fulfilling.”
One of the ways Willis has been involved on campus is through the Student Government Association.
“Recently, SGA passed a bill to incorporate accessibility, and they actually created a position for a senator solely focused on accessibility,” she said. “SGA just really wants to focus on making sure the campus and everything involved with Tennessee Tech is accessible to all students.
“It’s super exciting! Everyone has a voice. If there’s a concern on campus, say a certain sidewalk is not accessible or there’s no braille in a building, I definitely can speak up for them so everybody’s heard,” Willis said.
Willis plans on graduating with her master’s degree in Fall 2021 and hopes to become a licensed professional counselor or work at Tech, the school she says helped her soar.
“If I could give advice to anybody with disabilities coming to Tennessee Tech, it’s definitely go on a tour. Get familiar with the campus. Everyone involved on campus who’s working is such a joy to communicate with and work with.”