Hannah Hensel, a student at Union High School in Tulsa, has received The Alexander Hamilton Citizenship Achievement Award for superior citizenship and achievement in national competition.
The award, called Hammie for short, is given annually by the Alexander Hamilton Friends Association (AHFA) of Seattle, Washington. It includes a cash award, certificate, copy of the biography “Alexander Hamilton” autographed by its author Ron Chernow, and an opportunity to qualify for a one-week all expense “leadership academy” in Seattle in June, 2007.
The Alexander Hamilton Citizenship Achievement Award, now in its second year as a national award, is given to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors of accredited secondary schools throughout the United States. It is sponsored by The Alexander Hamilton Friends Association (AHFA) of Seattle. “Alexander Hamilton was affectionately called ‘Hammie’ during the revolution by his peers on Washington’s staff, so we call it the ‘Hammie Award’,” says George Cox, AHFA founder and president.
Winners are judged on their achievements and community service. Achievement criteria are personal, scholastic, and entrepreneurial. Service includes service to the community at large and service to the student’s school. “The award is competitive, but all winners must be rated superior in at least one achievement criteria and at least one service criteria,” said Cox. “Our goal is to identify young people who are capable of achieving great things in their lives, and we believe Hannah is such a person.” When Hensel’s achievements are reviewed, it is easy to see why the Seattle-based organization was so impressed.
Hensel is a top student at her school and a member of the National Junior Honor Society. She is also involved with athletics at Union and is active with her church’s youth program.
Hensel also lives with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a progressive, potentially life threatening genetic disease that affects the lungs
and digestive system. Hensel’s approach to Cystic Fibrosis is stated in her motto: I have CF, but CF doesn’t have me! She has decided that having CF is not a curse, as many would view. “The way I see it is that having CF is more like a blessing in disguise if I can serve as an example of hope for others with CF. Who knows? I may be the first person with CF to run in the Olympics!”
That ambition may not be too far fetched. As a freshman, Hensel ran varsity cross country and helped her team win a state championship. “My main goal in my life right now,” says Hensel,” is not just to show that I can merely be healthy, but to see just how far I can excel physically.” She feels she is being held to a higher standard in order to inspire and lead others in their fight against CF. Others have taken notice.
She helps fundraising efforts to support CF research and was recently awarded a Heroes of Hope award from the Heroes of Hope Living with Cystic Fibrosis Program. “We are very proud of Hannah and her achievements,” said Mike Stanton, one of her coaches at Union Intermediate.” She is an inspiration to others with cystic fibrosis to her fellow students and teachers.”
Hensel credits many people for her attitude and success. “My parents and my brother are the main people who give me the strength to fight and who also never let me feel sorry for myself,” she says. Track coaches have given her inspiration and the greatest gift of all. “They don’t treat me any differently or lower their expectations because I have CF.”
“Alexander Hamilton was a visionary in his day and he made a huge difference–it has been said we may celebrate Jefferson, but we live in Hamilton’s America. And America continues to produce young Hamiltons with the potential to lead”, added Cox. In its first two years, the AHFA has recognized over 60 young people for superior service and achievement. “Hammie winners are amongst those who with proper inspiration will aspire to greatness!,” said Cox.
“America is a meritocracy and our history is filled with the names of the great. We believe our continued vitality–indeed our survival as a nation–depends on our ability to recognize, reward, and promote those who have the ability to dream and deliver great things–to pull us up from the chaos of the present”, said Cox. “We are dedicated to finding young people who are capable of achieving greatness in the years to come. They and we will be much the better for it.”