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Spring on the York College campus

Fighting for Survivors

Hannah Waterman sits on the rock at the edge of the creek.

Hannah Waterman, who graduates in December 2019 with a BS in Human Services, was a high school freshman when she was sexually assaulted by a man on a subway train. Waterman, from Brooklyn, NY, is taking that horrific encounter and turning it into a source of power as a survivor’s advocate. “I want to be what I needed in that moment for someone else,” she says.

At YCP, she found help and support from counseling services, the Career Center, and from her academic advisor as she sought guidance. The Victim and Survivor Advocacy class showed her advocacy was an area where she could have a real impact. She believes she can draw on her experience and relate to other survivors while connecting with them in a deeper, more meaningful way. “There are situations where people just need someone to fight for them or help them through things,” she says. “That’s just always the person I’ve been.”

She conducted research on trauma-informed practices in higher education, where she examined how schools can better serve students who were survivors of trauma. She presented her findings at the Mid-Atlantic Human Services Conference as well as on campus at the 2019 Undergraduate Research Showcase and says the response has been very encouraging.

This past summer, Waterman interned with T. W. Ponessa & Associates Counseling Services in York and Lancaster. Wherever her path takes her, she sees herself advocating for survivors.

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