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Meet Professor Hannah Alarian

Over the past year, we have gotten to know professor Hannah Alarian quite well inside the classroom. But what is she like when not teaching? What surprised her about the University of Florida? What made her interested in politics? We decided to find the answers to these questions and many more.

What got you first interested in pursuing a career in political science?

I was involved in local politics at a very early age. Growing up on the border of Cook and DuPage Counties in Illinois, my childhood home as well as my elementary, middle, and high schools were routinely candidates for eminent domain for Chicago’s O’Hare airport expansion. I did not know ‘Political Scientist’ was a career at the time, but I knew I wanted to understand the effect of such policies, how they transcend local borders, and their impact on the behavior of every day citizens.

What area do you focus your research in and how did you choose it?

My research focuses on a broad range of questions involving (im)migration and citizenship. Although the majority of my work is situated within Western Europe, I also expand my sights to other democracies in the Global North including the United States.

As a child of recent immigrants from different parts of the world, I was committed to understanding my own identity and membership. This ego-centric interest has evolved to understanding the global relationships among policy, prejudice, and politics in shaping immigrant experiences.

What made you want to become a professor?

I want to add to and push forward our scientific understanding of the political world. Part of this work is conducting my own research but another large portion is inspiring the next generation to be critical consumers and careful producers of knowledge. Academia is a great place to do both.

If you weren’t a professor what would you be doing?

Great question! I would like to think I’d be working for an immigrant rights organization or a policy research group.

What made you want to come to UF?

The UF Political Science department dedication to collaborative research with undergraduate and graduate students. I also was excited to join UF as part of a cluster hire on issues of race, identity, and inequality. I am honored to join and learn from this group of thoughtful scholars.

What is one thing about UF that has surprised you?

There are scooters everywhere!

What is a memorable moment you had in one of your classes this semester? 

The most memorable moment from this semester so far, came from an in-class debate on democratic design. Students gave impassioned pleas for and clever retorts in defense of their side. Although no opinions appeared to have been swayed by the end of the debate, we did end class with a standing ovation for each closing statement.

What is one piece of advice (as it pertains to the college, life or otherwise) you would give to students?

Always ask for help whenever you are even remotely unsure of anything– in classes and everyday life. Asking for help almost always gives you more tools to succeed.

What are three things on your bucket list?

This is a tough question! I’d love to see the Aurora Borealis. I also always thought it would be fun to open a bakery and wine shop. Above anything, I want to make sure I’ve made a positive, lasting impact on behalf of my communities.

What is a random fact about yourself that most people do not know?

I was in a dance company in Chicago before I went to graduate school.

Interview done by Eve Vanagas