Emory nurse helps students from underserved communities succeed

Emily Hannan created Broader Horizons when she was just a senior at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs

Emily Hannan is a 24-year-old nurse at Emory University Hospital’s Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit.When she's not taking care of her patients, she's preparing young people to succeed in college and life.Hannan founded Broader Horizons, a weeklong program that navigates high schoolers through college applications.Students must first complete the six-week Horizons Atlanta program.I could see how much Horizons was helping in the kids’ lives in their education, Emily Hannan, founder of Broader Horizons

Many recent high school graduates might be tempted to slack off a bit. They probably aren’t spending their time creating a program to help prepare other students for college. And they likely aren’t continuing to lead it even when going away to pursue their own academic goals. But that’s just what Emily Hannan, a 24-year-old nurse at Emory University Hospital’s Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit, did.

As a senior at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs, Hannan created Broader Horizons, a weeklong program that’s offered to ninth through 12th graders who have completed the Horizons Atlanta program through the school. Horizons Atlanta is offered to Title 1 students who are referred to the program, which offers a tuition-free, six-week summer experience designed to close the opportunity gap. After getting its start at Holy Innocents, it’s grown to include 11 programs in Atlanta and Athens.

Hannan started volunteering with Horizons Atlanta in the summer after her sophomore year and said she was impressed by the positive effect it had on students. She was also asked to be on the Horizons Atlanta site board, where she learned more about the logistics of the program and how things are run.

“I could see how much Horizons was helping in the kids’ lives in their education,” she said. And not only was the program yielding impressive results, it was something kids loved attending.

As her volunteering continued, Hannan was considering her capstone senior project options and wanted to take Horizons a step further. The program took students through eighth grade, but then stopped. With her own experiences applying for colleges as an inspiration, she designed Broader Horizons to help students who had graduated from the Horizons Atlanta program take the next step in preparing for higher education.

“I knew I wanted to do something with Horizons,” she explained. “I was kind of getting into the process of going to college and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.”

Even though both her parents graduated from college and she had resources to help make her journey easier, Hannan realized the process of preparing for and applying to universities can be stressful.

“I had all these resources, and it was still overwhelming and hard to navigate,” she said.

She thought of college preparatory activities and visits to help students prepare for the next step in their academic careers. As part of the capstone program, students created proposals and asked for funding, and Hannan’s plan for Broader Horizons was approved.

Since 2017, the program has helped students with SAT/ACT tutoring, meeting with college counselors at Holy Innocents, touring college campuses and more. The college visits, Hannan realized, could be difficult for some students because they can be expensive and were usually conducted during the day, a time when many parents work and can’t leave their jobs.

The Broader Horizons program is now seeing some of its former students graduate from colleges they visited during the program, including Kennesaw State University and Georgia State University.

“They’re very impressive students,” Hannan said.

Even though she’s gone from being a high school student to a nurse, her commitment hasn’t waned. She serves as a member of the Horizons Atlanta at Holy Innocents Advisory Council, and was recently honored with the Horizons Legacy Award for being a committed and avid supporter of the program.

Kate Kratovil, the Horizons Atlanta program director at Holy Innocents, worked with Hannan to fulfill the creation of Broader Horizons and speaks of her in glowing terms.

“Emily is now a nurse at Emory, and she’s really a giver. She’s someone who really wants to help people. She’s someone I describe as a quiet leader,” Kratovil said.

Hannan said she isn’t vying for the spotlight, but instead is doing work that’s meaningful to her. “It really just comes from her heart,” she added.