Hanna Sheehan ‘17 making strides to change the world’s oceans

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Sacred Heart Greenwich alumna Hanna Sheehan ’17, currently a sophomore at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), will combine her passions for music and environmental preservation during a summer internship with The Surfrider Foundation.  Surfrider is an organization which protects the world’s oceans and beaches through its activist network, according to surfrider.org.

Surfrider volunteers work alongside the Pacific Ocean during a beach cleanup in Isla Vista, California. Courtesy of Hanna Sheehan ’17

During her internship, Hanna will be working at Surfrider’s chapter in Isla Vista, California on the “Concert for the Coast” team.  Each spring, Surfrider organizes a concert in Isla Vista to raise money and awareness for the organization, according to islavista.surfrider.org.  The concert, set to take place in the Spring of 2019, will be their twentieth annual concert.  Hanna hopes it will allow people to connect with one another and create a positive communal experience in Isla Vista.
“Music is really important to me for many reasons, one of them being the fact that it can bring all different kinds of people together,” Hanna said.  “A position like this excites me because there is no better way to spread such an amazing message than through music.”
In addition to its chapter in Isla Vista, Surfrider has numerous chapters throughout North America, including locations in Hawaii, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and the Pacific Rim.  However, the Isla Vista chapter is the only student-run sector of the company.  Hanna believes the students’ passion to make a change and effectively express their goals positively influences their work ethic and inspires people to commit to making a difference. 
“I think that, in life, being around people who are determined and motivated by passion is a very important thing,” Hanna said.  “Surfrider is a group of students who are inspired by a love for the oceans and are able to make an impact at a global level, and I wanted to be part of something powerful like that.”
Hanna majors in Spanish and Film and Media Studies at UCSB.  She hopes these studies will enhance the meaning of her work with Surfrider, and she hopes to use the skills she has learned in the real world to fight for change.
“I think that we live in the coolest time because I can feel so much change about to happen,” Hanna said.  “In this sense, I think that the environment does tie into what I want to do because it is film and media that is often the vehicle for this change.”

Surfrider organizes “Concert for the Coast” to raise money and awareness for their foundation.  Courtesy of islavista.surfrider.org

Hanna attended Sacred Heart during her high school years and feels that her education provided her a different perspective on the way she views the world, especially her view of environmental issues.
“Many of my classes at Sacred Heart gave me the life skill of critical thinking, and once that seed is planted in you it can manifest itself in many aspects of life,” Hanna said.  “It becomes hard to look at the world and perceive it in a passive way. This could mean something different in everyone’s lives, but for me, I want to make change so that I can see my tangible impact in the world.”
With a Sacred Heart education as her foundation, Hanna is excited to work with Surfrider because she believes it is a uniting cause. 
“It is really powerful to see people our age come together over such meaningful issues,” Hanna said.  “I love the Earth so much, and we are so lucky to have such a beautiful place to live. After literally going to school on the beach, I feel much more connected to the ocean and I am passionate about keeping my home clean and all of the animals that share the sea with us safe.”

Featured Image by Sydney Gallop ’20