Humboldt State University

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An interview with Alumni Anita Hanson


Following her graduation in 1991 from HSU’s Business Administration and Accounting pro-gram, Hanson went on to pursue a MBA in Environmental Policy and Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and attended John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, study-ing Leadership and Creative Collaborative Solutions. 

Hanson recently retired from her position as the Deputy Under Secretary for Man-agement for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration (NCA) in Washington D.C.

Tell me a bit about yourself. What are you passionate about? 

In my free time, and hopefully my retire-ment, I am a glass artist. I do a lot of work with warm glass. In doing this kind of art-work, I make anything from jewelry at the small end to large bowls, platters, decora-tive items and wall hangings. It’s fun, it’s relaxing, and what I’ve found fascinating about it is that there will be a piece that I will absolutely hate and think is hideous, but someone else will come along and think it’s beautiful. I’ve learned not to throw anything away. 

You were a student here at HSU, what made you choose this University in particular?

I was working for a research institute in the Bay Area. I had gotten to where I could get without a college degree, supervising a group of ac-counting technicians. Anytime a position became open for an auditing job, they all knew I could do the work, but I didn’t have a college degree. This student came in to work for me who was from Humboldt State, and she told me to check out the University. I came up for the weekend and I fell in love with the area. Two weeks later I gave my notice and about a month later I was enrolled at HSU. When I made the decision to go back to school, Humboldt made it easy.

So, you are a Veteran, where was your Service?

I was a Navy Musician stationed in New Orleans, if you have to be in the Navy, being a musician is the way to be. As you can tell I have an artistic side as well as a business side. I spent four years in the Navy and actually got injured and had to get out. It gave me school benefits which I am truly blessed for. 

What have you taken away from your work at NCA?

I am really blessed to be able to work at an organization where we have such a strong mission. Not everybody gets to say that. We are doing more for this generation of Veterans than we have ever done before. I am hopeful for them. If you want to do something as a young Veteran today, there’s a lot of opportunities for you to take advantage of. 

Do you have any advice for HSU students?

Don’t be afraid to take risks and learn something new. Don’t let the degree that you pick drive what you do. You don’t have to work for somebody else, you can work for yourself. There are lots of resources out there, people just have to have a little faith in themselves. And work for something you love, because you’ll be working a long time.