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Hanna's Story: When Persistence Pays Off


I recently had the chance to sit down with a student who graduated from Portland State University, and I asked about her experience after graduation. You know, the scary part! Hanna Fransman has crushed a lot of her goals before, during, and after college, so we reflected on her time at Portland State and how she was able to get to where she is now.

Hanna is a Project Designer with Skylab Architecture in downtown Portland. She came to PSU as an international student from Falun, Sweden. At PSU, she worked hard with her packed and chaotic Architecture student’s schedule. She joked that one of her daily goals included getting at least one hour of sleep a night. During the final part of college, she used relationships she had with Architecture professors to network with potential employers. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture in the Spring of 2019. Hanna sent out her portfolio to a couple of different firms and was able to apply with the experience she obtained while she was getting her degree. All this hard work paid off and she landed a job at her #1 choice. Great job, Hanna!

Her journey at Portland State University began when she met Samuel Dunlop, the Director of International Recruitment and Outreach, at a college fair in Stockholm, Sweden. She had studied for one year of high school in Tacoma, Washington and loved the Pacific Northwest so much that she decided to come back. She worked closely with Sam during her admission process and he helped connect her with a couple scholarships through the school, including the International Cultural Service Program. “PSU offered me the best scholarships, both for being an international student and through my department, which played a large role in my decision.”

Hanna told me that she is still very close with her high school study abroad family in Tacoma, but she wanted to build a community of friends in Portland. She had a lot of opportunities to connect with other international students, especially through her position as a coordinator with the International Cultural Service Program. She also attended community events held by the International Women’s Community and events held by the Office of International Student Services. “The international community at PSU is incredible and really helped me find my place on campus where I felt like I was able to really connect with my community.”

She told me how grateful she was for the staff and resources in the Office of International Student Services. “From the very first day they were extremely supportive of me with everything I needed, like getting student visas showing me how to balance being in the Honors Program, have a social life and be successful in time-intensive classes. I had a great relationship with Rachel Dietz, the International Student Life Advisor for the Office of International Student and Scholar Services. She helped me so many times when I needed support. Rachel has taught me so much about leadership and mentoring, which has helped me grow both professionally and as an individual.”



It’s not often that we meet people as committed to their goals as Hanna. During our conversation, I could tell that she is an extremely dedicated, hard-working individual, who was used to having a busy schedule and yet humble about her accomplishments. She had support in a lot of different ways and truly made the most out of it. “The faculty in the Architecture Department are incredible! They put you in contact with their connections and make it easy for you to succeed. But you have to meet them halfway and show that you’re committed. If you put in the time and dedication, you will be successful.”

We talked about the switch from being a full-time student to getting a full-time job. “It was an identity crisis at first! We spend our whole lives in school and so we know how to be a good student. I had to find a new routine around working. I have to be very intentional with my time and make an effort to see friends and try new things.”

Her advice to students in college: “Don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things while you’re in school. Attend as many events as possible. You will be much busier once you’re out of school and won’t have such easy access to those types of opportunities. Also, there are plenty of general scholarships available for students to apply for every year — I don't think nearly enough people know of or take advantage of this!”

So what’s next for Hanna? Her goals are to get more experience working in her field and then go back to school to get a Master of Architecture degree.

Dedication in school helped Hanna get her dream job through the opportunities she found at PSU. With support from professors and staff, she channeled her motivation and transformed her dreams into goals. Her story shows that with devotion, anyone can be successful. Our team here at PSU is dedicated to giving students strong connections and a supportive community.

Are you an international student and interested in PSU? Challenge what’s possible and achieve your goals. Connect with an admissions counselor to see how PSU can support your journey.

Honors College, International Student Services, International Students, PSU Students, Scholarships, student stories, women