Kirsten Hany ’03, M.S. ’14, is like many Illinois State students as she juggles work, family, and courses in the midst of a pandemic. Hany is a full-time teacher at University High School in the Social Science Department, a part-time professor for the College of Education, and mom to Grace (age 14) and Phillip (age 12).

Hany’s desire to create a welcoming and inclusive classroom for her students pushed her to pursue a doctoral degree focused on trauma informed practices in secondary classrooms. She employs an intersectional framework, meaning she seeks to understand how the intersection of students’ most salient identities influences how they experience and process trauma.

Thanks to scholarship support, Hany’s research has now extended beyond theory. She’s in the process of creating an app that students can use to identify their feelings and engage in mindfulness techniques that encourage neurological regulation.

“We were looking at how to use adaptive technology and wanted a platform to better connect teachers and students,” said Hany of the impetus for the app’s development. “We were able to conceptualize the platform and create mock-ups, but developing the technology was out of my price range.”

The Bon Accord Award—for which a professor nominated Hany—was the piece that moved Hany’s ideas forward.

“This scholarship takes educators who have ideas that feel really big and really scary, and show them how to manage it,” she said. “It was just the encouragement I needed.”

Hany is no stranger to making big goals manageable. She completed her master’s while working full-time and plans to complete her doctorate degree in May 2023. When asked why she juggles it all, she turns the focus back to her students.

“I’ve always wanted to be a better classroom teacher. The access to knowledge and support I’ve received from my professors has been that missing piece for me,” said Hany. “I now have that ‘why’ piece. I’m excited to apply my new knowledge and understanding to my teaching.”

The Bon Accord Award was established in 1987 by Maureen Brady, a 1967 Illinois State University graduate. The scholarship is awarded to a graduate or undergraduate student with a career goal to use emerging technology in educational development for teaching and/or research. To learn more about scholarships that support College of Education students like Hany, visit