Minion will remember the people from her four years as UI HDSA COE student staff

Monday, August 01, 2016


Hannah Minion
Hannah Minion started working with her older 
sister at the UI HDSA COE as a freshman 
(photo by Owen Wade)

By Sean Thompson

Over the past four years at the UI, spring 2016 graduate Hannah Minion has had five homes (one dorm room, one sorority house and three apartments). She has also had three different majors (anthropology, biology and interdepartmental studies), and three different roommates’ cats living with her. But she only had one student job on campus, working at the UI HDSA Center of Excellence since she was a freshman.

“Four years is a long time having a job as a student,” Minion said. “It’s been great to stay here in a job I enjoy and am good at.”

Furthermore, of all the things Hannah’s older sister Sarah Minion ever passed down to her, this job might have lasted the longest. Hannah was a freshman in 2012 when Sarah was a UI senior, working at the UI HDSA COE. Hannah accepted Sarah’s sage sisterly advice that she should get a student job. Sarah went a step further in helping her sister out and told her supervisor, Karla Anderson, that Hannah was looking for a job. Hannah was then hired to eventually replace Sarah.

For about six months before Sarah’s departure, younger sister Hannah learned the ropes from her. Luckily there’s no sibling rivalry among the Minions, so the experience of being trained by Sarah was a great one for Hannah, who still talks to Sarah every day even though she’s almost 700 miles away in Pittsburgh, Penn.

“It’s tough with her living so far away, but we still talk all the time,” Hannah Minion said.

Much to her surprise, it turns out Sarah wasn’t Hannah’s only family connection to HD. After the sisters had started working at the UI HDSA COE, Minion’s mother revealed that Minion’s grandmother’s father had HD. Minion’s grandmother did not inherit the gene expansion that causes HD. However, Minon’s mother was born without knowing that. Since working here, Minion says she now has a good sense of how different her family’s life would have been had the 50-50 chances played out a different way.

During her time here, Minion has been an integral part of the biweekly HD Clinic, sending out appointment reminders, preparing all relevant files for clinic days and entering data afterward. While those tasks were important, it’s not what she will remember most fondly about her time here. The interdepartmental studies major reflects on volunteering at the 2012 HDSA Iowa City Hoop-A-Thon fundraiser with Sarah as a time they got to be among the greater HD community. She notes her propensity to go all in with decorating the office, whether it was special occasions like Christmas with green-and-red paper chains, snowflakes and holiday banners, or her substantial patchwork of pictures of pets belonging to her and her friends on the bulletin board by her desk. She looks back fondly on trips to the nearby cafeteria to get ice cream with Anderson and other student coworkers.

It’s those coworkers who she wouldn’t have had the pleasure knowing and working for Anderson that top the list of Minion’s favorite things about working here the past four years. She remembers Anderson coming to her on an almost daily basis and asking how things were outside of work.

“It was really nice to have a boss who cared about you and would take a personal interest in your life,” Minion said.

Minion is finishing up her tenure at the COE while looking for a full-time job in her field of study, environmental sciences. She spent time last summer doing an internship on Canada’s west coast researching gray whales, looking at their migration patterns and their diet. That experience made her realize that she wanted to help protect the environment, and she’s interested in conducting environmental impact analyses or working for an environmental nonprofit organization. Preferably she’ll end up on a coast somewhere near the water.

“I’ve lived in Iowa for 17 years so it’d be nice to change it up,” Minion said. “It’ll be interesting to start a new job that I’m not used to, but I also think it will be exciting. I’m ready for a change and to try something new.”

Q&A with Hannah Minion

Question: Do you have any fun and exciting plans for the summer?
Hannah Minion: I’m going on a camping trip with my parents in Oregon and visiting family in Chiliwack and Vancouver, B.C. But finding a job is priority number one.

antique furniture 2Q: What’s your favorite hobby?
HM: I like to go to antique stores and collect things, mostly furniture. I like older things and I’m trying to be more frugal. I’ve moved around a lot so I’ve found it’s so much easier to find something second-hand and antique that works just as well but is cheaper and more disposable.

Q: What’s your favorite book and favorite movie?
HM: My favorite series is Harry Potter. They don’t get old, they have so many great lessons in them and I read them at least once a year and have been reading them since I was a teen.

My favorite book is “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. It’s a love story, but not your conventional love story.

Q: Who would you want to play you in a movie?
HM: The only person who pops into my head is Shania Twain. One time someone said that I kind of looked like her. I like to sing her songs in the car sometimes, but she’s the only celebrity someone has told me I look like.

Canadian flagQ: You are from Canada originally. Do people hit you with any stereotypes when they find out you are Canadian?
HM: Yeah, people start talking in an accent like [in an exaggerated Canadian accent] “are you going to go find some moose, eh?” Or they think the only thing we drink is maple syrup. I laugh, but I like to mess with them also. I’ve convinced people that there are no cars up in Canada and we live in igloos. People think it’s completely different but it’s very much the same.