When Tiffany Hanna, from Nassau in the Bahamas, graduated summa cum laude from Wagner College last month with a degree in economics, she was given the school’s top prize, the Dr. Donald W. Spiro Award for Outstanding Academic and Co-Curricular Achievements.
Now she has added another “top” award to her record.
On Wednesday, the Northeast Conference named Hanna this year’s NEC Female-Team Student Athlete of the Year — making this the ninth year in a row that a Wagner College student athlete has earned the NEC’s most prestigious individual honor.
The NEC uses the Student Athlete of the Year Award, sponsored by Provident Bank, to recognize individual excellence each year in academics and athletics as well as leadership and contributions to one’s community.
The award, given to the leader in a pool of 10 finalists, punctuates a four-year resume for Hanna that features multiple outstanding achievements in both the athletic and academic realms.
She set three Wagner women’s track & field records during her time on Grymes Hill. The Bahamian-born thrower owns the Seahawks’ top all-time marks in the hammer throw, the weight throw and the discus. Hanna thrice earned the NEC Women’s Track & Field Most Outstanding Field Performer (Throws) Award, capturing the honor at the 2019 and 2021 NEC Outdoor Championships as well as the 2020 NEC Indoor Championships.
In May, Hanna single-handedly scored 23 points at the NEC Outdoor Championships. The senior won the third NEC gold medal of her career by out-classing the rest of the field in the discus. She settled for runner-up honors in the hammer throw and placed fourth overall in the shot put.
Arguably more impressive than her athletics exploits, Hanna’s work as an economics major has resulted in multiple prestigious honors. While also completing minors in English and mathematics, Hanna graduated with a 3.98 grade-point average. In addition to winning this year’s Spiro Award, she was named to the NEC Commissioner’s Honor Roll four times.
Last year, Hanna won Wagner’s Douglas Gee Morton Award in Economics for academically outstanding work in her major and as a student of good moral character. The previous year, she won the college’s Distinguished Leader Award.
It was during Hanna’s sophomore year when she engaged in some of her most-satisfying service work. As part of Wagner’s alternative winter break program, Hanna traveled to Africa, where she worked with Step30 Kenya. Along with her fellow students, Hanna provided shoes for Kenyan children who were infected with the parasitic chigoe flea. During their stay, group members toured Kibera, in Nairobi, the largest urban slum in Africa.
“This [trip] was a defining moment for me,” said Hanna. “It allowed me to recognize and address some of my assumptions about what poverty looks like. Instead of the despair I had expected, I found a community that was thriving with hope and spirit, even if it did not thrive with wealth. The trip helped me understand the importance of love, community and cooperation between people from all walks of life.”
Hanna also experienced an epiphany of sorts that same year at the 2019 NEC Indoor Championships. Despite owning the top seed mark in the weight throw, Hanna settled for a silver medal in the event and displayed visible disappointment at the performance.
“I tried to apologize to my coach [for the performance]. My coach looked at me and told me that I needed to relax in order to reach my full potential as an athlete,” said Hanna. “That allowed me to understand that it all starts in your head. It’s all about your mindset when you step into the circle. I had to focus on getting better and not tearing myself down. When I made that mental shift during my sophomore year is when my performance really started to pick up.”
Later that semester, Hanna went on to earn the NEC Most Outstanding Field Performer (Throws) Award for her efforts at the conference’s outdoor championships.
Hanna’s achievements extend far beyond the classroom and the throws circle. Hanna has served a number of organizations in her native Bahamas, including the Persis Rodgers Home for the Aged and the Bahamas Red Cross. She also volunteered for the Bahamas Salvation Army and Doctors Hospital.
During Summer 2020, Hanna interned at the Central Bank of the Bahamas, conducting research on ways to improve financial inclusion in her home country.
During her undergraduate career, Tiffany Hanna was inducted into the Wagner College circle of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society, and was a member of the college's Women’s Professional Network, the Black Student Union and the M.O.V.E. Program, a seven-week summer initiative that introduces Wagner student athletes to career and professional opportunities along with internship and real work experiences.