Ackeem Hanna is a sophomore from the Bahamas. He is studying mechanical engineering.
You’re from the Bahamas. Tell me a bit more about that.
There are like 700 islands and keys in the Bahamas, but I am from an island called Freeport, which is on Grand Bahama.
Growing up, there was about 10 of us in one house. My mom took care of me all of her life, and I never had a father in my life. My mom is now pregnant, which is pretty cool. This will be my first sibling. My family is all still in the Bahamas. I went to Jack Hayward Senior High School.
Had you ever been to the United States before coming to college?
I had been to the U.S. on vacations, but I never really thought I would ever live here. The idea was to go to college, but I never knew that it would happen. My high school was a government program. You had to have at least a 3.0 GPA and meet other certain credentials. They kind of pushed us towards colleges in the U.S.
AU was one of the schools I looked at that had mechanical engineering, which I wanted to study. There were two other schools that I could have probably gone to, but I looked up Anderson, and I guess it was a calling for me. Now I like this school. I love this school actually.
There were three people that came here from my high school. I never came to visit here, and at first I got denied my student visa that I needed in order to be able to come here.
It was like a week before school started, and I got denied. I went and tried again, and I got it. I came two days later than when the other freshman came.
I was scared, though. When I got denied, I thought, “Okay, I’m not going to college anymore,” but I am here now.
Knowing that you would hopefully go to college in the U.S., did you always know you wanted to study engineering?
I knew I wanted to be in mechanical engineering before I came to AU. That was my idea, and I am still in it. My grandfather was a mechanical engineer, and he did everything hands-on. He could fix anything—windows, cars, whatever. I just followed in his footsteps I guess.
I don’t know what I want to do with it, though. I do want to be an engineer, and my goal is to get a job here and make enough money where I can actually go back home and open up my own business and help other people get jobs. That’s my goal.
You want to stay in the United States after college, then?
If I could find an internship here and a good job, I would stay. It depends. It completely depends on the job. I don’t have a single regret coming here. Back home, I wouldn’t really have been able to get a mechanical engineering degree. I can actually go to my teachers here and get help. Back home you could, too, I guess, but there are not a lot of majors and stuff to choose from. I don’t regret it at all.
How have you gotten involved on campus, or do you feel as if you have?
I played basketball from the sixth grade to the twelfth grade. I was on the senior team from the eighth grade on. I first thought of being on the basketball team here, but then my classes were really hard, so I decided not to. I am on the track team. I throw javelin and I won three out of the four meets I threw at last year, but I didn’t place in nationals.
I am also always in the CRC. I just stop by sometimes and chill out. I am now on the intramural staff, and that is pretty cool. I like sports, so it’s fun.
Is there anything that you really miss about home that is very different here?
I hate the winter here. I like to see the snow, and that is it. The first time I saw it, I ran outside and started touching it, but after that, I was done. I was done with winter. It went on to February and March, and I felt like that is too long. The coldest I had ever been in before was probably around 50 degrees. The cold is definitely one thing I don’t like about here.
Also, the food is very different. The taste is so much better back home. We eat a lot of fish because we can just go and get it. I live by the beach, so I can go in the water whenever I want and get fish or go fishing. You guys have lakes here, but it is just not the same. You can look down and see the sand in our water it’s so clear. Here is just so different.
What made you stay, why do you now like it here?
I love the people. They are really welcoming and friendly. It doesn’t feel like you are not welcome in this environment. Compared to my island, Indiana seems really big. To go to another island you have to go by plane or boat. Here you can just drive to another state or across the country. That is really different and cool. I lived on the same island for 19 years, and then I came here, so this is very different for me.
What do you miss the most about living in the Bahamas?
I miss my family the most and the food. I eat a lot of seafood, and I really miss conch—a type of seafood. You can do anything with it. I think it’s the style of food that is so different here. Back home we use a lot of seasoning and good flavor. Here, the food tastes bland to me.
How do you feel now in your second year?
I feel like I am a Hoosier now—is that the word? My first year I was a bit shy, but now I feel like I am at home now. This is my place.