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Hannah Baghdadi with Elephant

Hannah Baghdadi

Hello everyone! My name is Hannah Baghdadi, and I will be majoring in conservation biology.

Answering the question, “Where were you born?” is easy: Alexandria, Virginia. My response to the question, “Where are you from?” is much more complex. From as early as six months old my family has uprooted every two or three years. After Alexandria we lived in Turkey, Florida, Brazil, Cyprus, and India. Leaving friends behind was difficult, but the opportunity to experience new cultures was worth all of the challenges that come with being a foreign service kid.

With each country I visited I became more and more astounded by our planet’s multifaceted yet interconnected nature.In high school my primary extracurricular pursuits were theatre and academic competitions. I am a member of the International Thespians Society, starred in seven full-scale productions during the last four years, and explored Broadway both through interacting with professionals and by attending numerous shows. I also experienced many global theatre traditions such as Kathakali in India, Khon drama in Thailand, and water puppetry in Vietnam. For three years of high school I competed in “academic games.” My team won gold medals at the Middle East South Asia Conference (MESAC) held in Abu Dhabi. Though my repertoire of obscure facts span all subjects, biology was definitely my strength.

So why ESF? My passion for conservation traces back to a lifetime infatuation with cheetahs. My bedroom walls were plastered with articles and homemade posters. Instead of toys I demanded spotted bed sheets, adoption certificates, and donations for my birthday. At the National Zoo I spoke with a zookeeper about conservation strategies and decided that I would single-handedly save the threatened species. While deciding on colleges I lacked the former confidence I had held as a child. Was environmental science the right field for me? I searched desperately for signs and realized a few things. Visiting elephant sanctuaries, spotting tiger tracks, and identifying Chesapeake Bay wildlife from a kayak were some of my fondest memories. During my first visit to ESF I couldn’t stop smiling. My IB Environmental Science teacher awarded me a certificate for excellence in the subject. I welled up with pride when told that stumpies “wanted to save the world.”

Having witnessed much of the world at this early stage of my life I know now that I’m confident about one thing: it’s a world worth saving, and ESF is the perfect place for me to start.

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