Student Spotlight: Hannah Langlie

Hannah Langlie

Hannah Langlie at the top of the Space Needle in December 2012.

Junior journalism student Hannah Langlie is on a mission – a mission to show everyone that traveling the world with a disability is possible.

Langlie has cerebral palsy (CP), a non-progressive movement disorder that means she spends most of her time in a wheel chair. But that has not stopped her from doing things that many college students enjoy. Langlie was accepted to study abroad in London this summer through the English Department at the University of Washington. She started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to bring a companion with her on the trip.

“This campaign goes farther than me going on this trip,” she said. “That’s what it is, but it also means that if I go out there and show what I did, then universities will expand their resources for people to show that studying abroad is a possibility for everyone. I’m just hoping to help whoever comes after me. I envision having the trip of my life; hopefully I can make the trip of someone else’s life too.”

Langlie has visited Europe (London, Dublin, Paris, Bruges, and Brussels) once before and knows that she has to think about many things that most people don’t when travelling.

“Just like everyone else, I have my routine and that involves certain things that I have to set up for myself, which may not be readily available when traveling,” Langlie said. “It’s hard for anybody to travel abroad, but there are certain things that I have to take into consideration, like access, where I can stay, is there an elevator, how can I get from A to B – it’s really a determining factor when you get in that environment.”

Langlie said there are other factors that people with other kinds of disabilities, such as sensory or learning, have to take into account. Beyond just having the travel bug, she hopes that by teaming up with news sources and writing her own blog, she can document her experience and share what did and didn’t work. She has already written two articles for the Seattle Globalist, giving advice to students with disabilities who plan to travel abroad.

Langlie’s goal is to get a job at a publication after gradation either in Seattle or her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. She is involved with organizations specifically for CP and also for people with all sorts of disabilities, but says she only brings her condition into her writing when it is applicable.

“I don’t always want to focus on me, me, me – it’s more for universal experiences,” she said. “Someone will read what I write and have been in the exact situation going through security at the airport. When it’s appropriate I will obviously bring myself into it, but I try to maintain that I can only speak for myself with what I have experienced.”

“CP is not central, but it is part of who I am,” she said.

Langlie’s study abroad trip is June 16 to July 23 – follow along with her experience on her blog here.