At Yale, Hannah Dickson carved a path to leadership

An Air Force ROTC cadet and Davenport College Council co-president, Hannah Dickson says her Yale years have been a primer on how to lead.
Hannah Dickson in her Air Force ROTC uniform.

Hannah Dickson in her Air Force ROTC uniform.

Hannah Dickson says her Yale years have been, in effect, a primer on leadership.

Not least due to her prominent roles in Davenport College, the graduating senior and Air Force ROTC cadet has learned and observed how organizations structure their operations, gather and assess data, and make all manner of decisions.

Along the way, Dickson also spent a summer at an international think tank in London; worked as a U.S. Congressional intern in Washington, D.C.; served as a student assistant in the Yale Office of the General Counsel; and been a trusted hand at the Center for the Study of Corporate Law and the Yale University Art Gallery. She ultimately served as co-president of the Davenport College Council.

I wanted experiences that would give me insight into different branches of government and different institutions,” said Dickson, a double major in history and political science. “It’s cool to see how it all works. But the only thing I really had a plan for was going into the Air Force.”

She’s proudly sticking to it.

Dickson at a marina

Both of Dickson’s parents serve in the U.S. Air Force. In the next month, Dickson will leave her native Texas and continue her military training as a new member of the Air Force Reserves. Later in the year, she’ll be stationed at Patrick Air Force Base in Brevard County, Florida. There she’ll conduct search and rescue missions as a Combat Systems Officer on an HC-130 military transport aircraft.

Dickson said she’ll be taking a couple of important Yale attributes with her: confidence and a sense of community.

One thing that draws a lot of people to Yale is the residential college system, and I definitely wanted to capitalize on that,” she said. “I loved all four years of it, particularly being a FroCo [counseling first-years] and helping to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Likewise, Dickson’s confidence grew as she pushed herself physically and intellectually.

She recalled early morning ROTC training sessions at Payne Whitney Gym; intense days working for the Henry Jackson Society in London, where she helped prepare a report on trends in violent extremism and terrorism in online communities; and the satisfaction of finding her academic calling.

College makes you more open minded,” she said. “I try to bring that approach to all of the things I do.”

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