By Ryan Sy
For the first time in Wall High School history, a former student was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Suzy Hansen walked the same hall as current students do and has now received international recognition for her writing. The Pulitzer, which is bestowed by the Columbia University School of Journalism, is the most coveted award for writers. Her first book, “Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World” garnered the nomination this spring.
“Book writing is hard, and I knew I had to really want to do it,” Hansen said. “Well, I was shocked! I had no idea I was even nominated until the day they announced the winners and the two finalists. It feels amazing because this book really meant a lot to me. And I am feeling very grateful and lucky that the committee chose to recognize this book this year.”
Hansen’s book’s message was to show people the influence of America on many foreign countries. In the book, she used foreigners’ points of view and experiences towards other people about America to show how much influence America has on the rest of the world.
“She was a dedicated athlete and mature academic student and I am very happy for her,” said Advanced Placement English teacher Mrs. Robyn Dyba who was Hansen’s 11th grade English teacher. “She had a unique maturity and composure for her age. She was quiet and humble and she did great work.”
During high school, Hansen was editor in chief of the Wall yearbook in 1995. She was also a member of the National Honor Society. Additionally, she was on the senior class homecoming court and a class officer for the Class of ‘95.
“She was a terrific student-athlete who attacked every situation with purpose and enthusiasm,” said former Wall field hockey coach Ms. Nancy Gross who was Hansen’s coach when she was an all-state player. “A happy person, she made each day better for everyone around her.”
As a field hockey player, Hansen was a Group III All-State second team selection.
“She was always well liked by everybody in the school, she was definitely a popular person, but she was also very kind and very nice,” said Wall English teacher Mrs. Kara Kniffin, a classmate of Hansen’s. “I think that she is the type of person that is worthy of it (a Pulitzer nomination) just because of her kind nature.”
Today, Hansen is freelancing for magazines like “The New Republic,” “Harper’s” and “The New York Times Magazine.” She is currently living abroad in Istanbul, Turkey. Her next book that she is currently working on is about Turkey.
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