Stuck in Laos

Not only did Hana Seastedt ’20 graduate in three years, majoring in public health, she did so halfway across the world.

She prefers to live ahead of the curve. Not only did Hana Seastedt ’20 graduate from Santa Clara University in three years, majoring in public health and minoring in biology, she did so halfway across the world in Laos. With no plans to slow down, Seastedt hopes to begin a master’s program in public health at the prestigious London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, which is at the forefront of COVID-19 research.

In the essay portion of her grad school application—written before COVID-19 surfaced—Seastedt described the importance of developing an emergency response system to rapidly identify, track, and contain outbreaks of infectious diseases. She also posited: How would global coordination work in a looming pandemic?

“And, like, a month later,” she recalls, “there is a pandemic and it is exactly what I warned in my master’s application.”

But Seastedt, 21, never predicted she’d be taking her last quarter at SCU online from her family’s home in Laos, a small country in Southeast Asia wedged between Thailand and Vietnam where courses taught by day in California were the middle of the night for her.

Born in Southern California, Seastedt was 9 when her family moved to Ethiopia, then Laos where her father, Eric Seastedt ’91, works for a non-profit global health organization.

Growing up overseas “was a huge culture shock to me,” she says. But California was never far from her mind, nor were thoughts of attending her father’s alma mater.

While her dad wishes the family could have celebrated her June graduation on campus, Seastedt views it differently. “It’s kind of a unique time to be graduating. It will be something I remember for the rest of my life.”

Hana Seastedt '20 in Laos
Finishing her final quarter halfway across the world from her classmates was difficult, Seastedt says, but her professors were helpful in coming up with creative solutions. Photo courtesy Hana Seastedt.
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