Hannah Hoffmaster: Finding fulfillment from within

  1. Home

  2. News & Events

  3. Hannah Hoffmaster: Finding fulfillment from within

“In 2020, I set out to take better care of myself, and I lost 110 pounds. Realizing that accomplishment made me feel like I’d been limiting myself on what I was capable of.” 

– Hannah Hoffmaster, HIHIM ’24

Hannah Hoffmaster

Hannah Hoffmaster had sold herself short. Unsure where her career path was headed, or where she wanted it to lead, Hoffmaster knew she wanted to create a better future for herself and her son. A concerted effort to become more healthy physically and the success she found was the spark of confidence she needed to put the wheels in motion, and set her next goal as a college degree. “I’ve found fulfillment in accomplishing goals I set for myself,” said Hoffmaster. “I have come to the realization that I am capable of so much more than I thought.” 

The single parent of a special needs child, Hoffmaster needed a degree program with the flexibility to continue working and attend to her son’s medical needs, and sought guidance from an advisor at the local community college. The advisor suggested health informatics and health information management as a field that would leverage her interest in the health care industry with her experience with core elements of the program, such as working with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-protected patient information via the electronic health records software Epic. The program would allow her to take the prerequisite courses close to home and transfer to the University of Washington (UW) to complete her bachelor’s degree.

The UW Health Informatics and Health Information Management (HIHIM) program’s convenient format meets just two nights per week in-person, and much of the coursework is self-directed and outside of the classroom. “There have been times where I’ve thought ‘I can’t do this,’” says Hoffmaster. “Through the support of the school and just pushing myself through and a strong end goal in mind of building a better future for me and my son, I’ve been able to make it through.” 

Hoffmaster, a first-generation college student, connected early on with HIHIM program advisor and student services manager Andrea Vargas to ease the transition into UW and to map out a path to graduation over three years instead of the typical two years.

“Hannah was very proactive from the start,” Vargas recalls. “When she learned of the option to complete the HIHIM program at a part-time pace, she took us up on it.” Concerned about the transition from a smaller community college to a large research university, Hannah took an active role in her academic planning, connecting to campus resources such as Disability Resources for Students (DRS) office right away. Additionally, Hannah and Vargas met for weekly advising sessions during the first half of the first quarter.

“Hannah and I have very similar stories,” said Vargas. “By speaking openly about my struggles and perseverance through undergrad, graduate school, and beyond, students like Hannah become comfortable in reaching out and developing their own self-advocacy.”

Recently, Hoffmaster was identified as a candidate for a prestigious scholarship opportunity designed to help reduce loan indebtedness. “I was not aware of scholarships being awarded at the end of a student’s program,” she explained, “so I was skeptical when I was told I was being considered for a scholarship opportunity.” She reached out to Vargas, who confirmed the legitimacy of the scholarship.  

“As a single mom of a special needs child, I’ve barely been able to work while I’ve been in the program because I only have so much of myself I can extend, so I have had to take out loans – more than I probably would have liked to – in order to get through,” says Hoffmaster. “This scholarship, combined with other grants and aid, has allowed me to make it through the program almost for free, basically. That’s huge, and I am incredibly grateful to have been selected.” 

Partly the result of earning the scholarship, partly due to her newly discovered confidence, Hoffmaster now has her sights set on something she would not have predicted when starting out her undergraduate studies – a graduate program. “UW has broadened my horizons in a way that my future is open to so many more possibilities than I would have ever thought beforehand.” With graduation on the horizon, Hoffmaster has begun to think about what comes next.

“In my future career, I want to give back in some way to those who have given us (my son and I) everything. We have been sent to Seattle Children’s Hospital via helicopter and ambulance on multiple occurrences, spent a lot of time there, they have saved his life multiple times and continue to provide the care he needs to remain as healthy and thriving as possible,” she says. “I don’t know what we would have done without them, so my goal is to work for Seattle Children’s at some point so I can be a part of this life changing organization.”

“I changed everything in my life, and realized how strong I am. I can do it, I can do this associate’s and then from the associate’s, I can do this bachelor’s, and now from this bachelor’s, I can do this master’s. It’s just all been building on top of each other.”

– Hannah Hoffmaster, HIHIM ’24

Reflecting upon her accomplishments over the past five years, Hoffmaster takes great pride in the hurdles she’s cleared and the perseverance she’s demonstrated. 

“I was not in a healthy place. I was struggling with depression. I was struggling physically. I felt stuck. Becoming physically and mentally healthier also helped me come to the realization that I’m not stuck. I have the ability to do what I want to, so long as I have the drive.”

Upcoming Events

Full Calendar

News Categories