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Student Profile: Rajan Hanstad

by Web on March 29, 2016

Rajan Hanstad makes the most of each day at Millsaps College.

He is the resident hall director of New South Hall, serves on the Student Conduct Council, works for the Millsaps Athletics Department, and finds time to be a member of the Millsaps basketball team. He also contributes as an intern to work at the Mississippi Democratic Party in downtown Jackson.

“There are so many great organizations and clubs that students at Millsaps can get involved in and that can make your schedule very busy,” said Hanstad, a senior who is majoring in in history and political science with minors in sociology and American studies.

“Although this is a challenge, I think it is also a testament to the level of diligence and leadership exhibited by the students at Millsaps.”

Hanstad, who is from Seattle, Wash., said he wanted to attend a small college with rigorous academics and a tight-knit community in a different region of the country from the West Coast. “I considered many different options, but in retrospect, I believe Millsaps was, by far, the best choice for me,” he said.

Conversations with students from the South have had a profound impact, he said.

“Many of my peers have backgrounds, perspectives and world views that I had not come into contact with in my previous education,” he said. “A great example of this would be a class I took called Mississippi State History. All of the other students in the class were from the Deep South, and with this background came a perspective that was much different from mine. I felt like my perspective of Mississippi in general was transformed through this class by engaging with my peers and learning from their unique worldviews about the place they called home.”

Classes at Millsaps are small in size, which allows for intense, in-depth discussions, and a low student-to-professor ratio means professors are easily accessible and personable, he said, noting that the experience is completely different from that of a large lecture hall packed with students.

Dr. Louwanda Evans, assistant professor of sociology-anthropology; Dr. Stephanie Rolph, assistant professor of history; and Dr. Nathan Shrader, assistant professor of political science, are among Hanstad’s favorite professors.

“What qualifies them as my favorites is the unrelenting passion they show toward their students and their commitment to their students’ success,” he said. “Each one of these professors has gone out of their way to help me with my coursework. I would not be where I am today without these professors.”

Hanstad traveled last May to Vietnam and Cambodia with Dr. Robert McElvaine, the Elizabeth Chisolm Professor of History, for the course “More than Just a War.”

“I have travelled to many countries in Southeast Asia and even lived there for a considerable amount of time, but I had never been to Vietnam or Cambodia and this class presented a perfect opportunity for me,” he said. “I absolutely loved the trip. The other students that I went with were so much fun and we created a special bond over the experiences we had there."

After graduation in May, Hanstad plans to enroll in a joint degree program to earn a Doctorate of Jurisprudence and a Master’s in Public Policy.