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NDVS/SB Transition Specialist
Collaborator, Challenger, Grand Forks Native, Mom

One of the most exciting times in a young person’s life is high school graduation. As the time nears, students experience more and more rites of passage and more and more questions about the future. Will I work or go to college? Where will I work? Where will I go to college? How will I pay for college? And for students who are visually impaired or blind, there are even more unknowns. Luckily for students in North Dakota, North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind has someone on staff who can help them navigate all those questions and more.

Shanna Hanson has worked at NDVS/SB for six years as the Transition Specialist. In this role, she helps students and their families navigate the high school years into young adulthood. Other agencies, such as Vocational Rehabilitation, assist students in this age group as well, but Shanna can provide a more specialized service for students who are blind or visually impaired. Students love the opportunities she creates for them, such as work site placements during teen program weeks and an annual summer adventure volunteering for a week in Medora. Shanna enjoys making these connections with her students and watching them develop into successful, independent young adults. “It’s exciting to challenge students and see how they can overcome barriers and reach goals,” she says. Read on to find out more about Shanna and her passion for her job.

What is your educational background?
I graduated from Grand Forks Central High School. I went on to college at Bemidji State University and then transferred to NDSU where I received my bachelor’s degree in Family Therapy and Child Development.

How did you end up at NDVS/SB?
I always have worked with individuals with special needs. I found a great passion working with others, and when this position was open, it offered the chance for me to become more involved with individuals with visual impairments and expand my areas of work with individuals in another area of need.

What is your role at NDVS/SB? 
My role as transition specialist is to collaborate with local school districts to improve the transition process. I attend IEPs and other meetings, so the entire team is aware of the services NDVS/SB provides before and after graduation. I will make referrals and connections with other agencies so that the student can succeed in whatever path they may follow. 

What is your favorite thing about your job?
I enjoy working with an amazing staff and learning from other professionals in the vision field. I find it very rewarding when students and young adults attain the goals they have been working towards. 

Why are transition services so important?
The reason transition is so important is that a child needs to be an advocate for themselves. They need to start now. It’s never too early or late to start talking about what their needs are. It’s very important to sit down with your child, other family members, friends, anyone who knows your child, and brainstorm together about the future. Start early!

Tell us about your life outside of work. 
I was born and raised in Grand Forks. I have been married to my husband for 26 years. He is my high school sweetheart and my best friend. We have one son, Bryar (22), and two daughters, Sadie (20) and Sophia (17). We all enjoy spending time at our lake home, water activities, and going on vacations. 

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