This is Dr. Michael Hanna. He is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Vanguard University and has been teaching for the past eight years. Michael was raised in Burbank, Los Angeles with an older brother in a Christian household with his parents. He attends an Orthodox Christian church in Orange County where he serves both the high school and college ministry. He is self-described as somebody who does not have any particular favorite food but enjoys snacking on candy, specifically the green apple Hi-chew.
Growing up, Michael enjoyed playing basketball recreationally and continues to play with church members. After graduating high school, he went to the University of California, Irvine where he studied neurobiology. There, he developed an interest in the formation and attenuation of drug-associated members. He would later continue his research looking at mitochondrial alterations in down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease cells. Looking back, he remembers being able to see God's creation while taking his neuroscience classes.
"Going into college, I remember being fascinated by the brain. It's the only part of the body that we use to study the same part of the body. I did not really have a plan to be a professor but it kind of came naturally after finishing my PhD."
Upon defending his dissertation, Michael taught a class at Mt. San Antonio Community College and Los Angeles Trade Technical College. He remembers learning how important it was to him to be able to share his Christian faith in the classroom. Soon after, he was brought on board as a professor at Vanguard.
"Twice a month, the youth and I go to the outskirts of Los Angeles, where we serve the homeless. We pack sandwiches, chips and drinks to hand out. Though we give away food and though there is hunger among the homeless, the reality is that no one on Skid Row will really die of starvation. The more essential factor is that there is a lack of human connection. We find that most homeless feel they are seen as objects of other people’s philanthropy. The point of going out there is to show them on the human level that they are seen and recognized. If conversations come up about what we believe or about what church we go to, then that's great too. We choose the outskirts of LA so that we can be in an environment that will make it easier to have those conversations."
When Michael is not working, he enjoys spending time with his church community. Vanguard is thankful for Michael's heart of compassion to serve the youth and the homeless while educating Vanguard students in the psychology department.
- university news