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American University, Peace Corps mourn death of alumna Hanna Huntley

Huntley died while volunteering in Armenia

American University, Peace Corps mourn death of alumna Hanna Huntley

Franny Valour, left, and Hanna Huntley were freshman year roommates. They remained friends after college.

Hanna Huntley, a 2016 American University graduate, died Oct. 31 in an automobile accident in Armenia, where she was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. The Peace Corps confirmed her death in a Wednesday news release.

Huntley, 23, is survived by her parents, Krista and Col. Peter D. Huntley, and her brothers, Max and Lt. Peter Oscar Huntley.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in international studies from AU in 2016, concentrating in peace, global security and conflict resolution. While at AU, Huntley was a D.C. Reads tutor and active in Chi Alpha Campus Ministries and the AU Independent Arts Collective, according to the Peace Corps release.

Huntley spent some time as Chi Alpha’s community service chair and organized outreach events in the AU community, said Natalie Hill, the interim co-director of Chi Alpha. Hill said an AU memorial service for Huntley is in the works.

“She was strongly involved in social justice and reaching out to those who were hurting and broken in our city and worldwide,” Hill told The Eagle in an email. “She was passionate about exploring and sharing where her faith as a Christian aligned with that.”

Franny Valour, who graduated from AU in 2015, was Huntley’s freshman year roommate. They lived in a triple in Anderson Hall, where they quickly became “inseparable” and remained friends after college. Before Huntley left for Armenia, the pair took a weeklong road trip across North Carolina.

“Hanna had an incredible ability to welcome all and any into her life,” Valour said in a message. “She built sincere relationships with all types of people and lived her life honestly and free.”

In a Thursday letter to students, Christine Chin, interim dean of the School of International Service, said Huntley had a passion for helping others and “was always there to lend a listening ear and a word of encouragement to her friends.”

“She passionately gave her time and heart to volunteering for anti-human trafficking initiatives and outreach to the homeless community here in D.C.,” Chin said. “Hanna was much liked, and she was a wonderful, positive presence for all around her.”

Chin said Huntley achieved one of her lifelong dreams when she was accepted to the Peace Corps. In June, she began her service as a community and youth development leader in Armenia.

While in the country, Huntley worked at the Sevan Youth Club, a nongovernmental organization in Sevan, Armenia. According to the Peace Corps release, she made notable contributions during her time there by participating in the opening of the community’s first artistic teahouse, helping to organize a music festival and starting an English club.

Richard Mills, the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, released a statement mourning Huntley’s death Thursday. Mills said he met Huntley when he swore her in to Peace Corps service in June.

“She raised her right hand and took the same oath that all public servants take – an oath I myself took many years ago,” Mills said. “For many of the Armenian people she interacted with every day ... Hanna Huntley was the United States: her actions, words, values and the help she gave them were representative of our entire nation.”

Huntley’s time in Armenia was not her first experience with long-term service abroad, Valour said. She also lived in Romania for several months, caring for young orphans and teaching them English, according to the Peace Corps release.

“Hanna was selfless in every sense of the word, but especially with her time, she gave back to her community with the intent of making the world a better place,” Valour said.

Students seeking support can visit the Counseling Center or the Dean of Students staff during drop-in hours Monday through Friday from 2-4 p.m. Chaplains are also available to community members.

hsamsel@theeagleonline.com


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