Hannah Exler

The small school climate encouraged me to get to know my professors and get support in office hours. Because I knew that my professors knew me, I felt more accountable for myself personally and academically.

Hannah Exler BA '18



Degree and Class Year

BA ’18


West Lake Village, California

Current City

San Pablo, California




Co-president of Hillel

Job Title, Organization

High School History Teacher at Granada Hills Charter

Continuing Studies

MA in Education

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Academic, Motivating, Quirky
What was your favorite class? How has it expanded your knowledge?

This is such a hard question to answer! I took Modern German History with Maureen Healy my first year, and that was the class that made me want to major in history. I remember reading a book called Ordinary Men that explored how ordinary German men were transformed into Nazi soldiers, and ultimately, murderers. It was a whole new perspective that I had never learned about. The most moving class that I have taken was Education in a Complex World with Alejandra Favela. We got to spend part of the class at a high school in Portland and were able to work in classrooms, which was a fantastic experience for me as I hope to become a teacher. I learned so much about interacting with students, and overall it was an incredible experience.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I was initially attracted to Lewis & Clark for many of the reasons most people are: it is a small liberal arts college located in a beautiful place. My visit to campus was really what made the decision for me. I sat in on a gender studies class, and I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, everyone here is so intelligent and has so many interesting things to say.” I wanted to be at a school where the students were eager to go to class and learn, and I really gravitated toward the small, conversational classrooms.

What did your time in Spain add to your L&C experience?

I honestly did not plan on studying abroad—the idea intimidated me too much. As a sophomore, though, I heard many of my friends talking about their plans to go abroad, so I tagged along to the overseas meeting. If I went abroad, I knew I wanted to be on an English-speaking program because I felt unprepared to use the Spanish I had learned in high school and college. I went to the Ireland station first, and wasn’t super impressed (the program just didn’t seem like it was for me). I walked toward the Sevilla station out of curiosity, and when I got there, the former trip leader could not stop talking about how amazing the program was. I can’t quite describe why, but I was immediately excited about this program—even though I wasn’t planning on going to a Spanish-speaking country. I grew SO much from my time in Spain. Not only did my Spanish improve immensely, but I learned a lot about myself. I saw so many incredible places and met some truly wonderful people. Going abroad (regardless of where you go) is always such a learning experience. Going as a student is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and one I wouldn’t change for anything.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Get to know your professors! Seriously—this is one of the best things about academics at Lewis & Clark. Forming a relationship with your professors is not only beneficial for your grades, but it makes your classes so much more enjoyable. Graduating from Lewis & Clark this semester and knowing that I have a few professors that have gotten to know me as a student and a person feels really nice. As for another piece of advice, I would tell prospective students to not be afraid to reach out in various places for friends, hobbies, and extracurriculars. I have found that the places on campus that I am most happy are places that I did not initially see myself.

What have you been doing since graduation?

After graduation, I began a yearlong student teaching and Masters program in the Bay Area. After that, I began my first year of teaching high school history and have now been teaching for four years. I am planning on relocating back to the LA area where I grew up at the end of this school year to continue teaching high school.

How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for post-college life?

Being at Lewis & Clark taught me that support and success manifest in the relationships and connections one builds. Whether it was in class, clubs, or social interactions with peers, I felt my best when I felt connected with others. In a more academic sense, I think Lewis & Clark’s rigorous history department prepared me to write, analyze, and think critically.

Why did you major in history?

I initially planned on majoring in English, however, my mind changed after taking Mo Healy’s Modern German History class the first semester of my first year. I had never felt so excited to learn history, and I found myself signing up for more history classes than English the following semester.

What would you say is the most important thing you learned at Lewis & Clark?

Self advocacy! The small school climate encouraged me to get to know my professors and get support in office hours. Because I knew that my professors knew me, I felt more accountable for myself personally and academically.

How do you stay connected to Lewis & Clark as an alum?

I have attended alumni regional happy hours over the years and I try to keep in touch with former professors and peers as best as I can. However, I think I feel the most connected to Lewis & Clark in my daily life as a high school teacher. I often find myself thinking about my professors in the history department and I hear their words as I write curriculum and teach my students, and I aspire to show the same excitement and passion for history as they did for me; it really made all the difference.