Extraordinary Woman – Stacy Hahn


A South Tampa resident, Stacy Hahn has a full life that includes her family (husband Jeff and their three boys, twins Ethan and Jackson, 8, and Aidan, 5, and two dogs, Kendall and Murphy), her work as a professor in USF’s College of Education and her Education First campaign for Hillsborough County School Board, District 6, a countywide seat.


“I was fortunate to have grown up with opportunities to pursue my goals and having a good education was at the foundation for many successful outcomes in my life. I’ve spent my career ensuring that others have similar education opportunities. I’m blessed with a career that gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction and a family that is unconditionally loving and supportive. I feel extremely fortunate to call Tampa home!”


What do you think is the secret to your family’s success?

There are many things that contribute to Jeff and me having a strong family: love, respect, appreciation, shared responsibility, encouragement, faith and communication, to name a few. Most important is our commitmentto our family. Jeff and I make our family our highest priority. We all face enormous demands on our time, and our family life is always threatened by competing priorities, whether or not we work outside the home. But we have learned to distinguish the important things, like spending time with our children, from the urgent things, like ever-present project deadlines and chores. We place a high priority on making memories as a family.


What is your biggest fear?

My biggest fear is not living up to my true potential. I know so many people who are at a similar place in life as I am, and it’s a place and time when you really start to question this idea of living up to potential. I used to think of it as an outcome — something written in stone the day I was born that I was supposed to become. Now I consider it a concept that changes with the ebb and flow of my life. It is, in fact, less about the results of my effort and more about the how I live my life — with authenticity, compassion and integrity. To me this is living to my true potential and something I have to strive to accomplish throughout my life.


What advice would you give to other women?

Never be afraid to fail! Maya Angelou said, “Courage allows the successful woman to fail and learn powerful lessons from the failure so that, in the end, she didn’t fail at all.” That mantra really has sustained me during the past year after I thoughtfully made a decision to launch my campaign for Hillsborough County School Board. I‘ve found that most people with a life that appears very positive can give you a list of the negative events that got them there. So what we need to remember is that failure is a lesson. It’s a chance to go in a different direction and be stronger for it. So the next time you are presented with an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and take a measured risk, don’t dismiss it outright. Instead, ask yourself, “What would I do if I weren’t afraid to fail?” Then be fearless, take a stand and go for it! You will learn things about yourself that you never imagined.


What is your proudest moment?

Since I became a parent, I’ve had so many proud moments that it’s difficult to choose just one. Recently, I experienced enormous pride in my twin sons as they made their Holy Communion. Ethan and Jackson have really worked hard to understand and learn about their Catholic faith before receiving the sacrament. They have a spiritual depth that would bring joy to the heart of any parent.


What is your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement was when I graduated from the University of Florida with my PhD in Special Education. I was the first person in my immediate family to attend college and go on to earn a higher degree. During that time in my life, I learned priceless lessons and values that have helped make me the person that I am today.

What makes you happy?

When I think about my children, Ethan, Jackson and Aidan, I think how much joy and happiness they have brought to my life. I love watching them play together and accomplish something they have been working hard to achieve. When I think about all the silly things they say and do, they really make me laugh. They are a blessing to me, and I love every moment of being their mother.


How do you relax and take time for yourself?

For me, reading is a great way to relax. When I have the opportunity to curl up with a good book, I put the rest of the world and all my stress out of my mind as I’m taken to distant places to learn about different time periods, new ideas or philosophies. I regularly read historical novels, and, right now, I’m reading Three Cups of Tea and thoroughly enjoying it. It’s a story about how education can truly change lives, which is something I strongly believe.


What kind of message would you like to give women in the area or in this community?

I would tell other woman don’t follow your dreams chase them! When I was contemplating running for public office last year a friend told me that if I work hard, make sacrifices and persevere, I can turn my dreams into a reality. I knew, like most women juggling many of life’s responsibilities, that I could not embark on this journey alone. In addition to my family’s support, I realize that we live in a community with many strong, independent and caring women who are all too happy to serve as a support system and help you rise above the challenges you may face when chasing a dream.


What else would you like to share with our readers? About being a mom? About your work?

I work hard to be a good role model for my children and try to make a difference in my community through my work as an educator. For most of my life, I have worked as an educator with the goal of ensuring all children have the opportunity to pursue an education. My current position provides me with the opportunity to improve education through research, teaching and mentoring future educators. As a mother, I want my children to grow up in a community where they will have opportunities and thrive and reach their potential. My life’s work complements my dreams for my children, and if I am successful in improving education for all students, then not just my children but my community will prosper as well.


How do you enjoy or draw information from the magazine?

The magazine has been a great resource for me over the years. Not only do I learn about many of the Tampa Bay events my family and I can enjoy, but I also use it to research summer camps and activities for my children. Overall, the magazine provides information on how we can engage as a family in our community.


What is your favorite thing to do with your kids in the Tampa Bay area?

It’s hard to choose just one thing we enjoy doing. There are so many places to visit and events to participate in as a family. I’d say overall we enjoy attending sporting events. We each have our favorite. I enjoy the Tampa Bay Lightning games. My boys love Rays’ baseball games. My husband is just thrilled to go to any and all sporting events!


Who is your biggest inspiration or role model?

My role models and constant sources of inspiration are my late parents. My father and mother possessed certain qualities that I admire. They were caring, selfless, hard working, displayed good moral values and taught me important life lessons. If I’m struggling with anything, I try to think of what they would have told me. I will always honor my parents for making me what I am today.