Mark Hansen (’84 Mkgt.), president of Bayview Arc Inc., believes breaking out of one’s comfort zone is critical to success in business and life in general. While building a successful financial services career, he and his family spent three years living in Tokyo, where he became deeply aware of the nuances of culture, style, contexts, and social interaction of international business. He also noticed the impact that living abroad had on his children, who had grown up on Vashon Island, an insular Puget Sound community.
“The experience in Japan opened them up dramatically,” he says. “Our kids developed so much during our time there. To this day, they are comfortable traveling anywhere in the world.”
As devoted supporters of WSU and the Carson College of Business, Hansen and his wife Laura (’85 Acc.) agreed Pullman was comparable to living on an island, given its lack of proximity to larger cities. To give students more opportunities to develop a global business mindset and cultural appreciation, they established an international scholarship fund to nudge students out of their comfort zones and into study abroad experiences.
This year, 20 students benefited from their generosity.
RECIPROCAL REWARDS OF SCHOLARSHIP
“I burst into tears when I received the Hansen International Scholarship notification—it meant the world to me. It further motivated me to conquer challenges in life, achieve my goals, and be successful,” says Nam Nguyen, a junior international business and chemistry major. “One day, when I’m successful, I’ll help future generations of Cougs as the Hansens helped me.”
Hansen met some of his scholarship recipients studying abroad at Cèsar Ritz Colleges Switzerland when he was there volunteering as a Business Plan Competition judge.
“Seeing students’ enthusiasm and the life-long bonds they developed during the experience was very exciting,” says Hansen. “You can’t underestimate the impact you may have on students by supporting broader learning experiences beyond the classroom and preparing them to excel in a global economy.”
Hansen can’t wait to see some of his scholarship recipients in 10 years to see if they have continued to broaden themselves globally, or if they have followed a different path. “I would like to know what part international experience played in their lives and if it was an indicator of their future,” he says.
RAISING STUDY ABROAD EXPECTATIONS
Going forward, Hansen hopes to work with college leadership to reshape the standards of the Carson College international learning requirement so that all business students study abroad for a semester before their senior year.
Meeting that expectation requires more scholarship and parent support, he says. He encourages everyone to “dive in” and do whatever they can to support students.
“You may not see tangible results right away, but the appreciation and gratefulness you feel when you have a one-on-one interaction with a student becomes a theme that is very rewarding,” he says.
Thanks to the Hansen’s generosity, students studied abroad in Australia, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and Thailand in 2016