Profiles in IT: Kat Hanchon–Word wizard

By | October 1, 2023
Kat Hanchon

What does a typical day in your job entail?

Getting up, drinking lots of coffee, sitting in meetings, writing a lot, talking to people to understand complex problems and then explaining it in plain language. Basically, I help out with communications across the board. And events. Honestly, it’s fun to work here because every day is pretty different. I do have some repetitive tasks, like going to meetings, but a lot of times I will be able to sit back and really kind of flex my creativity in some of the project writing.

How long have you been working with UMich / in ITS?

I hit my two-year mark in May. Before that, I was with CMU’s University Communications. It’s basically their VPCOMM equivalent. I wrote the admissions marketing materials, and I helped develop their “We Do” brand. My campus branding is still there. I decided to come to ITS for a change of scenery and have wanted to work for the university for forever.

How did you get into this type of work?

I’ve always really loved tech. So when I had the opportunity to come here and join the team, it kind of combined my two loves of technology and communication into one. It’s been a dream. I’ve done all sorts of jobs throughout my time. Right out of college, I was the health reporter for the York Dispatch in Pennsylvania, working on a health and medicine beat, in York, Penn. Getting into the science of it fascinated me. I needed to keep learning about all of these new technologies that are going on, and I’ve been following that bit of tech along with my writing ever since.

What is something you most enjoy sharing with your coworkers?

Honestly, the best part is getting to know all of my fellow coworkers. I think the Power Up! events have been my favorite so far and the most rewarding. We throw these events across campus a couple times a year and hand out swag and food to students that cross our paths. We organize with volunteers from ITS, and, in getting those volunteers, we get to know all of them, too.

They’re a hoot to be at because everybody is talking about different aspects that they love about ITS, and everybody has their own perspective on things. They bring their own experiences to the table: some people are all about the internship program, and then other people are all about safe computing, and other people are all about ITS privacy. It’s great. I learn just as much as every student that walks up. It’s been the best way to learn about what is going on inside of our organization, as well as just getting to know the people that make ITS. I love it.

What new tech or trends are you looking forward to implementing in your work?

I think that AI is a thing that’s going to be very interesting to watch. I think that it’s absolutely a revolutionary tool, but that’s all that it is – a tool. It is by no means a replacement. I’m excited to figure out how to incorporate it more into the workflow of my writing, because I know that it has potential to be a starting point on things.

But I very much don’t like forgetting about the human aspect of it. It’s absolutely a great tool that can give us a good launching point for any future writing. But you can tell when there isn’t a human behind the keyboard.

What do you do in your down time or for fun?

Lately, I’ve been all about getting outside. I have missed the sunlight and the sunshine. I like to go camping. I enjoy being able to hammock in new places and go hiking. I also have a giant garden that we’re working on. I’m making a cute little fairy area in the back. I’m trying to be as whimsical as possible with it and let that part of my inner child be happy because they have a space that’s outside and comfortable.

I like going to concerts, too, but those are few and far between lately because of Covid.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I toured Europe! I sang for years, but I don’t anymore. I went to Germany and France with a choir when I was fourteen. I went with Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and I also sang in Carnegie Hall when I was in high school.

Also, prior to working here, I was the first woman head coach for esports at a D1 school in Michigan. That was super fun. I coached esports at CMU, and it was very fulfilling. I actually did part of my master’s thesis on how to start a program at a D1 school. And that’s been used as the basis for a few programs that have developed across the state as well.

Do you mind introducing your pets?

Yes! There’s eleven of them. Riley is thirteen, he’s a tabby cat. Max, my Siamese cat, is ten. June, my black cat, is seven. Spring, also a tabby, is five. Daisy, a chihuahua, is five. My dog, Ted, is eight months old. Ted is obnoxious. I love him dearly.

We also have five hermit crabs named Big Jim, Big Papa, Wagyu, Herb, and Momo. Momo is an albino hermit crab, and he’s very cute. He’s named Momo because that’s ‘ghost’ in Tagalog and my roommate is Filipino. She was like, yeah, let’s bring a little culture into it.