Kirstin Anderson Hansen graduated Summit High School in 1988. She went directly to college at the University of California in Santa Cruz, where she studied marine biology, specializing in marine mammals.
Hansen has worked at Long Marine Lab in California, Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and Fjord and Baelt Center in Kerteminde, Denmark, as a dolphin trainer. She spent a year in Austria working as a ski instructor; "an official ski bum," she said.
Hansen is now the curator at Odense Zoo in Denmark, where she trains "everything from sea lions to tigers." She also teaches courses on animal training, environmental enrichment and animal behavior and welfare all over Europe.
Hansen said her switch to the zoo world after 15 years as a dolphin instructor allowed her to delve more into animal research, something she enjoys.
"I love animals," she said. "We currently have 14 bunnies, five turtles (terrapins), a canary, an aquarium with fish and a Bernese mountain dog named Amadeus."
She is married to a Dane, Klaus, and they have three children together: Kristoffer, 9, Kasper, 7, and Kira, 4. Hansen has a "K" tattoo on her leg, celebrating the fact each family member's name starts with the letter.
Hansen, who has lived in Denmark for 14 years, said she loves being in Europe. She enjoys the culture, the language, and especially the small size of her adopted country. The family lives two hours from both Sweden and Germany.
Hansen said all of her memories from Summit High involve great teachers and awesome friends.
"A couple of years ago, I went to my 20-year reunion, and seeing everyone again
was so incredible," she said.
"It just reminded me of what an incredible place Summit County is and how great the people are there. The greatest friends I will ever know are from Summit High School!"