With modern beauty in mind, Hannah Danha is tapping into the ancient remedies of her ancestors.
Danha, a senior biology major at Dominican University, is using her Excellence in Experiential Learning (ExcEL) Scholar Award grant to relaunch her small online beauty care product line inspired by natural Assyrian remedies for hair, skin and nail care that have been used for centuries. Some of these concoctions were passed down by Danha’s grandmother, who learned of their beneficial properties in her native village of Tur-Abdin, Turkey.
Called ChicAttiq, the product line’s name is a combination of the French word chic, which means “stylish,” with the Aramaic word attiq, which means “ancient.”
Using oils, spices and herbs, Danha is creating new formulas for products that help hair and eyelashes grow, make skin smoother, and strengthen nails.
“I take ingredients I grew up with and I’ve done extensive research on them, like their nutritional values and how they affect the body,” she explained.
Her $2,000 grant from Dominican University will help Danha purchase equipment, including bottles, a labeling machine and other tools, she said.
Danha’s interest in sharing her homemade, ancient remedies goes back to high school.
“I am a lover of fashion and beauty trends, but I also love science,” she said. “When I was in high school I had long hair and always got compliments on it. People asked me how I grew it so long, so I started giving products to my friends to use. They loved it.”
Danha, who is president of Dominican’s Minority Association of Premedical Students and president of the DU chapter of MEDLIFE, hopes to study dermatology and teach her future patients about the benefits of natural, chemical-free products. She would also like to build ChicAttiq into a successful, recognized business that brings greater attention to Assyrian culture.
“I want to educate people about our natural ingredients, but I also want to educate them about who my people and my ancestors are,” she said.
ExcEL Scholar Awards are available to undergraduate students to help them pursue projects outside the classroom that aid in furthering their education. Independent research, community-based learning, internships, study abroad and creative or entrepreneurial projects are eligible for ExcEL funding.