Student Spotlight: Hannah LaCava

Doris Duke Scholar Hannah LaCava

Hannah LaCava is an English major with a minor in Biological Sciences. She thought she wanted to major in Wildlife Biology, but couldn’t give up on her love of English. With advice from N.C. State professors and advisers, she realized that she could combine her passion for writing, literature and wildlife by pursuing a career in science writing. She hopes to better connect the public with wildlife conservation through outreach and encourage everyone to explore the importance of our environment.

Growing up in Raleigh, LaCava had easy access to both the mountains and the ocean and spent her summers exploring her grandparents’ farm in Mount Airy. She also spent more than a few nights strolling along the shores of Atlantic Beach looking for sand crabs and sea turtles. She loves to fish, kayak, hike, ride horses and ski. Two of her favorite pastimes at NC State involve playing piano and volunteering with University Theatre, where she is an active member of Alpha Psi Omega, the Theatre Honors Society. She is also the Vice President of the English Club at NC State and a member of

During her first year of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at NC State, administered by the University of Florida IFAS and supported by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, LaCava conducted research studying the biodiversity difference between manmade and natural forests. During the second year of the program, she spent the summer as the Communications Intern at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach, Florida.

How did this experience impact you?

This experience allowed me to improve my communications skills and learn how to tackle tasks from various perspectives. As a program focused on diversity, the internship has given me the great opportunity to interact and learn from my peers of different backgrounds.

How has this opportunity prepared you for your future career?

As someone interested in science communication, I have improved my ability to write, conduct research and effectively communicate scientific findings and events to the public.

What did you enjoy most about your experience?

I greatly enjoyed getting to know different scientists and learning about their research. Everyone was extremely welcoming and willing to answer any questions I asked.

What did you find most challenging?

The most challenging part of my experience was stepping out of my comfort zone. As I progressed in my internship, I learned that accepting every new opportunity was the best way to learn and gain confidence in both myself and my work.

Any advice for incoming students?

My advice is to rust your own judgement and network as much as possible.