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Student Spotlight: Heather Starkey

Heather Starkey in China

Paper Science and Chemical engineering double major Heather Starkey recently traveled across China with her Paper Science and Engineering classmates. They spent two weeks visiting various manufacturing facilities related to the paper industry and network with other Forest Biomaterial students at other universities. Check out her Paper International Experience (PIE) to China, supported by the CNR Student Assistance and Enrichment Fund.

How did this experience impact you?

This was my first trip abroad and I was able to experience a variety of cultures throughout China, since each province has its own unique personality. I can’t quite explain it, but being immersed in a different country, where I had no means of communication with the majority of the population, changed me. I came back a completely different person, who has a greater appreciation for the world and traveling.

What did you learn about yourself during your experience?

Climbing the Great Wall was my favorite part of the experience. It was difficult. I didn’t think I could do it, but I was determined to reach the top, which I did! It taught me a lot about how I need to set goals for myself and find the correct motivation that will push me to complete them.

Would you recommend this experience to other students?

Yes!! This was a life-changing experience that very few people get to experience. I traveled with some of my best friends, abroad, for an extended period, and learned about how the industry I’m entering works in a different country. You can read articles about how the paper industry in China is different from the United States, but seeing it in-person is surreal.

Any advice to incoming students?

Just try it! The Paper Science and Engineering program is always open for tours and for students to come talk to the faculty and advisors, even if you’re not in the program! The College of Natural Resources, especially the Paper Science and Engineering program, is a small community who is willing to do what it takes to help students succeed. There’s no harm in spending an hour seeing what it’s all about!

What organizations or student groups are you involved in? Do you hold any leadership positions?

I’m involved in the NC State TAPPI Chapter, which is a student-led organization of the national Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industries (TAPPI). I served as one of the program co-chairs to coordinate and schedule catering for information session sponsored by companies to tell us about the career opportunities they have. I also volunteer with North Carolina Science Olympiad group, which hosts engineering and science related competitions across the state for elementary through high school students.

What do you enjoy most about being a College of Natural Resources student?

I absolutely love the small community! Campus is huge, and it gets overwhelming at times. So, it’s really nice to have a place to call a home away from home.