By Elise Romola ’21
Since joining NC State as a Park Scholar, Hannah Cooper ’21 has been making the most of every opportunity that comes her way. From networking with alumni to working with Global Ocean Forum, Cooper is actively playing a role in shaping her own future.
Upon her arrival at NC State, Cooper found a supportive community within Park that “eased the anxiety of transitioning to college.” With a passion for marine sciences, NC State offered Cooper the coursework and experiences to help her explore that passion. Cooper has tapped into the network of Park alumni who have pursued careers in marine and environmental sciences and learned what opportunities lie ahead of her. Through her participation in Leadership Academy and professional development experiences, as well as serving as the Chair of the Distinguished Speakers Committee, Cooper is continuing to grow her skills in order to be successful.
For the last eight months, Cooper has worked with Global Ocean Forum, an international ocean policy nonprofit that promotes sustainable development and educated governance of the world’s oceans. Cooper has applied skills she’s learned in her coursework to her work on the logistics of disseminating policy and how to educate governments and lawmakers about the value of protecting our oceans. In September, Cooper was selected to travel to the first session of the United Nations’ Conference on Biodiversity Beyond Natural Jurisdiction, where “[she] helped run a side-event educating ambassadors about the value of capacity development.”
For Cooper, Park programs like Learning Lab II provide the opportunity to meet politicians and scientists who have a critical impact on our nation. She appreciates “how much Park encourages [students] to use [their] voices to explore intellectual curiosity and…challenge individuals [they] may not agree with.” These experiences offered through the Park program have allowed her to delve into leadership challenges outside of marine sciences and have propelled her to “never limit [her] understanding of a subject to one perspective…and always look at issues through an interdisciplinary lens.”
Although unsure of her plans after graduation, Cooper knows she wants to be doing work that is challenging and bettering her community. She recognizes the relationship between earth sciences and social sciences and hopes to become an advocate for treating the earth with respect and educating on the direct correlation between the health of the earth and the health of society.