Rising senior Hannah Lunsford just returned from a study abroad program in Prague. She talks about her experiences there, how she came to CALS and what she plans to do next.
How did you end up at PDPS?
When I came to NC State in the Fall of 2015, I was unsure about what I wanted to do future-wise — a part of me was set on the pre-vet program and the other part was set on broadcast media.
I had always loved the idea of helping and working with animals, but I had also always loved to talk and write. Because I was trying to keep in mind a practical future, in my opinion, and with the help and input from my parents, I decided to major in poultry science.
I never would have imagined my high-school self handling poultry in the sweltering heat of the summer or being submersed in true poultry farming, but, boy, am I glad I did!
What has your time at NC State been like?
My undergraduate journey within the Prestage Department of Poultry Science, as well as my journalism minor, has been filled with many ups and downs, but mainly, it’s been a learning experience. I know for a fact, that I am on the path that God intended for me to be on.
Becoming a member of the Prestage Department of Poultry Science was hands-down once of the best decisions I had ever made. It’s rare that you find yourself in classes during your undergraduate career where you literally know everybody taking the course with you and you’re able to develop a personal relationship with your professors, which I try to never take for granted.
The department, also, has shaped who I am as a person. The individual I was once, even freshman year, seems like a stranger to me and I can honestly say that it was for the better.
When did you know you’d make the right choice?
I can remember feeling so lost freshman year when I was debating whether or not to leave the department. I don’t think I fully realized that I was meant to be in poultry science until I was taking Dr. Carm Parkhurst’s introductory class. In a lot of situations, you can’t deny divine intervention, but this was one of those moments. Finally, the endless nights of praying were being acknowledged and it was like a voice said to me, “You’re meant to be here.” Since then, I have never once doubted my decision of sticking with poultry science.
How did you decide to study abroad?
I have always had the desire to travel abroad by myself ever since I was in high school. I felt as though the more I learned, saw and experienced, the more well-rounded of a person I would become which would then allow me to better influence and touch the lives around me.
When the opportunity to spend the summer in Prague, Czech Republic through the NC State Study Abroad Program caught my eye, I knew I had to take the leap of faith and participate in this experience. My program took place from May 15 through June 24 – if I said that the journey was easy, I would be lying, but then again, if I said that I did not grow immensely as a young adult, I would also be telling a tale.
What was the best part of your experience abroad?
Because Czech Republic is landlocked between different countries, I was able to travel to different places and countries such as Vienna, Austria, Budapest, Hungary, Munich, Germany and Moravia, Czech Republic.
It was both strange and exciting to me to be able to be living and experiencing the actual landmarks, views and people that I had seen through magazines, online articles, videos, etc. throughout my entire childhood. Almost as if I was constantly living in this dream, I had to remind myself that this was real! I was actually checking off my bucket list.
Did you learn anything special while in Prague?
I learned a lot about myself throughout the trip, but I think the most important thing I learned is that I already knew what type of person I was before I ventured across the world — I just needed to be reminded. I discovered that the times that I will forever treasure from this experience weren’t from going out late at night, but instead, were from having quality time with genuine people, traveling to quaint locations where my friend and I were literally the only two people out at night or going on a 15-mile hike (yes, I did that and almost died) with views that reminded me a lot of my farm back home.
What surprised you most during your time abroad?
At first, I was taken back by the bluntness and aggressive behavior of the Czechs – it definitely was not the Southern hospitality that I was used to – but after learning about the various takeovers that have consumed their history, I only have respect for them. Imagine living for decades under Communist control where you’re fed lies about other parts of the world and your freedom is taken. It’s sad, really, to think that such a beautiful city is consumed with this constant fear that their home will be taken once more.
Any final thoughts on your trip?
I believe traveling 4,500 miles helped remind me that there is so much to be experienced and a person won’t grow in their faith, knowledge and independence by staying stagnant or becoming complacent in their day-to-day lives, at least not myself. It takes being challenged and stepping out of your comfort zone to truly realize your full capabilities and talents and I can honestly say, between being stranded in random cities in various countries, challenging and learning through others around me whose opinions differed from my own and truly realizing there is no place like home, I gained a lifetime of experience in just a matter of six weeks – this can be applied to my undergraduate journey as well.
I will graduate in December 2018 with a bachelors of science degree in poultry science and a minor in journalism. In terms of a career, it is yet to be determined, but I do plan on incorporating my passion for writing and my love for poultry science.
If there’s anything that I would preach to the generation after mine, it’s that writers and reporters are always needed, especially those who have a passion for the background that they’re in. It’s up to myself and my fellow reporters, to help spread the positive impact that the poultry industry has on the world in which we live. I am beyond fortunate to have had the experiences that I have had and to also have been surrounded by the family that is PDPS.