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Hannah Bain Tackles Three Majors, Nationwide Issues

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Hannah Bain is a leader in and out of the classroom.

A senior studying communication, international studies and Spanish with a minor in nonprofit studies, she’s now tackling complex public health issues.

“I want my career and life in general to be focused on creating social good,” Bain says.

Bain, who is also a Park Scholar, was named a 2019-2020 Social Innovation Fellow. The year-long program within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Institute for Nonprofits enables innovators at NC State to learn and practice social entrepreneurship. Students work in teams to create and launch a project that seeks to achieve positive social impact.

Bain says she’s passionate about public health and the way emerging technologies can improve access to health care around the world. 

“I love how people from all different backgrounds can come together in support of a great cause,” Bain says.

As a Social Innovation Fellow, Bain has worked on a team of five students to improve the wellbeing of migrant farmworkers by increasing access to drinking water and decreasing heat-related deaths and illnesses. Through conducting their own research, Bain’s team learned that migrant farmworkers are 20 times more likely to die from heat-related illnesses than the average person in the U.S. civilian workforce.

headshot of Hannah Bain
Hannah Bain

Bain traveled to Dunn, N.C. to speak with farmworkers about concerns in their work environments and to observe their living conditions. 

“They told us that they had no problems, that they were used to the heat, and that they had access to water in the field,” Bain says. “That’s when we realized the issue was much more complex and involved lifestyle choices, cultural differences and power imbalances between the farmers and farmworkers.” 

The team pivoted its approach for the spring semester in response to these findings.

“Real-life problems are typically ambiguous and tied to complex, structural issues,” Bain says.

Bain says there’s a strong connection between her experiences as a Social Innovation Fellow and as a Park Scholar. 

“Both programs have challenged me to tackle questions and issues that can’t be solved with an equation or answers in a textbook,” Bain explains. “They both place a heavy focus on the importance of meaningful service — not going into a community and solving all of its issues but rather learning from the community and working with community members to address complex issues.”

Bain credited both programs with teaching her how to solve real-life issues, how to ask the right questions and how to work effectively on interdisciplinary teams. 

“I have felt myself develop as a leader and as a more well-rounded person thanks to these programs,” Bain says. “Now asking big questions and tackling ambiguous issues doesn’t scare me; it excites me.”

An earlier version of this story appeared on the NC State Park Scholarships website.