Hannah Ettema

Student Info

Graduation Year:
May 2011
Frankenmuth, Michigan

What have you done since graduating and where are you now?
The summer after I graduated, I filled in for a maternity leave at the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) as a Communications Assistant. In August of 2011 I accepted a job with the National Forest Foundation and moved to Missoula, Montana. I currently am the Digital Communications Coordinator where I manage their website, social media platforms and various communications needs.

How did RCAH prepare you for what you're doing now?
With all of my RCAH classes and projects, I was taught, or guided really, to approach an issue or a problem from many different perspectives. And while I’m not reviewing the historical and cultural impacts of the Roman and British Empires (fascinating, by the way), the methods I used to investigate those are the same in what I do.

The RCAH also gave me the confidence to have an idea and form it into an educated opinion. Again, I’m not debating the merits of bilingual education for early education, but I am presenting about potential projects and programs to my peers (fun fact, I also learned to appreciate alliteration!)

What were your academic interests in RCAH?
Two of my most memorable classes (which are hard to choose—like picking a favorite child) were "Civic Engagement and Education" and "Appalachian Literature and Culture." My family has some background in education so the topic strongly appealed to me and the structure of the class encouraged strong discussions. "Appalachian Literature and Culture" introduced a whole new world of reading, writing, talking, singing, eating (yes, eating) to my cultural repertoire.

What were your favorite aspects of the RCAH experience?
I could write a five-page paper to answer this question (it wouldn’t surprise me if I did at some point). The people—staff, professors, students—are all pretty exceptional. The classes are unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else. What takes the cake though (and there was cake, on multiple occasions) is the sense of community and the college’s inability to say no.

My tagline I’d preach to prospective families: The RCAH gives you a small liberal arts college within the benefits of a Big Ten university. The best of both worlds. People know you. They want to get to know you. They want to help you. As surprising as this may sound, that’s not always the case in other programs and colleges. It’s different at the RCAH.

Still early in its life, the RCAH is game for most anything. There are few times (if any) that I can remember anyone telling me, “No, you can’t do that or start this.” The RCAH is very adaptable and accommodating and wants their students to try or create something new.

Did you ever take part in Study Abroad/Study Away at MSU? If so, which programs?
Yes. Spring break of freshman and sophomore year I traveled to Ghost Ranch, New Mexico on the RCAH alternative spring break trips. Those experiences led to one of the best summers ever as a college staffer at the Ranch.

I only took Anita Skeen’s "Appalachian Literature and Culture" class the first time, but I traveled to West Virginia with the class for all three years. It became a tradition for me.

I spent spring semester of my junior year at Lincoln University on the South Island of New Zealand. Yes, the accents are just as awesome as you think they are and yes, it looks like Middle Earth. Everywhere.

What words of wisdom do you have for current RCAH students?
Get involved. So much of my success at school was simply showing up to things. Your college experience is not a passive one. Make connections with people. Send follow-up emails. Go to office hours. I can’t stress enough how important internships are. They may not always start out as much but they will lead to great things. Start early.

Talk in class. Don’t be afraid to be that person who engages with the professor and the class. Don’t be annoying for goodness sakes, but take an active role in your education.

Lastly, don’t freak out. You’ll be fine.