Hannah Ettema: Modeling engagement and communication


RCAH Class of 2011


  • Arts and Humanities from RCAH
  • Double Major: Professional Writing


Communications Manager at the National Forest Foundation

Background and Location

  • Grew up in Frankenmuth, Michigan
  • Graduated from Frankenmuth High School
  • Lives in Missoula, Montana

Hi Hannah! What are you up to now?

I am the communications manager at the National Forest Foundation. I oversee digital communications and manage the NFF website, several publications, and programs, and jump in wherever needed.

How long have you been there?

Seven years.

Before the National Forest Foundation, where were you?

This was my first job out of the RCAH! I had an internship at Michigan Nature Association and worked for the Michigan Association of School Boards for the summer after I graduated.

Hannah Ettema stands in front of a sign reading "National Forest Foundation" on a snowy day

When you were making your college decision, what attracted you to RCAH?  

Despite not seeing any offices, classrooms or anything in Sny-Phi [RCAH first opened its doors to students in the fall of 2011, but the building wasn't ready until the winter of 2012], I was drawn to the RCAH for the living-learning environment. I was excited to live and learn with other people like me. People who liked to read and talk about culture and be creative. 

How would you say RCAH prepared you for your career in communications?

The RCAH gave me a diverse set of skills and a creative way of thinking. With the diverse options for classes and excursions, the RCAH gave me diverse experiences to apply to my post-RCAH life. 

Do you recall any meaningful experiences that had a profound impact on your life?

I spent two spring breaks at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, that would lead to a summer job on-site as college staff. The friendships I made while on those trips and at Ghost Ranch have impacted the way I see a landscape and our relationship with it. My civic engagement course with Donna Kaplowitz led to engaging discussions and experiences about public education and the community. Lastly, I helped produce a reflective capstone video that was played at the 2011 graduation ceremony. That experience helped me process and reflect on my own experience and gave me video production experience that I utilize today in my job. 

"The RCAH truly gave me a small liberal arts education experience within everything a Big Ten university has to offer."

What classes and professors do you remember as being influential or challenging?

Some of the most helpful classes were very tactile—quiltmaking, mural painting, and more. It was refreshing and exciting to have a class that wasn't simply reading and writing.

Do the arts, humanities, and community engagement still figure in your life?

I continue to stay active in the community, much in thanks to my RCAH experiences. I served on the board and volunteered with a community advocacy organization for a few years, and I have been active with our local community theater as a stage manager.

Any last words about your RCAH experience?

The RCAH truly gave me a small liberal arts education experience within everything a Big Ten university has to offer. The friendships I made with my classmates, staff, and professors continue. One of the feelings I am left with several years later is pride. I am incredibly proud of the RCAH and what it has become and will do in the future for people like me.