Bella Latham ’18, ’20

Degree: B.S., textile technology (2018) and M.S., textile engineering (2020)

Current position/employer: Ph.D. student in the Wilson College of Textiles and lab manager for Dr. Emiel DenHartog’s lab; research assistant in Dr. DenHartog’s lab group; Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) research fellow supporting United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM)

Dean’s page: May 2017 – May 2018

Tell us about your current role:

I get to school around 8:30 or 9 a.m. and check in on Dr. DenHartog’s lab and answer students’ questions, but if no one is there, I will stay and do work or go to the graduate student lounge to do homework, or tasks for the lab. After that, I go to class or meetings as planned. When I complete my degree, I hope to work in a lab or a research center. I am currently doing research for a US Army research lab specifically with cold weather combat uniforms, and I would love to be involved with military textiles. 

Other NC State/Wilson College activities:

Kappa Tau Beta fraternity — I made so many new friends after joining, which was wonderful. I love the Wilson College because of how small it is, but at the same time it is often hard to make friends outside of your major because the classes are so unique and specialized. I did not mind only having friends from my major, but I found a great benefit once I started interacting more with friends from other majors/the other department. Currently, I am involved in the Dean’s Young Alumni Council mentorship pilot program and I have loved it! 

Looking back, what was it like being a dean’s page?

I don’t remember exactly why I wanted to be a dean’s page, but I am so glad I was one. I loved getting to know the other pages, faculty, and Amanda of course! Faculty around the college still know my name because I sat at the front desk and I love having that casual relationship with them. The atmosphere in the dean’s suite is wonderful and uplifting! I always felt encouraged being there. I also loved the high expectation of professionalism with dress, speech and personality. Being a dean’s page really helped me grow in my general professionalism.

What did you take away from the Dean’s Page Program that helped you in your current position?

The biggest take away for me is confidence in speaking. I was always so shy and nervous with class presentations, projects, greeting people at the desk, answering the phone at the desk, etc. Amanda was always encouraging me to speak louder and more confidently and I think that helped my overall perception of myself. I am a confident public speaker now and rarely get nervous for class presentations or when talking to someone new. 

What advice do you have for those who are new dean’s pages or interested in becoming one?

Seek out the dean and Amanda for professional and personal advice! I still go to Amanda for career advice (for example, when I was deciding to do my Ph.D.). Both of them are such wonderful people and care deeply about all of the pages! Try to get to know the faculty. I wish I had put more of an effort into this. Say hello to everyone when they walk in, introduce yourself and ask for their name/what they teach/what subjects they research. You can never have too many connections, and the professors and faculty at the Wilson College are amazing! Remember to be extremely welcoming when someone walks in. Do not shy away from greeting every single person with a smile. It feels really good to walk into the suite and be greeted with a smile and a “hello!”

What is the funniest time or most interesting experience you had as a dean’s page?

I remember we had special fibers for a project up at the desk and I guess someone sent an email out about coming to see them but they could not leave the dean’s suite. I remember professors coming and looking at them as if they were made of pure gold or diamond and I thought they were crazy! I had no idea what these fibers were but now knowing what they are, that was pretty cool!