By Debbie Willmschen

Sara Lewis Hood, recipient of the 2021-2022 Provost’s Fellowship, is originally from Goldsboro, North Carolina. Hood initially came to NC State as a Park Scholar to receive her Bachelor of Science in fashion and textile management. She also earned  her Master of Science in textiles from NC State, so she’s quite familiar with the Wolfpack. And she is thrilled to be returning to the Wilson College of Textiles to pursue her doctoral studies under her co-advisors Professor Kristin Thoney-Barletta and Associate Professor Lori Rothenberg.

Hood discussed her research plans and how the Provost’s Fellowship will provide support during her first year of doctoral studies.

Wilson College: What led you to select Wilson College for your doctoral work?

Hood: I was a student in Wilson College for the past six years and can’t imagine a better place to continue my education. Throughout my time here, I learned so much and was supported by such incredible faculty and staff. The professors were eager to help me explore my passions and gain as much knowledge and experience as possible. It is an honor to continue studying among an amazing class of peers under the direction of such supportive, encouraging professors.

Wilson College: Talk a little about your research and how you first became interested in this area of study.

Hood: My primary research interests include consumer behavior and sustainability. I have always been curious about the “why” behind consumers’ decision-making processes. Purpose-driven, eco-conscious businesses also interest me, and my own experiences as a consumer have definitely shaped my research interest in sustainability and how consumers view sustainable products. I really enjoy exploring the ways that textile processes can be improved to better meet the needs of consumers and our planet. 

Wilson College: How will the Provost’s Fellowship provide support during this journey?

Hood: I decided to pursue my master’s after graduating from NC State in 2019 because I still had things I wanted to learn. Then, as I approached the end of my master’s program, I was met with a similar dilemma: I still had so much I wanted to study. The Provost’s Fellowship provides me the opportunity to continue working alongside and learning from some of the brightest minds in the field of apparel and textiles. I am genuinely grateful for the support I’ve received from the faculty and staff here.

Wilson College: What advice would you give to other incoming doctoral students for ways to seek support or become involved in programs here at Wilson College?

Hood: The faculty and staff at Wilson College are willing to help you find a way to align your passions with your coursework and to create opportunities for you to explore areas of interest. Ask lots of questions! If you have a course that is particularly captivating to you, follow up with the professor and see how you can learn more. I also recommend participating in conferences and seminars. I found those experiences valuable, both to gain confidence in presenting my research and to learn more about the work that others are doing in the textile space.

Wilson College: As you begin this journey, do you have any expectations or hopes for your long-term career goals?

Hood: Honestly, if you had asked me three or four years ago if I thought I’d be pursuing a doctorate right now, I might have laughed it off. But now, I can’t imagine doing anything else! I expect that my time as a doctoral student will challenge my perspectives and expose me to new concepts in the same way that my previous six years here have done. Long term, I want to continue learning and exploring new ideas and innovations, whether that comes in the form of working in academia or in research and strategy within the textile industry. Ultimately, my desire is to do meaningful work that makes an impact, and I am confident that NC State will provide me with opportunities to do just that.