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How Sports Science Got a Cornerback Into Public Health

Graduating senior Nicholas Lacy on Stafford Commons at Talley Student Union Play Video

Fall Saturdays may be what graduating senior Nicholas Lacy, a human biology major and health minor, will miss most about NC State.

That’s when Lacy, a cornerback on the football team, got to take the field in front of enthusiastic home crowds at Carter-Finley Stadium.

“There’s nothing like the Carter on a Saturday,” Lacy said. “I loved the energy from the fans and the atmosphere the students bring.”

After walking on to the team and redshirting his freshman year, Lacy played for four years, and his hard work earned him an athletic scholarship after his second year. Football also led him to his area of study.

“I always knew I liked math and science, but I was looking for a major that fit with those and my other interests,” Lacy said. “In football, I’m around athletic trainers and nutritionists, and I got interested in the science behind the workouts we were doing. And I realized human biology and health would allow me to do something that I enjoy that would also benefit others.”

Senior Nicholas Lacy with kids during a service trip to Kenya
Biological Sciences student Nicholas Lacy with schoolchildren during a service trip to Nakuru, Kenya

His football connections also led him on two spring break trips with teammates to volunteer at a rural school and clinic in Kenya. The experiences opened Lacy’s eyes to health needs in other parts of the world.

“Traveling to Kenya definitely broadened my perspective on public health locally and globally,” Lacy said. “I was able to see some of the things that people in developing nations don’t have access to and learn more about some of the issues they deal with.”

Lacy is carrying this interest in public health issues into the next phase of his life. After graduation, he will head to Baltimore, Md., for an internship at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His focus will be on a project that involves addressing barriers that limit access to live donor kidney transplants among African Americans and other minority groups.

While he’s still determining the career path he wants to pursue, he knows he wants to go back to Kenya next year and eventually explore new parts of the world. But as he travels, he will take with him the lessons he learned both in the classroom and on the field.

“NC State has prepared me so much for my future and has definitely gotten me out of my comfort zone,” he said. “I’ve been able to experience so much that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t come here.”

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