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Renaissance Woman

Dr. Lydia Laboccetta boasts a varied resume

A self-professed advocate for mentorship and learning, physician LYDIA LABOCCETTA of Novant Health has a varied list of careers and hobbies that span the arts, sciences, and even spearfishing.

A graduate of Wake Forest University, Dr. Laboccetta initially saw a career on the stage in her future. With a bachelor’s degree in theater, she pursued acting work and found some success in seamstressing.

“I toured with a theater company for a year, and that was really cool because we did live shows,” Laboccetta says. “It’s like if you think about the traveling bards from the olden days, they would come into a bar and people would ask them for certain stories that they wanted them to tell. And so, we had like three shows that we could do, and we’d just show up and sometimes we didn’t know from week to week what productions we were going to be doing at each location. Then, I ended up having to do a lot of wardrobe work with that job.”

Her role in a traveling theater company and seamstressing later led to her work as the wardrobe mistress for University of North Carolina Wilmington’s theater department, which opened her up to courses in the sciences since the university offers free classes to employees. This piqued her interest, seeing as she had familial ties to medical problems though no one in her family was particularly knowledgeable on this topic.

“My grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and I had no idea what a pancreas was or what it did,” Laboccetta recalls.

That curiosity contributed to her choice to go to medical school and later enter the field of urology. Originally planning to enter primary or emergency care, she found a passion for being a surgeon and says that urology is the “perfect balance between surgical and clinical experiences.”

Laboccetta now works for Novant Health.

“I thought I was going to be a famous actress,” she says. “You always reserve the right to be wrong and to change your mind.”

Aside from urology and acting, Laboccetta is an avid spearfisher, learning the activity on a trip to the Bahamas and becoming more advanced through her husband.

“When I met my husband, he got me really into freediving,” she says. “Freediving is a very technical thing, and it requires a lot of concentration. I just find it to be a very quiet, very calming practice.”

Laboccetta holds a world record in spearfishing for having the largest amberjack catch.

However, she says, these interests pale in comparison.

“Honestly, I feel like all of my hobbies have taken such a backburner to being a mom,” Laboccetta says. “I have a one-year-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old, and they are just the coolest, funniest kids. Part of that has really ignited another fire in me that I’m trying to work on, which is establishing stronger mentorship.”

She says the coolest things about being a mom to two young girls is thinking about how she can help them become strong female leaders.

She plans to look at ways in which she can work with local groups that aim to teach young girls about career opportunities.

“Mentorship is an opportunity for both people,” Laboccetta says. “There’s not anybody that loves what they’re doing that doesn’t want to share with anybody else. And, one of the best ways to dip your toes into something is to find somebody else who will love that and ride on their coattails.”

 

Take 5 with Lydia Laboccetta

 

WHAT DREW YOU TO SPEARFISHING?

“I actually had the opportunity to spend some time in the Bahamas when I was right out of college, and we used a Hawaiian sling to shoot dinner. Wanting to eat fresh fish was very motivating!”

WHERE IS YOUR TOP PICK FOR A PLACE TO DIVE?

“I love to go out to Frying Pan Tower, because there is so much life there. Even when I don’t shoot a fish, I have a ball. It is great to get out of cellphone range and know you’re going to have a good day no matter what the conditions may be.”

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WORKING IN THE MEDICAL FIELD?

“I do enjoy getting to know my patients, learning new things, and the procedures we do in urology are very cool. But, the best part of my job, hands down, is the people with whom I get to spend my work day. The doctors, nurses, techs, and support staff I work with make most days go by quickly, and it is great to feel like we are all doing something important together and having a good time while we do it! A hospital is like a little city and growing up in a small town, I embrace that sense of community.”

HOW HAS MENTORSHIP PLAYED A ROLE IN YOUR CAREER?

“I think that what I have learned about mentorship is that it is not always about the right letter of reference or even a mentor in your exact field as much as it is about having a cheerleader and a strong sense of community so you feel responsible to succeed.”

SINCE YOU USED TO ACT, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLAY?

“The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a fave. Martin McDonagh wrote a killer play.”

 

To view more of photographer River Bondurant’s work, go to riverbondurant.myportfolio.com.

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