The passion that Emily Lagana exudes for serving others is astounding. On any given day of the week, she is making a difference in others’ lives, whether it is through her work as a nursing major or her commitment to a number of student community service initiatives.
Throughout her three years at UNH, Emily has been involved with a long and varied list of student organizations: the UNH Woodsmen Team, the SolarFest Visionary Committee, the Organic Garden club, the Student Nurses’ Association, and UNH PrOVES, just to name a few. In addition to these commitments, Emily led an Alternative Break Challenge trip to Washington , D.C. , where she and a group of students worked at the largest homeless shelter in the country and a number of other service organizations. She has also started a mentoring program for Our House, a group home for adolescent girls in Portsmouth . When asked to articulate her enthusiasm for service, Emily replies, “I believe that if everyone would focus on ways to make others’ lives better there would be less problems in the world. Nothing feels better than helping others.”
Emily, a Junior from Auburn, New Hampshire , exemplifies the idea of weaving academic and co-curricular experiences together in order to create a holistic and fulfilling education. Throughout her life she has been a nurturer and has loved caring for people. This led her to consider Special Education as a career, but she found herself wanting something with more mobility and more connection to the sciences. Nursing became the perfect fit for her. This summer, Emily will be in England researching nurses’ roles within the interdisciplinary team at a pediatric hospice in England; she will be there on an International Research Opportunity Program (IROP) grant. “I’m very interested in hospice care. Within this type of end of life care, there are great opportunities to satisfy patients’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.” As a Nursing student here, Emily enjoys the privilege of learning from a number of talented faculty, including Dorothy Rentschler (her IROP faculty mentor), Jeff Eaton, and Raelene Shippee-Rice. Emily has also learned a great deal through her work on UNH PrOVES with Judy Spiller, Associate Provost. After graduating from UNH, Emily plans to attend graduate school to further her nursing knowledge.
Emily uses the word, “growth” to define her college experience; it drives her work ethic and perseverance in helping her to succeed at UNH. “Every week I feel I grow more and more. I’ve become more independent and have acquired a more diverse group of friends. I have grown intellectually and spiritually.” Certainly, Emily’s persevering spirit and positive attitude have helped her overcome her personal struggles with Crohn’s disease, a very painful life-long disease caused by her over-active immune system. She was diagnosed her freshman year after several tests, weeks away from school, and experiments with various medications. The level of pain Emily endures and her refusal to let it interfere with her goals is simply amazing. “Having Crohn’s disease has shaped who I am. The pain helps me to realize how precious the pain-free moments are. And it will make me a better nurse because I understand what it’s like to experience chronic pain.”
Of course, there is more to Emily than her academic pursuits and her devotion to community service. She loves music and runs frequently (about 5 miles a day for “solace”). She’s also very close with her family. When asked to name a leader who inspires her, Emily mentions Gandhi, referring to his quote, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” How fitting for a student leader who changes the world each day with determination, courage, and a commitment to help others.