Sarah Oliveira took her own good advice: Don’t be afraid to try something new and step out of your comfort zone. Growing up in Boston, Sarah was surrounded by many colleges. But when she began thinking about applying to colleges, she decided she wanted to step out and try something new. About 60 miles north of Boston, Sarah discovered a place that was very different from Boston: The University of New Hampshire. As many students do, Sarah fell in love with the campus when she came for a visit during Discover UNH. However, as beautiful as the campus is, it was the positive support from several staff members like Jackie Bunting, Sean McGhee, and Dr. Roger Beattie that sealed the deal.
Sarah arrived on campus in late August for the Connect program and got settled into her new home, Congreve Hall. Sarah quickly discovered that with a large upper-class population in the hall, she would need to be assertive about making connections and getting involved. Sarah joined the Crew Team and then Mosiaco, a student organization that provides programs and information about Latino and Hispanic cultures. That was just the beginning of her involvement. During her four years at UNH, Sarah has been involved in Student Senate, Community Change Council, June Orientation, Connect, Peace and Justice League, and the Diversity Support Coalition. When she reflected on the impact of her involvement at UNH, Sarah said, “My involvement has made me who I am today. I learned so much: how to interact with people, how not to be, and who to try to emulate.”
While her path into extracurricular involvement was an easy road to find, Sarah’s journey toward her life’s work was not so clear. “I got here and I was clueless about what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be at college, but had to think more about what I wanted to do. I used my Gen Eds to explore.” It was in her Sociology General Education class that Sarah began to hear her calling. “I fell in love with sociology so I declared it as a major. But as I progressed through the class I got depressed. I was only learning about the problems. I began to ask myself how I could fix them.” From an early age, Sarah has been passionate about human rights and equality, so she sought a program that would allow her to create solutions. Sarah then changed her major from Sociology to a dual major in Economics and International Affairs.
In addition to a valuable classroom education, Sarah’s International Affairs major allowed her to do something else that significantly impacted her life: studying abroad in Brazil. “I chose to study in Brazil because I wanted to experience a different aspect of my own culture. The experience was turbulent with lots of highs and lows and it really challenged my identity. But in the end it really solidified who I was and who I am.”
While Sarah describes her experience at UNH as something that has changed her world and has given her direction, she is ready to move on to the next phase of her life. In line with her passion for human rights, Sarah has applied to law school to study public advocacy. “Many people don’t know what their rights are and don’t have a voice in our society. I want to learn how to play the political game and advocate for people.”