“Live life to the fullest, by enjoying and taking advantage of everything you can. Work hard. Help others; in reality good things don’t always happen to good people. Open your mind and heart to the inequalities existent in our world and always remember that each and every one of us can make a difference. Never give up.”

Virginia deFreitas-Battersby embodies change, opportunity, and drive in everything she
pursues. Virginia moved to the United States from Brazil with her step-dad, mom, two younger sisters at the age of sixteen. While learning the language and adapting to a different culture, her heart remained in Brazil.

Virginia started at UNH as a business major, but prior to finishing her first year she knew she wanted more. Remembering all the inequality existent in Brazil, she wanted to help people less fortunate, who did not have the opportunities she has encountered. Her goal is to make a difference in people’s life and be part of the leading change to help end global inequality.

During her time at UNH, Virginia has been working to achieve that goal. She is currently a semester away from graduating with a double major in International Affairs and Political Science and minors in Latin American Studies and Business Administration. During her first year, she was active in taking leadership in programs that brought international culture to the UNH campus. She has participated in a number of cultural programs, in addition to joining MOSAICO.

Spring semester of sophomore year, Virginia studied abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to expand her horizons on global issues and to explore higher education in her native country. In addition to school, Virginia volunteered in a favela, or shanty town, teaching middle school children social studies
while exposing them to cultural activities outside of their poor, drug filtered environment. She also connected with many of her old friends and was reminded of all the opportunities available to her that were and are not available to them. This reality of inequality further inspired her to continue to keep changing things.

When she returned to the United States, Virginia began making changes. Along with two of her friends, Emina Zlotrg and Erica Bertolotto, Virginia helped found the Model United Nations Student Organization. She felt that it was important to raise awareness on global, political and economic issues. She attended the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Summit to continue to learn how to be a leader and make a positive
change in people’s life. She participated in the first Alternative Break Challenge international trip to Nicaragua and helped build a handicap accessible playground and planned activities for local women’s groups and school children. In addition, Virginia also serves as a Senior Mentor for the Connect Program, helping underrepresented first year students adjust to college.

Her efforts are mirrored in her academics. Virginia is a McNair Scholar and did her research on women’s political involvement in Latin America, with Dr. Mary Malone from the Political Science department. “Professor Mary Malone has been the best mentor I could’ve asked for, she has taught me and opened my eyes to the world of research”. Virginia was awarded a Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) grant, which will allow her to continue her research in Costa Rica.

In the classroom, Virginia draws inspiration from courses like “Politics of Poverty” taught by Dr. Malone in which global
inequality is explored in greater depth, and International Affairs 501 taught by Dr. Funso Afolayan. Its diverse student
body offers refreshing perspectives and ideas on international affairs issues. She also recommends Globalization Development & Poverty with Dr. Joe Lugalla and International Approach to Child Advocacy with Dr. Michael Kalinowski’s.

Virginia has been continually shaping her experiences at UNH so they complement her values, morals and goals. In the short term, Virginia hopes to pursue a PhD. in the area of Human Rights Studies and Comparative Politics. Long term, Virginia hopes to work for a non-governmental organization, like the UNICEF. “I want to become an advocate to people who are not as fortunate as I am and inspire others through teaching at a university.”

Virginia’s attitude towards making a difference in other people’s life, her passion for social
justice, and her drive to explore things beyond what a textbook offers, will undoubtedly lead her to the change she desires. She has taken advantage of all the
opportunities that have come across her path at UNH. Her experiences and travels have taught her to appreciate everything that life has to offer, like she says, “If UNH is offering it, why not take advantage of it?”

2013-2014 Honorees
2013 - 2014 CYOS Honorees: seated Zak Ahmad-Kahloon, Emily Dickman, Nyomi Guzman, Annie Crossman, standing Lauren McCandless, Kathryn Sattora, Timothy Marquis, Sid Nigam, Evan Beals, Peter Wilkinson
“Students are the focus of everything we do.”

Dept of Residential Life
13A Hitchcock Hall, 5 Quad Way-UNH
Durham, NH 03824
last updated 04/28/2014
Need More Information?
Ruth Abelmann, Associate Director
Department of Residential Life
University of New Hampshire
Phone (603) 862-2268