“UNH is oozing with something for everyone. There are so many professors who have interesting projects going on. Learn about their passions. This is your time to network and there are plenty of people willing to reach out to you.”
It’s hard to believe that in her senior year of high school, Emily received no college acceptance letters. She was a strong high school student in the Los Angeles area, did well on her SATs, and had participated in several extra-curricular activities. Despite the fact that her pride was wounded, she picked herself up and starting thinking about what she could do with this unexpected year.
Her Mom gave her the book, 100 things to do between High School and College, which launched the idea of becoming an Au Pair in France. Emily searched the internet for a French family interested in hiring an American to care for their children. She quickly found the perfect fit; a family in Paris with two girls ages 3 and 5. Emily spent the year in France, took French lessons, joined a women’s soccer team and had a fantastic experience. It was the relationship she formed with a cousin of her French family that sparked her future career. This friend was a mid-wife, and after many conversations the idea of studying nursing took on a life of its own for Emily.
Emily re-applied to the original set of schools, and added UNH to the list. This time she was accepted to every school. This certainly helped her wounded pride. UNH offered her a scholarship, an aunt who lived nearby and an exciting adventure across the United States. She happily accepted and headed East.
At UNH, Emily jumped right in knowing that in a new place getting involved right away is a great way to find community - she joined the Crew Team. This provided daily exercise and also forced her to eat healthy to keep up with the crew team regiment. She also joined Alabaster Blue, a co-ed a capella singing group on campus. This was by far in her mind one of the best decisions she made.
During her second semester in the Nursing program, Emily decided to declare a dual major in International Affairs. Combining these two majors would be a challenge because she had to fit in her nursing clinical with time studying abroad. Regardless of needing to overload her course schedule, Emily was determined to make it work.
The International Affairs major soon lead Emily to travel and work in many different countries. In her sophomore year she traveled to Guatemala with her International Health class. This sparked her interest in issues related to health care resources. Next she participated in an Alternative Spring Break trip to Nicaragua. The Dominican Republic was her next adventure. Since French was her only foreign language, she hired a tutor three times a week to study Spanish. Here she did a language immersion program for one week, volunteer work for two weeks and traveled for two weeks over the summer. Unexpectedly she found herself working with Haitian refuges who spoke Creole, which meant that her French came in handy.
During her junior year, Emily did her community nursing rotation and worked with a visiting nurse association in Lawrence Massachusetts. Here she saw patients from many different countries seeking care outside of the hospital setting. This helped her to firm up her interest in minority populations, health promotion and resource distribution. Emily still needed to firm up her study abroad requirement for her major. She contacted someone who had conducted in Uganda in the 1980’s. This person connected her with his younger host brother who was currently involved with a Ugandan health center. Emily secured an IROP grant to study in Uganda where she lived in a very rural community working with nurses doing triage work with very limited resources. This was an isolating, eye opening, difficult and rewarding experience. Emily intentionally wanted to immerse herself in another culture without the comfort of having other Americans to rely on in the area. No doubt, this made for a very challenging experience, but Emily came out of it feeling grounded and clearer about her future goals.
As a senior, Emily is interested in continuing her studies to become a community nurse practitioner and researcher. She specifically wants to address health issues of those in the middle stages of their lives. This career choice, combined with her passion for research and travel, has limitless possibilities.
Although the year between high school and college began as a setback, it ultimately led to lifelong friends, confidence, a heightened passion for travel, and a rewarding career. Emily still keeps in close contact with her French family and friends.