“Nothing is above you, but nothing is beneath you.  You are what you believe you are.”

Charlotte ToddUNH was the last place Charlotte saw herself after high school.  She attended Oyster River High School in Durham, and was excited to explore the world beyond her hometown and experience new things.  After graduation, her passion for theater led her to New York City where she enrolled in acting classes.  However, after a year and a “series of unfortunate events” she returned to New Hampshire, feeling disenchanted with school and not interested in returning in the near future.  Charlotte got a job as a bartender and server in Portsmouth and began focusing on her job.  However, her parents encouraged her to attend college.  To appease them, Charlotte signed up for English 401 and Math 402.  After a lifetime of avoiding math, she was pleasantly surprised to find herself enjoying the class and doing well in it.

Despite the fact she had done well in a college level course, Charlotte still thought of school as a second priority and ended the semester believing college just wasn’t the place for her.  But suddenly something changed, she “got over” what was holding her back.  Charlotte approached her parents for their help in taking more classes at UNH and was told they would support her on the condition that she hold a job for half a year.  She worked in a local store in Portsmouth.  It was owned by a local couple who trusted and believed in Charlotte, helping her gain a lot of self confidence.

Charlotte continued taking courses at UNH for a couple of semesters, and continued to do well in them.  However, as a non-matriculated student she was only allowed to enroll for a limited number of credit hours.  Once she made the decision to take more classes, she had to petition in order to make this possible; this meant some hard work and several meetings with the administration.  Eventually she found herself doing something she never would have imagined doing in the past:  Charlotte applied to be a full-time student at UNH.

Once Charlotte was officially accepted to the university, she thought she would only concentrate on doing well in her classes.  She didn’t want to take on the extra responsibility of getting involved or building relationships.  That started changing when she saw a program for a UNH sponsored program in Mexico.  Charlotte signed up, even though she didn’t know anyone else who was going.  Once she was there, she connected to people she describes as “amazing.”  They inspired her to become a more active participant in the world by showing they valued and appreciated her contributions.

As a result of her experience in Mexico, Charlotte became much more fluent in the Spanish language.  Although she had been interested in it for a long time, she never considered it as a major.  In fact, in high school Charlotte had been told that speaking Spanish was something she would never be good at.  She was a Psychology major until a friend suggested that she should do what she loves in college.  After reflection, Charlotte changed her major to Spanish and International Affairs.  Charlotte loves Spanish because it keeps her focused.  It also enables her to communicate with a wide range of people and to understand the perspectives of other cultures.

Charlotte’s journey to UNH and her major is incredible, but so are the things that she’s been involved in during her time here.  In addition to traveling to Mexico, she also studied abroad for a semester in Spain.  Charlotte also had a part in the UNH production of “A Winter’s Tale” and, thanks to the encouragement of her peers, is auditioning for “Medea.”  She also is working on an important research project through the Office of Sustainability called Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (or STARS).  This is a program through the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).  This project looks at many different aspects of sustainability on ninety different college campuses across the country and compares them.  Charlotte will be presenting her results at the UNH Undergraduate Research Conference.  Additionally, Charlotte and a friend are going through the process of starting a Spanish club that will provide a fun and relaxed environment where people can speak and learn Spanish and discuss current events in Latin America.  She wants to be there for students who might be struggling with the language, because she knows how frustrating it can be to feel you can’t accomplish something.

Charlotte’s story is a reminder that there is power in believing in yourself, especially because life seldom ends up the way you plan it to be.  As she said: “things fall into place when you think positively and when you find something that you’re passionate about you’ll always find more opportunities.”  Charlotte is considering attending law school after she graduates from UNH and has an interest in international law.  She is also interested in doing something with Spanish and sustainability, possibly eco-tourism.  Charlotte’s story is far from being over.  She has created so many opportunities for herself that it’s hard to say where she’ll end up.  One thing is certain, she will continue to achieve success as she continues to explore her interests and the world around her.

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
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Ruth Abelmann, Associate Director
Department of Residential Life
University of New Hampshire
Phone (603) 862-2268