“Make the best of today.”
For Christina Loporcaro, her Freshman year at UNH was the best year of her life. Having grown up in Dover, she had not come far in miles, but after all the struggles and hard work of high school, she had finally found a place where she could thrive. She loved making new friends, having fun roommates, and enjoying all the social aspects of college life. It did not take long being here, however, before she wanted more than just fun in her college experience.
UNH was not Christina’s original choice for college; indeed, she was against coming to UNH for a long time. But having to pay her own way meant that finances were a big part of her decision. After working all through high school and patching together scholarships, UNH presented itself as the best financial package for her. She also wanted to be close to her family, especially her grandmother, who she takes to church every Sunday, and her younger brother, who still lives at home. At that point, Christina says, “it was a no-brainer.”
Christina grew up aspiring to be an orthodontist, but it was a class project in her high school AP Chemistry class that ended up setting her path. It was a project studying the human eye, and it got Christina excited about studying the human body and biochemistry. She knew she was going to major in Biochemistry with a Pre-Med focus before she came to UNH, and has not looked back since. In one of her first classes at UNH, Biology 411, instead of taking a final exam, she had the option of shadowing in a lab and writing about it. She chose the Cote laboratory, which works under a National Institutes of Health grant to study retinal proteins. While shadowing, she was able to impress everyone at the lab with her knowledge of the eye, and they invited her to come back. By that spring, she was helping with minor projects, and by her sophomore year, she was getting paid as an Undergraduate Researcher. Now a senior, Christina still works twenty in the Cote Laboratory and it has helped shape her entire college experience.
A couple of out-of-New Hampshire experiences have given Christina a fresh perspective. A trip to New Orleans in the spring of her freshman year, as part of an American Studies Inquiry course, was one of the “coolest experiences” of her life, and it made a huge impression on her. The trip and the people she met who had lived through Hurricane Katrina gave her a different outlook on the world. That summer, she also participated in the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, which is a highly competitive summer program for college students planning on medical careers. She found out about the program from the Health Professions Office in Hood House, and went through the lengthy application process. She was placed at Duke University and spent every day for six weeks in class, attending seminars, having mock interviews, and doing rotations at Duke Medical Center.
Her work experience in college has also been a big part of her UNH life. Her first day on campus, she met an individual who worked at McGregor Memorial EMS and walked over to see what being an EMT was about. The very next day she began their observer program, and in the spring of her freshman year, in her proudest moment of that year, she was certified as an EMT. Since the end of her sophomore year, she has also worked as a Perioperative Nursing Assistant at Wentworth-Douglas Hospital and that position has become a bigger part of her life since then. Her work as an EMT and a Perioperative Nursing Assistant has confirmed her medical school aspirations and has provided her with valuable hands-on experience.
Through all of her different jobs, academic experiences, and life experiences, there has been one constant outlet for Christina: dance. In high school, dance was the perfect escape from more chaotic parts of her life and the place where she put most of her energy. At UNH, dance keeps her sane. She still takes dance classes, but only as an outlet and for fun. Dance is still Christina’s biggest passion and she believes that following your passions is important. She has never done anything for her résumé; instead, she does what is fun, interesting, and what she is passionate about.
As her senior year wraps up, Christina looks back fondly on her experiences at UNH. She advises students to be their own advocates when they are here; she went out and got things for herself and never waited for them to be given to her. She has truly created her own story at UNH, and has accomplished an incredible amount in her time here. She credits her parents, who have become her biggest supporters, and the advice and guidance of the staff of the Cote Laboratory, with her success in college. As she moves on to the next phase of her life after graduation, she will undoubtedly be as involved and committed to her passions as she is now, and will handle it all with the grace and aplomb that long years of dance have taught her.