“Let your shyness, discomfort, fear of anxiety, and uncertainty lead you to discover the unknown.”
When thinking about making the most out of the college experience, Sasa Tang is exactly the kind of student to picture. Though she grew up locally and already knew the area, she has taken advantage of all of the opportunities UNH and the surrounding community have to offer. Sasa has done everything from student organizations, to classes, to undergraduate research, to volunteering, and more.
Sasa came to UNH undeclared and always thought she would pursue the pre-med track and become a doctor, but her first semester of college she took a political science class and it changed everything. She felt challenged by the course because it really made her think differently and she wanted more. Ultimately, Sasa decided to major in political science and eventually picked up a second major in international affairs.
Reflecting on her college career, Sasa is thankful for the influence of professors who really care about their field and are invested in educating students. She credits Professor Jeannie Sowers, from the Political Science department, with challenging her intellectually and encouraging students to think for themselves. If it weren’t for Dr. Ben Cole, from the Center for International Education, Sasa never would have known about IROP and would have missed out on one of her greatest adventures during her time at UNH. Sasa’s IROP proposal was accepted, and she spent a summer living in Tanzania doing research on the relationships between NGO workers, government employees, and journalists. From her research she co-authored a paper with Dr. Ben Cole, which she presented to a group of political scientists at the International Studies Association in Montreal. Sasa also applied and was accepted to present her research findings to Congress at a conference in Washington, DC in April 2011.
Sasa has been very intentional about her involvement on campus and has tried to seek out organizations related to her academic interests. During her time at UNH she has been active in the Peace and Justice League, STAND, Model UN, and Oxfam. Each of these organizations work with social justice and international affairs issues; they have given Sasa great opportunities for discussion and experiences outside of the classroom to supplement class material. Sasa is very involved in the Waysmeet Center and participates in the drum circles and community dinners. Sasa spends a lot of time volunteering at the Cornucopia food pantry and even spent a summer as the coordinator for the food pantry. Through her involvement with the Waysmeet Center, Sasa has gotten to know Larry Brickner-Wood. She is thankful for his guidance and support when it comes to the harder things in life and admitted that he has been one of the most influential people during her time at UNH.
Sasa went on two different alternative spring break trips to New Orleans to do service work and held down a semester long internship with the Portsmouth Music Hall. During Sasa’s junior year she spent a semester abroad in France and recalls this as “the best four months of [her] life.” Sasa has clearly taken advantage of her time at UNH by getting involved in as many activities as possible. Her number one piece of advice to other students: “Stop and look at the flyers – everyday there is something interesting happening at UNH, whether it be guest speakers, documentaries, or club sponsored activities. You just have to stop and look.
Through her experiences studying abroad in France and doing research in Tanzania, Sasa has also learned the importance of international travel and world cultures. “Get out of the United States and explore your limits when you travel…learn how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable,” Sasa advises. She credits her own ability to create her own story at UNH with her curiosity, a desire to explore and to understand, and strength to overcome fears and challenges. “Everybody feels discomfort, unease, and anxiety about the unknown – explore it and conquer it!”
After graduation, Sasa will be going to sub-saharan Africa with the Peace Corps to do community health development. In the future, she hopes to be a professor so she can encourage and challenge students the way her professors have done for her. She hopes to gain a lot of field experience and real life examples beforehand in order to relate to her course material. If she doesn’t become a professor, Sasa hopes to work for the UN or a big NGO in another country. Regardless of where life takes her, there is no doubt Sasa will do great things, changing lives along the way.