“Work hard. Play hard. Enjoy life!”
Anyone who talks to Harrison Roakes will immediately see that behind his wry smile there is a hard-working, determined individual who is motivated to be his best every day. Harrison has taken advantage of many opportunities at UNH, has been a successful student, and has given much of his time and effort to work with the Department of Residential Life. He will graduate this spring knowing that he has made a difference for many students at UNH. But what best defines his experience here over the past four years? Academics. Friends. Res Life. Family.
Harrison chose UNH after looking at several Engineering programs in New England. Ultimately, it was the faculty at UNH and their focus on developing successful young professionals that brought him to UNH. He describes the Environmental Engineering faculty in particular as “awesome, smart, and passionate.” Harrison is well on his way to becoming one of those great professionals. He is currently working on a research internship with Professor Malley, whom he considers his academic mentor. His research is focused on drinking water and waste water treatment. For his senior project, he has been working with Professor Malley to develop a waste water treatment system for a school in the Dominican Republic. He will travel there during spring break through Students Without Borders. Harrison hopes that this research will create advances in water treatment and improve drinking water conditions in developing countries.
Harrison has always been involved at UNH. During his freshman and sophomore year, he participated in a number of different activities, joining his friends in attending whatever clubs they were interested in, including the French Club, Archery Club, and the United Asian Coalition. He also participated in every intramural sport he could fit into his schedule. Then Harrison found his niche in Residential Life. According to Harrison, Residential Life has been huge for him – it helped him grow and become a more social person. Being a Resident Assistant allowed Harrison to see himself as a leader for the first time. After working for three years in Stoke Hall, Harrison knows or recognizes hundreds of UNH students and really values the friendships he formed with residents and other RAs. Harrison served as an RA for two years in Stoke Hall before applying and being selected to serve as an Undergraduate Assistant Hall Director for the 2011-2012 academic year.
For Harrison, working in Residential Life has made a great difference in who he is as a person. The experience also helped him learn skills he might not have learned as an Engineering student. In Harrison’s words, “I get a lot out of the RA job that I don’t get from Engineering.” Harrison sees himself bringing skills he’s learned from Engineering to Residential Life and skills from Residential Life to Engineering. Now, as an Undergraduate Assistant Hall Director, his biggest reward is seeing the RA’s he supervises succeed. Harrison sees his success as a supervisor in the moment when an RA doesn’t need his supervision anymore – when they step up and take initiative on their own.
Harrison gives a lot of people credit for his success at UNH, particularly his family. His parents supported him through high school and college and have always been there for him. There have been many role models along the way, including his brother-in-law, Jim Guy, who he worked construction with for eight years. He learned the value of having a strong work ethic from Jim and looks up to him a lot. According to Harrison, Jim taught him that “you build who you are – and you only get what you work for.” Whenever Harrison is stressed, he just thinks about how hard Jim works and that puts things into perspective for him. Harrison’s UNH role models include his faculty mentor, Dr. Malley, and Stan Horton, the hall director he has worked with for the past two years. Harrison explains, “Stan thinks about things differently than I do, and you grow and learn a lot from that.”
Harrison can’t speak highly enough of the faculty in Engineering at UNH, his experiences in Residential Life, and the friends he has made at UNH. After graduation, Harrison hopes to enter a graduate program in Environmental Engineering and eventually find work in an Environmental Engineering firm. He also hopes to remain involved in education in some way, maybe by helping on an advisory board of a school or as a coach for a sports program.
If Harrison has learned anything at UNH, it’s that the opportunities are endless – but you have to seek them out. His best piece of advice: “Take advantage of opportunities that you come across, but look for opportunities – you have to want it, say it, and do it.” Having a strong work ethic and making the most out of every opportunity are things he greatly values. Harrison feels lucky to be in school and to have these opportunities. “It feels like I’m doing a disservice if I’m not giving 100% to something,” Harrison added. Based on Harrison’s story, it’s clear he has given his all during his time at UNH.
2011 - 2012 CYOS Honorees: (left to right) Amy Ma, Michael Vidal, Eliza Mackintosh, Chris Foss, Stacey Hoang, Theresa Lewis, Charlie O'Connor, Katie Lantz, Sunya Yakovleff, Harrison Roakes