“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson
Stacey Hoang didn’t initially plan on attending UNH, but after visiting, she loved the campus and the location. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to major in, but UNH offered many options so she decided it was the right fit. Stacey has certainly made the most of the countless opportunities available to her throughout her time at UNH. She has made a great impression on those around her as she walks through life as a kind and compassionate individual, who greets people with a smile on her face. She is graduating soon with quite the story to share about her college experience.
PrOVES (Pre-Orientation Volunteer Experience in Service) was Stacey’s first chance to get involved. She arrived at UNH early her freshmen year to volunteer alongside other incoming students. PrOVES opened up a whole world of opportunities for Stacey at UNH. At PrOVES she learned about Oxfam UNH, the MLK Jr. Leadership Summit, Alternative Break Challenge, and Seacoast Reads. Over the course of her four years, Stacey participated in these activities, as well as peer advising at orientation, peer advising in Hood House, working in the Women’s Studies Department, a member of the PrOVES staff, Golden Key Honor Society, Relay for Life, and Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society.
Community service has played an integral role in Stacey’s UNH experience. She participated in three different Alternative Break Challenge trips to Kansas City, Missouri; East St. Louis, Illinois; and Pittsboro, North Carolina. She met some of her best friends on the alternative break trips. Stacey volunteered at Seacoast Reads, where she read with local elementary school kids. After meeting Larry Brickner-Wood in her freshmen year, Stacey started attending the community dinners at The Waysmeet Center. According to Stacey, “Larry is the foundation of everything I have grown into today.” Larry encouraged her to apply for an internship with The Waysmeet Center, coordinating volunteers and managing the food pantry. This year, Stacey did another internship at The Waysmeet Center, fulfilling the Social Work major requirement. She helps with events, programming, and fundraising, in addition to other responsibilities connected to her major. Stacey also provides direct client outreach and is gaining invaluable experience for her future social work career.
Larry has been incredibly influential to Stacey while she has been at UNH. Stacey says, “Larry is like a father figure”; he is one of the wisest people she knows. Stacey explains, “Larry is all of the good adjectives you can think of.” He always put others before himself; he taught Stacey about compassion and about how to simply be a better person.
Stacey decided to major in Social Work with a minor in Women’s Studies after taking and enjoying a Social Work class. Stacey credits Carol Conaway’s Introduction to Women Studies course with opening her mind to new ideas. In class they talked about topics she had literally never discussed with others before. While she was uncomfortable at times, she feels she learned so much. Stacey learned something meaningful in all of her Social Work and Women’s Studies classes and appreciates having the opportunity to apply classroom material in real life experiences. Stacey studied abroad in Ascoli Piceno, Italy her junior year. The semester abroad was the “happiest three months ever” because she learned the language and met people she now considers to be best friends.
When asked if Stacey has advice for other students, she says, “It’s all worth it in the end. Take advantage of everything and be very busy; there are so many opportunities to explore and try out! It is a waste of four years if all you do is go to class – you are learning, but not getting real life experiences.” Stacey credits her commitment to various involvements as one of her keys to success. When she starts something, she finishes it, expecting others to do the same. She also knows that her ability to take initiative has contributed to her success. At The Waysmeet Center, Larry has given her the space and freedom to be creative. As evidence of Stacey’s commitment and initiative, this past year Stacey won the great honor of the Spirit of New Hampshire award, a prestigious volunteer award.
After graduation, Stacey hopes to volunteer as an AmeriCorps Vista program focused on community development. Ideally in ten years, Stacey will be running her own nonprofit. Stacey hopes the organization will be something like The Waysmeet Center - a place where people are very loving, not turning anyone away. Stacey is convinced, “There should be more Waysmeets in the world.” Stacey is full of hope, but she believes, “Hope is everything. Not all things go the way you want. Have hope it will work out and most of the time it does.”
2012 - 2013 CYOS Honorees: (left to right) Brittany Zorn, Laura Gardocki, Peter Callahan, Merhawi Wells-Bogue, Molly Hunt, Larry Rackliff, Lauren Banker, Ben Claxton, Alex Freid, Jihyon Im