“Gentleness in leadership is undervalued, it is so useful and important, it has helped me connect and remain humble to people who have been through things I haven’t.”
When you first meet Nyomi Guzman, you can’t help but be impressed by her list of accomplishments and impressive academic record. Sitting next to her you are moved by her infectious smile and kind, calming presence. Nyomi is eloquent in describing how when she first came to UNH she “didn’t understand diversity in practice”; it was through the many people she has met, and how she has challenged herself to step outside of her comfort zone that she has learned to have difficult conversations about privilege dynamics. She believes you need to challenge yourself, “be in the room, you don’t have to be in front, just be present and you can learn something.” It is this grace and wisdom that has led her to grow. Her advice for students is to just show up to events. “You don’t have to know the right words, or the right things to do…take criticism and let people help you be better.”
Nyomi, a senior, is a double major in Communication and Women’s Studies, with minors in Queer Studies and Race, Culture and Power. She lights up when speaking about her course work at UNH, saying the readings were fascinating, and the class discussions urged her to learn more. She speaks about “being pushed to approach things from a different perspective,” and how this helped solidify her own views and to combine her many academic interests.
Nyomi’s interest in issues of race, gender and mass media are best expressed in her year-long McNair Fellowship research project. Her research focused on the representation of interracial couples in popular films. The project culminated in an extended research paper that appears in the 2013 issue of Comm-entary, the undergraduate research journal. This year, Nyomi is serving as the Editor-in-Chief of Comm-entary, and with the editorial board, reviewing submissions, overseeing the editing and choosing of pieces to be in the 2014 journal.
Both inside and outside of the classroom, Nyomi is a moving and gentle spokesperson for a justice focused campus and community. She looks inward seeking to understand the issues of power, privilege and social justice, further exploring these issues while a participant at the 2013 MLK Leadership Summit. Larry Brickner-Wood described her as a leader in the group, “showing maturity, awareness and understanding - helping her group to grow and challenge themselves.” He wrote “she was kind, patient and gentle with students who were overwhelmed with what they were experiencing.”
Nyomi was one of the primary organizers of the 2014 MLK Event, and a student speaker. She conceptualized and spent countless hours creating a temporary mural in the third floor of the MUB, which displays artistic images on intertwining identities as part of the MLK Celebration. In addition, she has been a member of the President’s Commission on People of Color, and served on the Council on Inclusive Excellence and Equity since 2012.
Nyomi was selected as a Carsey Social Innovation Intern and worked last summer for Resident Owned Communities (ROC) USA in Concord. ROC USA works to make quality resident-ownership of manufactured home communities viable nationwide by helping residents to own the land cooperatively, stabilize their payments, and increase their security. As an intern, Nyomi combined her passion for economic justice with her strengths in communication building multiple websites which will widely advertise the program for potential homebuyers.
Family keeps Nyomi grounded, “they calm me down, are supportive, and are there for everything.” They taught her not to be afraid of trying new things. It was this life lesson that encouraged her to join UNH Alliance, UNH’s GLBT student organization, in her freshman year, serving as their finance director in 2011 and 2012. She also has been an active member of the Black Student Union since her freshman year. Nyomi has served as the Chair of the Diversity Support Coalition, being a leader among her peers and tirelessly advocating and supporting important initiatives and events on campus. She recently told an interviewer, “both the McNair and Diversity Support Coalition experiences taught me how to listen, especially to people who are different from me.” Nyomi’s style is collaborative leadership, using her facilitation skills to ensure opinions are heard, wanting people to share their views freely. Nyomi believes, “Gentleness in leadership is undervalued, it is so useful and important, it has helped me connect and remain humble to people who have been through things I haven’t.”
Dr. Kevin Healy, writes, “she represents an unusual balance of heart and mind that suggest a potential not only for insightful academic research but also for productive collegiality and dedicated service through teaching.” Her intellectual curiosity and social consciousness will guide her to pursue a Master’s Degree, then a PHD in either Media Studies or Social Justice with the hope of teaching communications with a focus on feminism helping others gain new perspectives and see the world through a different lens.
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