Hamel Scholars Program

The Hamel Scholars & Hamel Scholarships Program was founded in 2007. It provides merit scholarships and special recognition to exceptional students from New Hampshire who have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership and community involvement.

Funded through gifts from Dana Hamel, a long-time UNH supporter, the programs seek to help these students develop their full potential to become active, engaged leaders in communities throughout the state after graduating from UNH.

About Hamel Scholars

Hamel scholars are high-achieving students from throughout the state of New Hampshire who have either received a Hamel Scholarship as part of their offer of admission to UNH (offers are made once Early Action acceptances are completed) or who have been invited to join the program later in their UNH career, usually after sophomore year. They meet the academic requirements for and are members of the University Honors Program. Hamel Scholars are typically busy students who are highly engaged in and take leadership roles in both academic and student life at UNH.

Hamel Scholars have access to the best of UNH, including distinctive honors classes offered by UNH’s top faculty members. They enjoy the camaraderie and the sociable challenge of belonging to a cohort of high-achieving and civic-minded students. They also forge connections across disciplines since Hamel Scholars pursue degrees in every academic college at UNH. Hamel Scholars participate in a service project each semester and in regular workshops and seminars that develop their leadership skills and potential. When they graduate, Hamel Scholars join a robust alumni network within the Wildcat alumni family. 

Hamel Scholar Profiles

The statements below, excerpted from recent student letters to Dana Hamel from current students and recent graduates, will introduce you to the kinds of experiences and varied interests that Hamel Scholars have.

Joanna Lewis, Hamel Scholar

Joanna Lewis '17, Environmental Engineering

Joanna Lewis can’t stay busy enough here on the UNH campus. While she’s working to earn an environmental engineering (municipal processes) degree, she’s also involved in UNH Engineers Without Borders. She’s currently working on a project to bring a small community in Peru clean drinking water. “I have traveled to Peru twice for this initiative and currently serve as the project lead, responsible for coordinating technical design work, communication with San Pedro de Casta, Peru, and travel logistics as well as supervising technical report writing, fundraising and grand applications,” she explains. She also serves as the community outreach chair for the Environmental and Water Resources Institute, which works to develop networking and service opportunities in water resources and  plans events such as skills workshops, volunteer days and professional panels. Currently, she is working in an oil research lab under the supervision of Dr. Nancy Kinner. “This research allows me … to be on the cutting edge of my field while learning skills I will use for the rest of my career,” she says. She’s working on a project now analyzing data she collected regarding how submerged oil moves through the water column.

Gabe Hoffman, Hamel ScholarGabe Hoffman ’17, History

"I cannot properly express the immense pleasure I feel from being able to learn and research on my own simply for the intrinsic value of doing so. I decided to attend UNH because I love my state and what it stands for. I also love being able to be close to my family while still being enrolled in a strong academic program with many additional opportunities for leadership and advancement. On campus I am involved with several organizations. I sit on the executive board for three of these programs, with perhaps my favorite being student senate and my role as parliamentarian."



Celine Boutin, Hamel Scholar

Celine Boutin ’17, Nursing; Philosophy minor

“I transferred into the nursing program from philosophy and I am so happy to have found a major that I am truly passionate about. I will be able to start working as a licensed nursing assistant this summer and I am hoping to work in a hospital to learn about the different areas of medical practice. I am also hoping to start the accelerated master’s program my senior year so that I can earn a master’s degree in nursing by 2018. There is so much to do here; I wish I could do it all. Last year I started working as a bus driver at Wildcat Transit. I was even able to obtain a CDL license. This year I am also a peer advisor, a resident assistant, and a teaching assistant in one my favorite classes at the university, Microbes in Human Disease. I have been able to meet new people and really enjoy offering guidance to those who are new to the university."
Read an article about Celine in UNH Today



Katherine Estep

Katherine Estep ’17, Chemical Engineering

"A career in the sciences has been a dream of mine since a young age. I consider myself a very curious person and I find science to be the best fodder for my questioning mind. I have never been afraid of a challenge, and I know that chemical engineering is not the easiest major, but I am excited to overcome any difficulties that present themselves. I am an avid runner and a member of the University’s cross-country and track team. My main events are the 5000 and 10,000 meter runs. I really enjoy running long-distance and I feel like a lot of the mental endurance I gain from athletics is also applied to my schoolwork. Running takes up a lot of my time, but I couldn’t imagine my college experience without it."



Benjamin Gallo

Benjamin Gallo ’17, Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Biology

"I have always been attracted to the water and its various ecosystems and the organisms that inhabit them. I have also been an avid fisherman for as long as I can remember. I am currently working in Dr. James Haney’s lab on campus focusing on extracting toxins from fish that inhabit New Hampshire waters. In particular, one toxin that is relatively unknown but is thought to be a possible precursor to neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s and ALS. I hope to one day land a job with a New Hampshire State Department or perhaps work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. [The Hamel Scholarship] has provided me the opportunity to meet and work with some of the brightest minds on campus from the Granite State!"





Jessica Newman, Hamel Scholar

Jessica Newman 17, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems; Ecogastronomy

"My goal is to work towards fixing the American food system [by helping to] design a food system that is healthy for people, feasible economically, and conservative towards the environment. I am studying the various processes that govern the growth of food, distribution of food, and consumption of food to gain a better understanding of the intricate workings which could impact the success or failure of such a system. My passion for the sustainability of food is fully supported by UNH and the dual major I have selected. The programs here are perfectly aligned with my interests, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else."





Jessica Newman, Hamel Scholar

Crystal Napoli 18,  History and Justice Studies 

Crystal Napoli, a Hamel Scholar and a junior from Salem, NH, likes to stay busy.  In addition to majoring in History and Justice Studies, she also minors in Asian Studies, serves as the president of the Model United Nations, and takes trips with the Outing Club.  The summer after her freshman year, Crystal spent ten weeks at UNH as a Research Experience and Apprenticeship Program (REAP) participant. These awards, which are funded by the Hamel Center, provide high-achieving freshmen with the chance to work closely with a faculty mentor and to develop the research skills needed for other awards that require more independence. Crystal, who has already won an International Research Opportunity Program (IROP) grant for next summer, attributes her success to the foundation that she acquired during that first summer as a REAP award recipient.  For her IROP project, she plans to travel to Taipei, Taiwan, where she will conduct research at National Taiwan University. 



Jessica Newman, Hamel Scholar

Grace Dipersio ’19

Grace Dipersio is proud that she achieved a high GPA and graduated in the top 5 percent of her classat Pinkerton Academy,  had a successful athletic career, and a fun social life — all things to be proud of as a high school senior. Now, she’s setting her sights on what she wants to accomplish here at UNH. Grace is plans to focus her studies on biomedical sciences and medical laboratory science, and knows what she wants to do before she graduates. “I want to go on a health brigade to a foreign country with the people in my major,” she says. She also wants to accomplish something much easier, and much closer to home: “I want to get really good at yoga by going to the classes in the Whit.” As a soccer player for Pinkerton for three years (she was captain, too) she enjoys that sport as recreation as well as snowboarding. But her favorite hobby is hanging out with her friends and family. “Nothing beats the quality time I spend with the people I love,” she said.



Jessica Newman, Hamel Scholar

Alana Davidson 17, Nutrition and Dietetics 

Alana Davidson is a former synchronized swimmer who travelled around the U.S. to compete in the sport. These days at UNH, the nutrition and dietetics major is spending less time in the pool and more time on her studies, which focus on public health. She undertook a special project last fall and this spring, when she began to study food insecurity — the lack of access to affordable, nutritious foodon a regular basis — among UNH’s undergraduate student population. Alana has since started a program called "Swipe it Forward" which lets students donate unused dining hall swipes to those in need. Before she graduates, she hopes to write a senior honors thesis titled, “Finding Humanity in Hunger.” She says it will explore “how facing hunger issues as a college student affects peoplesocially, mentally, emotionally and academically.”