Ashley Bournival ’09 has expected excellence of herself for a long time now and has consistently delivered on her promises. This past fall, she was hired by BAE Systems in Nashua, N.H., and accepted into their highly selective Operations Leadership Development Program. Their motto, “Expect excellence,” simply reiterates her own.
“I’ve always been organized and proactive,” says Bournival matter-of-factly. “I took out loans to put myself through college and have worked at least part time since I was 15.”
Not surprisingly, Bournival has thought about her career path from day one of college. As a communication major, Bournival cofounded a student organization, Communication Students for Social Networking. Through the organization, students meet and network with professionals in communication fields to help focus their career paths.
In the UNH Career Services Pathways Program, Bournival worked closely with her mentor, Jeff Johnston ’88, a real estate development investor. “He helped me organize my career search,” says Bournival. “So, I drew up a list of goals.”
Two of her top goals were to have a job when she graduated and to stay on the dean’s list—so far, right on track.
But, joy is also a personal goal. After putting aside money for what seemed “forever,” in spring 2008, Bournival studied abroad in Florence, Italy. “I wanted to go someplace old and beautiful,” says Bournival. “And it was.”
Brendan Everett ’10 became an “overachiever” at UNH while adamantly maintaining he was just a regular guy in high school. So what happened?
As a first-year student, Everett majored in psychology because he “wanted to be a psychiatrist.” That year he tried, unsuccessfully, to develop a related internship, when a friend said to him, “You remind me of my uncle. He’s an orthopedist. Why don’t you give him a call?”
“What I like about orthopedics,” says Everett, “is that you can fix something and someone will walk again. It’s tangible.” This past year, volunteering at Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.H., has confirmed his direction.
He has also enjoyed the rigors of both his premed and his psychology curricula. He even liked organic chemistry. After months of memorization, “things began clicking,” says Everett. “If I had to do it over again, I’d be a chemist.”
In his major, his favorite courses have been with professors Rob Drugan in neurobiology and Andrew Leber in cognition. This summer, thanks to an undergraduate research grant, Everett will research the learning curve associated with a vision technology that allows blind individuals to “see” by converting visual stimuli to auditory stimuli. In London, Everett and his British faculty sponsor will conference with Leber via Skype.
Despite studying for 12 hours most days, Everett has time for music and his band, the Dino Monkeys. Still a regular guy after all.
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“Coming to UNH—it was my first day in America,” declares Marie Gakuba ’09. “Suddenly I had to speak English all of the time. I wondered, ‘Will I fit in?’ Before, in Nashua with my family, I’d go to high school then rush home to e-mail friends back in Rwanda. At home we spoke Ikinyarwanda.”
Fit in? Gakuba has thrived. She became fluent in English rapidly here at UNH. Furthermore, she is now a confident public speaker on campus and regionally about her experiences as a genocide survivor in Rwanda. Her goal is to raise awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Of Gakuba’s original family, her parents and five siblings died in the genocide. Gakuba, along with a sister and brother, survived.
Gakuba credits her academic success to the Connect program, a preorientation program for multicultural students. She recalls, “Getting off to a good start—that was so important.”
For two years, she lived in Smith Hall, a residence hall with an international theme. “Everybody was from all over the place!” says Gakuba. “It got me going. I started to speak up. We’d have long dinners in the dining hall and we’d go roller skating.”
Now Gakuba lives in the residential community at Waysmeet and University chaplain Larry Brickner-Wood is their house “parent.” Says Gakuba, “The best times around the house are when Larry is there.”
Additionally, she is an honors student, a volunteer for the Connect program, a peer adviser, and a member of a Rwandan dance troupe.
In her thesis for international affairs, Gakuba analyzes why modern attempts to prevent genocide have failed. “There’s a lack of incentive, if I may say,” observes Gakuba. “The UN measures focus more on punishment rather than prevention.”
At graduation, Gakuba will wear the Rwandan colors. She plans to work for a nonprofit such as UNICEF or Save the Children.
Marie Assumpta Carine Gakuba will receive the Erskine Mason Award at graduation. It is given “to that senior who is distinguished for most consistent progress and achievement.”
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A conversation with Andrew Kremer ’09 ranges in topic from New York, to Italy, to UNH, to all points in between. Kremer, now a senior, is clear about several things: he’s ready to move on. And, he says simply, “I’ve loved UNH and my four years in New Hampshire.”
However, he still has to complete a thesis for his major in Italian studies. Like anyone about to write a 30-page paper, Kremer is a bit distracted. “I want to write something really good,” he says. His adviser, Piero Garofalo, likes the topic Kremer has chosen: a historical and contemporary analysis of the German Italians of South Tyrol and their place in Italian society.
Kremer studied German this past fall and then visited the northern Italian town of Bolzano, Italy, in January. The melding of Italian and German cultures there fascinated him. “Even their food combines cultures. Lots of stews and really great beers,” says Kremer, who is also a very good cook.
But, notes Kremer, there is uneasiness between the two cultures, and the Victory Monument erected in Bolzano by Mussolini in 1928 continues to be a controversial focal point. Even today, the town has it fenced off.
Other highlights of his senior year include an art history course, Rococo to Romanticism, and being a spokesperson for the UNH program in Ascoli Piceno, Italy. Also, with SCAN-TV, he and two friends produced a talk show, The Great Debate.
This summer, Kremer will start full time as a union apprentice working for his family’s electrical business in the New York City metro area. Eventually he plans to earn an MBA or possibly an electrical engineering degree.
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“Click submit.” For Lauren McDonough ’09 the worst part about applying to dental school was waiting after she clicked that button in June 2008. Even the dental admissions test (DAT) that she’d just completed paled in comparison.
Since her first day at UNH, McDonough has prepared for this application. Initially it was just about succeeding at the necessary requirements. Then, midway through her junior year, she interviewed with members of the health professions committee, completed a personal statement, and requested, received, and submitted five recommendations. Her junior year was also consumed by the demands of organic chemistry.
Then the DAT. Then, click.
There are 55 dental schools in the country. McDonough began to interview at schools in the fall. By February 2009, she had been waitlisted at one school and accepted at three others. That month, she decided to go to Tufts.
While she’s clearly found an intellectual home in science, McDonough will complete her honors thesis in her major, anthropology, on the fate of the Neandertal. As for her adviser, Assistant Professor Meghan Howey, McDonough has only one word, “awesome!”
The best UNH students create new opportunities for future students. McDonough, along with several other students, helped begin the Pre-Dental Society. The organization now has 35 members and presents educational programs at two local schools. It has also added an international, service-learning component.
Though many of her friends plan to take a year off before graduate school, McDonough is ready to go. “It’s been a great four years here at a whirlwind pace,” she says. “But I’m just excited for the next step.”
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