Accolades, honors, and lasting contributions lie in their wake here at UNH. We salute these liberal arts fellows as they continue on their great journeys. Catch a glimpse of them now!
When she was a high school junior in Rochester, N.H., Ashley Doukas, a stellar student, faltered. “I let a few 85s slide in there,” she recalls. “I just didn’t feel the driving need to succeed.”
UNH, affordable and close by, was a logical choice for Doukas, who wanted to be able to go home on weekends. As a first-generation college student, she knew she’d have a lot on her plate and that the support of her friends and two sisters would be critical.
She started out in anthropology but quickly switched to psychology. “I want to be a clinical psychologist,” says Doukas. “I know how difficult mental illness can be for someone, and what it means to be able to access good quality treatment. I know that this is the work I want to do.”
Her confident assertion is backed up by her commitment. For the past two years Doukas has been a Wildcat Youth mentor, meeting with her mentee once a week. She’s also volunteered with Project Sunshine for several years, bringing recreation to hospitalized children who face medical challenges. And, for her psychology fieldwork, she interned at Youth to Youth in nearby Dover, where she continues to volunteer.
But the journey to a doctorate presented her with further challenges. Research, of course, is fundamental to graduate school. As a UNH McNair Scholar, a program designed for first-generation college students and ethnic minorities, Doukas got her first glimpse into the rigors of graduate research. And then two psychology professors, Michelle Leichtman and David Pillemer, became her mentors. “They’re both very encouraging of my ideas and my input into the research,” says Doukas, who presented a paper on episodic memory at the undergraduate research conference this spring.
Doukas anticipates going to graduate school in New York City, and she's ready. “I think the diversity of people, the museums—all of it—will be great.” Reflecting on her past four years, she says, “I felt I could reach my potential at UNH.”
After just three years, Meaghan Jepsen will graduate with a double major in history and English, and she’s achieved academic honors every semester along the way. As a first-year student she already had 12 AP credits. Her plan was to take one extra course one semester to graduate half a year early to save money. But then she decided to spend last summer studying in Cambridge, England.
Walking the beautiful old streets of Cambridge, she got to see—in all of its many layers—the world she’d come to know through both her majors. “I loved traveling every weekend. We went to Edinburgh and climbed up Arthur’s Seat and explored Edinburgh castle where Mary Queen of Scots’s son, James I of England, was born,” says Jepsen. “I enjoy the stories of individuals from the time of the Reformation. It’s interesting to see how a whole new aspect of Christianity began. I especially liked reading about Queen Elizabeth. She was such a strong figure and reigned for so long.”
This past year, to stay on track, she shouldered five courses each semester, studying mainly in the library or her residence hall. Luckily, her roommate, an engineering student, was also studious and, says Jepsen, she likes a little background noise. “Basically,” says Jepsen, “I’ve mostly been reading or writing every waking moment.” Yet when she talks about reading the Fitzgerald translation of Homer’s Iliad or the Fagles translation of Virgil’s Aeneid—her face lights up. This reading has been the journey of a lifetime, and she’s had academic advisers—Nicoletta Gullace in history and Brigitte Bailey in English—who, she notes, have guided her well.
Jepsen also played intramural basketball and flag football. For the past two years, she’s served on Student Senate. “This year I was on the health and human services council. I like advocating for people and writing the resolutions,” says Jepsen, who is seriously considering applying to law school in the future.
As a first-year student, Linton planned to become a high school social studies teacher. But, as he puts it, “life is full of surprises: three years, four majors, and half a dozen career dreams later...” he will graduate this spring with a degree in English. Next fall Linton will pursue a master’s degree in higher education in student affairs.
After a volunteer stint revealed that teaching wasn’t for him, in a typically astute manner, Linton didn’t put the whole dream aside. Instead, he asked himself how can I work with and support students in an educational setting? He found his answers through community service.
As a first-year student, he was elected by his residence hall to be a student senator. By his sophomore year, he was on numerous committees ranging from academics to dining to residential life. He was also getting to know many talented staff members from directors to deans.
That October, he came out and openly identified as a gay person. His involvement in the Alliance, UNH’s gay, lesbian, transgender, and allied student organization, became a primary focus. The following year, he served as chair of the Alliance. Subsequently, the student groups comprising the Diversity Support Coalition (DSC) elected him to be their director.
This meant that as a senior he became the spokesperson for the Alliance and also for the Black Student Union; Hillel, the Jewish student organization; Mosaico, the Latino/a student organization; the Native American Cultural Association; and the United Asian Coalition.
“When I became chair of the Alliance, I accepted myself even more,” reflects Linton. “I heard other people’s stories about coming out, and by hearing what they went through, I understood what I went through. As DSC director, I was reminded of that six-fold and I heard those stories and experienced those identities and cultures.
“My sense of humanity has been greatly expanded as a result,” says Linton. “I could not have imagined this as a 17-year old in Conway getting ready to go to the University of New Hampshire.”
After hearing the piano at the age of nine, Valerie Peters recalls knowing, “I wanted to play it!” And that’s exactly what she did. Now a senior music education major, she is a highly accomplished musician and committed teacher, with several private students and four years of teaching through the Piano Extension Program on campus.
Her interest in UNH began when music professor Arlene Kies taught a master class at Peters’s high school in Derry, N.H. “She is a very empathic teacher,” says Peters, who went on to attend the University’s Summer Youth Music program and then chose UNH for college.
At UNH, Peters continued her piano studies with Kies. “Arlene is more than a teacher for me,” says Peters. “She is a role model.”
Chamber music, with its demands for preternatural timing, is Peters’s favorite genre. As a participant in New Hampshire’s renowned Apple Hill Chamber Music “Playing for Peace” summer program, Peters has played with Israelis and Palestinians, Irish Protestants and Catholics. After playing with a violinist from Burma, Peters says, “She told me about her country and now her world really means something to me. The Apple Hill philosophy has become a part of my life.”
Peters, who was born with two fingers on her right hand and five on her left, is a board member of Helping Hands, a nonprofit organization devoted to supporting families of children with upper limb differences. She has seen the organization grow from just a few families to hundreds. Here, too, she incorporates music as a way to bring people together.
Last fall, Peters traveled to Ascoli Piceno for the UNH-in-Italy program. “I felt absolutely at home in Italy,” says Peters. “During my first years at UNH, piano meant everything to me. In Italy, I remembered how to enjoy life. I think I could get around anywhere in the world now.”
In her backpack, Peters carries a hand-drawn map of her future. Arrows point to teaching music, working for an international organization on arts and disability, or studying abroad. All directions are great, and the choice will be hers.
The crowd for Improv Anonymous is ready to play—rocking back and forth, snapping their fingers. In the dark recesses of the MUB Entertainment Center, the Improv players warm up with shouts and howls. When they bounce onto stage, it’s show time!
Like a basketball team’s center, Steve Rivard immediately becomes pivotal. In a fast dramatic skit entitled, “The Dramatic Phone Call,” Rivard as director encourages a fellow actor “to use those tears as acting lube!”
Rivard, now a senior, has been a member of Improv for the past three years. This year with Rivard as producer, Improv performed two back-to-back shows weekly. Their work paid off when Improv “owned” the student orgs banquet held in April. They won Organization of the Year and the Step Up, Stand Out Award for their collaboration on a Haiti Relief show.
His energy is a bit mercurial. Or as Rivard explains it, “I’m very spatial. When I see things, if I’m interested—I just go for it.”
So, because of his two brothers’ experiences, they’re also at UNH, Rivard participated in EcoQuest and became a resident hall assistant. He saw the Admissions reps giving University tours, tried it and then did a summer internship there as well. He’s done Alternative Spring Break Challenge, two times. And, this past year he participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Leadership Summit.
With a double major in geography and humanities, academically, Rivard is no slouch. This past semester, he tackled Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, and for his humanities thesis, he presented a paper on Tony Kushner’s Angels in America at the undergraduate research conference. For his final project in geography, he’s researching New York Street in nearby Dover.
While he may be getting New York Street figured out, Rivard’s future course is, temporarily, uncertain. “Usually I have a life plan,” says Rivard. “Right now I know I’ll be teaching at a camp in Colorado for the summer and then, I’ll take it from there.”
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