The Fantastic Fellows
They spot opportunities from a mile away, synthesize new information in a flash, and tackle the big problems first. All get an “A” for “plays well with others.” Meet this year’s five liberal arts fellows just before they take off.
In January 2010, Joelle Calcavecchia, from Derry, N.H., began her internship at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University/U.S. Department of Defense in Washington, D.C.
“The director of our center was head of all the ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] troops in Afghanistan,” Calcavecchia says. “The center’s purpose is to bring together leaders from Bangladesh to Mauritania for sessions where they can have candid discussions about security issues in the region, including terrorism and current conflicts.”
As Calcavecchia, a political science major, listened to the swirl of languages and the English translations, her sense of the world expanded exponentially. Most spoke Arabic but there were French, Urdu, Farsi, and Dari speakers as well.
“The best part of the experience for me were the connections I made with other people,” Calcavecchia recalls. “There was one man from Qatar. He was very intimidating, a strict Muslim—he wouldn’t shake my hand or look me in the eye. Yet he told me that he was very impressed with me. He said, ‘You should have a career. You have so much opportunity. Run with it.’ I was very surprised. It really made me think about the assumptions we make.”
For her internship work, Calcavecchia was honored with the Civic Engagement Scholarship Award from the Washington Center.
When Calcavecchia returned to UNH, she and others founded the Arab Culture Club. “It’s a way for us to open up the discussion among students,” she says. “We have members from Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. Right now dialog is so important.”
Calcavecchia has also begun to study Arabic with lecturer Ruwa Pokorny. “I really love it,” she says. “It’s like a puzzle and you have to fit in the words… I didn’t know I would have such a passion for this field.”
After graduation, Calcavecchia, the first in her family to attend college, faces many decisions: “Part of me wants to go abroad and teach English as Second Language. But then, I’m also considering an intensive Arabic program in Jordan. I’m applying for several federal jobs as well.”
When Herbert Cornell’s grandmother was young, she worked at a barbershop in Maine near a POW camp. It was during World War II, and German prisoners were brought in to get their hair cut. “She told me about it when I was growing up and I thought I’d delve into it for my history project,” Cornell says.
Fifty pages later, Cornell, who’s from Enfield, N.H., had explored the nature of the camp and the punishment meted out there. “The soldiers were from the North Africa campaign and most of them liked the Great Woods,” Cornell says. “They were treated humanely and many actually gained weight.”
He found that the prisoners comprised communists, socialists, anarchists, and liberals—but about 20 percent identified as Nazis. After the death camps in Europe were discovered: “The army reduced their rations and separated out the fanatic Nazis from the rest of the population.”
Cornell is fascinated by family stories, histories, and law enforcement. His two majors, history and justice studies, have been a great fit.
“When I studied abroad in Budapest with the Justice Studies Program, we visited their courts and learned about their welfare system,” Cornell says. “I also traveled around Europe and visited the international criminal court in The Hague.”
Cornell, always on the look out for direct experience, interned with the Grafton County Probation and Parole last summer. He’s been a peer mediator with the Conflict Resolution and Mediation Association and participated in the UNH Citizen’s Police Academy and the High Technology Crime Association. Next year, Cornell plans to earn his master’s degree in justice studies.
Because he loves music, he became involved with Student Committee on Popular Entertainment and this past year was elected to be security director for the organization’s popular concerts.
But the big question is what kind of music does he really like?
“I’m notorious with my friends because I like such a wide range of music,” Cornell says with a laugh. “No one wants my iPod on the stereo.”
If you saw Samantha Corti running on campus this spring, she was probably in the midst of writing the conclusion to her international affairs thesis.
“If I’m in the middle of writing and really need to process something, I’ll go for a run,” Corti says. “The first five minutes nothing happens, but pretty soon my thinking becomes clearer.”
The title of her thesis is “Crime, Corruption, and Money: What Does It Take to Undermine a Democracy?”
“It’s a case study of two countries, Costa Rica and Panama,” Corti, explains. “Both are democracies, but since 1990, Panama does not adhere to all of the democratic norms.”
Just three years ago, Corti, from Stratham, N.H., left for Costa Rica to study Spanish for a semester. It was her first time out of the country. “I studied Spanish at the University of Costa Rica and lived with a family,” Corti says. “Definitely a big culture shock, but it was awesome.”
On spring break, she traveled to Panama.
That fall at UNH, Corti applied, successfully, for an internship through the Washington Center.
And so, last summer, she interned at Partners of the Americas in Washington, D.C. The nonprofit, international network connects people and organizations to change lives through 60 lasting partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“I was the vice president’s go-to-person in the United States,” Corti says. “I helped out with communications, social networking, and several programs. For example, Nike runs a youth development program with Partners of the Americas centered on soccer. The program reaches out to kids where they are and teaches them life skills through soccer and that can lead them back to school.”
Next fall, Corti, who will have a dual degree in political science and international affairs, plans to head back to D.C. to look for a job with a focus on international development. “I want a job that will be fulfilling,” Corti says. “I loved working at the nonprofit, but I want to see what else is out there.”
For spring break as a first-year student, Conor McGuire went on an Alternative Break Challenge (ABC) trip to New Orleans led by special collections librarian Bill Ross.
“Bill loves New Orleans and it’s infectious,” McGuire says. “There’s the jazz, beignets at Café Du Monde. It was three years after Hurricane Katrina and we definitely saw the lower ninth ward. I worked with the ‘Captain’ at his house, cleaning up and moving debris. And he told us stories. It was neat to put faces and names to what we’d read about it.”
For the next three years, McGuire, from Laconia, N.H., went on ABC trips during break, serving twice as a group leader.
He also became a resident hall assistant (RA), a position he held both his sophomore and junior years. “Those positions have become hugely competitive,” McGuire notes, “and the savings are considerable. My goal was to be a positive, friendly force in the building.”
As an offshoot of being an RA, McGuire was invited to participate in the Martin Luther King Leadership Summit. He further developed his leadership acumen by attending UNH Leadership Camp.
His other jobs have included being at writing assistant at the UNH Writing Center and a peer adviser at the Advising Center during Orientation.
Yet, McGuire is an academic at heart. “I enjoy English literature and I love writing poetry.”
However, his interest in linguistics trumps all. “When I studied syntax and morphology with professor Shelley Leiber, I got hooked,” McGuire says. “I am interested in how words are formed—the bits that create meaning.”
This summer, McGuire plans to attend the Linguistics Institute in Boulder, Col. “I’ll be able to hone in on my interests a bit better there,” says McGuire who has been accepted to graduate school at the University of Wellington in New Zealand. There he’ll study with renowned linguist, Laurie Bauer. In January 2012, he has plans for a quick trip to Nepal. Complicated, exciting, and fast-paced—just the way McGuire likes it.
A hop, skip, and a jump—the triple jump is Jasmin Washington’s forte on the UNH track and field team. It looks like child’s play, but it’s all about strength, speed, and concentration.
Washington, from Waltham, Mass., has brought that same discipline to her academic and extracurricular pursuits at UNH.
Nonetheless, Washington came a few days late to attend the CONNECT program for new first-year and transfer students of color. “And Connect is the best thing to have happened to me while being here,” Washington says with a laugh. “I loved it and that’s why I decided to become a CONNECT mentor. My first year as a mentor, I worked with Thompson School students and that was cool. I learned about that program and could be there for those students in a peer-to-peer relationship.”
Washington eventually became a CONNECT senior staff member. This step-by-step development is similar to her projected career path, which is to become an elementary school teacher with the long-term goal of going into administration.
The choice to become a teacher has been a thoughtful one for Washington, whose major is sociology with a deaf studies minor.
“I have lots of experience with kids, both in my family and extended family from diapers to the oldest, who’s about 14 now,” Washington says. “Also my aunt is a teacher in an inner city school in Boston. And the work she does has inspired me.”
Right away Washington took Education 500: Exploring Teaching. “I couldn’t wait to get into the classroom,” she says. “My host teacher was great. We discussed the students and their needs. Now that I’ve taken more education classes, when I go home I can identify some of the developmental stages of my cousins.”
Next year, Washington will pursue her master’s degree in elementary education and intern at Garrison Elementary School in Dover, N.H. “Every morning they do schoolwide exercises in the gym—run by the principal and gym teacher,” Washington says. “When I talked to the teachers about their work day, they said, ‘Well, we usually stay after for Zumba.’ So, it’s all about community.”
Here at UNH, Washington has contributed to many community organizations, including the Black Student Union, the Big Brother Big Sister Program, and The Sisterhood events. In 2010, she was awarded a Movers and Shakers Leadership Award in recognition of her leadership skills.
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