The Fab Five
Liberal Arts Fellows study, intern, travel abroad, and leap majors in a single bound!
Daniel Bishop ’12
On October 2, 2008, Daniel Bishop, an 18-year-old UNH freshman, lay in a hospital bed, all tubed up. First, he listened to the diagnosis and the realistic encouragement—this could take years to accept and move forward.
“I had many questions in my mind,” writes Bishop, “but I knew if I gave up and doubted myself then, I would never find the answers to those questions. Everyone was waiting for my reaction. I took a deep breath, looked at my parents, smiled, and said to myself ‘let’s do this.’ …In that moment, I decided that I would never give up.… This was my opportunity to emerge as the leader I had always wanted to be.”
Just a few weeks before, Bishop was beginning his studies in political science, and he wanted to become a lawyer. Subtly at first, he began to feel some numbness and tremors in his right leg. Then his right arm. Then his face. The tremors increased. So, he made an appointment with the doctor for about week out. It didn’t seem urgent. The day before his appointment, while watching football in his dorm room with friends, he had a seizure. When it was finished, he had another. And another. And so on with no break until he was screaming for it to stop.
What followed was his descent into further illness and the search for a diagnosis. It turned out to be multiple sclerosis—MS, a chronic, degenerative neurological disease with no cure. And, by now, he had dozens of scars covering his brain and spine.
With the diagnosis came a new medical regimen of weekly injections. When his symptoms subsided, Bishop was determined to finish out the semester.
“I spent months locked up inside my room, just doing work and thinking about how I could get myself out of each mess,” writes Bishop. “I didn’t spend time with friends and spent a lot of time on the phone talking to my family.”
He completed all of his first-semester courses.
At the end of January, driving home to Pelham, N.H., he closed his right eye to scratch it and found he could hardly see out of his left eye. This next diagnosis was optic neuritis, while often repaired in the early stages of the disease—there was no guarantee he would regain sight in that eye.
Bishop writes: “It was hard for me to distinguish faces and to read at any distance. …I looked at my family, I looked at my friends, and I looked at the world and engraved it in my heart.”
He pulled through with the help of his faith, family, friends, and the UNH community. That spring, in addition to a full roster of courses, Bishop formed a team to walk and raise money for MS research. He called and e-mailed and reached out, but notes, “I had little expectations for myself and others, so I set my goal at $1,000.”
But Bishop found that hundreds of people joined the cause to support MS research: “They gave money, signed up to walk, or attended my fundraiser. …We were one of the top teams out of hundreds in Central New England.… I remember thinking how incredible it was that ordinary people, doing ordinary things such as walking, could achieve such an extraordinary feat.”
Since then, Bishop et al have raised more than $20,000 for MS research through myriad fund raisers—from a grilled cheese and pasta dinner to “Pie Your RA.” He has also worked two years as a resident assistant, one year as an assistant hall director, and been the recipient of the University’s Movers and Shakers Award for his collaborative leadership style.
“I’m a good leader because I know when to follow and I give others an opportunity to lead,” says Bishop. “I didn’t come up with all of those ideas on my own… It wasn’t just me at every one of those events. If I wanted it to be all my work, we wouldn’t have raised as much money.”
Throughout, Bishop has been a stellar student and his interest in law, especially constitutional law has grown.
“I’m a people person,” says Bishop. “I’m passionate about how the law can shape our lives. It’s so vital to our society as we know it.” Next fall, Bishop will begin law school at Northeastern University in Boston.
This year, Daniel Bishop was awarded the University’s Hood Achievement Prize. This award is given to that senior man who shows the greatest promise through character, scholarship, leadership, and usefulness to humanity. Bishop is from Pelham, N.H.
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