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Presidential Award of Excellence

Sheila McCurdy

Sheila McCurdy

Assistant Director
Center for International Education

Travel just about anywhere in the world, and chances are that a UNH student has been there, is there now, or will soon be there studying, conducting research, or working - and Sheila McCurdy may well deserve some of the credit for it.

McCurdy is assistant director of the UNH Center for International Education (CIE), which helps students, faculty, and the public to reach far beyond Durham, and immerse themselves in a world where learning doesn't necessarily take place in a classroom.

McCurdy, who has been with UNH for 30 years, first started working closely with students who were pursuing the International Affairs dual major. She also began to serve as UNH liaison for Interhostel adult study tours to get her own foreign experience.

Assistant director of CIE since 1991, McCurdy has been a passionate advocate for promoting international experience. And since the early 90s, she has served as UNH campus adviser for the Fulbright Student Program and National Security Education Program scholarship competitions.

"The impact these programs have is remarkable," says McCurdy, who grew up in North Dakota, unaware of opportunities to travel and study abroad. "The student leaves here as one person and returns much more mature and adaptable, and with great career potential that is more broadly focused...It makes me think, 'I wish I could've done that when I was that age.' "

Over the years, McCurdy has helped manage faculty international development opportunities, CIE scholarships, and the New Hampshire International Seminar, which brings world-renowned scholars to campus.

CIE's International Affairs dual major now enrolls about 350 students who are combining their major on campus with international study. McCurdy has made a great effort to stay in touch with its 700 alumni, and many will return to celebrate its 25 th anniversary in October 2010.

CIE students develop a bond with McCurdy that endures, and she fills albums with the photos, postcards, and letters they send of their overseas work and, often, of their growing families. McCurdy also helps keep them connected with the CIE newsletter, alumni events, Web site, and other outreach efforts.

"I look at them as if they were my kids," McCurdy says. "And now look at what they're all doing. They're doing fabulous things, all over the world."

-- Jim Graham
-- photo by Erin Gleason