International Alumni Updates - Fall 2015

International Alumni Updates - Fall 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

OISS would like to thank all donors who contributed to The 603 Challenge this past spring!

We encourage alumni to submit to Alumni Tales!


Varouna Appiah from Mauritius
Varouna Appiah from Mauritius

Varouna Appiah from Mauritius,
BS '12 and MS '14 Civil Engineering

I came to the US alone as an eighteen-year-old girl to pursue an undergraduate degree in environmental engineering. I lived in Smith Hall during my freshman year. It was the dorm where international students resided as well as many others who were interested in learning about various cultures and traditions. This is where I met my better half and my closest friends. It was home away from home and where my fondest memories of the university are. I am so happy that I came to UNH. The OISS team has always been so helpful to me. I lent a hand by serving as an orientation leader for other incoming international students on many occasions, and got to represent Mauritius to this corner of the world. I remember how proud I felt when I saw the Mauritian flag hosted in the MUB. I am so grateful for the people that I have met over the course of my time at UNH, especially for Leila Paje-Manalo (Director of OISS and Education Abroad) who has always made time for my many questions and Dr. Robin M. Collins who was my advisor from freshman year through graduate school. UNH has provided me with the resources and guidance to be the resilient person that I am today. I am currently working in an international environmental consultancy firm in Boston, MA, and look forward to the many opportunities that the future holds.

M. Susana Alvarado-Barrientos from Guatemala
M. Susana Alvarado-Barrientos from Guatemala

M. Susana Alvarado-Barrientos from Guatemala,
PhD '13 Earth and Environmental Science

My advisor moved her lab to UNH from Iowa State University when I was halfway through my PhD studies. So shortly after arriving in UNH, I had to defend my doctoral dissertation proposal with a new committee. It was tough but I successfully graduated with a PhD in Earth and Environmental Sciences in May 2013. My work focused on plant water use and its environmental controls, having carried out fieldwork in the tropical mountains of central Veracruz, Mexico.

My life in New Hampshire as a transfer graduate student was made easy, in part, thanks to OISS. Their work towards creating an environment of understanding of different peoples and cultures, as well as integrating us internationals into American culture, was outstanding. A couple of international students and scholars in the lab went to our first International Circle meeting for the free food, and kept attending for the great friends we made! I particularly remember learning how to cook Vietnamese fresh spring rolls, having American football explained so we could enjoy the Super Bowl and homecoming game, and the great time I had participating in orientating new students.

Shortly after graduating I started a two-year postdoctoral fellow appointment at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where I studied the land use change-related variations in evapotranspiration and other components of the land surface energy balance. Just recently, I was hired at a public research institute, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), as a young research scientist appointed by the National Council for Science and Technology of Mexico (CONACT). Here, I am part of a team of scientists commissioned to the station that receives earth observations from satellites, and will be evaluating land surface satellite data products against ground-based observations.

Darshana Udayanganie from Sri Lanka
Darshana Udayanganie from Sri Lanka

Darshana Udayanganie from Sri Lanka,
PhD '13 Economics

I have no doubt that coming to UNH was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I am originally from Sri Lanka, which is an island in the Indian Ocean.  Having been born in a beautiful country, I always loved nature. Beautiful New Hampshire did not disappoint me; I had ample opportunities to explore the beautiful mountains, trails, lakes and beaches in the state. My passion for Economics and the Environment led me to complete a Ph.D. in Economics in 2013, with a focus in Environmental Economics.  I met a lot of amazing professors at UNH, who have helped me shape my career. I am always grateful for my UNH friends and OISS staff, who always stood by me through the good times and bad.

As an Economics Instructor, I have previously worked for the Economics Department at UNH, Merrimack College in Massachusetts, and the Navitas program at UNH.  Now I work for the Department of Economics at Central Michigan University. Moving from New Hampshire to Michigan was not an easy decision. But I have found that my passion for teaching and nature has helped me to settle down and appreciate living in Michigan.