A Future in Criminal Justice: UNH senior looks to law school
UNH Today - Durham, 12/2020
A desire to better understand how people think led Gordon Unzen ’21 to major in psychology. He added philosophy after taking social and political philosophy, and then justice studies when he realized it complemented the other two fields and gained him access “to the world of law” through classwork and internships.
So, a triple major and an interest in law. And he still has another semester to go, leading one to wonder what else he might try to achieve.
Triple Major Gordon Unzen, Hamel Scholar, Class of 2021
“I took an online intro to philosophy class in high school that I really enjoyed, and my mom has a doctorate in counseling psychology, which introduced me to psychology early on in life,” Unzen says. “My plan has always been to apply to law school after I complete my undergraduate degree, so I had a lot of flexibility with choosing majors.”
His goal for as long as he can remember has been to practice criminal law, but he has developed an interest in civil rights and constitutional law. He now views practicing law as the beginning of his career. He has already been accepted at the UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law and New England Law.
“Our country requires a lot of institutional change to address the racism, sexism, classism and ableism that America is founded on and perpetuates systemically,” Unzen says. “I hope to spend my career, in whatever form it takes, advocating for that change.”
The recipient of a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), the New Hampshire resident’s research was titled “The Impacts of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data for Criminal Law.” He wanted to gain understanding of the artificial intelligence (AI) field.
The result was a 140-page reflection on such areas as the philosophy of justice and punishment, the history and future of artificial intelligence, the applications of algorithms in the criminal justice system, AI punishment and futurism and AI governance with respect to liberal democracy.
“I learned how AI is already being used to change criminal justice from increased and more efficient surveillance to the faulty predictions of future criminals and recidivism rates,” he says. “For instance, regarding surveillance and crime identification, algorithms have been developed to identify faces, license plates and crime hotspots.
“The future of criminal justice will be greatly influenced by technology, specifically artificial intelligence,” Unzen adds. “Rather than using technology to speed up the procedures of a bad criminal justice system, we must look to implementations that improve our ability to detect violent and white collar crimes, to interact with and build up communities and to make decisions where human cognitive biases may otherwise interfere with the judicial process.”
Unzen has been working as a research assistant with professor Ellen Cohn and her graduate students in the legal socialization laboratory since his sophomore year. Using data from the New Hampshire Youth Survey study, he conducted research on bullying behavior. He is now involved with an independent project predicting prosocial and antisocial COVID pandemic behaviors. He is also working on an honors thesis in psychology using party affiliation and political ideology to predict attitudes towards justice.
Unzen is a co-organizer of the Socratic Society and co-president of Psi Chi, the student organization for the National Psychology Honors Society. He also is associated with the UNH Young Social Democrats and is a resident assistant in Gibbs Hall.
Hamel Scholars’ Leadership Training Workshop
Written by Dev Dutta
Even though September 20 was a Sunday, the incoming group of Hamel Scholars were energized and ready for a Leadership Training Workshop with Professor Dev Dutta, Associate Professor at Paul College. The workshop was going to take them the greater part of the day: from 9 am until 2 pm. The scholars were ready, having logged into Zoom even before it was 9 o’ clock!
After a quick round of meditation and checking up on each other, the students launched right away into design thinking, utilizing the virtual design thinking platform, Sprintbase (sprintbase.io).
For the next two hours, they worked in teams – empathizing, ideating, and prototyping on a problematic issue that most people have experienced at least once in their lives – how to make people’s waiting and transit experiences at the airport better! Professor Dutta holds design-thinking certifications from both the MIT and Stanford. He is also a certified instructor and coach on Sprintbase. The students had great fun developing customer journey maps, HMW (how might we) questions, silent brainstorming, divergent and convergent thinking, and working with ‘creative confidence’ and ‘yes-and’ logic. Teamwork was fun and creative, utilizing virtual, colorful sticky notes and emojis, and the use of UNH alumna Amy Climer’s fun Climer Cards (https://climercards.com/), for self-reflection.
After a short 30 min break for lunch, the afternoon session of the workshop commenced with a 12-minute meditation on compassion and awareness by Tara Brach. This was followed by mini-sessions on leadership – values, vulnerability, and creativity, along with a lot of teamwork in breakout rooms, and sharing of ideas and learning from each other.
The workshop logistics and breakout rooms on Zoom were very ably coordinated by Amanda Leger, Program Coordinator for the Hamel Scholars Program.
By the time the workshop ended, the Hamel Scholars had not only forged close partnerships with each other but also felt that they had the necessary skills to take up creative problem-solving through design thinking. It was a Sunday well-spent!
From Farm-to-Fork to Hunger
UNH Today - Durham, 9/2020
Alexandra Papadakis ’21 has long been interested in food. When she started at UNH, she thought that interest would take her in the direction of how it’s grown, harvested, marketed, consumed— that kind of thing. So she majored in sustainable agriculture and food systems, adding the dual major ecogastronomy. Then she started thinking more about hunger.
In 2018, during the summer following her freshman, Papadakis participated in the Hamel Center’s Research Experience and Apprenticeship Program (REAP), designed for first-year honor students. Her goal was to get a better handle on food systems through research. Working with Joanne Burke of the agriculture, nutrition, and food systems department, Papadakis investigated “various aspects of New Hampshire’s food system to understand what goes on from farm-to-fork and to think through potential opportunities that exist to improve food system viability in the state.”
“I worked with a middle school farm‐to‐school education program, surveyed farmers and consumers and volunteered with an organization called NH Gleans,” the North Hampton, New Hampshire, resident says. “By the end of the summer, I witnessed how education can influence students’ knowledge about food, explored the feasibility of establishing a food hub in the Seacoast area, and learned how gleaning can assist food assistance providers in supplying fresh produce to those in need.”
The following spring, Papadakis signed on with UNH’s Semester in the City to do an internship in Boston, working in the public policy department at the anti-hunger organization Project Bread.
During the 14 week-term, she created a guide for Massachusetts legislators offering policy recommendations to fight hunger in their districts and helped connect Project Bread’s action team with opportunities to advocate for policy change.
It was after those experiences that Papadakis changed her major to nutrition and dietetics and ecogastronomy, with a minor in sustainable agriculture.
“I switched because I became more interested in the field of community nutrition as it relates to hunger and food insecurity, and a nutrition/dietetics degree seemed to better fit that interest,” Papadakis says. “But sustainable agriculture is big part of food systems being viable, which is why I still wanted to keep it as a minor.”
“Doing the research for my REAP project, I noticed how close to home the issue of food insecurity was. It seemed to me that an unacceptable number of people in our New Hampshire towns and communities didn't know where their next meal would come from or were having to make the difficult decision whether to pay rent or to buy groceries,” Papadakis says. “Working at Project Bread only reinforced my drive to want to make positive change toward making sure hunger isn't a problem that persists in our communities long-term.”
She also mentions the impact the Semester in the City method of learning has had on steering her future, noting the experience challenged her conventional view of education: attending a class, taking notes, having that knowledge tested on an exam.
“Instead, I gained practical experience in my field and learned about taking my career one step further and what it could look like to direct social change,” says Papadakis, who returned to Project Bread this summer as the nonprofit’s public policy communications intern.
Her goal is to get involved with community nutrition, particularly in the area of food insecurity and hunger, and she plans to explore those issues in her senior honors thesis in nutrition and her senior capstone in ecogastronomy.
“My thesis is going to be a survey of the intersection between race and hunger, and then my capstone project will look at the issue of food insecurity in New Hampshire refugee communities,” she says.
Graduate school is likely as are dietetic internships, needed to become a registered dietitian. Papadakis also is considering applying for a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship or Samuel Huntington Public Service Award.
As if a dual major, a minor, internships and research aren’t enough, Papadakis is a past member of Slow Food UNH and the UNH Organic Gardening Club, serving for two years as the organizer of that group’s community dinner. She also works at Campus Recreation as a building manager and program assistant for both the fitness and informal recreation programs. In 2019 she studied abroad in Ascoli Piceno, Italy.
Back on campus this semester after going remote because of COVID-19, four of her five classes are taught in person, some with hybrid capabilities, an aspect she praises along with efforts the university has made to have face-to-face learning.
“I am really impressed by what the administration, faculty and staff alike have done to make the learning environment as safe as possible,” Papadakis says. “It’s certainly an adjustment, but the little changes like wearing a mask and spacing out our desks farther than usual are sacrifices I’m willing to make in order to be with my classmates and teachers again. My favorite part about class and learning is always the hands-on work, which is something that I’m glad we’ve been able to retain.”
Fall Semester Kick-Off Goes Virtual
On Wednesday, September 9th, 123 current Hamel Scholars reunited for the Fall Semester Kick-Off. This event, typically held in a large classroom space, took place via Zoom in accordance to the university’s group gathering protocols. Program Coordinator Amanda Leger welcomed the 26 incoming Hamel Scholars, a group comprised of 21 first-year students and 5 junior students, and reviewed the expectations for the year. From there, the 12 Task Forces met via breakout rooms to create mission statements and group goals and set up meeting schedules for the fall semester.
This year’s Task Force mission statements are listed below:
Animal Welfare: We strive to support local shelters, and spread awareness of their needs while also creating a more wildlife friendly campus.
Diversity & Inclusion: We aim to promote and educate with respect to ideals of diversity, inclusion and equity and particularly to raise up and advocate for marginalized students on campus at UNH.
Diversity in Industry - STEM Outreach: The STEM Outreach subgroup exists to improve STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) literacy and interest among demographics of different ages, genders, and backgrounds.
Diversity in Industry - Women in STEM: Our mission is to inspire young women to pursue interests, education, and careers in STEM fields, and to promote diversity in STEM. We also want to learn more about current leaders in the field to help further our understanding to help us better our outreach.
Education: To ensure a well-rounded education for all by providing resources and services to support learning.
Financial Wellness: Our mission is to provide UNH students accurate and easy to understand information about financial responsibility and budgeting properly.
Food Security & Homelessness: To improve access to nutritious food and adequate housing for struggling families and individuals in New Hampshire, while also promoting meaningful relationships with local farmers and soup kitchens. We also want to educate individuals about food security and homelessness issues and reach out to at-risk kids.
The Green Team: Environmental Wellbeing: To learn, promote, and implement ways of being environmentally conscious, through both daily choices and wider-scale societal actions. Consider ways to sustainably adapt needs to current ways of life around the global pandemic.
Issues in Incarceration: The Issues of Incarceration Task Force’s mission is to learn about issues facing the justice system and advocate for reform to end the cycle of recidivism and rising inmate populations in New Hampshire.
Medical Access: Our mission is to educate ourselves and others regarding health access and resources in New Hampshire, and to use this knowledge to improve the health of our community and beyond.
Mental Health Destigmatization & Awareness: To change the stigma around mental illness and promote education in the NH community in order to facilitate the understanding, acceptance, and amelioration of mental health issues.
SUPER (Substance Use Prevention, Education, and Recovery) Initiative: The SUPER Initiative aims to approach the issue of substance misuse in New Hampshire from three angles: prevention, education, and recovery.
- Prevention: Work with local organizations to spread practices of safe use and harm reduction
- Education: Inform the community about substance use disorders with the goal of destigmatizing them and encouraging recovery
- Recovery: Promote and support local rehabilitation programs and recovery resources. Work with local leaders to support legislation that funds rehabilitation
While this academic year will bring new guidelines, processes, and challenges, our Hamel Scholars will undoubtedly meet it head on, persevere, and excel.
Character Counts: McNair Scholar explores lack of multicultural representation in children's books
UNH Today - Durham, 7/2020
When Julian Maduro ’21 says she grew up around books, she is speaking both figuratively and literally. Raised in a family that promoted reading from a young age, she recalls selecting stories from expansive floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in her childhood home that were always stocked with titles.
For Maduro, books were always in abundance. What she came to find was much scarcer, though, were characters in those books that looked like her.
“I remember sitting there one day and realizing that with all the books we had, there was only one children’s book with a character of color. I was thinking, we’re a Black family with this huge book collection and we only had this one book? When I started looking at it, I realized it wasn’t just a problem in our library – it’s everywhere. There just aren’t a lot of options with multicultural characters for children.”
Years after that revelation, Maduro took the opportunity to explore the phenomenon – and the impact it has on reading habits into adulthood – in greater detail thanks to UNH’s McNair Scholarship program, which prepares undergraduate students for entrance into Ph.D. programs by providing academic and social support services through internships and summer research fellowships.
“I discovered essentially what I expected, that students don’t want to read things that aren’t relatable or relevant to them."
Maduro was selected as part of the 2019 cohort, and her project, “The Relationship Between Multicultural Representation in Children's Literature And Reading Practices Of Young Adults,” examines a potential correlation between that lack of representation and the fact that students of color have been found to read significantly less than their white peers in the United States.
Maduro partnered with mentor Laura Smith, a senior lecturer in the English department, and set out to discuss the topic with 12 UNH students – six white students and six students of color – asking them to recall their experiences as young readers.
Maduro was intrigued to discover that likely because characters of color are so rare, students could recall very specific details about the few stories they did encounter featuring characters they could relate to culturally, even if they hadn’t read those stories in more than a decade.
“One of the most interesting things I found was interviewing students of color who would remember a book from third grade and be able to recall everything a character did because she was ‘Latina like me’ or ‘from an African family like me,’” Maduro says. “They would remember every detail. But if I asked them about an academic text they’d read the year prior, the details wouldn’t stick with them.”
Getting involved in issues surrounding race and culture is nothing new to Maduro, who is active in many such student organizations at UNH. She has served as secretary and co-chair of NALA, the university’s support group for women of color, and is a member of both the Black Student Union and the UNH Queer and Trans People of Color group.
She has used her voice to address issues of race and gender throughout her time at UNH, acting as a panelist for SafeZones, which focuses on creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQIAP+ faculty, students, and staff. She also recently joined Tito Jackson '99, '18H to lead a webinar in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, “Black Student Union Sit-Ins to #GeorgeFloyd: A Reflection on our Past, an Examination of our Present, and a Reckoning with our Future,” in which she reflected on the role race played in her own upbringing in largely white spaces, the need for better awareness around non-white cultures and races at UNH and ways she believes the university can improve its recruitment and retention of students of color.
She’s not finished exploring the topic that got her started with the McNair program, either – she has been accepted as part of the program for a second time this summer and intends to examine the level of diversity in reading lists at New Hampshire public high schools. Her initial research revealed that modern reading lists around the country feature fewer than 16% of titles written by female authors, and less than 7% by authors of color, and she plans to survey New Hampshire educators to explore whether they are looking to change that trend and how students are responding to the books they are reading.
Once she completes her senior year, Maduro says she will probably take a “gap year” before likely pursuing a Ph.D. program in criminology (the McNair program has helped connect Maduro to contacts at UCLA, one of her top choices for pursuing a graduate degree).
Her interest in the intersection of creative writing and cultural diversity could play just as significant a role in her future as it has in her past and present, too – she has one unpublished novel complete and is working on another that she hopes to publish first, with a projected completion date of spring 2021, and her writing fittingly features extensive “commentary on social issues,” she says, including the exploration of diversity and sexual identity.
Maduro, who is also a Hamel Scholar and a recipient of the Alice Marguerite Mitchell scholarship, credits the McNair program and her other scholarship opportunities with making her UNH experience a rewarding one that has set her on a path she is excited to follow.
“The McNair Program connected me with so many amazing people and has given me so many opportunities,” Maduro says, noting that her initial contact with the ACLU came through the program. “The scholarships I’ve received have made such a difference for me. I would have been able to go to UNH, but without them I wouldn’t have been able to have the experience I’ve had.”
The McNair Scholars Program is a federally-funded TRIO program administered by the U.S. Department of Education.
Doing It All: UNH senior follows his passion
UNH Today - Durham, 4/2020
Dylan Wheeler ’20 has been described as a person who lives in a universe with 28-hour days. Here’s why: he’s founded two startups and he hasn’t even graduated yet. He launched the first one during his freshman year, and it has helped pay his way through UNH. He also has his own website.
Wheeler has placed in the Paul College of Business and Economics Holloway Competition four years in a row, completed a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) in artificial intelligence, was a finalist in the 2018 NH Social Innovation Challenge and is a member of the Paul College’s Rines Angel Fund, a student-managed angel investment fund. A Hamel Scholar, he volunteered with the Honors Program and served as a student ambassador for the UNH Entrepreneurship Center. Wheeler is also a member of several clubs. Makes you wonder if 28 hour-days would be enough.
“I learned how important technology is to society and how essential it is that we build things the right way, ethically, morally, socially responsibly.”
“My UNH career has been eclectic. As a freshman I was studying information technology in the College of Engineering and Physical Science. But then I got involved with the Paul College rather quickly and founded my first startup in October 2016,” Wheeler says.
That company is Triumph Software, the makers of a professional development app that Wheeler worked on in high school. Since its launch, Loggit has served over 500 educators across New Hampshire and tracked more than 43,000 hours of professional development. In August 2018, he founded ecoText, which provides a digital subscription service for college textbooks.
“I discovered a deep passion for how technology shapes our lives, and how we shape it,” Wheeler says. “I became particularly interested in artificial intelligence and disinformation.” His research article “Living in a World Where Seeing Is No Longer Believing: Artificial Intelligence as a Disinformation Engine” appears in UNH’s Inquiry Journal.
During his sophomore year, Wheeler took the course “social and political philosophy” to fulfill a gen ed requirement. “The class changed my life,” he says. “I learned how important technology is to society and how essential it is that we build things the right way -- ethically, morally, socially responsibly.”
Wheeler decided right then to add philosophy to his information technology major. While admitting the two are “seemingly different” he says the dual majors “come together beautifully when considering some of today’s most challenging modern innovations.” He cites problems like artificial intelligence, automation, job displacement, fake news, gene editing and more.
The Bow, New Hampshire, native has been offered a job at a tech company and, if everything goes according to plan, he’ll start in September. In the meantime, he’s doing development work part-time for a startup investment group in Manchester, New Hampshire, and focusing on ecoText.
“I’ve tried my hardest to make the most out of this university and strive to do good for not only this campus but the community in general,” Wheeler says.
It seems he is hitting his mark. Even without 28-hour days.
Fall 2019 Task Force Updates
The Hamel Scholars have been hard at work with academics, extracurricular activities, and their self-created, self-driven Task Forces. This semester saw two additional community-based issues, environmental wellbeing and issues in incarceration, and those students have been especially active in seeking resources and connections at UNH and beyond.
- Animal Welfare Task Force members have been volunteering and serving the Cocheco Valley Animal Shelter, and organized a viewing of the documentary Blackfish.
- Diversity and Inclusion Task Force members are working to establish the Student Art Collective as a recognized UNH student organization and through this, hope to create a campus mural showcasing diversity and identities on campus. They are also working with Dawn Zitney to learn more about sexual education and the potential need for reform.
- The three subgroups of the Diversity in Industry Task Force have been doing great work in their respective fields:
- Diversity in Entrepreneurship planned two large campus-wide events, Wildcat Tank and the Entrepreneur’s Game of Life, partnering with the ECenter and Entrepreneurship Club.
- STEM Outreach planned enrichment activities for Woodman Park Elementary School and volunteered at the Ocean Discovery Day on campus.
- Women in STEM led a local Girl Scouts troop and Woodman Park Elementary School students in creative hands-on activities, ranging from chemistry to engineering.
- The Education Task Force is partnering with the YMCA on a leadership training in order to become volunteers in the future, and lead enrichment activities at local schools.
- Financial Wellness has created a blog focusing on becoming more financially savvy – both at UNH and beyond – and organized a Financial Jeopardy night.
- The Food Security and Homelessness Task Force has worked with the Strafford Country Homeless Shelter, and has built an active relationship with Waysmeet, assisting with their gardens and community dinner.
- The Green Team: Environmental Wellbeing participated in a cleanup of Hampton Beach with EcoReps, and have been busy learning more about waste reduction and sustainability.
- Issues in Incarceration Task Force members have been actively partnering with the Sidore Lecture Series, “What is a Criminal?” and have visited the Strafford County Jail.
- The Medical Access Task Force has planned enrichment activities for Woodman Park Elementary School, volunteered at Partners for World Health in Portland, Maine, organized a menstrual supply drive, and learned more about oral health promotion with assistance from the NH Oral Health Coalition.
- The Mental Health Destigmatization and Awareness Task Force participated in the Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk and are hosting a stress relief event educating students about resources on and off campus.
- The SUPER (Substance Use Prevention, Education, and Recovery) Initiative volunteered with Hand-Up Health Services’ needle exchanges in Somersworth and also organized a campus-wide winter clothing drive for the organization.
With a new semester ahead, these Task Forces are sure to continue their efforts in the areas of leadership and service.
Hamel Scholars Partner with the Out of the Darkness Walk
On Saturday, September 14, twenty newly admitted Hamel Scholars traveled to the Little Harbor School in Portsmouth to volunteer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walk. Each Out of the Darkness Walks serves as a journey of remembrance, hope, support, and a walk that unites a community, and is a time to acknowledge the ways in which suicide and mental illness have affected the lives of so many individuals and loved ones.
Hamel Scholar volunteers assisted with the set-up and clean-up of the walk, staffed registration, merchandise, and activity tables, provided safety and direction along the walk route, and served lunch to participants. First-year Scholar Blaise O’Mara and Junior Scholar Coleman Russell were very moved by the event – from the number of walkers physically present to the stories individuals shared, both young and old. Scholars Madison Gould and Hannah Flaherty are looking forward to building upon this momentum within their Task Force, Mental Health Destigmatization and Awareness, Flaherty already taking steps to plan an Out of the Darkness Walk on campus. Some of their other goals for the year are to connect with UNH Psychological and Counseling Services (PACS) to learn more about mental illness and identify when someone needs help, to plan suicide prevention trainings, and to plan a residence hall-based social to raise awareness about mental health.
With support from walkers and donors, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has been able to set a goal to reduce the annual suicide rate 20% by 2025. Over $74,000 was raised, and the walk was attended by 81 teams and 590 participants.
On October 8th, the AFSP is partnering with Applebee’s located at 232 Indian Brook Drive in Dover, New Hampshire, and will donate 15% of checks from 4pm-9pm.
To learn more about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, please visit https://afsp.org/.
24 New Students Join the Hamel Scholars Program
Durham, NH, 8/26/2019
To view biographies for the newest additions to the Hamel Scholar Program, click here.
Community Task Forces Spring into Action
Rochester, NH, 2/23/2019
On, Saturday, February 23rd, seven Hamel Scholars from the Basic Needs for All Task Force, along with two additional friends, volunteered at the Homeless Center for Strafford County in Rochester, NH. The task force members helped the shelter move several bedrooms worth of furniture from a storage facility into a moving truck and then from the moving truck into the shelter. The furniture was donated by a local business, and it will be given to six local families, as well as be used when the shelter moves to a larger location in 2021. The group worked hard to help move heavy furniture pieces over the course of a couple hours, they were all "thrilled to be able to help out a local organization in need."
For more information on the Homeless Center for Strafford County, please visit http://www.homelesscenterforstraffco.org/
Portland, Maine, 2/16/2019
On February 16, 2019, thirteen Hamel Scholars from the Medical Access Task Force visited the Partners for World Health headquarters in Portland, Maine to volunteer for the day. Upon arrival, PWH Founder Elizabeth McLellan gave an inspiring orientation presentation informing the students of their mission: to collect unused, recycled medical equipment from medical facilities to reduce landfill, bring it to their warehouse to sort through, and then send shipments of supplies to international communities in need. A group of volunteers, including volunteer surgeons, Nurse Practitioners and Registered Nurses, then follow the shipments to these communities on medical mission trips. McLellan’s goal is to see the cost of healthcare in the US decrease, which she is helping to do by disposing the medical equipment, thus reducing costs for medical facilities. One of her most recent initiatives is providing basic medical care to the women in Bangladesh brothels.
The Hamel Scholar were divided groups of 4 and 5 to complete tasks assigned by Partners for World Health, including packing respiratory equipment and sorting through equipment that had expiration dates on them that did not need such dates (gauze, electrodes, tubing, catheter equipment).
At the end of the day, Elizabeth asked the Hamel Scholars to describe our volunteer experience in one word. People used the words inspiring, collaboration, efficient, and surprising, to name a few. Senior Grace DiPersio stated “It was a great day, and we all left feeling educated, enlightened, and longing to do more.”
For more information on Partners for World Health, please visit https://www.partnersforworldhealth.org/
Hamel Scholars Kick Off a New Semester!
On Wednesday, January 30, 2019, the Hamel Scholars attended the inaugural Spring Kick-Off, an event planned by Program Coordinator Amanda Adams to reunite the group of 122 students after a five-week long winter break. The purpose of this event was to share fall semester progress and spring semester goals for each of the nine Community Task Forces. During the fall semester, the program was revamped to tackle community-based issues proposed by individual Hamel Scholars. More than 20 proposals were taken and combined into broader topics. The Hamel Scholars then ranked their level of interest, and were placed into one of the following Task Forces: Education, Wellness, Mental Health Destigmatization and Awareness, Medical Access, Animal Welfare, Basic Needs for All, Substance Abuse Recovery & Prevention, Diversity & Inclusion, and Diversity in Industry.
The Community Task Forces meet regularly together in person and virtually, and have started working toward both individual- and group-oriented goals. Leadership and Service requirements for the Hamel Scholars Program now encompass the issues and challenges the Task Forces are addressing, in the hopes that they allow the Hamel Scholars to form a real-life connection to their passions. In their summation of their fall progress, and spring plans, it is clear the Hamel Scholars are off to a great start, taking ownership of finding and/or planning leadership and service opportunities that directly impact their communities.
Task Force Updates
Education: The Education Community Task Force is striving to bring awareness of art and literature to young students. Junior Alana Gudinas stated that the group has partnered with Woodman Park Elementary School in Dover to implement activities and programs that focus on creativity, cognition, and other skills that are important to learn at a young age. They are working to collect data from teachers in local communities to assess areas of improvement and involvement.
Wellness: First-year student Yuri Makar emphasized the importance of physical wellness and nutritional wellness, and the impact that these have on the daily life of individuals. This Task Force is partnering with groups on campus, such as the Student Senate, Hamel Recreation Center, and the Eating Concern Mentors to assist with educational events and programs.
Mental Health Destigmatization and Awareness: This Task Force has divided into two subgroups to accomplish their many goals. Senior Hamel Scholars Ashley Leblanc and Kendall Dapprich have organized and facilitated NAMI Connects Young Adult Suicide Prevention Trainings, and will continue to do so in the spring semester, with the hopes of extending outreach to the larger UNH community. The second subgroup is focusing on immigrant mental health awareness, and is looking to create informational brochures to share with community members.
Medical Access: The Medical Access Task Force plans to tackle a number of issues this semester, ranging from public health education to STD/STI prevention. In February, they will be traveling to Portland, Maine to volunteer with Partners for World Health. They are also collaborating with a faculty member in the hopes of having her speak to the group about the field of public health.
Animal Welfare: Junior Hamel Scholar Bridget Baker described recent efforts of the Animal Welfare Task Force, including connecting with local animal rescues and shelters, and volunteering over the winter break. Baker stated that they are hoping to utilize the spring semester to “make connections with shelters in the south that are overloaded, as well as dog transport companies.”
Basic Needs for All: This Task Force has also split into two subgroups in order to tackle their goals – some Scholars are focusing on basic needs for people, while others are focusing on agriculture and food insecurity. In the fall semester, they volunteered with the UNH Police Department’s food drive for the Waysmeet Center, as well as the Friendly Kitchen in Concord, and they hope to continue these efforts in the spring. According to sophomore Kelsey Mercurio, this Task Force has also been assessing the needs of farmers in New Hampshire, and looks forward to putting this research to action.
Substance Abuse Prevention, Education, and Recovery: The newly re-named SUPER Initiative took part in a fall training with Hand Up Health, a local syringe services program aiming to assist with needle exchange for people to use substances more safely. They are actively exploring other areas to assist with in the local community.
Diversity & Inclusion: Sophomore Gordon Unzen stated that the Diversity & Inclusion Task Force was created with “the realization that a homogenous culture within New Hampshire and UNH can lead to uneducated and somewhat biased viewpoints.” In the fall, these students implemented diversity training through Safe Zone panels, and in the spring, they intend to further impact other student organizations as well as the campus culture as a whole.
Diversity in Industry: This Task Force is comprised of three subgroups, two of which focus on STEM outreach – for women and the greater population – and the third will focus on diversity among student teams in entrepreneurial-related projects and campus competitions. Junior Dylan Wheeler stated that they “hope to see more representation from all schools, all genders…as many types of people as possible.” The STEM-focused groups have partnered with a local Girl Scout troop, as well as Woodman Elementary School.
At the conclusion of the event, Honors Program Associate Director Kate Gaudet led the Hamel Scholars in an orientation to Wordpress, which will serve as the host platform for each Community Task Force website. This requirement will serve as a summation of the progress made through the 2018-2019 academic year, and will provide a foundation for future semesters. The websites will showcase a mission statement, challenges, successes, and goals for the future, as well as multimedia from service and leadership events.
The Community Task Forces’ websites will be displayed at a formal dinner on May 2, 2019. This event will also serve as the Senior Send-off, and will be open to the parents of senior Hamel Scholars as well as Hamel Scholar Program alumni.
Hamel Scholars Partner with Southeast NH Habitat for Humanity
More than 40 of the first-year Hamel Scholars participated in three Habitat for Humanity builds based in Rochester, New Hampshire during September and October. The Scholars performed a wide variety of tasks to construct and beautify the home – from interior painting to shutter, storm door, and hand-rail installation. During the final build on Saturday, October 6, Hamel Scholars and the greater Rochester community gathered to witness Angela Lauder, single mother of two young children, receive the keys to her home.
Lauder spoke about her struggles in raising her twins after she had to leave her marriage quickly and taking nothing but her children with her. As a victim of domestic abuse, it was critical that she remove herself from immediate danger and protect her children from this environment. She had no family in the area and received no support from her ex-husband, so she entered a woman’s shelter. As part of the process she had to leave her employment of several years where she had practiced as a licensed esthetician. At the time, she lost hope that she would ever own a home and be able to provide a stable environment for her children. But when it was time for Angela to return to the work force, she determined to start her own skin care business so that she would have the flexibility in caring for her twins.
She is a very proud and strong person and loves Habitat because rather than a “hand-out,” she was provided assistance in in accomplishing her lifetime goal. Throughout construction, she was a constant on the build site and brought the kids over frequently to show them how the house was being built and “what Mommy has done.” She wanted them to understand that she is also building their future. Her dream for her children is to have them in their own home where they will have the opportunity to learn and grow in a loving and positive environment, and eventually develop into caring adults who contribute to their community and society in general.
Program Coordinator, Amanda Adams states, “This was the first year of Hamel Scholar involvement with Habitat for Humanity to kick off a new year, and I don’t think it will be the last. It was a truly meaningful way for the Scholars to engage with one another and participate in service to benefit their community.”
Hamel Scholars Host Governor Chris Sununu
Over 50 Hamel Scholars welcomed Governor Chris Sununu to a luncheon that gave them opportunities to ask the Governor's thoughts on issues ranging from immigration to sustainable agriculture--and to take a few selfies, too.
After being introduced by Dylan Wheeler '20, Sununu highlighted the advantages of living in a small state, where access to legislators is easy. He praised New Hampshire for its "small-government" approach: "The government shouldn't be guaranteeing much--except opportunity." The state's biggest challenge, he said, is growing its workforce. "My goal is when you walk out of here today you wouldn't even think about leaving New Hampshire," he told the students.
The youngest governor in the nation, Sununu has formed a Millennial Advisory Council, headed by UNH alumnus Alex Fries. While retaining millennial workers is crucial to the state, he said, "I still don't know how millennials make decisions." In answer to a question from Junior Alex Thorpe, he noted that his administration is exploring how housing and transportation could be made more attractive to younger people, and that he thinks there should be far more internships for college students in order to create connections with local employers.
Thorpe appreciated the response, especially Sununu's mention of debt-repayment programs for graduates who stay in NH. "I learned from the luncheon that Governor Sununu wants government to work for the individual, which I think is very important and noble. I am very thankful that he took the time to visit the Hamel Scholars here at UNH, speak with us, and listen to our individual perspectives," he said.
Sununu returned to Concord with a new UNH t-shirt, presented by Ashley LeBlanc '19. "I'll be honest, I get a lot of t-shirts," he told the students. "But I'm going to wear this one!"
Beginning with a panel at Comcast’s Northeast Division, the students had a chance to see some of the many employment opportunities that New Hampshire has to offer. After a question and answer session, the students received a tour of the Comcast facility as well as a product demonstration.
Over lunch at UNH Manchester, the students listened to a panel of distinguished guests, all of whom are UNH alumni, which included:
- former governor John Lynch, currently a clinical professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College;
- The Honorable Joyce Craig, mayor-elect of Manchester;
- Paul Ramsey, the VP of Operations at Eversource;
- and Steve Singlar, the President and founder of Single Digits in Bedford NH.
The panelists discussed their career path, why they chose New Hampshire to live and work, and gave advice to students who will soon be entering the job market or graduate education. These panelists represent a range of careers and accomplishments for which UNH students can strive for.
The day ended with a trip to Eversource, a New Hampshire energy provider, where students were able to tour the facility and inquire about employment opportunities. Additionally, they were able to get more information about how the company functions and provides power to the people of New Hampshire.
This successful event allowed students to meet and connect with industry leaders from multiple fields, as well as learn about what exciting opportunities are available in New Hampshire!
|From left: Devin McMahon, Alana Davidson, Eden Suoth, Dana Hamel, Paige Balcom, Emily Balcom, Crystal Napoli, and Ian MacKay,|
Several members of the Hamel Scholars Program travelled to Boston to honor philanthopist Dana Hamel, the program's benefactor. The New England Board of Higher Education recognized Mr. Hamel with the New Hampshire State Merit Award. The Board noted Mr. Hamel's endowment of the Hamel Scholarships and Hamel Scholars Program, which benefited from a major gift last year; his earlier gifts to the Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research and the Hamel Student Recreation Center; and his service on the investment and finance committees of the UNH Foundation, as well as the New Hampshire Historical Society.
Devin McMahon, Alana Davidson, Eden Suoth, Paige Balcom, Emily Balcom, Crystal Napoli, and Ian MacKay, all recipients of Hamel Scholarships, joined a group of UNH staff and faculty at the awards ceremony.
Elite students from two universities teamed up on Saturday, November 17, joining forces to work for the global good. Members of the Hamel Scholars Program at the University of New Hampshire, a group of Honors Program students who are committed to leadership and service, and the Honors Leadership Development Scholars at the University of Southern Maine organized a joint day of service, with the goal of building bridges across state lines while making contributions that extend into the rest of the world.
The students spent the day with Partners for World Health, a Portland-based nonprofit organization that recycles medical supplies to support healthcare access in developing countries in Asia and South America. This organization was chosen to host the event because it is entirely volunteer run: PWH depends on the time and energy of local volunteers to fulfill its admirable mission.
"This collaboration is a first for UNH and USM honors students," said Sara Clarke-Vivier, the coordinator of UNH's Hamel Scholars Program. "It provides them with a great opportunity to strengthen their personal networks by meeting other local students who are engaged in service work.”
“The story of Partners for World Health is also an amazing one for these students to hear: this organization, with a powerful international reach, was started by a Portland-based nurse who saw that what was taken for granted and disposed of in the medical communities here could have a powerful and transformative impact on medical access for people around the world," Clarke-Vivier continued.
About 40 student volunteers spent Saturday sorting, processing, and packaging medical and school supplies to be shipped to Partners for World Health collaborators around the world. Students compiled packs of pencils, notebooks, textbooks and backpacks for Syrian refugee students living in Turkey. Others processed and packaged oxygen masks, surgical supplies, and hospital draping for use by medical professionals in several African countries as well as Burma.
“This work was really hard, but since you knew what, and who, you were doing it for, it was really worth it,” said Megan Verfaillie, a first-year student at UNH.
Elizabeth McLellan, PWH’s founder, told the volunteers that she is always looking to grow the volunteer base for her organization, but urged the students to make a sustained commitment to any work in which they find meaning-“Find something you believe it,” she said, “and follow that path. Walk over the bumps in the road because you know the service you are doing is worth it.”
This is the first time UNH and USM have joined together to broaden their impact through collaborative volunteerism. "Regional collaboration among public universities is a win-win for everyone involved: students, faculty, and communities. Our honors students get to meet and exchange ideas with other bright, ambitious students, while addressing important community needs," explained Jerry Marx, the director of the UNH Honors Program and a longtime Portland resident.