Hamel Scholars News

Hamel Scholars Partner with the Out of the Darkness Walk

Hamel Scholars assembling a remembrance activity for participants
Hamel Scholars assembling a remembrance activity for walk participants 

Hamel Scholars assisting with walk registration
L to R: Hamel Scholars Olivia Patterson, Cole Fournier, Madison Gould, Jared Fortier, and Jackie Harris


Portsmouth, 9/16/2019

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

Basic Needs for All Task Force
Basic Needs for All Task Force members, friends, and staff

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/

Medical Access Task Force
From L to R: Kylee Casner, Josh LaPointe, Alyssa Greig, Brandon Smith


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.

Medical Access Task Force
Medical Access Task Force members & PWH Founder Elizabeth McLellan

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!

Diversity & Inclusion Task Force
Diversity & Inclusion Task Force members

Hamel Scholars
Hamilton Smith 130 reaches capacity with Hamel Scholars!

Mental Health Destigmaitzation & Awareness
Mental Health Destigmatization & Awareness members

Durham, 1/30/2019

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

Hamel Scholar Ian Ayer working with Habitat Staff Member
Hamel Scholar Ian Ayer working with Habitat Staff Member, Lee Prescott

Hamel Scholars Yuri Makar and Andrei Potapenko
Hamel Scholars Yuri Makar (L) and Andrei Potapenko (R)

Hamel Scholars Caroline Russell, Kersten Mercurio, Seamus Quinn, and Mitchell Scacchi
Hamel Scholars Caroline Russell, Kersten Mercurio, Seamus Quinn, and Mitchell Scacchi

Rochester, 10/29/2018

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

Amanda Lee, TJ Evarts, Governor Sununu, Dylan Wheeler, Devin McMahon
From left: Amanda Lee, T.J. Evarts, Governor Sununu, Dylan Wheeler, and Devin McMahon (Photo: Jeremy Gasowski)

Governor Sununu talks with UNH students at Hamel Scholars Luncheon
Governor Sununu talks with Charles Gasperoni, Dan Faiella, T.J. Evarts, and Ajay Panesar . (Photo: Jeremy Gasowski)

Ashley LeBlanc presents Governor Sununu with a UNH t-shirt
Ashley LeBlanc presents Governor Sununu with a UNH t-shirt. (Photo: Jeremy Gasowski)

Durham, 2/14/2018

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!"

Image gallery: Governor Sununu's visit with Hamel Scholars






Hamel Scholars Attend Manchester Networking Event

Manchester, New Hampshire, 12/1/2017


Hamel scholars, accompanied by invited guests, smile at the camera.On December 1st, Hamel Scholars, Honors students, and other UNH students from Durham and Manchester came together for a major networking event in Manchester. 

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!


Dana Hamel  honored at New England Higher Education Excellence Awards

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From left: Devin McMahon, Alana Davidson, Eden Suoth, Dana Hamel, Paige Balcom, Emily Balcom, Crystal Napoli, and Ian MacKay,

Boston, Mass., 3/4/2016

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.


Universities Join Forces to Aid Partners in World Health

South Portland, Maine, 11/7/2015

First year UNH student Grace DiPersio (center) and Senior Sara White (left) sort recycled surgical tools at Partners for World Health.

First year UNH student Grace DiPersio (center) and Senior Sara White (left) sort recycled surgical tools at Partners for World Health. 

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.