Teri Hatch is a 2010 graduate of the University Honors Program. Growing up, Teri dreamed of becoming an elementary school teacher, but by the time she reached the University of New Hampshire, she had shifted her focus towards the law. However, over the course of her studies at UNH, Teri’s passion for education came back, and after graduating, Teri decided to pursue her Masters in Education. She now works as the Special Projects Manager for the nonprofit organization MathPOWER, which is geared towards promoting advanced math skills in urban schools. Below, Teri discusses how the UHP shaped her experiences and career path.
Please tell us a little bit about your background.
I grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire, and attended Nashua High School North. I was very involved in the school as the president of our student senate and one of the captains on our varsity soccer and track and field teams. I was also very driven academically, and I had a particular interest in English and Government. From a very early age, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my favorite teachers, aspiring to be an elementary school teacher from the time I was a student myself. I worked at a number of part-time jobs that allowed me to gain experience working with youth, but later in high school, I decided that I was interested in law, reasoning that I might be better able to help youth by way of the legal and/or justice systems.
Why did you decide to attend UNH?
I actually wanted to go just about anywhere but UNH. In New Hampshire’s second largest city, UNH is mockingly known as “the University of Nashua High,” due to the high percentage of graduates who go to the state school. I thought that I needed to go to a small liberal arts or even Ivy League school in order to set myself apart. After deciding to attend UNH mostly for financial reasons, I quickly became as involved as I could be and realized that it was more than possible to make a name for myself even at such a big school. The Honors Program played a huge role in that. I studied political science, with minors in Spanish and adolescent and youth development.
Were you involved with any sports or extracurricular activities while at UNH?
While at UNH, I played a ton of intramural sports, my favorites being floor hockey and broomball. I made a lot of great connections and friendships through intramurals. I was also a peer advocate for the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) for all four years, was a Big Sister through Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Greater Seacoast, and was the chair of media and communications for UNH for Barack Obama.
How did the Honors Program contribute to your experience at UNH?
I was very connected to the Honors Program, and my experience at UNH would have been vastly different without it. I was mentored through the Honors Peer Mentor Program my freshman year, served as a Peer Mentor my sophomore year, was the assistant student director of the Honors Peer Mentor Program my junior year, and was the student director of the same during my senior year. This experience actually informed and shaped the work that I do today. I also studied abroad, during the spring semester of my sophomore year, at the University College Utrecht; UHP has a direct exchange program with UCU, so I was able to get honors credit for all of my courses while studying abroad. This was truly an invaluable and transformative experience, and I never would have had the connection to or thought to study at this tiny school if it were not for UHP. In addition, I won an IROP grant to conduct research in Santiago, Chile during the summer after my junior year. Not only was my faculty mentor a professor whom I had met during one of my honors courses, but I absolutely believe I would not have been prepared to apply for or carry out this research grant if I had not been in the honors program. Finally, some of my very best friends are those that I made during my freshman year, living in Hubbard Hall.
What is your most significant memory as a college/Honors student?
Two professors stick out in my mind as extremely influential, Lisa MacFarlane and Mary Malone. I took my honors inquiry seminar with Professor MacFarlane freshman year, at which time she was still the Director of the Honors Program as well. The course qualified as my fine arts credit, and it involved looking at American History, particularly in the early 20th century, through a photographer’s lens. Besides the striking photographs from the Dust Bowl and other images of the Great Depression, what I remember most about that class is how attentive Professor MacFarlane was to making sure that each of us was getting the most out of the class. It was my first experience with a professor who scheduled conference times to review papers and made our active participation in education a priority. For that reason, I learned a lot more from that class than the syllabus would have suggested. Professor MacFarlane has since continued to be a mentor to me, even after my days at UNH.
I was also quite affected by the Latin American politics course that I took with Mary Malone. What I remember most is that she took a curriculum with a ridiculously daunting potential scope and somehow managed to teach us a lot in a way that was engaging. She chose textbooks that presented some of the most critical points in Latin American history in the form of a compelling story, but she did this without trivializing any of the material. She inspired me to not only pick up a Spanish minor, but to pursue a research fellowship in South America and delve into two years of independent research into the vast history of a region too often ignored in the US. Professor Malone was also my faculty advisor for that research and selflessly dedicated a large amount of time to preparing me for and walking me through my project.
My most memorable non-academic moment at UNH was absolutely when I was at the Verizon Center in Manchester to witness the UNH men’s hockey team tying and eventually beating North Dakota in the NCAA Regionals in 2009. UNH tied the highly favored UND with 0.1 second remaining on the clock, I believe, and then won the game less than a minute into overtime. It is the most exciting sporting event I have ever been to, and I was there as part of an outing with the Hamel Scholars.
Did you write a thesis while at the Honors Program?
I had the opportunity to write my thesis about the research that I conducted in Chile, with my IROP grant. My Thesis was called, “Divorced from the Past? An Analysis of the New Chilean Civil Divorce Law,” and it looked at how and why Chile was the last modern country to legalize divorce (in 1994). Specifically, it considered the impact on women and children of the absence and then institution of legalized divorce. The research that I conducted was in some ways a spinoff of the research that Professor Mary Malone, my faculty mentor, had been doing in Chile for years, and it involved in-person interviews with many different parties to get a sense for how the law’s implementation was affecting Chilean citizens. I essentially found that while the new law afforded rights and protections to women and children, there was still a long way to go to ensure that all women are aware of and take advantage of the rights available to them. In addition to my thesis, I presented my findings at the IROP symposium and two annual Undergraduate Research Conferences.
What did you do following graduation?
Although I loved earning my political science degree at least as much as my adolescent and youth development minor, I decided toward the end of my time at UNH that I did not want to pursue law school. In fact, I reverted to my older ambition to work in the field of education. Directly after graduation from UNH, I earned my Master of Science in Education degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. I then substitute taught, coached middle school track and field, and worked in nonprofit communications for a few months, before deciding to commit to a year of service with an AmeriCorps program called the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship. As a Fellow, I ran a math enrichment afterschool program for elementary school students in South Boston. I was lucky enough to be hired by the organization at which I served, and I now work as the Special Projects Manager for MathPOWER, a Boston nonprofit dedicated to promoting the learning of advanced mathematics in urban schools. I am responsible for providing grant writing and fund development support for the Executive Director, maintaining and populating the organization’s web presence and social media strategy, and supporting the Math*STARS afterschool programming overseen by our Director of Afterschool Programs. My goal is to one day start my own nonprofit to bring environmental education into public schools.
Please share with us any interesting things you have been doing in recent years.
As a Mass. Promise Fellow, I designed and piloted a peer tutor-mentor program for the youth at my Math*STARS afterschool site. In this role, I trained older students (in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade) to be leaders and mentors and to help the younger students with math and reading homework. I was very much influenced by my own experience in the Honors Peer Mentor Program as I created this one, and I attribute some of its success to the experience I gained while at UNH.
Is there any advice you would like to share with incoming, current, or graduating students?
My best advice would be to any students who, like I did, begrudgingly found themselves at UNH and are hoping to make the best of it. I would say that even within as large an institution as UNH, there are innumerable opportunities to find your niche and earn recognition. Get involved in something that interests you and be on the lookout for ways to distinguish yourself. I would also say to get to know your faculty, as those connections you make will be invaluable. Finally, I would urge all incoming and current students to enjoy themselves, because the years at UNH are unique and impossible to duplicate - try as I might!