When Sarah Tubbs talks about the UNH chapter of the international program Best Buddies, a little bit of her marketing education comes through. She uses words like “normalizing” and “fostering relationships” to describe the group that connects student volunteers to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Then she mentions her sister and the buddy she was paired with last year and the dance days she helped organize at the MUB for Wildcat Friends that had her teaching people with disabilities how to dance, and it’s clear this isn’t just something she has learned during her four years at Paul College. It’s what she lives, what she believes in: a compassionate, inclusive community.
“Working with Best Buddies has been a passion of mine,” says Tubbs, an honor student who also captains the UNH dance team. “Just watching the kids learning the steps and then trying it themselves is so rewarding. They love it.”
And that touches something in the marketing and management major who has been dancing since she was four years old. It is a gift, she says, to be able to share something she loves with those who haven’t had that lifelong experience.
Founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies promotes friendships and opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities while encouraging social interactions. Tubbs got involved with the program when she first arrived at UNH. This year, instead of having a buddy, she took on an administrative role and raised more than $1,000 for the UNH chapter.
“This is a population that doesn’t get the funding it deserves, so it was really satisfying,” says the Sandown, New Hampshire, resident, who is minoring in dance.
This isn’t the first time Tubbs has offered up her dance skills. When she was in high school, where she started the Timberlane dance team, she performed in a dance showcase for adults with Down syndrome. Since then, Tubbs has taken her commitment to honoring the differences in people to her participation in scholarship pageants. The current Miss Exeter will compete in the Miss New Hampshire contest April 28–30. Her platform is “The Beauty of Diff-abilities.”
Three years ago, Tubbs was working as a waitress when she met a few of the directors of local contests who encouraged her to compete.
“I said, ‘I’m not a pageant girl.’ But then I sat down and listened and learned that it was the opposite of what I thought — it is actually a way for young women to earn scholarship money,” says Tubbs, who, in 2015, competed in the Miss New Hampshire contest as Miss Kingston and, to date, has won $10,000 in scholarships.
The competitions also have given Tubbs another view of branding, the area she hopes to work in after graduation. For her honors thesis, she surveyed Paul College students to see how they view the school and then formulated recommendations on how to strengthen the brand to help the college move into the top 100 ranked business schools in the country.
“I want to help continue building the reputation of my beautiful school,” Tubbs says. “One of my main points was showing that we are far more than just an amazing new building. Paul College feels like a small private business school. And then I get to go and dance before thousands of people. I wouldn’t have those experiences at a small school.”
To find out more about Best Buddies UNH, visit their website here.