Bruce Rheaume of Litchfield, a graduating senior in UNH Manchester’s Biological Sciences program, will be the student speaker at the college’s 31st annual commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2016.
Rheaume has embraced learning and involvement throughout his college career. Graduating with the highest honors and with research experience under his belt, he exemplifies the successes that academic rigor and scientific curiosity can bring.
It also shows what you can achieve when you follow your passion — which, for him, didn’t happen overnight.
After graduating from Alvirne High School, Rheaume began an apprenticeship under a local master plumber. He went from apprentice to journeyman plumber, and spent the next decade of his life working with plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems.
In 2012, Rheaume decided it was time for a change. With realigned focus and fierce ambition, he enrolled at the University of New Hampshire — where his interest in medicine ignited.
“I’ve always had an interest in sciences, but I didn't have the same goals in high school that I have today,” Rheaume said. “After saving up some money and contemplating for a while, I decided to come here and pursue what I want to do.”
Rheaume has distinguished himself as both a student and teacher, tutoring classmates in biology, chemistry, physics, English and French since 2014. His mentorship also extends beyond his peers — he spent summer 2015 teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to local middle and high school English language learners at EXCELL in STEM, a joint program of the UNH STEM Discovery Lab and the Center for Academic Enrichment.
His success at UNH Manchester is highlighted by multiple competitive research awards, the publication of research and his induction into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society.
Rheaume’s commitment to learning and passion for medicine takes him to the University of Connecticut this fall, where he will pursue dual M.D./Ph.D. degrees.
“Right now, I am looking into genomic medicine, like personalized medications,” Rheaume said. “Having the dual degree will give me the ability to work as a clinician and as a researcher, which will mutually benefit both sides.”