Samantha Granville ’16 of Concord, N.H., says UNH was the place where she finally found her voice. She is the recipient of a scholarship and a donor-supported writing award. She credits support from her mother, as well as encouragement from professors and financial support from donors, for her success here. We asked her to recall her journey to UNH, and to share what it was like the moment she learned she would be getting a scholarship.
"When I think about how my family used to be, how we used to live, I am often taken aback by how far we have come. Although I do not remember a lot, mostly snippets of tough memories, I remember that my mom has always been there for us. I remember her dropping me off at Hitchcock Hall. I was on my own in a completely different environment. But my mom encouraged me to get out of my room, join groups, make friends. I tried out for the a capella group Maiden Harmony that same week, and got in. I also started volunteering for after-school programs like Aspiring Hands and Seacoast Reads, helping kids who came from difficult family backgrounds. I wanted to work with them because I understood.
"A few weeks before my senior year, I was leaving work and decided to check my email. I had a message with the subject line, “Scholarship Award Recipient” and my heart raced. As I read on I started to cry. I was receiving a financial award for $5,000 — more money than I have ever seen before. It was so difficult to wait for my mother to get home. I remember making coffee and cleaning and trying to read — doing anything that would pass the time until she got home. When she walked through the door, I stood in her way smiling with my phone opened to the email. Before she had a chance to put down her things, I started reading the email to her. When I got to the amount I sang it to her and she dropped her bag and started crying. I never see her cry. We stood in the kitchen hugging each other. This gift was more than just a gift, it was a savior. I couldn’t afford to take out another loan and I was barely keeping up and still helping my family. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish my senior year. I thought that I was going to have to wait. This gift made my last year possible.
"Now, I realize how far I have come. I used to be afraid of graduating. I used to be afraid of being on my own. I used to be afraid of not being able to find a job. But I am not so afraid anymore. I am not afraid because my mother taught me not to be afraid. She taught me to believe in myself, to challenge myself and to dream. In a way, my donors did too. They made my time at UNH possible. Like my mom, they helped me believe in myself and to find my voice. And for that, I couldn’t be more grateful."
-- Excerpted from the video Generosity in Action: A Student Finds Her Voice. Watch the full video here.