Delving into cutting edge research. Helping Granite State schoolchildren discover their own abilities. Introducing international students to life in the United States.
Those are just a few of the opportunities Sarah Jakositz ’18 has been immersed in on campus as a UNH College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS) student majoring in environmental engineering.
Coming from a small high school with an emphasis on math and science, Jakositz decided she wanted a university with more diversity but also with opportunities to stand out from the crowd.
“One of these outstanding opportunities is research,” she explains. “My high school’s independent research program was what made me want to become an engineer, and choosing UNH has allowed me to continue to pursue this passion. Over the past few years, I have been involved in three different projects and presented at UNH’s 2015 Undergraduate Research Conference as well as at the American Public Health Association’s 2015 annual conference in Chicago.”
Jakositz isn’t stopping there.
“I am currently on a team for a project called The Future of Dams, which is funded by New Hampshire’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. These experiences have allowed me to network with professionals in my field, get to know esteemed professors on a personal level and learn valuable skills that will advance my career after graduation.”
At UNH, she adds, “I find new opportunities to better myself and the world around me at every turn: Currently, I am a Global Ambassador for the Center for International Education and Global Engagement, where I encourage UNH students to study abroad … I participate in Buddies Without Borders, where I interact with international students and help them adjust to life in the U.S. I am a member of STEMbassadors and frequently visit elementary, middle and high schools in New Hampshire to inspire kids to get involved in STEM, and I was recently invited to join Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honors society.”
STEMbassadors, she adds, is probably her favorite activity.
“These projects make the students think ‘outside of the box’ and utilize various skills that they may not otherwise get to practice in an ordinary classroom setting,” she says. “The best part of this whole experience is watching the outcast of the class become a leader, listening to a student who wouldn’t stop telling himself ‘I can’t do it’ finally get it and seeing the teachers’ jaws drop as their students blow their expectations out of the water. As a group, we have reached hundreds of students over the past two years, and it is incredible to be part of such an inspirational effort.”
At CEPS, Jakositz says, her classes and professors have been exceptional, and she enjoys working with fellow students who are diligent and determined.
“If I had to choose just one, I would say my favorite class has been Fate and Transport in the Environment with associate professor Anne Lightbody. Not only has this class has been the most challenging and time-consuming I have taken so far, but it has also been the most rewarding,” she explains. “It has taught me that if I truly dive in and put in the effort to really learn the material, I can accomplish the seemingly impossible and succeed.”
And while CEPS may be known first as a competitive college, Jakositz notes it is also a supportive community.
“We all want to be the best, but we also push each other to succeed. Entering Kingsbury can be pretty intimidating,” she says, “but nothing but good has ever come out of the hundreds of hours I’ve spent in classrooms, labs and libraries.”
She adds there is a bit of an “unspoken understanding” amongst CEPS students: “We’re all sleep-deprived; we have little to no free time, and whether we like it or not, we put school before most other things. But as I walk through the hallways, I feel a sense of pride that I am surrounded by a community of opportunity-grabbers, hard-workers and some of the most successful people to attend this university.”