For Jim Curtis ’99, repaying a professor’s kindness means passing it on

Monday, December 4, 2017
UNH alumnus Jim Curtis ’99

The summer after his freshman year at UNH, Jim Curtis ’99 developed some troubling health symptoms that would ultimately require him to take a leave of absence from college: numbness in his left foot that spread to his leg and thigh, migraine headaches and crippling back pain that left him with a severe limp. Struggling to make it through his sophomore year, he confided in one of his instructors, assistant professor of communications and rhetoric Lawrence Rosenfield. Though the conversation took place more than 20 years ago, Curtis remembers the exchange as if it was yesterday. “Professor Rosenfield gave me a hug and said, ‘Jim, you’re going to be okay. Everything is going to work out all right.’”

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Today, Curtis is a digital media guru, a public speaker and an author whose just-published book about approaching chronic health issues with a positive attitude has its roots in part in what he learned from Rosenfield. “He taught me the importance of having a flexible mind,” Curtis says. While Curtis’ symptoms have never fully resolved, he says they’re much better thanks in large part to mindfulness and meditation exercises to which Rosenfield first introduced him.

After taking his medical leave from UNH, Curtis never saw Rosenfield again, but over the years he attempted to track down his professor and mentor. In 2011, he learned that Rosenfield had passed away. Initially “crushed” to learn he’d missed his chance to thank his former teacher, he soon came around to an equally rewarding idea: paying Rosenfield’s kindness and positivity forward to the next generation of UNH students. In December 2015, Curtis established the Dr. Lawrence Rosenfield Scholarship Fund, a current-use fund that provides one-time scholarships to students majoring in communications. “When I received a thank you letter from the first student to receive financial support in Dr. Rosenfield’s name, I felt such an incredible warmth,” he says. “His contributions had finally come full circle for me.”

Lindsay Kosel ’18 is the second student to receive the Rosenfield scholarship. She says the financial support has made a meaningful difference in her final year of college — and so has the recognition of her hard work and accomplishments at UNH. “It gave me the confidence that I’ve lacked, and helped me realize it’s okay to be proud of the effort that I put into almost everything I do,” she says. “It felt good to be proud of myself.”

In other words, Rosenfeld’s contributions have come full circle indeed.

Originally published in IMPACT Fall 2017


Valerie Lester | Communications and Public Affairs | | (603) 862-2632