Students say Lewis Family Scholarship gives them opportunities for transformative leadership in sustainability

Friday, August 20, 2021

Alex Papadakis ’21 calls herself lucky. During her time at UNH she has been the recipient of several scholarships. This year that included assistance from the Lewis Family Scholarship in Sustainability Studies, awarded to “gutsy youths, men and women who can inspire others and possess the moral courage to make tough decisions and create change.”

It is a description that inspires her.

“The Lewis Scholarship has reminded me that my work and experience thus far has been meaningful and has the potential to make an even bigger difference,” says the dual major in ecogastronomy and nutrition. “Having that extra level of support from donors willing to take a chance on me and believe in my path is really incredible. Receiving a scholarship like the Lewis adds that extra level of motivation for me to keep challenging myself.” 

Alan and Harriet Lewis, who built a small travel company they acquired in 1985 into the global enterprise of Grand Circle Corporation, established the scholarship to support New Hampshire students whose focus is on sustainability. In 2016, they opened Alnoba, a sustainable, socially responsible education and retreat center in Kensington. They received the UNH Social Innovators of the Year award in 2019. Their Lewis Family Foundation is an articulation of their commitment to promoting leadership opportunities that further education — particularly for underserved high school students to attend and complete college. Sustainability is critical component of that commitment.

Sustainability has played a big role in senior Joseph (Parker) Philbrick’s UNH career. During this past year the biology and sustainability dual major has been working with the UNH Center for Freshwater Biology, sparking his interest in water quality assessments and ecotoxicology. He also managed the campus farmers’ market and serves as the president of Slow Food UNH.

“Receiving the Lewis Scholarship was an honor and has meant a lot to me and my career here at UNH. As the oldest of five children, college payments were a great expense for my parents, so I have paid for much college myself,” Philbrick says. “The Lewis Scholarship has helped lessen the burden of student loans and payment plans I have had to enroll in to continue my education.”

Noah Dever ’20 was a Lewis recipient during his junior and senior years at UNH, while he was earning his bachelor’s in environmental conservation and sustainability. He is grateful for the financial support, but says the best benefit of the scholarship was the chance to get to know the Lewises and hear more about their passion for sustainability.

“The scholarship was extremely helpful to my family and me but getting to know the Lewis family, having them introduce me to leaders in the field, and broaden my world view is something I will always be grateful to them for.”

Jeremy Gasowski | UNH Marketing | | 603-862-4465