Becca Pincince ’26 didn’t experience the brief period of anonymity most freshmen are granted during their first days on campus after she arrived last fall. Instead, numerous professors and other members of the university community were quick to share that they recognized her last name.
Which, of course, she attributed to her older brother.
And her older brother.
And her older brother.
And her older brother.
And her older twin siblings.
Indeed, Becca’s family reputation emphatically precedes her. She is the seventh Pincince child to attend UNH in less than 10 years – and one of four currently enrolled – all of whom have followed in the footsteps of their mother, Donna (Correnti) Pincince ’94.
Becca had briefly convinced herself she would be the first to resist the lure of both family tradition and UNH, but soon decided it was the right place for her, as well. And she has absolutely no regrets.
“To be completely honest, having six older siblings who have gone to UNH, I was like, ‘Over my dead body am I doing what they all did.’ I was so determined to make my own path and not just follow in their footsteps,” Becca, a social work major, says. “But I couldn’t be happier to have come here. UNH definitely gave me the best options. It already kind of feels like home – and has my whole life.”
The turning point for Becca was recognizing, as her brothers and sisters had before her, that building her own identity and enjoying the comfort of UNH weren’t mutually exclusive trajectories. And that following in her siblings’ footsteps, at least in terms of creating an affordable education, was a significant game-changer.
All seven Pincince children who have attended UNH did so after enlisting in the Air National Guard, an opportunity that allowed them to do military service up front while experiencing a built-in gap year – attending boot camp and technical school – before utilizing GI Bill benefits to live on campus as first-year students.
Once at UNH, six siblings have also become residence assistants following their freshman year – Becca will soon be the seventh, having just accepted an offer for a position in Haaland Hall next academic year – a role that waives the cost of on-campus housing (and another way to follow the lead of their mom, who was an RA in her time on campus, working in a building with Kristin Carpenter, UNH’s acting director of housing and associate director of residential life.)
Between the GI Bill benefits and the elimination of housing costs, the price tag of attending UNH was reduced to almost nothing – no small detail for a family with nine children (yes, there are two younger Pincinces still at home).
“We didn’t start out with the intention that all of our kids would go to UNH or join the military,” Donna Pincince admits. “Because we have nine kids, we put it out there that they were going to be responsible for paying for their own college tuition, and the Air National Guard is such a great opportunity to help do that.”
Zach was the first to attend, graduating in 2018, followed by brothers Matthew and Nathan, who graduated in 2021 and 2022, respectively, although Nathan is older – he was the first to not enroll at UNH, completing three semesters at Daniel Webster College in order to play Division III soccer, but he enlisted in the Air National Guard to help pay off his student loan and ultimately transferred to UNH, graduating a year after his younger brother. (Matthew’s wife, Emily, also graduated from UNH, adding a daughter-in-law to the Pincince roster).
Joshua is currently a senior, sharing a campus with twin siblings Rachel and Andrew, both sophomores, and Becca.
Any worry about finding space to establish individuality was quickly assuaged for all parties. All seven Pincince children have pursued different majors, developing their own independent social groups and interests along the way while taking part in sports, student clubs and organizations and – for two of them – fraternity life. They also all chose different jobs in the Air National Guard.
That blend of establishing unique individualities coupled with the comfort of having confidants close by – “I feel like I don’t go more than a day or two without running into one of my siblings at a dining hall or walking across campus,” Josh says – creates a satisfying balance.
“There is that sense of pride of being very ingrained as a UNH family. All of our paths have been similar, but we’ve cultivated our own identities, and that’s the most interesting part to me,” Andrew says.
Donna and her husband, David – notably not a UNH grad – made the decision early on to homeschool all of their children and raised them to be independent thinkers and to embrace their individuality. They never pressured any of them to attend UNH but fully embraced the journey each time it was chosen.
Donna embarked on her own UNH journey in the early 1990s, earning a sociology degree with a minor in psychology before graduating in 1994 (she credits Cari Moorhead, now dean of the Graduate School, with helping her realize economics wasn’t the right fit for her as a career path). Her education proved to be rather fortuitous training for the environment she’d find herself living in as a homeschooling mother.
“I’m probably one of the few sociology graduates from my class using their major without having gone on to get their master’s degree. Raising a family of nine is like a little microcosm of sociology,” Donna quips.
Having such a large family also set her children up to have unique college experiences compared to many of their peers – for instance, when they became RAs, one of the perks for her kids was having their own bedroom for the first time in their lives.
Perhaps nobody has had a more unique journey than Josh, whose time in the National Guard and at UNH overlapped with the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has twice been activated to full-time duty working third shift at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord, including during his freshman year.
During his most recent activation – spanning the end of 2021 and early 2022 – he was working 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. at the prison, driving an hour back to Durham to immediately jump into his internship at the Child Development Center (as part of his human development and family studies major) from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. before sneaking in some food and perhaps a quick nap and homework before starting the grind all over again the following day.
He’s also had the unique perspective of being on both ends, age-wise, of the journey through college with siblings on the same campus.
“It almost feels like the family business,” Josh says. “I feel like in my mind this is where I was always going to go. I’ve had that experience as a middle child where I’ve been the youngest one at UNH with up to two older siblings here, and now I am the oldest with three younger siblings here. I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum.”
Rachel and Andrew have similarly stood apart from the rest as twins navigating UNH at the same time. Andrew is an outdoor leadership and management major and RA in Stoke Hall, a position he will hold again next year. Rachel, an English/journalism major working as an RA in Williamson, says she enjoys the fact that they both have worked hard to establish their own friend groups but can connect when they need someone to talk to.
“I find it really nice – I am kind of off in my own little corner of campus so I don’t run into my siblings too much, so I feel like I have that distance and separation. But it’s also nice to feel like I have a buddy I can hang out with and lean on for support when I need it.”
With two children still at home, there’s a chance the Pincinces will ultimately wind up with 11 Wildcats in all (counting Donna and Emily) – fittingly for a soccer family enough to field a complete lineup on the pitch. But the younger kids won’t be getting any pressure from their parents to make a particular choice.
If they do choose UNH, though, Donna will be perfectly comfortable planning to attend two more drop-off weekends, as the university has come to feel a little like an extension of home.
“It’s not about knowing what’s good for your kid, it’s about helping them discover what’s good for them. They haven’t just survived at UNH, they’ve thrived there” Donna, who notes that all seven children have been named to the dean’s list, says. “There’s that feeling of community and knowing it’s a safe environment. The community there is invested in their students, so it feels like you’re not sending your kid off but just transferring them to other people who will be able to pick up where you’ve left off.”