"Meet new people, study hard and think about your long-term goals."
Graduation Year: 1999
What City/ State are you from? Gilmanton, NH
What City/ State to you currently live in? Henniker, NH
Current Career Title: Assistant Principal
Business/ Organization you work for: Hillsboro-Deering Elementary School, Hillsboro, NH
What was your Major? Wildlife
Did you switch majors during your time at Unity College? No, I stuck with wildlife the whole time.
Did you start and finish your degree at Unity College or did you transfer in to Unity? I went to Unity right after I graduated from high school. One of my big reasons for going to Unity was because it wasn’t UNH (that’s where most of my friends went since it was near home) and I really only knew one other student from my high school who went to Unity. It was also a huge selling point that I could have a car my freshman year. Silly, huh?
What was your favorite thing about your time at Unity College? Did you have a favorite tradition? My favorite thing about Unity College was the work-study job I held all four years while I attended. I worked for Heidi Brugger, the administrative assistant to Wilson Hess, the president of the college at the time. Heidi taught me MOST of what I know about writing (and I’m happy to say I think I’m pretty good at it!). I wrote press releases about the bands that played at the college, I wrote articles about the school, I worked on the school alumni database, worked a bit for the office of institutional advancement, and did pretty much anything that needed to be done. I give Heidi and Wilson a lot of kudos for treating me like a colleague, versus treating me like a college kid. I’m even friends with both of them on Facebook.
I was also involved in the Student Government at Unity. I learned a lot about policies, Roberts Rules of Order, I did more writing (I was the secretary for a while), and learned a lot about the inner goings-on of the college. I even went on to be the editor for the alumni newspaper at one point after I graduated.
One of my favorite Unity stories is the night my then-fiance and I went into the college woodlot to go for a hike at night. It was dark–a perfect moonlit night. I was taking Ornithology and thought I’d try out my owl calling skills. I got up the courage to actually call an owl and lo and behold I got an answer! I called and it answered a few times. I was pretty impressed with myself! Until…I did one last call, heard one final response, and then I heard other college kids giggling in the woods. They were the ones “calling” back to me the whole time. Duh.
What advice would you give to current Unity College students? Get involved in everything–clubs, organizations, the town, even the local church (there was a family just up from the church at the top of the hill who would make me a fresh loaf of bread every Sunday). Meet new people, study hard, and think about your long-term goals.
Did you utilize career services for you internship or career search? If so, in what ways? I’m not entirely sure I remember! I must have. My internship was working for a summer in the White Mountain National Forest doing a small mammal survey. We set up 100 snap traps as well as pitfall traps (basically buckets dug flush with the ground so small mammals would fall in them and drown). We had probably five-ten different areas we set up these traps all over the forest. Some days involved a lot of hiking with dead animals that I had bagged and tagged. Nothing like hiking out of the woods with a backpack full of dead animals nestled in next to my poor man’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich in 90 degree heat! We were looking for the northern bog lemming. Who the heck knows if they ever found one?!?
The best part about the internship was the knowledge I gained. When I took North American Wildlife the following year Jim Nelson, the professor, had me take part in leading a small mammal study on the Unity property. After we had caught some small mammals we all got to experience taxidermy. I still have my very own taxidermied mouse that I put on my Christmas tree every year! We call him “moose mouse” because when I stuffed him I overstuffed the nose. It freaks my kids out, but it’s a wonderful memory each year.
Is your current job in your field of study, or did you end up going a different direction than you thought? I went a bit off course, but my intentions were good! I ended up getting an administrative job with the experience I had gained from the President’s office. It was an organization that worked closely with kids with hearing, communication, and vision impairments. My boss at the time encouraged me to get my teaching certification because I really loved the idea of educating kids and the work the organization was doing. I went back to school and got my teaching certification and shortly after that I got a job teaching science. I taught science and actually used my degree for about 8 years. I branched out and taught some math and literacy too and then I decided I wanted to get into administration at the elementary school level. And here I am! I am currently an assistant principal in a pre-K to 5 school. We are undergoing some changes and next year I will be principal for the 3-5 grades.
Tell us a little about your current job and what it entails: As an assistant principal I work mostly with kids with behavioral needs. I also enjoy working with teachers in all subject areas and helping them build their capacity for teaching.
Are you happy in your current career? So happy! I love my job. The smiles on the faces of the children in my school do something to my soul. Every day they reignite the passion that I have for teaching and learning. I am so lucky to be excited to go to work every day.
Is there anything you would have done differently education wise? Nothing. My journey was not a direct route, but it’s part of my own story.
Did you feel Unity College prepared you for your career? I honestly feel like I got as much out of my work-study position as I did in the actual academics at the college. I owe a lot to Heidi and Wilson for helping me become who I am today as a professional.
If you haven’t already, are you considering graduate school down the road? I got my masters in education in 2009 and my administrative certification in 2016. I enjoy taking courses, but I do it for my own personal learning now, not because I want another degree.