Some of the UNH students who have brightened the Waysmeet, UNH and Durham Communities (a project started in 2016)
Jess “Clementine” Kowalski is someone who stretched and pushed beyond her comfort zones.
“I feel like at my core I am still exactly the same as I always have been. But my boundaries keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger and I keep pushing myself to go out of my comfort zone and do more things that make me uncomfortable so I can grow. My favorite thing to do is grow. To grow you have to go in deep. But I think that once you go in deep and get comfortable that’s when you need to move onto something else. I feel like a lot of our parents have ended up in jobs that they have been in forever and it’s comfortable and I totally understand why they do it. They need to pay their bills and support their family and that kind of thing. Sometimes they may stop growing after some point, and lead to lives that are unhappy.
To keep happy we need to keep on growing. It’s definitely become more apparent to me recently. I started climbing a lot because I have always been so afraid of heights. So that is the first time I realized that I could take control of my growth and push myself. I still struggle with it. In my life, there have been so many times when I was feeling bad and I would get mad at myself for feeling bad. That’s one of the biggest problems I have had at times. I needed to just accept the fact that I was feeling bad. I didn’t want to accept it. People know me as the happy person and I was afraid to let people down in that way. I don’t think that was a conscious thing, I think it was a subconscious thing that was on my mind and I didn’t really know how to change it. So I think just accepting that and pushing yourself. Keep trying. I am hiking the Longmont. It’s like a shorter version of the Appalachian Trail. Just by myself. That’s my next big thing.”
Alex White has come to value the importance of listening to others’ options and respecting their perspectives.
“I don’t want to say think critically, but question everything. Just because there is so much information I feel like people will clamp onto an idea really hard and not let go. You don’t need to have a heavy debate with somebody, just a conversation, talking with an open mind and if his or her idea is different than yours accept it or toy with it at least.
Don’t just decline it because it’s different than what you believe in.
I thought about this after one of my friends and I asked each other what bugs us about them. She said that I tend to believe that my ideas are the only correct ideas and that I will convince somebody that my way is the only way.
After she told me that I thought, that’s kinda true. I do that sometimes.”
Anna Jones recognizes that having goals can be great and that letting them go can be even greater.
“It’s okay to not have a set plan because I was always told going into college that I needed to have a 5-year plan. Right now people have been asking me again what my 5-year plan is. I don’t know. My 5-year plan when I was a senior in high school, I’m not on it at all right now.
I have veered in a completely different direction. Which is a really good thing.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a 5-year plan or goals, but don’t get so attached to the that you feel like you can’t change if you find something else that you are more passionate about. It’s okay.
I’m someone who will commit to an idea and hold onto it forever. So when I changed my major it was really hard for me to let go of that idea, that vision that I had for myself.
I am so happy that I did it. I am way better off now than I probably would have been as an engineer. Who knows? But, I’m happy.”
Nora had the courage to change her path in college and pursue what her love is even though it meant challenging conventional norms.
“I was sitting in classes’ freshmen year so miserable. I knew that I needed to change the way I was learning and do something that I was interested in.
I switched my major to outdoor education.
It’s something I love. Maybe I won’t be making as much money, but it’s what I want to be doing instead of what I think I need to do for society. I hear people say, ‘what is that? What are you going to do with that?’
It’s more about what will benefit me and what will benefit the people around me.
Follow your passion and find passions.
Get to know yourself and your surroundings. I think I’m still getting to know myself.”
Michaella encourages others to donate their time and shares that there is no prerequisite to volunteering. Anyone can do it.
“As far as volunteering, people can feel held back from doing it if it’s not something they do a lot. I think it’s important to not see it as a specific person who does it, like you have to be a vegan or have a specific look.
You can just go and do service, even if it’s just an hour a year. It makes you feel good no matter what. If everyone did an hour a year, it would make the world a much better place.
Everyone can get involved. It’s funny most people think I’ve done something wrong when I say I’m going to volunteer.”
Maddy has a mission to combined her love for art with public health to make this world a more beautiful place to live.
“With art it’s something I have to do. I have this energy and if I don’t channel it through art I just find alternate ways of having it manifest that aren’t necessarily healthy for me.
Art is a good channel. I guess how exercise is for some people, for your brain though.
I think I want to pursue commercial art. Something that we talk about in some of my Public Health classes is the built environment. How things in our environment affect our behaviors, our mental health, our ability to exercise and get good food. Another one is living in a beautiful place. In a city, if there are trees and benches and a variety of businesses, that can make a huge difference.
Part of that too can be public works of art. In that sense I can combine my major and art.”
Kelsey is a woman of compassion. Through her different experiences in life, meeting all beings in the same space is one of her life values.
“Meet everyone, no matter what you think they’re going to be like, with compassion. Just meet them on an open level.
Working with food pantry clients you never know where could be at, what past experiences they could have had that led them to whatever point in life.
Meet with an open heart.
Working on a farm I know that’s important even working with animals. They can’t communicate whether they’re having a good day or a bad day.
So greet beings as beings, not what they seem like they are.
If someone is having a bad day then maybe it will affect their day positively.”
Jess has her feet in many different waters at UNH and being that bridge has been incredibly valuable for herself and others.
“I would love to teach about consent and about sex education in high school or even earlier honestly. I don’t know if that’s my dream job but that’s something that I’d want to see happen.
I just think that it is so necessary in changing rape culture. I didn’t even know about consent until I got to college. When you were in health class you learned about sex and you learned about STD’s. But what we should really be learning about is consent and what sex is.
I’m in a sorority and everyone knows that I work for the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program so girls come to me. Every so often I’ll get a facebook message from someone I don’t really know that well or a text from a number I don’t have and my heart will sink because I know they are reaching out to me because something happened. But I’m glad that somebody can be there because that first touch point that you make is so important in this first stage after you’ve been assaulted. It’s like 1 in 4 females, something like that. And that’s not even the amount of people who have been sexually assaulted and don’t even realize it.
Sexual assault is such a problem on college campuses and in general. If people learned about these concepts then inevitable rates of sexual assault would go down.”
Iyob holds tremendous value on connecting with others, especially through spontaneous conversation. In these moments we can really go deep into the things we care about and what to explore more.
“How often do you actually think about life? I think about this more often now. Recently my dad passed away. That made me ponder and focus upon life a lot. It made me think about existence, life, and happiness. What’s really happening, what is my purpose? I think sometimes we get carried away with the routine life and one way of breaking that routine life is getting into thoughts, deep thoughts about life. What I’m talking about is celebrating the spontaneous conversations. I think conversations like that give you opportunity to reflect and I think it has enormous benefits as a way of fulfilling your intellectual curiosity but also in my case it helps me to deal with stress. Of course, events that happen to you will impact you but at the same time it’s also not about the events but how you chose to view them and I think conversations like that give you the opportunity to reflect and give you a different perspective on life.
For some people, they just don’t know what they’re passionate about, they don’t have a cause in their life. That’s not to say that there isn’t a cause in their life, it just takes a little more work for them to find out. All of us have difficult times in our life and I think one way and one thing that helps in those times is your world view, your understanding. It’s not easy, you start it as a theory, as a way of entertaining yourself intellectually, but eventually you start living that kind of life. I even don’t think I practice what I understand theoretically.
Erin views herself and others as divine creators. She understands the power we all have to create the life we want to live.
“I think that maybe I can be a little abrasive sometimes, people say that I have a strong personality.” But I’m really just a sensitive person. I take a lot of things to heart, I’m actually really introverted and like spending time alone. I journal a lot, I’m like a serial journalist. It makes me anxious when I can’t.
My favorite mantra right now is ‘I’m a diving creator’, it’s really empowering. I think we all have the power to create something beautiful. It’s different for every person. I really firmly believe that everyone is a divine creator. I have a hard time explaining it because I guess it’s more of a gut feeling, an intuition.
I know that there is something that makes everyone feel alive. Usually when it’s a full moon or a new moon I’ll say it over and over again. It’s good for manifesting, generating that energy. You start to believe it and feel it and get into this motion. It becomes meditative. For me it’s working with and communicating with the land and the combination of the land and the people. A lot of that does come back to sustainable agriculture and permaculture and facilitating a harmonious life wherever you are.”
Casey learned her privilege and what that looks like for other people. She is passionate about helping to improve the lives of those around her and recognized that we don’t have to fix everything.
“Throughout college I have learned a lot about my privilege. I assumed it would be a given that I’d be at college, it seemed like the natural progression. Then when I went to college a lot of my friends in high school couldn’t afford to go or were struggling to be able to keep themselves there. This made me question how I got there and since I did have an easier job getting to that spot, what I wanted to do with the education and how I was going to value it. Having adult students in my classes who had been working years to make it to that spot and my roommate that wasn’t able to come back until this year because her FAFSA didn’t come through highlighted this for me. Having to wait on their college education, wait on their dreams, wait on their passions, because of something not coming through financially or not being able to receive the support they needed at that time- when I saw that happen I realized that I had a privilege and an opportunity that a lot of people don’t.
I want to be able to remember that, I want this to be something that influences my decisions. My perception has shifted of what is normal, what is right. Something I need to remember is that I’m not living the normal. Just because this is what I see every day, it’s not the normal worldwide. We have a lot more just because of where we are. I am going to live my life and hopefully improve the lives of those around me; that’s all I can do. I don’t need to fix everything. Be patient with yourself; be kind with yourself. That is something I keep trying to teach myself and to strengthen my inner voice. I try to be present, be mindful of what I’m doing and to appreciate my thoughts.”
Carina recognized the balance of what we can control and what we cannot. She understands that we do have the ability to view the experiences we have with a positive outlook though it is layered and looks different for everyone.
“My dad has always told me it’s all just your outlook. You can be happy if you want to. You can make things how you want to make them.
I have learned that this isn’t completely true. You can’t always change your frame of mind because sometimes it’s just physically impossible due to the way your brain is, the neurons and the different synapsis and just the chemical components of your brain may make it so that you physically cannot.
At the same time I feel as if you can still have a spin on things and try to look at it with a more positive view, which is definitely really hard but something that I have been working on consistently for a long time.”