Wise Words From a Grad Student
Program Administration Grad Student
Where are you from?
I grew up in the Mid-Mississippi River valley that splits Missouri from Illinois. Our house was to the east of it, the woods I ran to the west. Stints in Colorado, Georgia and Montana followed before I landed in New England.
What made you decide to enroll in RMP Graduate Program at UNH?
UNH has an excellent group of young and enthusiastic faculty that I instantly connected with. The academic programs offered are competitive, but the faculty are what set UNH apart from other programs, and I am fortunate to be working under Dr. Nate Trauntvein here.
Describe your most memorable experience as a student of the RMP Dept.
I’m not sure whether I should mention the time that Dr. Hegarty conducted class on a boat that eventually became stranded on a sand-bar, or the opportunity to travel to a research conference in New York with Dr. Trauntvein to present a project and spend time getting to know his colleagues and friends. Interestingly, both were valuable and entertaining in very similar ways.
What are your future career plans?
I ultimately want to be a force for change in defense of our wild landscapes and rivers. I believe that recreation is a mechanism that satisfies many needs for individuals, organizations, communities and government agencies. I believe those benefits can also extend to the protection of wild places both by establishing tangible resource value and changing subjective human values of those resources.
What will be the biggest take away from your time in this department?
An undergraduate professor I had in Montana cautioned me against spending too much time in graduate school worrying about getting the best grade. He said that if I left with straight A’s I’d likely missed the point as well as an opportunity. Grades are absolutely important, and are a great measure of effort and grasp of the material. But a graduate experience is not really made behind the keyboard of a computer; it is made by being involved, taking risks, and making connections. Sometimes that means trading an A for a B, or losing attendance points by missing class to job-shadow, attend a conference, or to meet with a professor or peer. Grades are important, but they’re just one output by which to measure the experience, and my biggest takeaway from graduate school is that it is the outcomes that matter. Taking a risk to learn something new and getting a B- is ultimately more valuable to than conducting a safe project on a subject I already know well. Because when it is over, all I’ll have is an A to show for that.
Explain some of your favorite aspects of our program.
What I like the most is also why I came here; the faculty is really incredible. I instantly felt welcome and well cared for. Nate, Boyd, Linda, and Sean have all been particularly helpful and encouraging and are genuinely interested in my well-being in and outside of the program. They are all committed to helping students get the most out of their time here and it shows every time I step into their offices, or walk-and-talk across campus after class. And that is all without mentioning the diverse backgrounds and expertise they each bring to the table academically.
What would you recommend to future graduate students?
Be available, be visible and say “yes.” Grad school goes by faster than you think. You will hear that repeated many times and never believe it until you’re signing up for your final semester of classes and say to yourself, “wow, I can’t believe I’m almost finished.” Make the most of it while you’re here by getting to know your cohort, your instructors, and most importantly yourself and how you fit into the field; you can do that by saying “yes” to projects and trying them with some of the best professors in the country to help you.