Graduates Reflect, Look Forward to New Challenges

By Dave Cranshaw
UNH Today Editor

For Josh Van Hoesen ’13, accepting his degree during Winter Commencement was the culmination of quite a year. In December 2011, he proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Megan Fimbel ’12, ’14 M.S., at the University’s annual Snow Ball. Last July he was hired as a computer programming specialist at Accounting Systems Integrators in North Haven.

He said UNH helped provided the foundation for personal and professional success.

“My time at UNH has given me the hands-on experience in my field that will allow me to thrive in a competitive working environment,” said Van Hoesen.

Nearly 400 students accepted their degrees at Winter Commencement on Jan. 19.

He was among the nearly 400 students who accepted undergraduate and graduate degrees during Winter Commencement on Jan. 19.

Angela Cortese, who served as a graduate assistant in the University’s Community Service Office, accepted her master’s degree in criminal justice. Before beginning law school in the fall to study public service law, she will continue her work providing opportunities for students to volunteer in the West Haven and New Haven communities. Some of her responsibilities in the Community Service Office included overseeing the Alternative Spring Break program and the President’s Summer Fellowship program.

“Community service has always been a part of my life and has, ultimately, led me to pursue a career where I can continue to give back to the community,” she said. “Being able to watch other students grow from their experiences helps reinforce my own ideals and hope in the world.”

Valuable Hands-On Experience


Zach Kyte, a criminal justice major, said the best part of his time at UNH was getting to apply what he was learning on actual projects. “Through UNH, I had an internship with the Connecticut State Police Major Crime Squad, which allowed me to assist in the execution of search warrants, crime scene response and white-collar crime,” he said. “All of these experiences provided me a great inside look at the field I want to work in.”

Echoing these sentiments was John Capozzo, who recently started working as an associate engineer at Sikorsky. As a student, he interned at Sikorsky and worked closely with engineers there as part of his honors project and engineering senior design project.

“UNH provided me with experiences outside of the classroom that helped me cultivate my leadership skills and build a network that will allow my career to progress in a positive direction,” he said.

Perseverance Pays Off

Felix Giannini has owned his own security business for nearly 35 years. After pursuing his degree on a part-time basis for seven years, he earned a bachelor’s degree in fire protection engineering, finishing with a 3.5 GPA.

“I loved being in school at UNH,” said Giannini, who recently enrolled in the University’s new master’s degree program in emergency management. “There is an accessibility to knowledge here that is very special, and it really has a lot to do with the faculty. They make you work hard but they make themselves available.”

Another graduate, Elisio Depina, who accepted his degree in criminal justice, came to the United States from Cape Verde as a teenager eight years ago without knowing a word of English. Soon after arriving, he had to drop out of high school to get a job to make ends meet. He ultimately returned to school and completed his associate degree before enrolling at UNH. A year-and-a-half later, he became the first in his family to earn a college degree, graduating with honors.

“These experiences made me stronger,” said Depina, who recently enrolled in UNH’s Master of Public Administration program. “If I was able to accomplish this, I am confident I can do anything. I want to use my experiences to motivate others.”

Depina enjoyed Commencement with one of his closest friends, Tastery Reed, who also completed his degree in criminal justice. The two transferred to UNH from Bunker Hill Community College. “UNH prepared me well for success,” said Reed. “Being able to put UNH on my resume during my job search has been very beneficial.”

‘Truly Loved My Time’

Victoria Ford, who completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology, reflected on spending her first semester studying in London and taking part in the Honors Program. She combined her interest in psychology and political science through her honors thesis that explored the judicial evolution of capital punishment in America. She did all this while being active on campus and still completed her degree in only three-and-half years.

“I have truly loved my time at UNH,” said Ford, who is planning to start law school in the fall. 

Alessandra Rinaldi, who completed the honors program and earned degrees in forensic science and biology, said what she will remember most from her time at UNH are the relationships she made. “The lessons I have learned and the memories I have made inside and outside of the classroom will forever impact me,” she said.

Visit the Winter Commencement photo gallery.


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