UNH’s Society for Experiential Education Inducts 87 Members
UNH’s Society for Experiential Education Inducts 87 Members

by Jackie Hennessey
Communications and Public Affairs Writer/Editor

Kaitlin Fish likes unraveling mysteries. The UNH senior was interning at the morgue at Yale School of Medicine’s department of pathology when she began to study the death of a stillborn infant. She saw that the fetus had heart abnormalities, and x-rays revealed missing carpal and metacarpal bones in the left hand.

The case ended up becoming her faculty-mentored undergraduate research project, centering on one question: what was the cause of death?

Kaitlin Fish '13

“It was difficult at first knowing where to begin with the research,” said Fish. “I had to start by learning about normal embryonic development.”

She worked closely with her advisor at Yale, Arthur Belanger, the manager of Yale School of Medicine’s Autopsy Service, and her UNH instructor, Severina Haddad, who became her thesis advisor. “I learned so much from her about the topic of fetal development and conducting research in general,” Fish said.

It was daunting assignment for a senior in college. At one point, her mother called to be sure she was okay. “You need that disconnect, and at first it’s very hard,” Fish said. “But I feel I’m helping a family so it doesn’t get to me.” The internship turned into a job and her work with Belanger and Haddad convinced her that she would go on to medical school and, eventually, pursue a career as a pathologist. 

Fish was one of 87 students inducted into UNH’s Society for Experiential Education (SEE) last month. SEE recognizes students who demonstrate outstanding work in the four pillars of discovery-based learning at UNH – study abroad, faculty-mentored research, internships and academic service-learning. Learn more about the students and their work.

“Every student epitomized the true meaning of ‘education by experience,’” said Carl Barratt, professor of mechanical engineering and president of SEE. “These scholars have involved themselves in cutting-edge, publication-worthy and original research under the mentorship of faculty.  They have traveled to distant lands to immerse themselves in foreign cultures, embarked on projects that have benefited the community and its inhabitants and interned with a huge variety of companies, institutions and agencies.”

In her keynote address, Christie Boronico, vice president of retention, told the inductees, “You represent individuals who go beyond what is was expected of you and created life experiences unique to your future goals.” She noted that to qualify for induction, students must be in the top 20 percent of their class. The average GPA of the inductees was a 3.81.

One inductee, Christopher Festa, a criminal justice major, was the first intern at State Police Troop G in Bridgeport in almost 15 years. He worked with detectives, crime-scene investigators and members of the gang unit. “I would have to say that doing my internship with the State Police was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” he said. “It solidified my goal to become a police officer more than anything.”

Kylie Hall, a music industry and mass communications double major, had two internships. She developed a promotional plan for a record label, Favorite Gentlemen. When concert ticket sales were low at the venue where she interned, she suggested the record label create a giveaway that included items from the bands on tour as well as from the bigger bands on the label. They decided to use her idea not just for the one date but the entire tour.

“It felt incredible to know that my idea was being used to promote a tour that I was so excited for,” said Hall, who hopes to own her own music venue.

Fifty-three of the 87 students were inducted as gold members, completing two or more of the pillars of experiential education.

Amber Bonds’s senior year included traveling to Spain and venturing to the University of Oregon, where she interned in molecular biology. The hands-on research reaffirmed her desire to research neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Alzheimer’s.

Her time in Spain shaped her college experience in a different way. Bonds said the students and faculty she traveled with “became a small family.” She recalled one warm spring night when they ate paella with locals in Barcelona.

“We were warmly greeted and felt like we were visiting relatives,” she said. “Later we walked the intertwined streets of the plaza and watched tourists and locals enjoy the gentle breeze from the Mediterranean Sea. My experiences within the last year have had profound impacts on my view of life and the future I imagine for myself.”

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