Graduates Embark on New Challenges
Graduates Embark on New Challenges

by Jackie Hennessey
Communications and Public Affairs Writer/Editor

They’ve gone to school together since they were four years old, so it was not entirely surprising when triplets Ashley, Bruce and Carl McDowell all chose to attend UNH.

Over four years, the University has become a second home to the one they’ve lived in for 16 years, just five minutes away from campus.

They arrived at UNH with distinct skills and very different academic pursuits yet, each said, UNH was just the right fit. Ashley majored in legal studies with a political science minor; Bruce was an interior design major; and Carl studied sports management.

Bruce, Ashley and Carl McDowell accepted their degrees during Winter Commencement.

“The best part was we shared a car, and we weren’t too far if we needed each other,” Ashley said. “The challenge was our conflicting schedules. Last year, we all had internships and tough class loads, so it was hard to follow who had the car, who was at school, who was at their internship and who was home. Our parents helped us by dropping us off or picking us up when needed.”

They’ll carry many moments with them after accepting their degrees at Winter Commencement earlier this month, but each has one moment to particularly savor. For Carl it was winning the stock market competition in his sports finance class. Ever since taking economics in his first year, Carl has studied the stock market. “I was able to make a little over $10,000 in three months with four different companies,” he said.

Bruce recalls the collaborative spirit of his many hands-on interior design projects such as designing a restaurant and a home where residents could age in place. The projects and deadlines were so intense, he said, that he and his classmates would often work late into the night at Dodds Hall, with “food and design projects everywhere. We were like a family.”

And for Ashley it was the Homecoming game in her sophomore year. “It was the first time I saw the whole UNH community in one place,” she said. “When I found out that students, faculty, alumni, and other members of the UNH community all come to campus to participate in Homecoming, they all made it feel like I gained a second home.”

Ashley plans to eventually attend law school. Bruce has side projects lined up and is seeking work in the interior design field, while Carl is pursuing a career in business.

After receiving his MBA at Winter Commencement, J.J. Comeau, a three-time captain of the UNH soccer team as an undergraduate, will continue to run the business he created while a student here. As a standout athlete, he said private coaching helped him flourish and he wanted young soccer players to have that same opportunity. Like many successful entrepreneurs, he turned his idea into a business.

Last fall, with $5,000 in seed money from the New Tech Haven business plan competition, Comeau and a partner launched E90Coach, an online business that helps parents of youth soccer players find and choose coaches and book private coaching sessions. “UNH played a major role in the creation and successful launch of E90Coach,” he said. “Throughout my graduate studies, I have had numerous opportunities to work on my business throughout semester-long projects. The feedback from my professors was truly helpful.”

Jacqueline Botchman graduated with a degree in criminal justice. She was one of just 17 students from around the country to attain a prestigious internship with the Fund for American Studies Capital Semester program. She also interned at a law firm, worked on the presidential campaign, studied abroad, took part in many community service projects and was named a UNH Presidential Scholar, all while attaining a 3.9 GPA and earning that degree in three and a half years.

Interning in Washington, D.C., at Congressman Jon Runyan’s office and campaigning for the presidential election were two highlights, she said. 

“While campaigning for the presidential election, an elderly woman invited me into her house so I could discuss each candidate’s opinion on major political issues,” Botchman said. “As we shared tea and cookies, I objectively explained each issue. She told me how happy she was because she now knew her vote would make a difference. These experiences advanced my critical thinking and basic research skills and expanded my understanding of the law and my ability to work effectively on a team.”

A member of the Honors Program, Phi Sigma Sigma, and three honor societies, Botchman will begin law school in the fall. “UNH has not only prepared me for my career but for life,” she said.

Ashley McDowell said commencement was a momentous day for the whole McDowell family. “We’ve worked so hard toward our degrees,” she said. “We believe that hard work does pay off. “My parents also worked hard to keep us in school. They have seen us working long, sleepless nights on papers and studying for exams. Their hard work has paid off too!”

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