by Samantha Farrow
There’s a difference between making a plan and having a goal. Just ask UNH Manchester English junior, Kristin Boelzner.
Kristin graduated from Manchester West High School with many academic awards. She was on her way. She had a plan. Kristin was going to attend a four-year university in a major city, have a “traditional” college experience, and go on to become a university professor.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t always know you have a plan.
When her plan didn't work out, Kristin felt lost and knew she needed to piece a new one together. She took a full-time retail job and moved in with her sister in Merrimack. Kristin worked for a year before her sister suggested she take classes at UNH Manchester. Kristin was nervous and uncomfortable about going back to college. Would people judge her for being older? Would people label her for having taken a year off? Would she feel out of place? She had no idea what to expect from UNH Manchester.
Her sister was taking a couple of classes a week, but with the demands of work and family, could offer no insight into campus life. Kristin thought that her own “non-traditional” college experience, similarly, meant working during the day and showing up for classes at night.
A large part of her first semester was spent this way, trying to apply what she thought her experience was supposed to be. Her initial freshmen classes showed her that students came from a variety of backgrounds. There were people who went to trade school, some who had taken time off and some straight out of high school. None judged, labeled, or made her feel out of place. To the contrary, Kristin began to realize her college experience could be so much more.
Her first year seminar further eased her concerns and introduced her to a Peer Assistant Leader (PAL). She began talking with classmates, attending events and seeing people she recognized on campus. Kristin’s PAL suggested she become one herself. He handed the application to her and told her how good he thought she’d be. The thought of being an upperclassman and being able to offer guidance was very appealing. Similarly, a professor suggested a work-study position.
People noticed Kristin and her potential. It fueled her confidence. Encouraged by her PAL and professors, Kristin blossomed more that she thought she could. The personal attention she received allowed her to find herself. And their willingness to sacrifice their own time for her made Kristin want to work harder.
“It sounds corny,” says Kristin, “but UNH Manchester gets in your head, your veins. It makes you believe and feel that you can do anything.”
Kristin is a far cry from the nervous, un-involved freshman that she once thought she had to be. Today her level of involvement at UNH Manchester is dizzying. She works as a PAL for the First Year Experience office, an administrative assistant for the Student Services Suite, a team leader for the Student Blog Team and a student activity promoter for Student Activities.
Not enough? Kristin is involved in the campus theater group, Brick and Mortar. She directed her first play last spring and writes for the school publication, Bricks.
Still not enough? She started her own club, Knittwitters, and is a part the search committee for the Director of Student Services. And let’s not even talk about the number of people she stops to wave at on campus.
So, what’s her plan now? Kristin doesn’t have one -- but not because she can’t. She chooses not to. Instead, Kristin has a goal. Goals allow you to change your path. They allow you to have flexibility. Steps can be added, deleted and there’s wiggle room.
She still wants to be a university professor, but she also loves to write and edit. A winding, twisting labyrinth of roadways lay ahead. And she is ready for it. Her time at UNH Manchester has taught Kristin to embrace new paths. For she sees now, that despite what she may have originally thought, these paths may just be her finest opportunities.
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