Abby Colby '20

History Major
Abby Colby with Janet Polasky, professor of history

Abby Colby came to UNH all the way from Durham, N.H., and that’s no joke. Going to UNH from Durham is like Alice stepping through the looking glass: on the other side is a magically different world. Sometimes, when you attend a university that’s in your hometown, you make a deal with yourself: you use the university as a springboard for exploring the world, albeit from a starting point that’s closer to home.

That’s exactly what Abby has done at UNH, immersing herself in the intellectual and social life on campus and beyond. “I’ve taken the most courses with Professor Gregory McMahon,” Abby says. “His courses taught me how to truly be a student, how to think and write and digest a text and to love the scholarly process.”

Then there was history with Janet Polasky, whose course in pre-Marx world revolution, says Abby, “set the stage for my decision to focus on history, where the questions we asked and discussed in class are relevant to the questions I am most interested in today.”

She participates in the New Hampshire Youth Movement, which she and a few UNH students started as a club on campus and then founded as a state-wide nonprofit. “We do youth political and electoral work. I currently work on logistics and special projects for the nonprofit,” says Abby.

Before enrolling at UNH, Abby used a gap year to backpack by herself through Europe. She hasn’t forgotten the lure of travel. She took a SEA Semester that consisted of courses in maritime and Atlantic history and sailing the Caribbean. “SEA Semester was unlike anything I’ve ever done,” she says. “Seldom does one get the opportunity to be completely thrust out of one’s comfort zone. That trip pushed me in what I could handle emotionally, mentally and physically.”

Two grants through the UNH History Department helped fund her travel to the French National Archives in Aix-En-Provence, France, to conduct research. The grants also helped defray the costs of travelling down to Boston to take a Vietnamese language class.

Abby describes her future as “an open book” whose chapters will likely include further travel, perhaps graduate school and wherever else adventure draws her.