Kelsey Douville '16

Russian language and International Affairs Majors | Field Manager for Forward Montana
Kelsey Douville

Please tell us a about yourself and where you are now today.

I graduated from UNH in May 2016. After graduating, I moved out to Denver, Colorado to work for an environmental nonprofit. From there I was transferred to Des Moines, Iowa to continue my work. This Spring I moved out to beautiful Bozeman, Montana, where I'm currently working as the Field Manager for a political nonprofit called Forward Montana, that focuses on engaging young people in the democratic process.

Did you have another major and/or minor at UNH? What impact did studying a language have on your other field/discipline?

I graduated with a double major in Russian language and International Affairs, and a double minor in Women's Studies and Race and Ethnic Studies. Without studying Russian, I never would have had the opportunity to immerse myself in an otherwise unfamiliar country and culture - something that I believe was crucial to understanding the other fields I studied.

Language instructor/professor who made the biggest impact and why?

Oh, how can I choose? Katya, Arna and Aleksa always encouraged my curiosity, supported me in exploring different paths of studying Russian, and their love of the language and culture inspired all of us to join in it. Ron LeBlanc, who has since retired, was also wonderful - his grasp on Russian literature guaranteed that no student could leave one of his classrooms without some respect for it.

What is your favorite memory from abroad?

I loved everything. I loved my Russian host family, the food, meeting new young people, exploring the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. But I think my favorite moments were getting totally lost in the city - exploring different streets and corners, and finding something totally magical and unexpected. I remember so many moments where I would be walking by a shoe store or something and there would be a simple plaque on the wall with something like "Dostoevsky once lived here." I love Saint Petersburg.

Why was language important to your UNH education? How has your language major benefitted you?

Studying Russian has opened up so many doors for me both during college and after graduation. During school, it allowed me to make friends and have learning opportunities that I never would have been connected with otherwise. After school, it's demonstrated to employers that I am not afraid of challenges, that I thrive when put in unfamiliar situations and places, and that I embrace diversity.

High-impact learning experiences while at UNH (e.g. study abroad, URC or other undergrad independent research--SURF, UROP, IROP, experiential learning, internship, etc.)?

There are so many wonderful academic opportunities for students to explore at UNH. During my four years, I studied abroad in Saint Petersburg. I presented my paper The Decade of Roma Inclusion: Lessons from a Multinational Minority Integration Initiative at the Undergraduate Research Conference. I did two IROP semesters, one in the political science department and one with Professor Funso Afolayan in the History Department. I got to spend a summer monitoring seal populations off the Isles of Shoals through a joint program with Cornell and UNH. I had a political internship and an internship helping low income non-English speakers get connected with translations services. And there were SO many more things I wanted to do, but couldn't find the time.

If you could talk to a prospective student, what would you tell them about the value of majoring in a language at UNH?

Do it. Study abroad. Make yourself completely uncomfortable and learn as much as you can. Studying a language and living abroad has emboldened me and given me the confidence to travel, learn, take risks, move across the country and back and then out again. I wouldn't trade my experience for anything.