Olivia Dill Student Fellow '24

Political Science and International Affairs Double Major
Olivia Dill Student Fellow Headshot FY24

What made you choose UNH?
I was not set on UNH until I visited the campus. Starting with the tour I took in the fall of my senior year, the overall feeling I got from current students was that they loved their school. I wanted to go to a school where I could have a sense of school pride and be with students who loved where they went as much as I did. I then attended a Hamel Scholars banquet later that year, where I learned about all of the undergraduate research opportunities, and opportunities outside of the classroom in general. I have always been a heavily involved student, so knowing all of the opportunities to continue to be involved with outside-of-the-classroom activities convinced me that I belonged at UNH.
Did you come in as undeclared or change to undeclared at any point? How did you decide on your major(s)?
always been a political science major. I always loved history in high school, but I wanted to study not only history but current events as well. Political science is the perfect combination of government, politics, history, and current events all in one major. It has such a wide variety of topics and class choices depending on students' interests, which is what I love. I also knew I wanted to be a lawyer, so political science seemed like the right fit. I added international affairs in the end of my sophomore year, because I quickly realized that the most interesting part of my major was the international aspect. I also loved Model United Nations, and the study of diplomacy and other countries/cultures. Therefore, I easily added this dual major. It also pairs well with political science.

If you had to explain to someone in one or two sentences why you love your major/major department, what would you say? (if you have more than one major, please explain for both)
Political Science: I love the discussion-based learning that the majority of political science classes entail. It's also extremely useful to always be keeping up with current events, both domestic and international, and discussing them with Professors who have expertise in the subject. 
International Affairs: I get to learn about cultures different than mine, and I also get to explore how different countries interact at an international level. This goes from foreign policy to international organizations, to immigration, and so on.
Who has been your most impactful professor and why?

The most impactful professor I've had is Professor Mary Fran Malone. I took two of her classes last year

Drug Wars and Migration and Crime in the Americas: It opened my eyes to a topic I have become very passionate about (international migration and U.S. immigration policy). She is extremely knowledgeable about Latin American politics, including these countries' relationships with the U.S. The migration class that I took was a seminar, so every week we would spend the majority of the class discussing the real stories of Central Americans and the issues which occurred in these countries. Her knowledge level and ability to make every class interesting was noteworthy, and she taught me a lot about the field I want to go into after undergrad.

What has been your favorite experience at UNH so far? Please describe why

My favorite academic experience at UNH so far was when I studied abroad in Bologna, Italy. I have a minor in Italian Studies and one of my majors is International Affairs, so this experience aligned perfectly with my education at UNH. I spent 6 weeks living in Bologna, Italy taking culture classes about Italian film and Italian humanities topics. Part of this experience included attending//
Cinema Ritrovato, a world-renowned international film festival that takes place each summer in Bologna. We traveled across the country, from Venice to Rimini, learning about Italian history (specifically WWII and the Resistance). It was completely immersive, as we lived with all Italian students from the University of Bologna.
What's the most important lesson you've learned at UNH so far? Please explain.

The most important lesson I've learned at UNH so far is to take every single opportunity that comes to
you (within reason). There have been so many amazing opportunities I have experienced, from research, to studying in Italy, to clubs and conferences that I had to take a leap of faith to participate in. I would've regretted not taking advantage of the opportunities, and there are so many throughout the University that everyone should partake in at least one that they feel interested in.

Have you participated in experiential learning such as internships, study abroad, independent research, etc.? If so, which ones and what value did you find in those experiences? (please list all but you can elaborate on just your favorite/most valuable one or two)

As previously mentioned, I studied abroad in Bologna, Italy during the summer of 2022. I've also completed research with Professor Dante Scala about the NH State Representatives' involvement in their communities prior to elections. The other impactful experience I participated in was a fellowship (internship) with the NH Judicial Branch during the summer of 2023

I worked for Jackie Waters with the Judicial Branch on their Access to Justice (A2J) Project. Specifically, I worked on the Language Access Plan. I was tasked with researching other states' language access plans and identifying inspiration from those to improve New Hampshire's. I also researched and put together a plan for remote interpreting services in the NH court rooms and ways to improve Limited English Proficient/Hard of Hearing individuals' experiences in the information centers of the court system. This included proposing the use of automatic translating kiosks out of Concord, NH which also offered court forms in plain language for those who do not have a lawyer to explain what each document means. I had the opportunity to observe NH Supreme Court oral arguments and attend a NHJB Mental Health summit, as well. I am applying to law school right now, so this experience was both uplifting and helpful in exposing me to the legal field.

Have you received scholarships or funding from COLA or UNH that has made a big difference for you; for example, enabled you to do something you wouldn't have been able to do? Could you explain in one or two sentences that impact?

I received the UNH COLA scholarship, Presidential Scholarship, Hamel Scholarship (and the program it entails), and the Granite State Development Corps scholarship. All of these have contributed to allowing me to attend UNH debt free, which has allowed me to focus on school and put my time into my passions instead of having to worry about paying for school. I also received the Geraid & Jane Ellsworth Scholarship, Humanities Program Scholarship, and B. Thomas Trout Scholarship, all of which paid for my summer study abroad experience. Without these scholarships, I wouldn't have been able to afford this
study abroad experience in Bologna. This experience was life changing, so I'm extremely grateful that this funding provided me with this opportunity.
Are you involved in any groups, clubs, or organizations? If so, which ones?
I am the President/Captain of UNH Women's Club Volleyball. I am also a part of the UNH Model United Nations.

  1. Have you won any awards while at UNH? Please explain.

The first award/scholarship I received was the Granite State Development Corps scholarship. I received both the First- and Second-Year Italian Department's Outstanding Student Award. I was also given the Carol L. Gross Award from the Political Science & International Affairs department for outstanding female Political Science students. I have been on the Dean's List for every semester I've been at UNH. Lastly, I was inducted into the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honors Society and Phi Beta Kappa of New Hampshire last spring.
Is there anything particularly awesome about being in the College of Liberal Arts?
I love that COLA is so diverse! All of our majors are so unique, but what we do have in common is our love for less than common learning styles. We like to ask questions and have class discussions, rather than just sit in a lecture. We get to participate in unique projects and research that caters to our interests and passions. I've also had the opportunity to take such a wide range of classes, from Thriller Movies to Dreams and Dreaming.

In what ways do you think (or hope) your liberal arts education has prepared you for career and professional success?
One major skill I've gained as a COLA major is my ability to write professionally and comprehend/analyze readings. This may seem simple, but I've been told that this is a common trait employers look for and find lacking in many candidates who do not have a liberal arts education. COLA also offers such a wide variety of classes and requirements that I received a well-rounded education, and with that, a well­ rounded set of skills.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I am applying to law school now, so I plan on attending law school in the fall of 2024 and pursuing a career in immigration/international law.

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
People might be surprised to learn that I was my class valedictorian in high school!