PLYMOUTH, N.H. — Sam Wisel came to Plymouth State University from Mansfield, Mass., to study meteorology. He says in high school he was “pretty quiet,” participated in a sport and had a small group of friends.
Four years later, he is a campus leader and about to graduate with a B.S. in business administration, with an emphasis in nonprofit development and fundraising. He has served as student body vice president and is treasurer of the Class of 2012.
Wisel discovered a love for community service in high school, where he participated in a service trip to the Mississippi Gulf to help residents clean up after Hurricane Katrina. At Plymouth State University he has found many outlets for his growing passion. The university motto is Ut Prosim (That I may serve) and the mission of the campus Community and Volunteer Service Center is to connect students, faculty and staff with service opportunities in Plymouth and surrounding communities. Wisel has been well connected.
He has traveled with other volunteers during three spring breaks, to provide service at projects in other states.
As a sophomore, he began the process to create a student chapter of Habitat for Humanity, partnering with Pemi-Valley Habitat for Humanity to build homes and engage and educate students about affordable housing in the area. He now serves on the board of directors of the Pemi-Valley chapter, the first undergraduate student to do so.
His experience with Habitat also propelled Sam to create a path of study aligned with his interest in volunteerism and engaging others through community service. Wisel has completed an internship in marketing, communication and fundraising with the Spaulding Youth Center in Northfield, and is currently interning in University Advancement, assisting the office of Alumni Relations and Development.
Director of Alumni Relations Rodney Ekstrom says, “His actions demonstrate a commitment to making a difference in this world. Sam has a wonderful sense of both pride and humility for his accomplishments; he is always quick to tout the contributions of others. Along with his can-do attitude, Sam brought his experience from the past fours years as a campus leader to his internship. He took on a new project for us, and by researching best practices and developing new guidelines, he helped establish a program that will serve Plymouth State students well into the future.”
Reaching beyond his Habitat commitment, Wisel joined other students in a project entitled “Flood of Flags,” to raise aid to help with the aftermath of floods in Pakistan. Plymouth State hosts 20 Pakistani teachers in a monthlong educational institute each summer, and Wisel has been the community advisor in the residence hall, assisting the Pakistani students during their stay in Plymouth. Flood of flags acknowledged PSU’s connection and support of alumni of the Pakistani Leadership Institute who were impacted by the devastating floods in their country. Twenty-five thousand flags covered the campus Alumni Green, representing the people displaced in Pakistan due to flooding in 2010.
Capping off his senior year at PSU, Wisel was among members of the Student Support Foundation at PSU who established a student food pantry on campus. The academic-year project provides direct support for students in need, and will contribute its supply of foodstuffs to the local food pantry at the close of school this month.
Wisel is one of 162 students from 32 states named a 2012 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact and is also a recipient of the Campus Compact for New Hampshire Presidents’ Leadership Award. The Newman Civic Fellows represent the next generation of problem solvers and civic leaders, according to Campus Compact Board Chair James B. Sworkin. “Sam is a role model in seeking opportunities to serve. He is a genuine leader,” says PSU President Sara Jayne Steen.
His advice to other students? “Try something new. You never know what door you can open. Give back to the community—people respect you when you serve,” Wisel said.