Lucy Thatcher ’20 from Cornwall, England, came to Plymouth State University as a study-abroad student, fell in love with the community, and never left. What she thought would be short term became long lasting. Where she thought she would just study temporarily has become her home.
“Growing up, I had a love of American movies and TV shows,” says Thatcher. “I dreamt of visiting the United States because I felt connected to the places and characters I saw on screen. These representations made me excited to explore the culture here.”
While Thatcher knew she wanted to study abroad in the US, she had to narrow down her list of potential institutions. After scouring university websites and researching class options, accommodations, affordability, cocurricular and recreational activities, and travel opportunities, Thatcher landed on Plymouth State University.
Originally drawn to the wide course selections and the climate and landscape that central New Hampshire boasts, she quickly learned that PSU had a lot more to offer. “While I’m studying psychology and law, I really enjoyed the opportunity to take classes outside of my major, because that’s something we don’t do back home,” Thatcher says. “This is how I discovered my passion for anthropology, which I now minor in, and photography.”
The people, the sense of community, and the pro-social focus of PSU’s motto, Ut Prosim (“That I May Serve”), however, influenced Thatcher to stay. “Plymouth has given me the freedom to explore my passions and to discover who I am without expectations,” she says. “It took coming to a place where I had nothing and building my sense of home from the ground up. I fell in love with the people here—both my friends and my professors—and I’ve learned what community truly means.”
With this in mind, Thatcher extended her stay, transferred to PSU as an international student, and now continues to support the community that nurtured her during her study abroad. Through her role as community advisor, she lives in a residential hall and serves as an educator and mentor for all dormitory residents.
“Community advisors run floor meetings, facilitate programming, keep the community safe, and function as a first resource to students on campus, supporting them personally, academically, and professionally,” says Community Director Mike Blasco.
In return, they are offered many opportunities, including participating in any of the Residential Life committees and in technical, hands-on trainings. Thatcher is a member of the Appreciation, Recognition, and Events Committee, and for good reason, as event planning and community building are her areas of expertise. Last year, she won the 2019 Program of the Year Award for her innovative efforts. She designed a “global bazaar” that engaged students in getting to know different places around the world, celebrated National Pancake Day by flipping flapjacks for residents, and planned a week’s worth of themed community experiences.
“Lucy is innovative, thinks out of the box, and is consistently growing the program to benefit other students,” says Blasco. “She connects with students and likes doing things for other people ‘just because.’ It’s who she is as a person.”
Through these programs, she’s served a diverse range of students. “I have met so many new people through this role,” Thatcher says. “I’m on a first-name basis with individuals across the entire university, including police officers and department leaders. I get to be a support and guide for students, working to keep them happy, healthy, and safe. It’s incredible to see their personal and professional growth and to be a part of their journey.”
While Thatcher certainly creates opportunities for her peers, she also takes advantage of PSU’s many offerings. As a project for the PSU Honors Program, she developed a website that promotes international education, collaboration, and social action. She hopes to continue to grow the organization in years to come. “I’d like to one day provide scholarship opportunities for those who wish to go abroad in return for being active in that community,” she notes. “It’s all about spreading kindness as you wander.”
This idea transcends her business model and serves as a way of life. Thatcher has been active in the PSU community through the Angel Tree Project, which provides holiday gifts to local children, and through Habitat for Humanity and service trips for hurricane relief. When she’s not giving back, she’s writing a book that she hopes to finish by semester’s end.
Next up for Thatcher is spreading kindness in London as she pursues her master’s in international business at the Hult International Business School.