“I prayed before I came to Plymouth State because I was hoping to find a community that had friendly people and great energy,” says Maria Mutesi ’24. “What I see here is a very warm and welcoming community that wants to help people do better.”
Mutesi has come a long way, both literally and figuratively, since immigrating to New Hampshire as a 13-year-old with limited English proficiency. At Manchester Central High School, she took part in UNH Upward Bound, a competitive college prep program. The federally funded “TRIO” initiative has a PSU counterpart through which Mutesi is currently serving as a peer mentor and study skills tutor.
TRIO is a component of Plymouth Academic Support Services (PASS). “Program Coordinator Domenica Medaglia-Brown is an awesome advisor and a great person in general,” says Mutesi. “The PASS staff are always helping me with anything I need and I am forever grateful to be a part of the program.”
Now a sophomore, Mutesi has found several ways to be involved in her college community, including serving as vice president of the Catholic Campus Ministry. As a member of the Health and Human Performance Club she’s learning about career options from seniors about to graduate.
The allied health sciences major with minors in biology and psychology is planning on a physical therapy career, which will satisfy her strong desire to help others while building on her first-hand knowledge of the value of proper healthcare. As a child growing up in Uganda, Mutesi’s broken leg was set by her mother with hot water and a towel due to lack of better options. “It hurt and it took a while to heal,” says Mutesi. “It would have healed better and faster if there was a person with PT skills.”
Mutesi has been pleased by the rigor of her coursework, which is leavened with the support she receives from faculty such as Anatomy and Physiology Teaching Lecturer Judi D’Aleo. “I love her,” says Mutesi. “She pushes us to be the best that you can be, and she’s like family. She ensured that we were ready to go on.”
Mutesi is a recipient of both the Alumni Association Scholarship and Eugene P. Martin Sr. ’09P and Natalie J. Martin ’09P Scholarship. “That’s what public higher education should be all about—to literally help change the lives of students like Maria,” says Rodney Ekstrom ’09G, director of alumni relations.
“With scholarships, I’m able to do great things, and I want to thank the donors for their generosity,” says Mutesi. “It is helping me stay on campus and do what I love, which is learning and helping people in any way I can. Donating helps to create stronger communities and a happier society for everyone.” She hopes to one day launch her own scholarship to give back to PSU and her former schools in Uganda and Manchester.
For now, Mutesi is focused on assisting residents of Blair Hall, where she has started a new position as community director. She’s confident that her zest for living will help others find their places on campus. “I am a person who is warm and all about being positive,” she says. “The energy is contagious, and when you feel warm and positive, it pushes you.”