Sinking Roots in NH: A Recent College Grad’s Story

Growing up in a small, pass-through town in north-central Massachusetts, I was always drawn to Keene’s beautiful Main Street, quick access to the myriad of stores and restaurants, and the convenience of being away from home without being too far from my family. I decided to attend Keene State College in 2015 as a stepping stone on my way to live in Bend, Oregon which I was drawn to for its combination of an artistic and outdoors lifestyle.

As a senior, I enrolled in a course at Keene State College where we learned professionalism in writing and speaking alongside an internship opportunity at a company that gave invaluable experience in our respective degree programs. While pursuing a degree in English and Business Management, the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship in downtown Keene seemed like the perfect fit. While nervously awaiting my interview, I had no idea how many opportunities my internship would ultimately provide me. Upon completing my internship in the spring, I was hired to stay with the company and continue the work I was so passionate about.

At the Hannah Grimes Center, I have had a hand in marketing, writing aggregate data reports, event planning, and so much more. I work in a very relaxed and supportive environment that fits my personality perfectly. Not many recent graduates can say they landed a job they love that also utilizes their degree, and for that I am very grateful. Currently, I am helping to organize the Radically Rural Summit – a two-day summit across September 27th and 28th hosted by the Hannah Grimes Center and The Keene Sentinel. The driving force behind the summit is the great number of people who are passionate about creating vibrant, robust rural communities and the five available program tracks allow people to find their niche within their rural communities and learn innovative ideas to improve it. There are five program tracks – Entrepreneurship, Working Lands, Main Street, Arts and Culture, and Rural Media – and each track offers three sessions on a variety of hot topics in rural areas. Through the summit, we are introducing the idea of “Keene as a Conference Center.” The sessions are held at businesses and locations surrounding Main Street from The Colonial Theatre to Keene State’s Alumni Hall.

Being part of such a large event, one that has attracted people’s attention from rural regions around the country, has made me realize that Keene is more than a small city tucked into the southwestern corner of the state. Keene’s thriving and growing culture offers so many things to do and so many unique experiences that are not available in more metropolitan areas because the residents of Keene care so deeply about making it a true community.

The Monadnock Region offers countless hiking trails, bike routes, hidden swimming holes, music and film festivals, and events showcasing local artists and musicians in the area. Delving into these activities and community-based events ultimately changed my view of Keene as a stepping stone; instead, it is now a place I can settle into. However, through my conversations with people in my age range, I’ve realized that other recent and soon-to-be graduates don’t feel the same way. For them, Keene is still a stepping stone on their way to a bigger city with the inherent assumption that there are more job openings and more of a social atmosphere.

I had the opportunity to graduate early and I worked hard to make the most of it. Many of my friends are still enrolled at Keene State and when they graduate in May, many of them are not planning to stay in the region. I am so grateful that my internship opportunity not only led to a job that I love but also gave me an avenue to immerse myself in the community that I’ve grown to love. My advice to college students across the state is to make the most of your time at school and immerse yourself in the community in every way that you can. When I came to Keene three years ago, I planned on a drastic move across the country after graduation and now I can’t imagine living
anywhere else.

Samantha moved from north-central Massachusetts to pursue a BA in English and Business Management at Keene State College, where she graduated in 2018. Samantha was hired as Operation Support by the Hannah Grimes Center following an internship opportunity in Spring 2018 where she works in marketing and a variety of other areas for a well-rounded experience. During any free time, you can find her reading, writing, hiking, or kayaking (likely with a cup of coffee in her hand).

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