True North

Johnny RancourtJohnny Rancourt ’13 is fourth-generation born and raised in Lancaster, a New Hampshire town 25 miles north of Franconia Notch. He shrugs off any mention of being too far away from anything and maintains he can drive “only” three hours to spend a day at the beach. Just starting his second year at UNH, he can’t wait to graduate, work in finance or marketing near Boston, and save enough money to be able to move back to Lancaster, a place where three generations of his family have lived on the same street. His grandfather, John Nadeau ’52, operated a dairy farm there, and his sister, Amanda ’09, teaches at the Lancaster elementary school.

Rancourt is a recipient of the Arnold P. and Della A. Hanson Endowed Scholarship, which provides students from Coos County with significant scholarship support to UNH. Only a year ago he was wondering not only where he would go to college, but how he and his parents would pay for it. His parents had already helped two older siblings through college. “And then my mother called me at work one day and told me UNH had offered me a Hanson scholarship. I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “I just had no idea something like this could happen to me.”

Three weeks before the move to Durham (“That trip to Durham was the first time I had ever driven around a traffic circle,” he says. “Intense.”) Rancourt slipped and fell from his dad’s truck and ended up moving to the sixth floor of Williamson Hall on crutches. Despite the awkwardness of getting around, Rancourt immersed himself in UNH life and now claims he has never before experienced the kind of school pride and enthusiasm to rival a winter night in the Whitt watching the men’s ice hockey team. He is amazed by the dining hall food, though is quick to add, and sincerely, “It’s not as good as my mom’s cooking.”

Rancourt intended to major in civil engineering, but after taking—and loving—a macroeconomics course, changed his major to economics. While seven of his high school classmates, including his best friend, chose UNH, Rancourt made sure to get a roommate he didn’t know. He hopes to study economics in London his junior year, though he hasn’t yet told his black Labrador retriever, Sadie. “Sadie didn’t do well when I left for UNH,” he concedes. “The first time I went home, she turned away from me, stayed mad for about 10 seconds (that’s a long time for a black Lab to stay mad), and then wouldn’t leave my side. I let her sleep with me that night.”

The Arnold P. and Della A. Hanson Endowed Scholarship Fund is just one example of how an endowed gift can make a dramatic difference by providing educational opportunities for students with financial need and academic promise. When the fund was announced in 2002, Arnie Hanson ’48, a retired attorney and longtime resident of Berlin N.H., said, “I just wanted a kid in the North Country who has the desire to go to college to know there is this opportunity coming that can help achieve the goals he or she has set. I want these kids to know there’s help.”