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Junior Mtunipesa Baruani '24 selected for UNH Community Scholarship!

Wednesday June 7th, 2023 by Emily Kerr.

When Junior Mtunipesa Baruani '24 heard about the University of New Hampshire Community Scholarship, he thought, “All of those things they are looking for, I’m a fit for.”

The scholarship recognizes academic merit and community involvement, particularly that beyond paid employment and efforts on behalf of academic requirements. And Junior was right: he is a fit.

“I was so happy to get chosen for it,” he says.

In addition to working full time and being a full-time student in the homeland security major, Junior has dedicated time to volunteer with Project S.T.O.R.Y. (Supporting Talents of Rising Youth) for over 3 years. Based in Concord, N.H., the goal of Project S.T.O.R.Y. is to empower refugee and New American youth. They provide different types of educational support, social services and engaging activities such as sports and events to showcase youth talent. With a passion for helping people, Junior says the organization’s mission really resonates with him.

“We do a lot to help this young generation find something good to focus on,” he says. “It makes me feel good as a person. It’s something that I appreciate doing because when I was new here in America, it’s something that I would have wanted.”

Junior’s family is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo but spent years as refugees in Tanzania before coming to the United States in 2016. Junior speaks five languages—Swahili, Kibembe, French, Lingala and English—but admits transitioning to American culture and learning English was difficult.

“Learning the language, feeling comfortable and feeling like you belong here, it was a little hard to get used to. Being a multilingual student, it’s not easy,” Junior says. “For someone like me who speaks five languages, it’s good, but focusing on a language you know nothing about—to be able to understand or push through or even get comfortable in English—you have to put more work into learning outside of school.”

Junior certainly put in the work, and his efforts were recognized through the financial support he received from UNH Manchester. That, combined with the proximity to his home in Concord, was why he chose to pursue his degree at UNH Manchester.

“I had to take that as an opportunity,” he says. “I didn’t want to live far from home and felt like it would be a good option to come to UNH because I also work full-time. I felt like I could use that time to also support my mom.”

Junior will be putting his homeland security studies to use interning with the Ogunquit Police Department this summer along with friend, UNH Manchester classmate and fellow Project S.T.O.R.Y. volunteer Fred Nshimiyimana. They will be trained in how to become police officers.

“I’m so excited,” Junior says. “I also try to keep up a positive mindset. I always go as hard as I can.”

That mindset is something Junior has cultivated over the last few years. He says focusing on the big picture and putting energy into things that matter to him has grown his confidence.

“I feel if I put my mindset into something, I have the energy to do whatever I put my mind on. I have more confidence,” Junior says. “The challenges that I went through growing up and the things that I faced, made me sure I can actually achieve what I put my mind and work on.”

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