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Students and faculty discuss what it means to be a Riverhawk

Serena Arora
Connector Staff

Students and professors across UMass Lowell gave their opinions on what it means to be a River Hawk. There is the general definition; a River Hawk is a fish-eating bird of prey with a cosmopolitan range. All jokes aside, though, what does it mean to be a River Hawk?

Dr. Neil Shortland, a criminal justice professor who is currently teaching a forensic psychology class, described what being a River Hawk means to him. Shortland said that in England, people are not “alumni proud.” Shortland, originally from England, was very confused when he saw people wearing UMass Lowell hoodies. It was interesting for Shortland to find out how much “people believe in the identity.”

Shortland described UMass Lowell students as “scrappy underdogs.” He takes students to innovation competitions, against Boston University, Harvard, Boston College and more. However, compared to all the other schools, he likes UMass Lowell because they are “hungrier.”

Shortland also sees UMass Lowell students as students who believe they are going to excel. Shortland also when described River Hawks as showing “resiliency.” He thought of this word because of how much work the students have outside of school. Whether it is a job or social obligations, he believes the students put in a lot of work.

Salma Elhaissouni, a sophomore biology major, said that her definition of being a River Hawk is being involved. She said that the River Hawk is the school mascot, a bird that is portrayed through the Merrimack River, the city of Lowell and at the school in an artistic way.

However, to divulge deeper into the meaning of a River Hawk, Elhaissouni said, “Being a River Hawk means to be comfortable expressing ourselves throughout the school, soaring high up to be the best version of yourself as possible.”

Elhaissouni said she is a Resident Advisor (RA) in the school, which allows her to meet many people in her building and decorate the halls and truly express who she is.

“It makes me feel like I have a purpose to be here, and when I do it successfully, I prosper,” she said.

Nancy Wan, a sophomore biology major, said that being a River Hawk means being invested in the school. It also means to be a part of the community, which for her is her biology community.

“[I thrive on people] with the same interests who help you out, a group you can rely on, people you can obtain opinions from,” Wan said.

Nadia Ruth, a sophomore music education major, said she feels like being a River Hawk means being in one big community.

“Even though we are different in a lot of ways we all come together and work together. It’s all one big River Hawk family,” Ruth said. Specifically, her community is the music community. The music program, marching band and ensembles are very welcoming to Ruth, and inclusive as well.

Dr. Christa Hodapp, a philosophy professor who teaches metaphysics and death and dying, gave her definition of a River Hawk was.

“[Being a River Hawk means] deeply valuing student development, in terms of academics and student support and interest,” Hodapp said. “[UMass Lowell has] first-generation college students, international students, diverse students and students with different learning styles.”

Hodapp also admires that the students are big on faculty interaction and that they are engaged in ways she has not seen in other places.

“[Being a River Hawk is being part of a] vibrant community that is supportive personally, professionally, academically and educationally,” Hodapp said.

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