Isabel Gillam '25

How do UNH students choose their majors? Our new How I Chose My Major blog series highlights students from different colleges across UNH and explores how they chose their majors and minors, what they've learned through their programs, the coolest places they get to study and so much more!

Today, discover how Isabel '25 combines a civil engineering major with an architectural studies minor and balances hands-on experience in the classroom with an upcoming study abroad trip to Oxford Brookes University. 

Isabel Gillam '25, civil engineering (architectural studies minor)
Isabel Gillam

What is your major?

I am majoring in civil engineering and getting a minor in architectural studies.

What did you think you wanted to major in before you came to UNH?

Before I arrived at UNH, I was leaning towards architecture. Growing up in Virginia, I was always drawn to the aesthetic appeal of structures. But when I learned more about civil engineering, I realized it offered a unique blendnot just making things look pretty, but understanding the underlying mechanics that make it possible. By the time I got to UNH, I was certain that civil engineering was the perfect fit for me, allowing me to appreciate the beauty of structures while also grasping the foundational aspects that bring them to life.

Why did you choose your major? 

Civil engineering appealed to me because it's the nexus of creativity and functionality. I've always been enthralled by the idea of physically seeing the fruits of my labor, whether it's a concrete cylinder or a structure designed in CAD. Coupled with architectural studies, my chosen path provides a perfect balance of aesthetic and practical considerations two elements I've always been passionate about. My journey at UNH, enriched by interactions with professors and engagement in hands-on projects, has only deepened my love for this field.

What are some of the top places on campus you frequent for your major?

One of my favorite places at UNH is DeMeritt, the physics building. The extensive wall of chalkboards there is particularly special to me. After completing complicated problems, there's an immense satisfaction in being able to see everything laid out.

What’s the coolest part about your major?

The coolest part about majoring in civil engineering is the flexibility to study abroad. I'm excited to be heading to Oxford Brookes University in the spring. UNH also offers opportunities all over the world, showcasing the universal applicability and global demand for our skills. Additionally, I really appreciate the range of electives available in our senior year, which opens up a myriad of possibilities and avenues for exploration in the field.

What advice do you have for prospective students about choosing a major?

My advice would be to choose a major that not only aligns with your passion but also offers diverse experiences. For instance, with civil engineering, I never imagined how seamlessly I could integrate it with international studies. Also, engage with the campus community, visit places and allow yourself to be immersed in the learning process; it will guide you to the right path.

Kathryn standing in front of Lonza

Kathryn's UNH Day in the Life

Meet Kathryn Carlson ‘24, a chemical engineering major at UNH and a Process Validation intern at Lonza in Portsmouth this summer. From learning about the Process Validation field, to being responsible for document review, to participating in a mixing study, follow along on Kathryn's day. read more