Her strong sense of purpose shines forth when Michelle Gagne talks about all phases of her life: childhood, education, career, family, goals.
Growing up in rural New Hampshire, horseback riding was a touchstone for Michelle. Inspired by these memories, she and her husband have purchased land to build a house and barn, and she looks forward to quiet rides in the wooded countryside.
Life did not start easily for Michelle, reflected by an early lack of self-confidence. But this emotional heritage also nurtured a deep-seated desire to overcome her own limitations and to help others grow beyond theirs.
With a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Michelle originally pursued a career in family therapy. As a per diem Recovery Coach, she worked in a hospital emergency room supporting patients with substance use disorder. She later joined a local organization dedicated to providing a safe space and support for people in recovery. Michelle feels drawn to help people with substance use disorder and homelessness because “every human being has talent and adds value to our world”.
Promoted to positions of increasing responsibility, Gagne is currently the Recovery Center Operations Manager in a role described as “The Empowerer”. She enjoys the problem-solving challenges of her administrative position, tackling a wide variety of issues that empower the team to reach their potential, further fueling a passion for her career. She sums up the vision that has indelibly shaped her life perspective: “We give voice to the voiceless”.
To expand her career options, Michelle enrolled at UNH to earn an online master’s degree in Social Work in December 2019. A wife and working mother of four, online learning was the only viable education path for Michelle. “Online learning develops your time management skills and solidifies the self-reliance necessary to succeed.” Gagne measured out her study time, scheduling assignments to calendar dates to keep pace with the course work. She blocked off specific nights to spend with her family and completed much of her studying after their bedtime.
Although Gagne lacked the self-confidence to apply to UNH as an undergraduate, she chose an online UNH master’s program because of the personalized response, robust program and wide range of start dates. The UNH faculty was supportive and respectful, the university's Writing Lab helped to sharpen her communication skills but, most importantly, she felt part of a larger community of people with shared values.
At home, Michelle’s job in support services and her husband’s work as a pastor in a local church reflect the tolerance and compassion that are woven into the fabric of their family life.
Speaking from a wellspring of understanding, Michelle declares, “we all have a life story to share.”
Her own story reflects the milestones of self-discovery, growth, and clarity of purpose coupled with a deep-rooted desire to live out her values. Michelle adds to the spreading tree of stories that unite humanity.