Alyssa Griffin headshot
Griffin ’23
“Giving back to the community was something my parents made sure my brothers and I partook in to humble ourselves, learn compassion, but most importantly to help others.”
Plymouth State’s food pantry serves a vital need, providing sustenance for a significant proportion of PSU students who are food insecure. Alyssa Griffin ’23, president and food pantry manager of the Student Support Foundation, enhanced the pantry’s efficiency by conducting inventory trend analysis.

“I realized that a better way to understand what was going in and out of the pantry could help us better predict what was needed,” says Griffin. “Then we could be more proactive in asking for donations.”

A 2017 survey revealed that 15 to 20 percent of PSU students experienced food insecurity. Recent reports that take the pandemic into account indicate 60 percent of students nationwide report basic needs insecurity and 29 percent have experienced food insecurity.

Griffin conducted a personalized “Passion Project” through the University Honors Program, tracking inventory items such as foodstuffs and hygiene products by categories, demand, and months received. One key realization concerned the timing of campus food drives.

“A lot of drives take place at the end of the semester through the efforts of Tackling a Wicked Problem and Social Entrepreneurship courses, which is great,” says Griffin. “We get these huge donations just as the spring semester ends, and it’s helpful to know what items are really popular in the fall.”

Assistant Director of Community Impact Casey Krafton served as Griffin’s Passion Project mentor. “Alyssa has been a driven and active board member of the Student Support Foundation,” says Krafton. “She spearheaded initiatives to grow our pantry locations and has added multiple satellite pantries on campus. In her time as a member, she has also been a part of awarding over $10,000 in emergency financial grants to Plymouth State students demonstrating financial need.

“I am so grateful for her energy and the way she encourages others to think critically of what it means to advocate, serve, and support our community.”

Griffin has made a strong impression on the PSU community by embodying the University’s Ut prosim (“That I may serve”) ethic and was recognized last year with two Campus Compact of New Hampshire honors. The President’s Leadership Award highlighted her outstanding contributions to civic engagement, and the Newman Civic Fellowship recognized Griffin as a community-committed student, changemaker, and public problem-solver.

In November 2021, Griffin received a Volunteer Service Award as part of the Spirit of New Hampshire Awards, which recognizes those who go above and beyond the call to serve throughout the Granite State. She had been nominated in the Youth/Young Adult category in recognition of her Student Support Foundation contributions.

Griffin’s scientific approach to bettering the PSU community is rooted in her academic interests. A meteorology major, she aspires to use the skills learned in her leadership positions in a career researching and communicating the risks of climate change.

Griffin wrote her first scientific paper as a first-year student in Professor Eric Kelsey’s Climatology course, and has contributed to his on-going research as a student worker. Her duties have included conducting isotope analysis on water samples from the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest and the Mount Washington Observatory. By determining ratios of heavier and less weighted oxygen, the analysis can indicate whether the sample represents direct runoff from rain, groundwater, or some combination of the two, which can be useful in assessing drought and other conditions.

“Alyssa displays great curiosity, critical thinking skills, and tenacity,” says Kelsey. “She has great communication and people skills, is an outstanding student academically, and is well respected by colleagues and peers.”

Griffin began augmenting her science coursework in her very first year through participation in a National Science Foundation-funded enrichment activity, Pathways into the Earth, Ocean, Polar, and Atmospheric & Geospace Sciences (GEOPaths). The program builds hands-on experiences and skills, and Griffin’s project involved placement and analysis of temperature sensors around campus and in nearby Fox Park.

During the subsequent summer, Griffin interned with Professor Jay Cordeira through the Northeast Partnership for Atmospheric & Related Sciences (NEPARS) program, which provides Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) early in their education. The PSU Meteorology Program received a $528,000 NSF grant in 2020 to continue the REUs and related opportunities.

Griffin is treasurer of the University’s American Meteorological Society chapter. Her REU research has continued this year, and she will present it at the American Meteorological Society Student Conference in Houston in January 2022.

Griffin’s many campus activities include serving as an admissions representative and as class treasurer. She previously volunteered as a Lamson Library writing consultant, and Professor Kelsey notes that she generously provides informal tutoring for fellow students as well. She also completed an emergency management internship at the encouragement of her advisor, Professor Sam Miller.

For Griffin, working to address climate change and helping her classmates deal with challenges are all of a piece.

“Giving back to the community was something my parents made sure my brothers and I partook in to humble ourselves, learn compassion, but most importantly to help others,” she says. “Today, I still try to bring this mindset to everything I do.”