April 16, 2024
NHTI student Tom LeBarge
NHTI student Tom LaBerge

CONCORD – Kindness comes in all forms on NHTI’s campus. From a held door to a bright smile, us Lynx pride ourselves on making everyone on campus feel welcome. One student, though, has spent this academic year going above and beyond for his peers, with no fanfare or acknowledgement. In fact, when asked if he would be willing to participate in this profile, he blushed and exclaimed, “Me? Why me?!”

His name is Tom LaBerge, he is a Business Administration major, and his generosity and spirit have led him to perpetrate random acts of kindness that have sent ripples through NHTI’s Student Center. Everyone from faculty to staff and admins have seen and often benefited from his quiet, unassuming contributions on the student body.

His gifts are neither lavish nor expensive, but sometimes it’s the little things that can make the biggest impacts. It started with a giant bag of Halloween candy on the Info Desk, then it was random boxes of cookies on the fireplace, chocolates on Valentine’s Day, and bakery-fresh cinnamon buns, all set out for anyone to freely enjoy with only an accompanying note: “Take what you want and have a great day! Tom.”

So let’s finally get to know NHTI’s nearly anonymous student benefactor – the bearer of sweet treats and enthusiastic Lynx pride that deserves to be recognized.

Everyone, Meet Tom – Tom, Meet Everyone.

LaBerge is from a small N.H. town called Alexandria. He was adopted from Guatemala when he was 8 months old, and he spent his high school career at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, where he also gave out treats to his fellow students.

“Ever since I was a baby, I always put a smile on my family’s faces,” he says. “I’ve always loved giving encouragement and helping those who are struggling with life. I try to reach my hand out to let people know that they’re not alone in this world.”

As it often happens in stories like his, LaBerge’s desire to help others came as he himself emerged from a place of internal turmoil. His notes around campus always contain the wish that people “do what makes you smile” – a personal mantra LaBerge learned from a difficult period in his life.

“I went through a dark path in my life prior to coming to NHTI,” he explains. “It felt like a huge mental war – and I decided to leave people who I thought were friends behind me. I tried to go after the situation on my own, and I couldn’t see that I was making bad choices. I wasn’t sleeping, was rarely eating, and I was experiencing tunnel vision. The thing that was in my head was that it was all my fault – and I let it become my burden.

“I started to push people close to me away so I wouldn’t get them involved or hurt. But they helped me realize that I don’t need to do everything alone, and that I have people by my side who will always help me when I’m struggling. It inspired me to tell other people who are feeling the same thing that you’re never alone, and that being yourself is what makes life better.”

To help deal with the trauma, LaBerge is currently writing a fictional book that explores the themes and experiences of his past. This cathartic journey has led to introspection on how to deal with bullies and to express his emotions in a new way.

“When I walked into NHTI, I met new people on the spot, and that’s when I realized that I should never take on such big burdens in just one soul. There isn’t a single building built with only one beam.

“The students here are working very hard, and the classwork can be overloading. I’m just trying to ease that stress and encourage everyone to do something fun. Sure, it’s just one little treat, but it’s more for me on a deeper level. A lot of people don’t feel special, but being yourself and letting people love you for that is what makes you special.”

NHTI has been the place where LaBerge is finally coming into his own and embracing himself. His plans are to follow in his father’s footsteps, earning his Business Administration degree and then transferring to UNH to get his bachelors and master’s in Business Analytics.

“When I walk through the NHTI doors, I know that this is my college, and that this is my education,” he says, “but what makes me happiest is knowing that this is my place. This is the place where I feel at home, and where I’m proud to be.”

And he doesn’t need any accolades.

“When I see people from afar take a treat and smile, that’s the only thanks I need. Their smile makes me smile – and it makes me feel wonderful. The word ‘community’ in the school name says it all – when we work together as a community, we all make the world a better place.”


So, why Tom LaBerge? Because, sir, you have brightened days, filled empty bellies, and spread kindness in a way that makes every single person at NHTI feel welcome and seen. Hopefully, your generosity of spirit will be an inspiration for future NHTI students. Thank YOU.