Researching. Interning. Learning. Creating. Teaching. They’re all part of the wondrous process of becoming at UMF. And they make for some good stories, too. Ryan Mastrangelo, director of marketing and communications, captures vignettes of the student experience for the @umainefarmington Instagram account to provide prospective applicants with vivid glimpses of life at Farmington. If you’re wondering just what UMF students are up to these days, follow along on Instagram — or look to this monthly feature, where Mastrangelo documents student endeavors that illustrate the breadth and power of a UMF education.
Parent ’21 helps improve the patient experience at Maine Medical Center
Psychology major Andrew Parent ’21 of Scarborough, Maine, spent summer 2019 interning with Maine Medical Center’s Patient Experience Team. Of the more than 1,400 applications received for positions at MMC, Parent’s was among the 6 percent that made the cut. He spent the last three months as a mentor to junior volunteers, conducting staff interviews, planning events, presenting KPIs (key performance indicators), and rounding with nurses to check on patients and families regarding their stays at MMC. As for his own key performance indicator, Parent was named MMC’s July Employee of the Month.
“My role at the hospital involved me with numerous departments all over the hospital. Making connections with people is something UMF’s small campus — the ease with which you get to know staff and faculty — taught me how to do,” says Parent. “Being in a hospital is rarely a fun time in someone’s life. As a psychology major and working with patients, this experience has allowed me to develop a deeper compassion towards patients and their family members during difficult times.”
Parent is now back on campus, but his legacy at Maine Medical Center, if implemented, could save the hospital tens of thousands of dollars.
“The hospital often has to reimburse patients for their lost items,” he explains. “One day while my boss and I were walking down the hall, I made a comment about creating a KPI revolved around lost belongings. Realizing that the need was there, we presented the idea to the Operational Excellence Team (they are in charge of the KPIs) who agreed it was a great idea. The implementation process takes a lot of time, so assuming it gets implemented, it’ll include the unit with the most reported lost belongings, save the hospital a lot of money, while also better serving its patients and families.”
Newby ’21 schedules some career-development experience into her summer employment
Some 150 students are developing critical communication, time-management, and executive functioning skills through on-campus employment opportunities at UMF this summer. Among them is Billie Rose Newby ’21, who is working full time in the University’s Office of Conferences and Events. From weddings to weekly board meetings, she’s helping to schedule and coordinate events across campus.
“Working at Conferences and Events during the summer is one of the most rewarding decisions I have made during my college career,” says Newby, who is majoring in English and creative writing. “The hours working in a productive and busy office simulate the responsibility of a job in the workforce. It is a highly valuable experience that prepares me for a post-college job in a unique way.”
Newby’s supervisor, Ernestine Hutchinson, says she intentionally structures student employment opportunities to maximize “connections between learning in the classroom and learning on the job.”
“As a supervisor, I encourage students to consider their position as an opportunity to connect with their community, on and off campus,” says Hutchinson. “I want students to gain skills that will help them be both engaged students and better prepared for employment after college.”
Thomsen ’21 gives Gardiner a map for success
Natalie Thomsen ’21 (Photo by April Mulherin.)
The City of Gardiner needed a digital inventory of its sewer and stormwater systems to better understand current resources and system maintenance. Enter Natalie Thomsen ’21, a business economics major with minors in legal studies and geography, who is interning with Gardiner’s Department of Public Works through the Maine State Government Summer Internship Program. Thomsen is putting her knowledge of GIS to work by creating a digital map that accurately accounts for the city’s storm and wastewater assets.
“We at the City have been working for some time to generate a usable and reliable GIS map system to identify our sewer and storm water collection systems as a whole,” said Tony LaPlante, the Gardiner’s director of public works. “Natalie has done a wonderful job tying all the information we have collected into a user-friendly tool that the City staff will be able to utilize.”
For Thomsen, who received the 2019 Sumner P. and Flora A.P. Mills Community Service Award for giving more than 85 hours of community service to several local organizations this year, the interest in serving the City of Gardiner comes naturally.
“I have always been interested in community service and leading by example,” says Thomsen. “This internship helps me pursue my career goals while performing a valuable service for the Gardiner community.”
Leonard ’20 and her classmates learn the ropes in Northern Ireland
Elementary Education major Alyssa Leonard ’20 and her UMF classmates cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in Northern Ireland during a short-term travel geology course in Ireland and Scotland led by Associate Professor of Geology Julia Daly.
“Being a non-geology major, I have learned so much that I can apply as an educator in my own future classroom,” said Leonard. “Going across the Rope Bridge was a great experience. I don’t have a fear of heights so I was just able to enjoy the beautiful views.”
Offered each year between the traditional semesters, UMF’s faculty-led short-term travel courses provide students with opportunities to study abroad, without having to commit to a full semester in a single location.
See more of what students experienced in Daly’s Ireland–Scotland course online at https://www.instagram.com/mainemountainponds/
UMF students get up close with Andean archeology and culture
Students on a short-term travel course to Peru led by Luke and Nicole Kellett, both professors of anthropology, break for lunch in the cloud forest in the photo to the left.
Of the scene, Luke said, “We are eating lunch on our very steep, narrow and curvy road during our 11,000-foot descent into the Amazon basin and Manu National Park. Our guides and drivers are standing with spotting scopes, for wildlife, in the background.”
The travel course offers students an opportunity to explore Peru’s distinctive archaeology and anthropology, and examine Andean cultures from prehistoric to historic and contemporary times. Students consider the dynamic cultural developments of the region through visiting a number of important coastal and highland archaeological sites, including Machu Picchu, pictured right.
Letze ’20 and her classmates experience Panamanian ecosystems and culture
Senior Grace Letze ’20 (holding a walking stick) listens as Mr. Kelly of the La Lorna cacao farm in Bocas del Toro, Panama, discusses local tropical fruits and their medicinal uses.
Letze and her peers explored Panama on a short-term travel course led by Professors Nancy Prentiss and Mariella Passarelli earlier this month. The interdisciplinary course involved the study of Panamanian tropical ecosystems through experiential learning. Students gained an appreciation of natural communities and habitat dynamics through the study of marine and terrestrial flora and fauna on coral reefs, tropical rain forests, and cloud forests. The course also covered Panamanian cultures and the impact of humans on natural environments through the building of the Panama Canal and problems associated with tourism.
Dolo ’19 reflects on being first-gen at Farmington
Some 48 percent of students currently enrolled at UMF are the first in their families to attend college. With help from Johnson Scholars, a federally funded TRIO program at UMF that provides academic and personal support to students who are the first in their families to attend a four-year college, students who come from families with limited incomes, or students who have physical or learning disabilities, first-generation students find Farmington a welcoming place to pursue their academic and career aspirations.
“Being the first to graduate college means a lot not only to me, but to my families as well,” says Yamah Dolo ’19 of Providence, R.I., pictured in the University’s Spenciner Curriculum Materials Center. “It can be overwhelming to be first generation. Everyone expects so much from you, but with their encouragement and prayers, I can say that I am proud to be done with my undergraduate degree and looking forward to the next step in life.”
Dolo ’19 graduated on Saturday, May 11, with majors in psychology and early childhood special education. She will spend the coming year working for City Year in Manchester, N.H., and preparing to apply for graduate school.
Saulnier ’21 serves up sustainability in UMF’s South Dining Hall
AJ Saulnier ’21, a sustainability intern at Sodexo (the University’s dining services provider) and student leader of UMF’s Sustainable Campus Coalition, displays a tray of redfish caught in the Gulf of Maine.
“The fact that UMF has achieved the goal of obtaining 100 percent responsibly harvested white fish from the Gulf of Maine is an astounding accomplishment,“ says Saulnier of Wauregan, Conn., who is majoring in political science with a minor in legal studies. “By contributing to Maine’s economy, we are making it a better place for all of us to live. I hope we will continue to work with the different communities in Maine, and source as much food from nearby as we possibly can.”
By sourcing less well-known or under-loved species like pollock and redfish, UMF is helping to drive demand for a broader range of abundant, responsibly harvested species from the Gulf of Maine. This, in turn, diversifies fishermen’s options and helps build stronger economies in the state’s coastal communities. UMF pledged to commit to sourcing 20 percent of its food within 175 miles of campus by 2020, but has already met the goal by now sourcing 25 percent of its food locally.
Kimmel ’20 hones career-readiness skills through on-campus employment
More than 900 students annually develop critical communication, time-management, and executive functioning skills through on-campus employment opportunities at UMF. Among this year’s student employees is IT Help Desk staffer David Kimmel Jr. ’20 (left), shown assisting a classmate in Mantor Library.
“I learned people skills that are much more valuable than I think a lot of people really realize, and I learned how to handle stressful situations. Both have honestly helped me in the past with internships and other jobs I’ve had,” says Kimmel ’20 of Westbrook, Maine. “When it’s a busy day at the Help Desk, you also really learn how to multitask and make sure that you handle not only what’s going on around you, but also maintain communication with supervisors to make sure that if they need any help you can give them a hand.”
Forbes ’19 pens words on winter for National Haiku Day
Aislinn Forbes ’19, a creative writing and history double major from Andover, Maine, celebrated National Haiku Day by writing her very own, titled “Winter Manners”:
Though cold, I am still
your guest. Do not say goodbye
before I have left.
“Last week when it snowed, I was so angry,” said Forbes. “Then a friend said, ‘That’s just how it is in Maine,’ and I started thinking about how important winter is in this state. So many industries here rely on snow, and it’s so beautiful. So I wrote this Haiku, hoping people might not be so eager to dismiss winter.” (April 2019)
Odong ’19 shares his scholarship at 21st Michael D. Wilson Symposium
Alfred Odong ’19, a senior biology major from Portland, Maine, and Julia Daly, associate professor of geology, consider a poster presentation at the 21st Michael D. Wilson Symposium, a campus-wide showcase of original student research and creative work, held this year on April 24.
“I have spent fall and spring semesters working on a research project with my professor, Dr. Rachel Hovel, in which we investigated watershed and lake characteristics that structured Zooplankton communities of nine high-elevation lakes in Maine’s western mountains,” said Odong. “To share our research with the UMF community on Symposium day was the most rewarding feeling. I am grateful to have had the opportunity.”
Symposium gives students the opportunity to present their work in a professional setting through papers, oral and poster presentations, original student readings, art gallery exhibits, and performances. The day-long forum helps students gain experience with making public presentations and translating their knowledge to a broad audience.
“This treasured tradition never loses its excitement,” said Eric Brown, interim president at UMF. “It’s the culmination of close to a year’s worth of creative exploration and in-depth academic research by our students that raises the University’s collective intellectual well-being. I am always impressed by our students’ level of dedication to pursue new ideas and share what they’ve learned.” (April 2019 photo by Bob Bailie.)
Soucie ’19 interns at the Maine State Archives
Madeline Soucie ’19 of Auburn, Maine, has spent much of her final semester with Maine’s founding fathers who helped put the former district in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on the path to statehood nearly 200 years ago. A history major at UMF, Soucie is interning at the Maine State Archives, where she is poring over historical letters, journals, documents, and surveyor information to create an online index of original source material relating to the 1820 act that gave the Union its twenty-third state.
“They speak to me,” says Soucie of the archival documents. “It’s so important to not only know what happened historically but also why it happened, how people felt about it and what they decided to do about it. Being able to read their first-hand experiences is just like being there.” (March 2019)
Lotrian finds new perspectives in the complexities of the past
In Reacting to the Past taught by Assistant Professor of History Michael Schoeppner, Charles Lotrian contemplates his role as Otter Scraper during the Cherokee National Council meetings of the mid-1830s. In the role-play game, Lotrian and his classmates debated treaty stipulations among themselves and with federal officials, including President Andrew Jackson. The setting and individualized victory objectives require students to grapple with the economic, political, and social complexities of the era, while practicing writing, speaking, and negotiation skills.
“I am really surprised by how everybody, including myself, got caught up in the game,” says Lotrian, an exchange student from Le Mans, France. “Even outside of the class, a tiny part of our character stays in our everyday life. We keep thinking about our strategy, how to reconcile our interests with others’ in order to succeed.”
“From a faculty perspective, Reacting to the Past games provide students with a different perspective when examining historical documents and artifacts and incentivizes persuasive writing and speaking,” says Schoeppner. “Students are assigned historical roles at pivotal moments in history, and they have to try to realize the future that their historical roles sought.”
Later in the class, Lotrian, as Otter Scraper, shakes hands with Thomas Watson ’21, in the role of Principal Chief John Ross, after discussing a removal treaty to push the Cherokee Nation out of Georgia. (March 2019)
Lash ’19 and Clarke ’22 choreograph their conflict
Hope Lash ’19 (far right) of Waldoboro, Maine, and her scene partner Amanda Clarke ’22 of Southbury, Conn., practice a fight sequence they wrote and choreographed in a Commedia dell’Arte class taught by Instructor of Theatre Jayne Decker (far left). A course typically taught at the graduate level at other universities, Commedia dell’Arte is offered by Decker to UMF undergraduates as a key component of the theatre curriculum. Decker begins with a study of stock characters, physical performances, and improvisational style and adds work in stage combat and fight-scene choreography.
“Stage fighting is the truest test of an actor’s awareness of their body,” says Lash. “Throughout the class I have been learning my body and its movements in ways I was never conscious of. This new gained awareness of self has allowed me to do things I never thought possible, especially stage fighting. It takes serious control, and trust in your partner to convincingly appear as if you are hurting someone, or being hurt yourself.”
Hardy ’22 spends spring break learning gene editing techniques
Portia Hardy ’22 of Winthrop, Maine, spent her March spring break at the Mount Desert Island Biological Lab in Bar Harbor, attending a short course in genome engineering. Hardy and six other UMF students learned new gene editing techniques using a new tool that allows researchers to change a specific gene in an organism in order to determine its function.
“I was able to see firsthand what it would be like to have a job in a lab,” says the earth and environmental sciences major. “We were able to use really wonderful microscopes which I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.” (March 2019)