Student Feature: Stephen Riitano Making a Difference

Student Feature: Stephen Riitano Making a Difference

By Kaitlyn Polk, Contributing Writer 

UMF student Stephen Riitano. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

UMF student Stephen Riitano. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Stephen Riitano is a friendly face around UMF and is very excited to graduate in 2018 with a major in secondary education. Currently a CA in Mallet Hall, Riitano is also the vice president of Student Senate, president of Operation Giveback, and will be a Resident’s Assistant starting next year. He has a lot on his plate and continues to have a smile on his face while balancing his many involvements.

Being a CA makes him a familiar face around campus. “I call being a CA the fishbowl effect,” Riitano said. “You become a face on campus that everyone knows and goes to.” He strives to help all of his Mallet Hall residents so that they can be the best they can be.

Riitano has a passion for teaching and always has. “I have always wanted to be a teacher since 3rd grade,” Riitano said. He had his eyes set on UMF when he was in the eighth grade. “For years I have dreamed of coming to UMF,” Riitano said. Now that the end is so close, it is exciting to be finally in the profession.”

Before Riitano graduated from Bangor High School in 2015, he knew right away where he wanted to go next. “I decided to come to UMF based upon its esteemed reputation in teacher preparation,” Riitano said, “I came here my junior year for a tour and absolutely loved the campus and feel I got. I couldn’t wait to apply.” He loved the campus so much that he works as an Admissions Ambassador and gladly gives tours to incoming students and strives to make them love UMF as much as he does.

Riitano has had many impact on friends and students, including fellow Bangor High alum, Jake Harris. After both graduating high school in 2015, Riitano went on to college while Harris took a year off. Riitano knew UMF was a perfect fit for Harris and did his best to get him to apply.

“He told me how great the campus was, so I came here for a tour and fell in love with the place,” Harris said, “I would have never come to UMF without Stephen.” Harris is currently a freshman with a major in psychology.

Officer of Financial Affairs for Student Senate, Marshall Maxsimic, believes that Riitano is doing great things as well. They will be working together on the Eboard of Senate, and Maxsimic couldn’t be more excited. “Steve is really involved with a lot of things on campus so he brings a unique perspective,” Maxsimic said, “One example was Operation Give Back through SMEA, which was a huge success so I know that Steve gets results.” Operation Give Back is designed around a Create Grant that was given to the Student MEA last semester.

Two UMF Students Named Fulbright Scholars

Two UMF Students Named Fulbright Scholars

By Lindsay Mower – Staff Reporter

English majors at UMF Lauren Crosby and Sarah Gould were recently named recipients of the prestigious 2017 Fulbright Scholarship. This award having granted them the opportunity, they will both be teaching English abroad with Crosby traveling to Thailand in October and Gould heading to Mongolia in July.

English Teacher and Singer-Songwriter Lauren Crosby. (Photo Courtesy of Lauren Crosby)

Crosby will be teaching English 20 hours a week in a rural location while helping to create community activities with a focus on music and songwriting. “When I was a little girl, my Mum introduced me to my favorite album, ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon. ‘She moves so easily all I can think of is sunlight- I said aren’t you the woman who was recently given a Fulbright… I said who am I to blow against the wind?’” she recites while laughing, “I never really knew what a Fulbright was, but these lyrics enticed me to apply for one when the opportunity arose. Now, all these years later, here I am with a Fulbright English Teaching Fellowship in the country of Thailand… I can now be THAT woman Paul Simon wrote a song about 30+ years ago.”

Gould will be one of six students teaching English in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar at the National University of Mongolia. She chose Mongolia because when she was a homeschooled elementary student she had seen a film with Julia Roberts who lived with a nomadic family in Mongolia for several weeks during a lesson on Asia. “The beautiful culture and magnificent landscape really made an impression on me, and I always thought how incredible it would be to go there one day… When I decided to apply though, I thought back to Mongolia and figured this might be my best chance of seeing the country that had for many years fascinated me.”

Sarah Gould at the C’est le château d’Angers (Castle of Angers) in France. (Photo Courtesy of Sarah Gould)

Working extremely hard on the application and essays for nearly six months, Crosby says she owes much of her gratitude to two of UMF’s finest faculty members, Honors Program Director Eric Brown and History Professor Anne Marie Wolf, for aiding her with ideas, edits and questions. “I am forever grateful for their hard work and enthusiasm.”

Brown anticipates Crosby will have a fantastic time doing what she loves: educating herself and others in meaningful, exciting and intrepid ways. “Lauren’s a fantastic student, and a spectacular lyricist and musician, but she’s also incredibly industrious. Indeed, I think one of the most ingenious elements in her application was the way she knitted together her background as the daughter of a fisherman on a rural Maine island with similar ways of life in Thailand,” says Brown. “She has a remarkable turn of phrase in her essay, invoking what she calls the “gifts of isolation” —independence, self-motivation, a sense of adventure— that I think also speaks to her fit for international study and teaching… even if she had never left her small Maine island, those gifts prepared her to engage with the world authentically and without reservation.”

Beginning her application the third week of September, Gould had a non-traditional approach in completing the Fulbright application. “I emailed our campus Fulbright advisor Professor Wolf at the end of July inquiring about how to get started. I was surprised to learn that people had already been working since May,” she says, “I talked myself out of applying but the idea of it stayed in my head into the start of the school year.” When it came up in a meeting with her academic advisor, who suggested in all seriousness that she still have time to apply, Gould began completing the meticulous application in a frenzy. “My advisor said if I was willing to work like crazy she was willing to help me. In the end, I finished my Fulbright application to Mongolia in about two and a half weeks.”

Lauren Crosby with her father in hometown Georgetown, Maine. (Courtesy of Lauren Crosby)

Established in 1946, the Fulbright program offers a chance to increase mutual understanding between people around the world by providing financial opportunity to students in the United States. Crosby encourages all UMF students who have a thirst for adventure to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship.  “I had this preconceived idea that the only people who get Fulbrights are kids that come from wealthy or privileged backgrounds, students who are striving to be doctors, lawyers or business executives one day,” she says. “I come from a blue-collar saltwater family and a State University.”

Gould’s advice for students considering applying for a Fulbright is that it’s imperative to think hard about where you want to go. “It is easy to have these romanticized visions of a place, but you have to take into account things like climate, living conditions and whether you are able and willing to adapt to that for an extended period of time,” she said.

Though Crosby’s plans for after the Fulbright are up in the air and “they probably involve a beach house and a waitressing gig” she says she’s sure the memories and knowledge she’ll gain during her experience will shape her into a better human being and help build a beautiful cultural bridge between America and Thailand. “I’m extremely grateful and blessed to be accepted into this U.S Government funded program. If I continue to be a classroom teacher, I will be able to use this experience to connect with my future students,” she says, “I’m now a member of the Thai Fulbright Family and will be able to hold that with me for the rest of my life.”

Senior Feature: Community Health Education Major Ronie Morales

Senior Feature: Community Health Education Major Ronie Morales

Left to right, Asst. Professor of Community Health Kelly Bentley; Community Health Ed students Ronie Morales, Melissa Boulette, Rhiannan Jackson. (Photo Courtesy of UMF Website)

By Lindsay Mower, Staff Reporter

Ronie Morales, a familiar face and accomplished Community Health Education major on UMF’s tiny liberal campus, is worth getting to know before he graduates this May. Known for his optimistic and infectious attitude, along with his commitment to the enrichment of the Western Maine community, Morales is one of the class of Spring ‘17’s finest.

Last semester, as a student in the Resource Management and Grant Writing course taught by Community Health Education professor Kelly Bentley, Morales and a group of his classmates secured a $5,000 grant for the Farmington Homeless Shelter. Morales said that the process for obtaining the grant for the shelter located on the Wilton Road was arduous, but was made easier with the help of fellow classmates Zach Bonnevie, Melissa Sawyer-Boulette, Tasha DeRoche, Rhiannan Jackson and Ryan Rice.

The group of students collaborated with the Board of Directors from the Western Maine Homeless Outreach. “We negotiated that we would use the ‘Rent Smart’ program, which is basically an education system for the homeless people teaching them how to maintain permanent housing and how to be smart when it comes to financial aid,” said Morales.

Morales believes that growing up witnessing living conditions in disadvantaged neighborhoods and experiencing an array of communities and cultures has helped him to better understand the fundamentals of public health, especially the need for grant money in areas of poverty. He was born in Houston, Texas, where he lived for eight years before moving to Guatemala, and uprooting again to Long Island, New York where he would remain until graduating from high school in 2013.

Along with his passion for healthcare, Morales is also a talented soccer player. His large involvement in the sport is what brought him to UMF. Morales was picked up by UMF recruiters to play soccer here his freshman year after given a positive reference by Zachary Sathasivam, a Psychology Major and fellow soccer player who graduated from UMF in 2015.

During his first semester at UMF Morales switched his major to Community Health Education almost immediately, forming a relationship with Community Health Professor Maurice Martin as a mentor. It was these types of very real connections made in Farmington that made him fall in love with this community. Morales says, “I like the students, the professors and the locals here,” adding, “everyone is willing to help you if you’re down low… everyone knows who they are here. Farmington, to me, is more like a family.”

Sofia Vanoli, a Spanish Teacher’s Assistant at UMF, has nothing but good things to say about Morales’ character as a community member and as a student. Vanoli, who has had him in the classroom, affirms his great interest in soccer and the culture surrounding the passionate sport. Vanoli says, “We all enjoy Ronie’s sense of humor,” she adds, “He’s very motivated in class and it shows that he likes participating.”

With an outstanding belt of minors in coaching, nutrition and child and adolescence, Morales has several options on his horizon for what he can do to put his impressive degree to good use. He would like to coach soccer and track and field at the middle school and high school level, but he also dreams of working in a more professional setting as a community health program coordinator or taking on a position at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to build himself a more health-progressive career.

Morales says with a laugh that his future isn’t set in stone, though he plans to spend his Summer with family in South Carolina before returning to the Western Maine area to wrap up his internship this Fall. Given his resume, we can all be sure that Morales’ upcoming contributions to society will surely be good ones.

UMF Welcomes New Athletic Communications Director Cameron Eggeman

UMF Welcomes New Athletic Communications Director Cameron Eggeman

By Sarita Crandall, Contributing Writer 

UMF's new Athletics Communication Director Cameron Eggeman (Photo Courtesy of UMF Athletics)

UMF’s new Athletics Communication Director Cameron Eggeman (Photo Courtesy of UMF Athletics)

UMF has selected Cameron Eggeman for the position of the Athletic Communications Director that was vacant this fall. The position requires Eggeman to have extensive knowledge about many applications such as Photoshop and Adobe InDesign to name a few. Eggeman uses these applications to create one of a kind schedules, covers for game days as well as athlete specific Photoshop images.

“The stuff you see on our Instagram page, our Baseball Coach Chris Bessey makes those,” Eggeman said. “We try to communicate so we don’t put the same people on every image, get a variety of athletes.”

Eggeman has been at UMF for the majority of the Basketball season and made a unique cover for the “Play 4 Kay” game. The cover for this game did not have a spotlight player on the cover Eggeman clarified, “This game was a little different, it was the pink game and we had to advertise what Play 4 Kay is.”

Every sports team at UMF has a “pink game” where the athletes wear some item of pink to support breast cancer awareness. During the “Play 4 Kay” game money is donated and then collected to go to an organization that supports research for finding a cure.

Eggeman is originally from Rhode Island and the same area that UMF Softball player Alison Hamilton hails from. Hamilton notices that Eggeman is compatible with the staff within the athletic department. “I see him talking to the other coaches and the trainers, he seems to fit in really well,” said Hamilton.

Not everyone gets an internship within their college career, but Eggeman did when he was a freshman at St. Joe’s. It was part of a class assignment to help at a sporting event and Eggeman had originally missed his event due to a change of dates without his knowledge. So instead of working a field hockey game Eggeman announced stats for a basketball game. “For my class I had to have him (the Athletic Director) sign a piece of paper saying I was there and on the paper he wrote, ‘If you want a job come see me.’ So I said ‘okay!’” Eggeman recounted. He was the intern for the next three years.

Hamilton seems pleased with what Eggeman is doing for the athletes of UMF. She applauds him with creating new fresh images with the help of Bessey. “I mean they’re definitely new and it doesn’t look old, it’s relevant,” Hamilton said.

“I had played against his younger sister in softball, we were town rival towns,” said Hamilton, “He still wears the Middletown Blue and I’m like ‘take that off!’” Soon enough Eggeman will have more maroon in his closet than blue.

Eggeman has offered to any students at UMF to come visit him below Dearborn. “Always looking for help, can never have too much help especially in these offices. If anyone wants to learn a program, I’m all for it!”

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