By Charity Webster, contributing writer.
What do you know about the student sitting next to you? Has the student been here before? Can the student use Google Drive or Brightspace? Are they jumping hurdles daily just to be in class? Did they just receive a disturbing text as they entered class? Is the student playing a balancing act with non-student life and school? Maybe the student isn’t the typical student just out of high school and living on campus.
The non-traditional student always has a backstory of how and why the student has restarted or started at the given time. As a non-traditional student myself, my story is long and all over the place. I have never wanted to give up on my dreams though and always have been a hard worker. I feel my course was just derailed for a time. I found myself on a different road and successful in my social work career, but at a turning point in my life. When the road brought me back full-circle, I re-enrolled again in 2019 at UMF. Having been away from college for eighteen-plus years, I really had no idea what I was getting into when I started again. My life was in a totally different place than the average student and now I wanted to prove something to myself and to my family. I could do this!
The National Center for Education Statistics defines non-traditional students “as meeting one of seven characteristics: delayed enrollment into postsecondary education; attends college part-time; works full time; is financially independent for financial aid purposes; has dependents other than a spouse; is a single parent.”
Henry O’Shaughnessy is currently a non-traditional student at UMF and a sophomore in an Undeclared Liberal Arts Major. Even at his current state and being in college before, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, and being a part of the Americorp and Triple C, he still isn’t sure what he wants for a degree. He does know he wants to get an education and complete what he started almost 10 years ago. He too, has a story that has brought him back full-circle. O’Shaughnessy graduated from York High School and went to college right out of high school in a small town in Pennsylvania.
“College was a blast socially and academically, I was having a lot of fun. So much fun that I got kicked out not just once but twice. This was after I attended counseling to return to school but yet again got kicked out,” O’Shaughnessy said. Several months after being kicked out, O’Shaughnessy was in a major car accident as a passenger and broke his back in three different places. He lay there for several months in recovery. During that time he reflected and decided he wanted to give more of himself so he went into Americorp and Triple C for volunteering, traveled the country, and hiked the Appalachian trail. Now in his late 20’s ,he has decided to return to UMF and pursue a degree. “I had the realization of what I was going to do- I didn’t have a skill set or a degree. This is why I came back to get my degree so I can get a decent job and maintain the traveling lifestyle,” O’Shaughnessy said.
Both O’Shaughnessy and I face daily challenges in our choice to return to college, each of us have our own stories. Maybe the student sitting next to you is a non-traditional student, one with a more unorthodox set of problems. For example, having five children all with their own disabilities or working full time at an elementary school as a music teacher. Or my elderly mom and ill sister-in-law living with me and my mother-in-law living next door. Or that my husband and I are the Children’s Pastor at our church. So why take on the new challenge of going back to College when I seem to have a full life? Well something was unfinished and my new career path–my destiny of sorts– required it. So here I am!
O’Shaughnessy is a man in his 20’s who has been all over North America and South America volunteering and doing things for the communities that are struggling, working when he can, and has an amazing circle of friends and family- so why return to school now? Again, due to unfinished business and needing a sense of completion and success.
What does UMF offer the non-traditional student? What makes UMF more desirable over other colleges? “Well the cost was one of the biggest advantages, since I need to pay for it on my own and I have an apartment,” O’Shaughnessy said. Proximity and cost was definitely a factor for me. Also, there is a well-developed education program, and that is my degree focus. However, the number one factor for me was the support I received to help accomplish my goals and complete my degree fast. Stephen Davis and Lori Soucie are on my side, both advisors that have both spent hours reviewing my transcripts and my path projection. They have given me pointers on how to finish and meet the requirements for the Maine Department of Education and my degree focus. I had the task of meeting the degree program requirements and the Department’s requirements to get my Music Education Certification.
What are some advantages that non-traditional students may have? They tend to be more ready for what college sends their way. Homework isn’t such a challenge and time management is usually not a problem. UMF offers some unique things to the non-traditional student such as the option of daycare right on campus for your children. Also, as non-traditional students commute to and from campus in Maine winters, they offer students a place to stay for $5 a night on campus. You just need to contact Campus Security and they can hook you up. Finally, as a non-traditional student, you may face challenges daily but why not do that on a campus that has your back 100%?
By Charity Webster, contributing writer
(Photo Credit Melissa Pariziale) Melissa and her daughter Mia
Becoming an alumni is what every student wants, but often life throws curve balls at the student which changes the course of life and causes them not to complete the task. UMF has started an amazing opportunity for those students that have struggled to complete their degrees for one reason or another. A program called “Almost Alumni” helps these individuals finally finish their degrees.
Ashley Montgomery is the Assistant to the Dean, Learning and Assessment at UMF, and she is the driving force of Almost Alumni. She also chairs the academic success team which monitors and works with students who are struggling currently at UMF. These “Almost Alumni” individuals are having their transcripts reviewed. If it is possible to complete the degree they will support these individuals through the process.
In the beginning, when Montgomery was attending a meeting with others involved in upper-level education, she really had not put much thought into UMF having a large number of Almost Alumni or stop students (as they are called elsewhere). “Our numbers for adults (24+years old) is very minimal and the majority of the UMF population tends to be of a traditional age,” said Montgomery. Typically, more than half of a class finishes the degree in a normal college timeline. What happens to the rest of them? UMF has stepped up to find them and help support them through what is missing. They are committed to the success of the non-traditional student. They are even willing to pay fines and find resources to pay for books and other college expenses. “They will even research more local colleges for the student to make the transition and completion easier.” said Melissa Parziale, Graduate from Almost Alumni.
“Almost Alumni have delivered 20+ diplomas to students who never had the opportunity to finish their college degree over the last year, each time I was almost in tears from so much joy.” Montgomery said.
Montgomery has sifted through hundreds of past students and selected students that she is approaching to develop a plan to finish. When asked if there was financial support for these students, the answer was there are funds that can help Almost Alumni complete their projected course of study.
Melissa Parziale is one of those students who was approached by Montgomery and only needed two classes to graduate once they reviewed her transcripts and changed her major to General Education. “This phone call and opportunity came at the perfect moment in my life. During COVID, I had lost my job and I was training for Human Resource Management and Leadership, I was so shocked I was receiving an email saying I was close to finishing my Degree” said Parziale. Twenty-eight years after starting her degree at UMF, she finally finished her degree in July of 2021. She proudly hangs it on her wall in her office at a Dental Lab where she is the Director of Human Resources.
For some individuals, graduation is even easier than anticipated. “For some it might be just switching majors and immediately getting a diploma, and for others it might be just one class to completion” Montgomery said. There are a lot of students in the system who have a degree right now and don’t even know it, some just because they never applied for their diploma. Also, they may have been enrolled in the program a while back and the requirements have changed. “These are the easy diplomas,” said Montgomery.
“If I could tell everyone to go back and finish I would, it was what I always wanted to do and Ashley supported me through it every step of the way. Reach out to her and finish,” said Parziale. “I wanted my daughter to know that she can do anything and to never give up on your dreams.”
Contact Information: Almost Alumni Ashley Montgomery Assistant to the Dean, Learning and Assessment at UMF firstname.lastname@example.org
By Charity Webster, contributing writer
The current pandemic has really made UMF have to think outside the box in the sense of student body activities. This challenge has been extremely difficult due to the past and current restrictions on the students gathering together. Mainely Outdoors (MO) has great programs that students can be involved in and stay socially distanced without a mask. They offer so many COVID-friendly options at no cost to the students. If hiking is your game or if you like snowshoeing in the winter, Mainely Outdoors has you covered.
“We have all types of ability trips, beginner’s trips are the place for someone to learn something new” said Sam Shirley, Student Leader and Kat Robinson, Program Supervisor.
Mainely Outdoors was founded by James Toner, a man who loved the outdoors and wanted to bring that to the UMF student body. He was passionate about this club and the great state of Maine’s outdoor activities. Since then he has passed on this passion to other students like Sam Shirley.
“Sam is currently the passion of MO and why MO is so active at this time, he is the one to continue to drive the club, we are very thankful for the time and effort that Sam put in during COVID and keeping the program alive” Assistant Director of the Fitness and Recreation Center Allison Thayer said.
Shirley clears the paths and lawns at Prescott Trails, maintains the trails all year long, and is currently training Robinson to replace him after he graduates. He has been with MO since his Freshman year. He grooms the cross country trails, and preps and leads the weekly mountain biking trip. You can rent equipment of your choice at MO at no cost to you as long as you agree to return the equipment in a timely manner.
James Toner passed away in 2018, and his legacy lives on through Mainely Outdoors. His scholarship is given to a sophomore who demonstrates a passion for the outdoors and is in a related major. “This is a substantial and giving scholarship for students who may be in the Outdoor Program at UMF.” said Robinson
Activities that MO offers includes canoeing trips, kayaking, camping, mountain biking, and hiking. Winter is fast approaching and they will soon offer snowshoeing, hiking, rock climbing, cross country skiing, indoor ice skating, and some downhill ski trips.
“Leading hiking trips is Robinson’s favorite part about MO, and it’s getting a “bit chilly” for boating but they do rent canoes and kayaks.” said Robinson.
“The most popular activity is coming up November 13, to spend the day at Acadia National Park,” said Shirley. On this day trip to Acadia, they will take a driving tour through part of the park, stop at a variety of roadside stops, and do a few short hikes (< 3 miles). This trip is provided at no cost to students, and they provide the transportation! Be sure to register soon to reserve your spot as this is a popular trip.
Additionally, whenever there is a full moon, Robinson leads a local full moon hike.
Find information on the James Toner Scholarship by visiting the website: https://www.umf.maine.edu/alumni/the-james-toner-memorial-scholarship-fund/ Go to Mainely Outdoors Facebook page and LIKE it, to find out more on upcoming events! Mainely Outdoors is located at 114 Quebec St. Farmington, Maine or call 207-778-7373
By Charity Webster, Contributing Writer.
Halloween is just around the corner with so many fun things to do this holiday season. What peaks your interest? Is it to dress up, go to a party, or just eat a bunch of candy? Maybe you want to have a marathon of scary films or hang out with your friends at a haunted house or hayride? Maybe all of the above!
The holiday brings a whole world of mystery and fun. Did you know that you originally had to dance for your “treat”? Or that Halloween used to be a great day to find your soulmate? Studies have shown that the holiday actually makes kids act more evil, and that a full moon on Halloween is extremely rare. What’s next? Farmington is full of spookiness too. Some people believe the ghost of Lillian Nordica haunts the halls of Merrill. Whatever your fancy, there is so much to do this season in Farmington and right on campus! Check out below:
All year around:
The point of this club is for its members to come together under the enjoyment of the horror genre in all of its forms, including but not limited to: film and television, literature, role playing, and video games. In addition to an appreciation and discussion of all of the above, the club intends to work on its own agendas for events to involve both the UMF student community as well as the community of Farmington and the surrounding towns. Meetings are Wednesdays at 8pm. Contact Paul Gies, the faculty advisor, at email@example.com
October 7th from 7-9pm
“Mission Imagination” Electric Violin Concert and Discussion. Led by Electro-acoustic violist and David Bowie Collaborator Martha Mooke, this event is a concert and discussion of Bowie’s work and creative process. Free at the Emery Community Arts Center
Oktoberfest at Saddleback Maine. Visit their website for more details: https://www.saddlebackmaine.com/event/oktoberfest/
October 20th from 7pm-9pm
Full Moon Hike put on by University of Maine Farmington
“Get out and Horror Soundtracks” by Aaron Wyanski, composer, pianist, and Assistant Professor of Music Composition UMF. According to the New Commons Project page: “critical exploration of soundtrack of horror fills over the last century”
October 29th from 4pm-6pm
Trunk or Treat Put on by the Rotaract club 4pm-6pm. A safe place to bring your kiddos trick or treating! Located in the parking lot behind the Fusion Center.
October 22 & 23, and 29 & 30th
Haunted House at the Farmington Fairgrounds. Fright Nights 7pm-10pm, $20 admission fee. If Halloween is your scare come check us out! According to Mainehauntedhouses.com: “Join us for this mind blowing, never before seen Halloween event! Three separate terrifying haunted houses in one location, one ticket to rule them all!… FREE Parking! Beer and Cider for those over 21. Vendors! Food! Axe throwing!”
This event is also looking for Volunteers, and benefits The United Way of the Tri Valley Area as well as Titcomb Mountain.
Visit the Apple Orchards in the area all through the month of October!
Pick your own pumpkins and apples, enjoy some goodies, hayrides, and corn mazes
Morrison Hill Orchard from 12pm-4pm Daily
Pick your own apples or pumpkins or pick up some fresh pressed cider.
Boothby’s Orchard and Farm from 10am-5pm Daily
A unique experience to the area that includes wine tasting made from their apples and their grapes. Also come pick your own apples and pumpkins.
Ricker Hill Orchards from 9am-6pm Daily
Pick your own apples and pumpkins, play a round of disc golf, and pick up some of their famous apple cider donuts.
By Charity Webster, Contributing Writer.
The New Commons Project in collaboration with the Maine Humanities Council is facing the end of its five year grant this spring, at which point the public humanities initiative will be forced to adapt or conclude. The New Commons Project is a humanities initiative that brings cultural works to UMF.
“At this point we don’t know what the post-grant future will look like, but I am very hopeful that someone will want to build on the success of the New Commons Project and apply for a follow-up grant,” Co-director and co-author for the grant Kristen Case said.
Case has been with the project from the beginning. The total budget for the grant which was provided by the Mellon Foundation was $500,000. The grant was used to hire project coordinators Dr. Stephen Grandchamp and Dr. Erika Rodriguez. Other expenses included paying visiting scholars and artists who come to campus events.
“Part of the intent of the grant is to bring world-class speakers and performers to the area, giving both students and community members opportunities to engage cultural works in ways they wouldn’t otherwise be able to in a small, rural town,” Case said. “We wanted to do something to foster the sense of the university as a resource not only for students but also for the wider community.”
The project has provided avenues for community engagement and opportunities for individuals to come together and have otherwise difficult conversations in a safe place. She said they are extremely proud specifically about the conversations the New Commons Project has fostered around race, immigration, and Indigenous history. Each month they feature one of the 24 cultural works that were proposed by students, faculty and members within the community.
“The hope is to continue it not exactly as it is but in some capacity when the grant runs out” said Co-Director, Stephen Grandchamp.
Currently with The New Common Project and Co-Sponsored with Emery Hall is a cultural work called Reimagining Real. UMF assistant professor of Visual Arts Ann Bartges and Emery director Kristen Case curate “a broad survey of artworks by local and nationally-recognized artists engaging the legacy of realism in the 21st century, continuing, complicating or contesting this tradition.” (Found on the Emery Community Arts Page). This exhibition is free and open to the public till October 21st. Also coming soon are workshops on artist Andrew Whyeth and his painting “Christina’s World”
All events are free and open to the public. https://newcommonsproject.org for more information.