By Sara Pinette Contributing Writer
Drew Kelso, a Senior and double major in Actuarial Science and Math, will spend his last semester of undergraduate studies at the University College of Cork in Spring 2019 with a full scholarship from the George Mitchell Peace Foundation.
The scholarship was created after George Mitchell brokered peace between Northern and Southern Ireland in 1996. Kelso received the scholarship in late February of 2018 and was almost in a state of shock as he read the email notifying him of the news.
“I remember being so ecstatic,” said Kelso, grinning from ear to ear recalling the moment. “ I kept thinking about what a great chance this was for me to travel to a new place and all of the potential experiences and learning opportunity.”
Kelso accomplished many things at UMF which made him an ideal candidate for the competitive scholarship, as it awards only one student in the entire UMaine system each semester, full tuition and expenses to study in Ireland.
In addition to attending and assisting almost every men’s basketball practice and game since he was a Freshman while being student assistant for the team, he also has also been a supplemental instructor and tutor for a philosophy class. Additionally, Kelso founded and became the president of the Actuarial club on campus all while maintaining high distinction honors all 6 semesters that he has been at UMF.
In addition to participating in community service, Kelso has practiced and developed leadership skills through his three internships at insurance companies across the country by taking on many roles and working with different teams.
Kelso has been gearing up for his time in Ireland by planning the logistics of his trip such as classes and finances. “I want to enjoy each moment as they come and not have to worry about any of the boring things,” said Kelso.
“ It feels great to be a George Mitchell Scholar,” said Kelso in a confident and enthusiastic tone. “ I am very excited to study abroad and explore Ireland and some of Europe. I’m also grateful for all of the opportunities that this scholarship has presented me with.”
Kelso has traveled to countries connected to the United States such as Mexico and Canada and has cruised in sections of the Caribbean but has never traveled to Europe. He has been interested in traveling abroad since he was a freshman but was not able to because of financial restrictions and says, “This is a dream come true for me.”
He has also been researching the University and the country in order to understand the Irish culture he will be immersed in for four and a half months.
His interest in the scholarship began about a year ago in November of 2017 when he went to a presentation where he heard a now alum, Lindsay Gorman, speak about her experience as a George Mitchell Scholar and her time in Ireland. Gorman graduated in the spring of 2018 and is now volunteering with a nonprofit in Guayaquil, Ecuador teaching English to students who live in poverty.
“ I can definitely credit my experience in Ireland that gave me the confidence to take this opportunity,” said Gorman in an online interview. “I gained a lot of confidence in myself through my time there. I ran into some minor problems (trying to find out what building to turn my paper into, missing my flight from Paris to Dublin, etc.) but I learned how to problem solve.”
Kelso also has plans to travel in other parts of Europe but he has a list of places he wants to visit in Ireland including the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, and Blarney Castle. While visiting these tourist attractions, he also plans to truly dive into the culture and make lasting connections with students, faculty, and locals in Cork, Ireland.
“ I’m looking forward to meeting people not only from Ireland but from all across the globe while I stay in the international student dormitory,” said Kelso. “ I think I will have a lot of opportunities to do so on campus by participating in clubs, meeting people through classes, and other events.”
Gorman mentions that she made lasting friendships during her semester in Ireland. “I made some great friendships that came out of it. I now have friends all over Europe, and one of my former roommates is still a best friend of mine to this day,” said Gorman. “The best part about studying at UCC was definitely the connections I made.”
Kelso will leave for Cork, Ireland on January 6, 2019, and will return to the U.S. the week of graduation in hopes to make it back in time to graduate with his friends and peers of UMF.
“ At UCC they have a much bigger campus so I will miss the close-knit community and small family vibe been here at UMF that has enabled me to make great connections,” said Kelso. “However, Ireland presents a lot of opportunities to learn and grow and as a person.”
For those interested in finding out more about the George Mitchell Peace Scholarship, they can go to https://www.us-irelandalliance.org/mitchellscholarship to get information about the award and apply.
Claudia Intama is proud to be a first-generation college student at UMF (Photo courtesy of Andrea Sweidom)
On November 8th, confetti rained down over Mantor Green as First-Gen Celebration Day began. Sponsored by UMF’s Johnson Scholars program, the celebration consisted of commemorative flag-making in Olson Student Center, trivia in the Landing, and concluded in Roberts where students stood on stage and shared their experiences of being the first in their family to attend college. Faculty members and former first-generation college students John Messier and Nick Koban both spoke at the event.
“It was liberating, a celebration of things why often try to hide. It was great, being proud of our identity,” said Claudia Intama.
“Sometimes first-gen students don’t feel like they belong. They arrive on campus faced with barriers that other students don’t have. The celebration reminds them that they belong,” said Lynn Ploof-Davis, director of TRIO programs at UMF.
Ploof-Davis also manages Johnson Scholars, which serves 180 UMF students who are the first in their family to attend college. Her department provides advising, support, cultural opportunities, graduate school trips, and other programs to help those students thrive throughout their four years; students also attend an annual conference to share their experiences with other Johnson Scholars students from across New England.
The program has a dedicated study lounge in Franklin Hall, where older Johnson Scholars students work as peer-advisors for other students in the program. Student employees also played a key role in setting up the event, where they also manned several booths in Olson where students could make DIY pins expressing that–at least from what this reporter saw–they are #firstgenproud.
“I work with both high school and college students,” said Ploof-Davis. “[I prepare high school students to go to college after graduation and college students to be prepared [when they graduate.]” Ploof-Davis’s favorite aspect of her job is helping one group enter and the other leave–both at the same time.
The annual First-Gen Celebration commemorates the authorization of the Higher Education Act signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. The bill funded programs to increase the financial aid given to students pursuing higher education as part of the administration’s War on Poverty, while also creating Federal TRIO programs to recruit and retain students from low-income families.
UMF has two TRIO programs: Johnson Scholars and Upward Bound. Ploof-Davis oversees both. Her work with Upward Bound takes her to 18 target high schools, where she engages students in the college application process while reinforcing good study habits and life skills that will help them on their way.
By Grace McIntosh Contributing Writer
Several members of UMF’s community, including both faculty and students, casted their votes on November 6th, to decide the fate of Question 4, which directly institutes $8.5 million in renovations on UMF’s campus.
Isaac Michaud, treasure of the UMF college Republicans, wrote in an email sent on the day of the election,“Question 4 is an unprecedented investment that would be a real game-changer for our campus.” The bond is set to renovate Olsen Student Center, upgrade residence halls, Merrill, Ricker Addition and Mantor Library, as well as assist in building a new Swett-Winter Education Center according to Michaud’s email.
Laurie Gardner, Chief Business Officer, said renovations will be taking place soon. “Studies and planning will begin immediately and we hope to break ground next year on as many of the projects as possible,” said Gardner.
Gardner said that the changes being made to campus will create a different atmosphere after the projects are completed. “The investment will enhance space and make much needed infrastructure upgrades that will improve campus facilities,” said Gardner. “The improvements will substantially improve the quality of space on campus and living environments.”
Students also expressed their hopes of future improvements on campus. Emma Casey, a first year student, voted yes on Question 4 and would like to see renovations take place in older residence halls especially.
“Purrington and Mallet are definitely dated and need to be modernized a bit,” said Casey.
Freshman Mckenna Lockwood thinks that updates will benefit residence halls as well. “Mallet is such a beautiful building and I wish that it was more wheelchair accessible. There is no elevator,” said Lockwood. “The wooden stairs gave me a splinter and contain a lot of graffiti on them.”
Lockwood also said that she was surprised the money wasn’t being used to increase parking availability on campus. “The parking lot behind the fitness center is really far away, I wish there was one closer to my dorm.”
Although senior Brandon Cardona will have graduated by the time renovations take place, he still voted yes. “I would love to see Merrill touched up a little bit. It’s old aesthetic is dope however, the classrooms could definitely be modernized,” said Cardona.
Some students hope that the bond will bring sustainable changes to campus. “I would love to see the dorms and other building, upgraded to have solar panels on the roofs,” said first year student Corbin Bouchard.
Nik Peterson, a first year psychology major, said that he hopes for better seats in the lecture auditoriums. “The Weird bending-swiveling ones [chairs] are terrible to sit in for long periods of time,” said Peterson.
In an email titled “A Happy Day”, Interim President Eric Brown wrote from Morocco with his gratitude for the passing of Question 4. “My deepest thanks to all of you for your support, promotion, and enablement of the state bond,” said Brown. “And special gratitude to the students who voted in town yesterday, as well as those who supported them. It’s a fine hour and worth a long celebration. I look forward to joining in that in person soon.”
The last times that campus has received renovations were updating the snack bar and cafe in 2017 as well as the construction of the biomass plant in 2016.
By Andrea Swiedom Contributing Writer
On election day, students saw Farmington
Professor Sarah Hardy in her “emergency voter suppression” poncho (Photo by Andrea Swiedom)
community member Bill Crandall, who set up a sign outside of the polls at the Farmington Community Center. Given Crandall’s professional setup, there has been controversy as to whether Crandall was posing as a poll official to intimidate young, first-time voters.