Travel Opportunities with the National Student Exchange

Travel Opportunities with the National Student Exchange

Andrea Swiedom, Staff Reporter

    The National Student Exchange (NSE) provides UMF students with the unique opportunity to study at different campuses in the U.S. and surrounding territories, such as Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada for a semester or full year. Students choose their top three campuses from the list of participating institutions and are accepted based on placement availability. 

    What makes NSE alluring is the program’s affordability, as Lynne Eustis, Assistant Director of Global Education, explained in an email. “Students pay their normal tuition and fees to UMF, and do not pay tuition to the host school,” she said. “Room and board are paid directly to the host school. Financial aid can be used for this exchange program.”     

    UMF senior Darby Murnane studied for the Fall 2018 semester at the State Univeristy of New York at Potsdam (SUNY), and was able to apply all of her scholarships and grants towards the exchange tuition. The ability to apply her financial aid towards SUNY was integral to her decision to participate in the NSE program. 

    She had been considering transferring to another school, but her impressive financial aid package from UMF made her feel obligated to stay. “I started shopping around, and when I heard about the NSE program I thought it was a way to transfer without commitment,” Murnane said.

    For senior Zoe Stonetree, NSE was a means to visit a place that has always intrigued her. “I got an email,” Stonetree said excitedly. “The title of the email read, ‘you can go to Alaska.’ I had already been thinking about Alaska, so I took it as a sign, as silly as that sounds.”

    Stonetree spent the Fall 2018 semester at the University of Alaska Southeast, in the southeastern capital city of Juneau, Alaska. While there, she took an environmental science course with a lab that included a conference on marine mammalogy, to fulfill a general education requirement. She also took a creative writing course that counted towards her creative writing major, and some endemic courses like backpacking in Alaska.

    “We had a bear safety course, learned how to use a compass and what kind of equipment is necessary, and we had a couple of overnight trips,” Stonetree said.

    Over the years, Eustis has seen students use this exchange program for a variety of purposes. “Students participate in NSE for many different reasons. . . to take classes not available at UMF, broaden their education perspective, pursue research, field studies, internship opportunities, investigate graduate schools, and make connections in a new job market,” Eustis said.

    Ultimately for Stonetree, experiencing all that Alaska had to offer was more important to her than the university, but for Murnane, the courses at SUNY were her main motivators for choosing NSE. “I had discovered that journalism was what I wanted to do,” Murnane said. “They just had more journalistic resources for me to test out.”

    While at SUNY, Murnane took courses in magazine writing and mass media, and worked as a staff reporter for the school newspaper. She was very involved with her temporary campus during her time there, participating in swing dancing, mixed martial arts, the school’s radio station as well as working as a lifeguard and swim instructor. Murnane enjoyed SUNY’s vibrant campus life and a change in environment that even included an emphasis on healthy, fresh food.

    “There were three places where I could get pasta sauteed to order! Oh my god, the tortellini,” Murnane said, waving her hand in the air. “They didn’t have a third-party food company; they cooked everything in-house. They even had salad greens growing under UV lights in the dining hall!”

    Despite Murnane’s positive experience at SUNY and decadent dining, she realized that UMF was where she wanted to be, which is also what junior Megan Scheckells realized after her NSE year. 

    Scheckells originates from Kansas City, KS, and was attending Emporia State University when she applied to UMF for the 2018-2019 academic year through the NSE program. “I thought, I am just going to do this for a year to test the waters and try out life someplace new,” Scheckells said.

    Much like Stonetree’s reason for choosing Alaska, Scheckells chose UMF because she had always felt drawn to Maine. “I feel like a lot of people just have that state that they want to go to, and they don’t have a specific reason why,” Scheckells said.

    During Scheckells’ NSE year at UMF, she built unique and important bonds with people, which she attributed to NSE’s requirement that exchange students live on-campus. “I never intended to take the dorm option, but I think they want to create a community, ” Scheckells said. “In the long run, I think it was good.”

    Stonetree also attributed the connections she made in Juneau to NSE’s dorm requirement, which inevitably puts students in touch with other NSE exchange students. “I did feel pretty comfortable pretty quickly,” Stonetree said. “There was a big group of NSE people, so it was pretty easy for me to fall into that group.”

    While Scheckells spent her first year in Maine, she grew enamored with the close proximity to outdoor activities compared to Kansas, and she went on her first hike to Bald Mountain. “You’re just not surrounded by the woods and mountains [in Kansas] the same way you are here.”

    Scheckells was also impressed by the discussion-based English courses offered at UMF, and as her exchange year came to an end, she felt very strongly about staying. “There was a lot to think about just with my family missing me and money-wise, because the flights to and from Kansas are a lot of money,” Scheckells said. “Quite frankly, the biggest reason for me moving to Maine was because I made a lot of genuine connections.”

    NSE was also such a positive experience for Stonetree that she considered extending her semester into a year long exchange in Juneau, but was ultimately happy to return to Maine. “I noticed that once I came back from Juneau I was way more into Farmington. I had much more of a desire to be a part of the community,” Stonetree said, pausing to articulate herself. “I have more awareness in general about Maine and what it’s like as a place, because having lived nowhere else I didn’t really know what was particular about living in Maine.”

    NSE brought a new perspective to all three students, allowing for a greater appreciation of Maine and UMF. Even so, they all confirmed that they would eventually move on to pursue opportunities in other places. Scheckells wants to go into publishing and plans on moving out of Maine for a job or internship in the future. Stonetree is still exploring her options after graduation. Murnane will be starting graduate school at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland in the fall of 2020. 

    If students are interested in participating in NSE for the Fall 2020 semester, Eustis urges students to contact her immediately as the application deadline is April 1. For more information, students can visit the NSE website ( and request an advising session with Eustis ( through the google form: (

#UMFReadtoME Event Connects the Farmington Community

#UMFReadtoME Event Connects the Farmington Community

Taylor Burke Contributing Writer

    Recently UMF faculty, students and community members participated in the UMF Read to ME event at W.G. Mallett School, where volunteers read to the elementary students as part of a state education initiative.

    The Read to ME event is a state-wide challenge from the Department of Education that asks people to read to children for at least 15 minutes and post a picture or video of them reading with #ReadtoME in the caption to celebrate and spread a love of literacy to children across Maine. 

    Literacy Education Professor Kathryn Will was one of the primary organizers of the UMF Read to ME event at Mallett School. Once the volunteers arrived in the cafeteria, Will explained some logistics and how the volunteers would be split up amongst the students. 

    Shortly after, an announcement came over the intercom informing students that the guest readers were on their way to the classrooms. With that, the volunteers filed out the doors and scattered into the hallways. 

    Kaden Pendleton, a junior education major, read to a group of kindergarteners. He sat on a bench at the end of a hallway and students gathered around him with eager eyes. As he turned the pages, the kindergarteners were in awe of the illustrations displayed. 

    Pendleton is passionate about literacy and the connections between schools and their communities, which makes him an active supporter of the Read to ME event. “It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “Everybody should read to children.” 

    When he heard about the need for volunteers for the event, he jumped on the opportunity. “Reading to children is so important,” he said. “They want to hear the stories that you have to tell them. Even if it’s a book they’ve heard before, it’s a different voice.” 

    Classrooms were buzzing with students eager to meet and listen to their guest readers. Principal Tracy Williams observed this as she circulated throughout the building. “The kids are really excited and attentive,” she said. 

Kaden Pendleton reading to children. Photo Courtesy of Ryan Mastrangelo.

   She sees the event as a positive literacy experience. “I think it’s good for kids to see other community members and college students and adults from out in the community who they see acting on reading and really enjoying it,” she said. 

    Williams helped organize Read to ME at the Mallett School, but attributes much of the leg work to Will, who sent out a call for readers throughout the community and created an online page where volunteers could sign up to attend. She looked at the page the night before the event and only had 14 volunteers. However, the next day she had 39 people coming in to volunteer. This made the organization a little tricky due to the quick logistic changes that needed to be made on the day of the event. 

    This is Will’s fourth year organizing the event. She hopes that students and volunteers find joy and delight in participating. Will explained that the moments students have with readers aren’t complex but have a positive impact. “You can make the difference in the life of a child in reading to them for 15 minutes,” she said. 

    One of Will’s favorite parts of the event is the connections that can be made between people and the community. She described an experience at the event when a teacher showed interest in having Will return to read to her class. “I love those moments where people have opportunities to connect with ways in which they can contribute to the community,” she said. “And that’s the whole point of Read to ME.”

Students in Psychology Class Use Mentoring as Extra Credit or Exam Replacement

Abbie Hunt Contributing Writer

    Sophomore Kolby Boulgier and Freshman Brenna Saucier are replacing their exams in PSY 235: Introduction to Counseling with the experience of mentoring elementary school students. Boulgier is mentoring a young girl through the Lunch Buddy program and at W.G. Mallett Elementary School once a week and Saucier is taking a different route and mentoring a little boy at the pool every week.

    Dan Seabold, a professor of psychology and the Intro to Counseling class instructor, encourages students to use volunteering in the Mount Blue School system as an opportunity to practice the skills they are learning in class. “I have always believed that it’s important for students to gain professional experience,” he said. “We can’t build confidence without real experience.” 

    Seabold allows students to use their mentoring experience as a grade booster or extra credit. “[Students] can use the grade from this to replace an exam,” he said. 

    He believes that the application of working with real people is more beneficial than just remembering information for a test. “Application helps with retaining skills and knowledge,” he said. He requires students who are choosing to mentor a student through a program such as the Lunch Buddies to keep a reflection journal on their own insights and questions. 

    Not only is this helping psychology students gain real life experience, they are making a difference in a child’s life in addition to helping them grow. “It gives these kids a sense of self-esteem and value,” Seabold said. “It gives them developmental assistance in a non-threatening way,”

    Seabold sees the impact of this mentorship in the way the kids look forward to meeting with their mentors. “They want their mentor,” he said. It makes other students who do not have a mentor also want one.

    When Boulgier first heard that participating in the Lunch Buddy program could be an exam replacement, she applied to be a Lunch Buddy through the Mallett Elementary School. “I didn’t hear [back] for four weeks,” she said. “I was very nervous I would have to take an exam.”

   Boulgier laughed and put her hands to her face as she explained her first encounter with a group of elementary school teachers. “I went to the second floor and instead of turning right, I went straight,” she said. “I walked past a room full of teachers.” She ended up having to interrupt a meeting to ask for directions to her buddy’s classroom. 

    When Boulgier finally met the student she would be mentoring, there was an instant liking to one another. “She’s adorable,” she said. “She’s like me when I was a kid.” 

    After the introductions, Boulgier and her buddy set out for the cafeteria to eat lunch, where they met more enthusiastic and eager Mallett students. “They were telling stories to me non-stop,” Boulgier said. “They were so excited and they kept talking about Minecraft.”

    At recess, the young girl led Boulgier around the playground to show her the slides and monkey bars. “You’re making bonds with kids, and they’re going to tell you everything,” Boulgier said.

    Instead of mentoring a student through the Lunch Buddy program, Saucier got permission to work with a young boy taking swimming lessons at the pool because it fit into her schedule better, and as she already a certified Water Safety Instructor. “It is very nice to take an hour a week and just separate from the world to work with a kid,” she said in an email interview. “He and his parents were some of my favorite people so they wanted to continue lessons and then we coordinated doing this project. He is one of the cutest kids I know.” 

    Saucier wants to be a good influence on the boy, and she appreciates watching him gain more confidence as she works with him on different skills. “He is super sweet and is so active. He is always happy and can always make himself laugh and I am fascinated by him,” she said. 

    To become a Lunch Buddy and learn more about the program, go to

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Social at UMF for Bernie Sanders

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Social at UMF for Bernie Sanders

Brooke Valentin Contributing Writer

     In the midst of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, popular ice cream makers Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, of Ben and Jerry’s, recently visited campus to host an ice cream social in support of Sanders’ campaign. 

    The event was hosted by the UMF College Democrats in the Landing. Kurtis Morton, Democrats president, was contacted by Representative Ben Collings, of Maine District 42, who is the head of Sanders’ campaign in Portland, about hosting an ice cream social for students to learn more about the campaign. “Ben emailed me last minute and asked if we would be interested in hosting an ice cream social about Bernie Sanders campaign,” Morton said. “We thought it would be a good idea for Bernie supporters.” 

    Collings kicked off the social by discussing his role in the campaign and its importance to him before introducing Cohen and Greenfield. Cohen said, “Before Bernie, Jerry and I used to be the most famous guys from Vermont, but we’re really happy to turn that title over to Bernie. Ice cream is good but a President of the United States who truly believes in justice in all its flavors is euphoric.”

     Ben and Jerry’s has become well known as a politically motivated company, both Cohen and Greenfield having been arrested at a Democracy Spring protest in April 2016, rallying against the influence of money in politics. Their website outlines a variety of issues the company has stances on including climate justice, refugees, LGBTQ+ rights, racial justice and GMO labeling. 

Brooke Valentin with Ben and Jerry. Photo Courtesy of Brooke Valentine.

    Though the Ben and Jerry’s company claims no political affiliations, both Cohen and Greenfield are loud and proud about their personal support for Sanders, the ice cream being only a courtesy. “I’ve been thinking lately about the Pledge of Allegiance strangely enough. It’s something we all said everyday in public school. The pledge ends with ‘and justice for all,’” Cohen said at the social. “It’s about equality and fairness, but then you get out into the real world and realize that this isn’t true. Bernie believes in justice for all, he believes that the country should be based on love, compassion and generosity.” 

     Greenfield then took the mic to talk about the importance of voting. He said, “A whole bunch of people who don’t normally vote in democratic primaries have to get out and vote in democratic primaries.” 

    According to an article by the Pew Research Center, as of Nov. 2016 there were about 245.5 million people in the U.S. of voting age, but only 157.6 million who were registered. To impress the importance of getting out and voting, Cohen urged students at the social to consider their priorities come election day, that they may have weigh going on a date over going to the booth. But when one student called from the crowd, “Bring your date to the booth!” Cohen called back, “Yes! Bring your date to the booth! Do it in the booth for Bernie!” 

    “It’s wonderful to see all of you here and to feel the energy here. This is what it’s going to take to bring about a political revolution,” Greenfield said. “There’s nothing Ben and I would rather do then come out and scoop ice cream for Bernie supporters.” 

    Students interested in the College Democrats can find the club at meetings every Tuesday from 6 p.m.-7 p.m. in the Roberts room 103, or follow the club on Instagram @umfdems.

UMF Women’s Basketball Team Holds Head High Despite Championship Loss

Samantha LeBeau Contributing Writer

    The UMF Women’s Basketball team had a successful season overall, despite recently losing to Husson during the North Atlantic Conference Championship (NAC) game. This year’s outcome leaves the team with a somewhat disappointed, but determined mindset as the season comes to an end and they look towards the future.

    The women’s team traveled to Husson for the weekend to play at Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) and Husson for the NAC Championship title. In the NAC final four, UMF faced MMA winning 70-63, then challenged Husson for the title, losing 70-60. 

    The team finished in fifth place last year in the NAC. This year, however, they stood in third.Every season is different and we will face new challenges a year from now,” Head Coach Jamie Beaudoin said. “Our group is certainly excited about the opportunity to see if we can take the next step and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament.” 

     Although Husson was undefeated this year, UMF anticipates a fight for the title in the next season. 

    Beaudoin, who has been head coach for 20 years, reflects on the progress from last season. “We made improvements in our record from a year ago, but we also raised our level of competition,” he said. “Improved players and giving our best effort in practice led us to be more prepared for our games.” 

    Assistant Coach Noah Carroll said, “The girls played really well this weekend and throughout our playoff run. I think they really hit their stride, and the shots started to fall this weekend at a high percent.” 

    This left Carroll with high hopes and expectations for next season. Despite the loss to Husson, “I would say our season went really well,” Carroll said. “We doubled our wins and made it to the championship game, which the program hasn’t done since 2007, I believe.” 

    Beaudoin believes that the girl’s determination to improve is going to carry the team to next year’s NAC Championship, “We must have a great summer with individual development, and return to campus in the fall hungry for success,” he said. “Next year we’ll have sixteen girls returning in hopes to get back to the NAC Championship and to win.”

    First year player Samantha Creech said, “We beat MMA for the first time this season, after losing to them twice in the regular season.” She said, “No one gave up during that game and that is what helped the team win.” 

    Many fans from Farmington traveled to Husson to support their home team in the championship game. “The atmosphere of the games this weekend were great, we had a lot of fans from Farmington at both games.” Creech said. “You could feel the intensity when the scores were close from the crowd.” Although the girls fell to Husson in the final game Creech said, “I can’t speak for the rest of the team and for Coach, but I thought the season was a success! We made it to the Championships!”