Name: Solomon Nkhalamba
Hometown: Lilongwe, Malawi
Major/minor and academic standing: Senior financial economics major
I transferred from Southern Maine Community College, and was interested in studying at UMaine because of the quality of the economics programs and professors. Being an international student, I was also intrigued by the welcoming spirit of the Office of International Programs staff members who made me feel at home from the very first day I set foot on campus.
How would you describe the academic atmosphere at UMaine?
UMaine is a great place to excel academically as professors are always there to help. There are also many opportunities for research and internships that equip students with the necessary skills to succeed in the real world upon completion of their degrees.
Have you worked closely with a mentor, professor or role model who has made your UMaine experience better, and if so, who and how?
I have worked with a lot of great professors and staff members. One of them is Professor George Criner, director of the School of Economics. He has been instrumental in evaluating my academic progress and helping me develop the life skills to succeed in the real world after graduation.
What is the most interesting, engaging or helpful class you’ve taken at UMaine?
Applied Data Analysis for Resource Economics and Policy
Have you gained any hands-on or real-world experience through your coursework? If so, tell us about it:
I’m a student research assistant at UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. My work involves research on the global development of offshore wind projects and the economics of the offshore wind industry. Within the DeepCwind offshore wind project I’m on the education and outreach team and participate in the project’s presentations to different audiences. I also give tours of the center’s lab. Working there with dedicated fellow students from different programs and a hardworking supervisor has shown me that passionate people who bring their different skills can build unimaginably big things. I’ve also been a teaching assistant in the School of Economics for three semesters, and I’ve worked as an operations assistant at the New Balance Campus Recreation Center for the past year and a half.
Have you participated in any internships or co-ops related to your major? Tell us about them and how your experience in the classroom helped prepare you:
Through the Advanced Structures and Composites Center I had the privilege of interning at Bangor Hydro Electric last summer, working on the Smart Grid project. My duties involved analyzing data, and the classroom experience I have had with quantitative analysis for economic resources and financial services was very helpful throughout the internship.
Tell us about how you remain involved in your home country of Malawi?
I’m a coordinator for a charity organization, School of H.O.P.E. It was founded by a former Peace Corps volunteer from Biddeford, Maine, who served in Malawi and is my host mother. Currently we are providing more than 120 underprivileged children with school supplies so that they can stay in school. For the past two summers I’ve been going back to Malawi to work with that charity and other related organizations. Emails and mostly phone calls are my means of communicating with our committee, family and friends while in the United States.
What are UMaine students like?
They are friendly, eager to learn about different cultures and steadfast at offering help when needed.
What surprised you about UMaine?
The quality of education offered across all colleges as proved by UMaine’s good rankings in the national and international college reviews. The student recreation center was a surprise. I didn’t expect UMaine to have such a beautiful facility.
Describe UMaine in one word.
What do you do outside of class?
Bike, spend time in the gym, chat with friends, volunteer when possible – I was a Black Bear Mentor for a year and a half – and work on my Malawian projects.
Favorite place on campus?
Favorite place off campus?
Shopping in Bangor
What’s your favorite thing to eat on campus?
I like the home fries.
What is your favorite UMaine tradition?
Cheering for the ice hockey team
What are your most memorable UMaine moments?
Ice hockey games, the International Dance Festival, Culturefest, working and socializing with my offshore wind team colleagues, and exercising at the recreation center
What do you hope to do after graduation and how has UMaine helped you reach those goals?
I’m planning to spend a year working on charity projects in Malawi and then go to graduate school. UMaine has provided me with great skills to succeed in whatever projects and graduate program I’ll get into.
What is there to do in Orono, Maine?
There are lots of outdoor recreational activities for all seasons, nice dining facilities, great shows at the Collins Center for Arts and UMaine sports events.
What difference has UMaine made in your life?
It has broadened my knowledge and increased the opportunities I have ahead of me.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
The time flies by, so set your goals as early as possible and focus on them, even when it gets bumpy. Do the best you can while being responsible and much success will follow.
Image Description: Solomon Nkhalamba