University of Maine students received the majority of scholarships presented this year by a Washington, D.C.-based group that promotes educational opportunities for Maine residents.
The Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. and its Foundation presented 12 students from the flagship University with scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $2,500.
Altogether this year, the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. and its Foundation awarded 16 scholarships – a record for the group which has been providing financial assistance since 1990 to students who are Maine citizens or residents, are attending accredited four-year higher-education institutions in Maine, and have a grade point average of not less than 3.0. Students from the University of Southern Maine and Colby College also received scholarships this year.
The Maine State Society was founded in 1894 as a “home away from home” for people with connections to Maine who live and work in the Washington, D.C., area. The oldest and most active of the state societies in our nation’s capital, the Maine State Society has approximately 1,000 members who provide the primary source of funding for the Foundation’s annual scholarship program. The Maine State Society also functions as a defacto alumni group, holding events nearly every month in which many of the more than 1,800 UMaine graduates who live and work in the Washington, D.C., area participate.
With the annual scholarship program, the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. and its Foundation helps students at the flagship University achieve their potential.
Joan Beach, vice-president of the Foundation, says the selection committee was impressed with the caliber of UMaine students.
“They are spectacular kids – motivated, enthusiastic, bright, and dedicated to their community. They are the best and the brightest,” says Joan, who has a summer home on Phillips Lake in Lucerne-in-Maine. She noted that in addition to earning stellar grades, the young people are involved in a host of outside activities including community service projects and mentoring programs.
UMaine students who received scholarships are:
Joan Hunter, president of the Foundation and past president of the Maine State Society, says the applicants are “so individual in their pursuits, yet all are outstanding as both citizens and students.
“The scholarship selection process reaffirms for me that young people from Maine are its most worthwhile and valuable asset,” she says. “I take a lot of pride in that. The students themselves are what motivate me to do this kind of work.”
Each year she gets thank you notes from recipients who tell her that the scholarship was a tremendous help as they pursued their education.
“It’s clear that this means a lot to them,” she says.
More than 70 students from colleges and universities throughout Maine applied for a scholarship this year, says Joan Beach, noting that UMaine Development Officer Pat Cummings helped boost the number of applications from Orono.
“I mentioned that it was unusual that we had only a handful of applicants so far. She got on the ball and the applications started rolling in.”
The trick, says Pat, was to alert UMaine deans and associate deans to the wonderful opportunity provided by the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. and its Foundation. They then passed the word along to their students who “responded with enthusiasm.
“There is a great need for scholarships,” Pat says. “The average student graduates with $18,000 in debt. We are so appreciative of the opportunity for our students to receive scholarships from this wonderful organization, and for our students to learn how a group of Mainers now living in our nation’s capital continue to give back.”
The scholarships given by the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. and its Foundation afford young people “the opportunity to get a first class education at a terrific land grant school with a great heritage and a critically acclaimed academic community,” says Charles Stanhope, vice president of the Maine State Society and a 1971 UMaine graduate, noting the scholarly awards and the innovative research and development grants that the flagship University continues to receive.
A number of this year’s scholarship recipients are in UMaine’s Honors College, something that pleases Charles for a couple of reasons. His class dedicates its fund raising endeavors to the Honors College and, as a student at UMaine, he was a member of the Honors Program – the predecessor of the Honors College.
“I’m proud of what I learned and the experiences I had in the Honors Program,” says Charles, a Portland, Maine, native who has hosted events for Honors College student delegations when they visited Washington.
Honors College students “represent the diversity of strengths of the University of Maine,” says Dean Charlie Slavin. “They excel in their individual disciplines while exploring the interdisciplinary issues that expand their horizons and prepare them as citizens and leaders.”