“Curiosity must be kept alive,” Eleanor Roosevelt said. Nancy Prisk ’72 wholeheartedly agrees.
Growing up in Virginia, Nancy chose the University of Maine because, as she says, “I wanted to accumulate skills in lots of fields that were interesting to me and then choose a career I was passionate about. There were topics that I wanted to explore and, as I looked around, I realized that UMaine offered a broad variety of excellent learning opportunities.”
Sure enough, Nancy found a wealth of educational experiences at UMaine. She took classes in nutrition, design, textiles, architecture, folklore, education and map drawing. She even created her own course in fur design.
Ultimately, she earned a bachelor of science degree in home economics education. But, because she came away with “a good solid” foundation, she says she felt confident that a variety of career opportunities would be open to her.
She was right.
Moving to the Boston area after graduation, she married and successfully held a number of positions including as a home economics teacher at a junior high school, a business manager at Brandeis University, and the director of consumer affairs at H.P. Hood. She even started her own management training and consulting firm.
Now retired, Nancy has had the time to pursue metalsmithing, a skill she learned from her father. After training at the DeCordova Museum School, at several studios in Massachusetts and Maine, and with master silver and metalsmiths from the U.S. and the United Kingdom, she began creating one of a kind silver and copper jewelry. Marketed by her company, Southport Silver, Nancy’s unique pieces of wearable art reflect simple, organic forms with textures and finishes inspired by nature. They can be found in galleries in New England, California and the Bahamas. Her website www.southportsilver.com has more information.
Nowadays, dividing her time between Southport Island and Orono, Nancy is grateful to UMaine for enabling her to develop her sense of curiosity and for providing exciting and innovative classes that prepared her well for the business, education and art worlds.
Wanting to give back to her alma mater, she has generously provided a number of gifts.
During the last decade she established a scholarship for the Honors College, helped fund the construction of the Buchanan Alumni House and its endowment, and dedicated to her parents a bench in the Alumni House garden. Most recently she gave a $10,000 gift to establish the Prisk Fund for Native American and Peace Studies. The fund will provide academic scholarships and support for students, research projects and cultural awareness programs within the Wabanaki Center, Native American Studies, and Peace and Reconciliation Studies. Nancy also provided another $1,000 in cash so that the fund could be drawn on immediately.
The idea is to help students in Native American Studies or Peace and Reconciliation Studies participate in a nontraditional learning experiences such as site visits, retreats or conferences, she says.
“By providing educational opportunities to these students you are giving a voice to under-represented cultures and opinions and promoting pathways to peace through mutual understanding.”
Both Native American Studies and Peace and Reconciliation Studies are about “working for a better world,” says Nancy who now takes classes in those disciplines at UMaine.
She stays connected to her alma mater in other ways. After serving for 15 years on the University of Maine Alumni Association Board of Directors, she recently became a member of the University of Maine Athletic Advisory Board of Directors. “I thought it was a good way to better understand the sports community and to share my perspective as a UMaine alumna and an Orono resident.”
Moving back to Orono, Nancy enjoys life in the vibrant, friendly college town she fell in love with as a UMaine student.
“You really feel as though you’re part of a community here. I had such a great experience when I was here as an undergraduate student – it was a perfect fit for me. So, why not return to that perfect fit when you retire?”
Image Description: Nancy Prisk '72 on Southport Bridge