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Five Class of 2013 Graduating Student Profiles

A Family Tradition

When John “Jack” Baldacci Jr., graduates from the University of Maine May 11, he will be joining a long line of family members who are UMaine alums — including his mother and father, six of his aunts and uncles, and two cousins.

His father, Gov. John Baldacci, says it will be “a tremendous honor — and humbling” to see his son get his UMaine degree in May, maintaining the proud family tradition.

“The university will always be a part of me and my family,” Gov. Baldacci says.

The former two-term Maine governor and four-term U.S. Congressman received his bachelor’s degree in history from UMaine in 1986. He met his wife, Karen, at UMaine. Mrs. Baldacci received a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition from UMaine in 1983, and a master’s in elementary education in 2001.

May 11, Jack will receive a bachelor’s degree in international affairs, with a concentration in political science. He is headed to the University of Maine Law School.

Jack chose his international affairs major based on the recommendation of his roommate, Jordan Bailey, a graduate student in the program. “It was one of the best decisions I made,” Jack says.

“The University of Maine is great,” says Jack, a Dean’s List student. “I owe a lot to the faculty and staff. I’m very fortunate to have chosen to come to Maine, and the lessons I have learned here I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Jack took the advice of his parents, who encouraged him to find a field of study that interested him and learn everything he could about it.

“Challenge yourself, your professors and your fellow students,” Mrs. Baldacci told him. “Ask questions, struggle with issues, understand the who, what, where, when and how of the profession.”

The governor’s advice to his son was to stay focused on his studies, ask for help if he needed it — and have fun.

“UMaine is like a lantern,” says Gov. Baldacci. “It helps you find your way and (then) you have the responsibility to lead others.”

At UMaine, Gov. Baldacci studied a subject for which he is passionate — history.

“Where we come (from) leads a path to where we’re going,” he says of his choice of undergraduate study. “(UMaine) gave me a solid foundation and clearer thinking on difficult issues.”

UMaine was the governor’s school of choice not only as the alma mater of six of his siblings — Robert, Peter, Gerry, Rosemary, Lisa and Joseph Baldacci — but also because the university offers a “quality education” and is “affordable and represents value,” he says.

The Baldacci family has since established the Robert E. Baldacci Sr., and Rosemary K. Baldacci Memorial Scholarship Fund in honor of their parents.

Growing up in Dexter, Maine, the university was Mrs. Baldacci’s school of choice because it was “close, has incredible opportunities, experienced professors, challenging studies and a great campus.”

“UMaine has incredible faculty and curriculum that challenge you to learn,” Mrs. Baldacci says. “They engage you in necessary, real-world experiences and connections that help you succeed, from your college preparation to your future career choice.”

For Mrs. Baldacci, human nutrition — the study of food and its relationship to human health — has long been an interest. As a UMaine undergraduate, she completed a dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian and was mentored by legendary nutritionist Katherine Musgrave. For 27 years, Mrs. Baldacci has worked in the dietetic profession, in both the clinical arena, as well as community dietetics.

Mrs. Baldacci also pursued a graduate degree at UMaine after her experience as a volunteer in Jack’s kindergarten class. With her master’s degree in elementary education, Mrs. Baldacci taught kindergarten in the Bangor School System until Gov. Baldacci was elected to the Blaine House in 2003.

Today, she says, UMaine is still part of her life. Mrs. Baldacci has mentored and been a preceptor for many UMaine nutrition students. And she continues to be a guest lecturer in the community nutrition class.

“I believe it’s important to reach back, as well as lean forward — to be a mentor,” she says, adding that her advice to students is to be engaged, active learners.

“Take advantage of the opportunities UMaine has to offer,” she says. “Make connections, build relationships, and make UMaine the college of your heart always.”

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