The Daily Bulldog of Franklin County previewed the upcoming annual business meeting and public supper of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Franklin County Extension Association. The event will be held Thursday, Oct. 24 at the Farmington Grange in West Farmington.
Judy Smith, community outreach assistant for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Franklin County, spoke with the Sun Journal for an article about a 4-H photo display at the Farmington Fair. Smith said the display is one of several ways 4-H leaders have been celebrating the 100th anniversary of 10 active clubs in Franklin County. She also said she hopes people will identify themselves or others in the photos.
Two University of Maine sophomores have been named winners of the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship and will study abroad in Ireland as part of the student exchange program.
George J. Mitchell Scholars Gwendolyn Beacham and Lorna Harriman will each spend a semester at the University College Cork in Ireland. The scholarship honors the 1998 Northern Ireland peace accord brokered by Sen. Mitchell between Ireland and the United Kingdom and is open to full-time undergraduate students in the University of Maine system.
The scholarship allows one student to study for a year in Ireland or two students to study for a semester each with all expenses paid, including airfare. This year, for the first time, both winners are from the Orono campus.
Harriman, an elementary education major from Troy, Maine, will study in Ireland during the fall 2013 semester. Beacham, a molecular and cellular biology major and Honors College student from Farmington, Maine, will make the trip in spring 2014. Neither Harriman or Beacham have been to Ireland before, and they are both looking forward to the experience.
Along with attending school full time, Harriman is a member of and teacher at the Robinson Ballet Co. in Bangor, and employee of the Family Dog restaurant in Orono. She also volunteers with the Black Bear Mentor Program and makes time every week to visit with her 10-year-old mentee at the Old Town Recreation Department.
Harriman, who has a concentration in English and is working on a minor in psychology, hopes to teach English abroad after she graduates, earn a master’s degree in literacy education and then return to Maine to teach middle-level language arts.
Harriman, who is on the Dean’s List and is a UMaine Merit Award winner, says she chose UMaine because of its financial flexibility and wide range of academic and campus opportunities.
“There are so many opportunities for success at UMaine. If you’re willing to work hard and explore, there is a place for everyone,” Harriman says. UMaine’s College of Education and Human Development “has really encouraged me toward my career goals and made me certain I am on the right path.”
Harriman says the academic atmosphere at UMaine is supportive and many people had a positive effect on her undergraduate experience.
She credits education professor Phyllis Brazee and her class, Teaching in a Multicultural Society, for making her realize she was on the right career path, and honors and English professor Kathleen Ellis for challenging her and helping her become a better student.
“As a student, you really get the feeling that your professors want you to succeed,” she says.
Harriman calls the scholarship an opportunity of a lifetime and looks forward to learning in a new culture.
“My biggest goal is to absorb as much of the culture as possible while I am there, but I also hope to learn about different education styles they may employ that can help me in the future as a teacher,” Harriman says.
Harriman says the scholarship has also given her confidence.
“It has made me realize what I am capable of if I put my mind to it,” she says. “I feel confident and excited about the direction my life is going in. I am incredibly grateful for the people and opportunities that have brought me to where I am.”
Beacham, who is on the Dean’s List and is a Presidential Scholar has won several scholarships, including the Lamey Wellehan Maine Difference Scholarship and the Pine Tree Section ASQ Sumner K. Wiley Jr. Scholarship.
Last summer she was awarded an IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence fellowship and spent eight weeks at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove, Maine, where she studied the differentiation of primary mesenchyme cells, or cells that form the skeleton, in echinoderm embryos.
During the academic year, Beacham has been researching bacteriophages, or viruses that infect bacteria, and has been focusing her research on the repressor protein.
Beyond academics, Beacham is the secretary of the UMaine student chapter of Engineers Without Borders and will be president of the chapter next year. She traveled with the group to Honduras during Spring Break to install a septic system to improve water quality in a rural community. She is also a member of the Sophomore Eagles, a UMaine traditions group and honor society, and participates in campus dance clubs.
Beacham credits UMaine with challenging her as a student and providing opportunities for personal growth in an open, friendly atmosphere.
“UMaine is a great place,” Beacham says. “The academic courses, my activities, and my research experiences have been nothing but positive. I have learned that I am extremely passionate about science and scientific research, as well as about being involved in a community and helping others.”
Beacham says she considers herself lucky to be a student at a large research university and to have been exposed to research since her first year at the school. Leadership positions in UMaine clubs have also helped her gain confidence in her abilities as a leader.
“I never before imagined I would be able to work with a community in Honduras to help improve their sanitation, or that I would have my own independent research project while only being a sophomore in college,” she says.
Although she says she has worked with many UMaine professors and have had positive experiences with all of them, she has worked the most with assistant research professor Sally Molloy, both in the classroom and in the lab. Beacham says she appreciates the support Molloy has given her.
Beacham says she is honored to be able to study in Ireland as a representative of Sen. Mitchell.
“I admire his work very much, and am so appreciative of the support from him and the Mitchell Institute that will assist me in reaching my educational and career goals,” Beacham says. “I am also excited about being able to study in Ireland and experience another culture for a semester, and I am very appreciative of the financial support that will make this possible.”
After graduation, Beacham plans to obtain her Ph.D. in a microbiology-related field and pursue research in microbial ecology or astrobiology.
Gwendolyn Beacham didn’t have much of a break during the University of Maine winter and spring recesses.
During the three-week respite between semesters in December and January, the sophomore molecular and cellular biology major researched and wrote her entry for the 2013 John M. Rezendes Annual Ethics Essay Competition.
Each night during the two-week March vacation, the Farmington, Maine resident rewrote, revised and tweaked her draft. Her days were otherwise occupied; she and other UMaine students worked on a sanitation system in Dulce Nombre in Honduras for an Engineers Without Borders project.
Her thoroughness paid off. In April, Beacham won first prize, which included $2,800 and an engraved sculpture, for her essay “Ethics of the United States’ Clinical Trials in India.”
“Writing isn’t my main focus of study,” says Beacham, an Honors College student recently accepted for a 10-week summer internship at Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell University.
“But I thought it was important that I do something outside of my comfort zone. This forced me to look at an issue from all sides.”
All UMaine undergraduates were invited to submit an 8- to 10-page essay for the annual competition. The 2013 theme was “The Ethics of Globalization.”
Ciarán P. Coyle, a sophomore from Lebanon, N.H., and Gareth Warr, a sophomore from Stonington, Maine, were also finalists; each was awarded $300.
Coyle is majoring in philosophy and Spanish and minoring in history. His essay was titled “Globalization of Reflection: Latin American Experience of Exploitation Justified by Abstraction.”
After graduating from UMaine, Coyle plans to enter a doctoral program of philosophy, either in social and political theory or in phenomenology – the study of the development of human consciousness and self-awareness as a part of philosophy.
Warr, a second-year political science major and legal studies minor, titled his essay “The Ethics of Globalization: A Marxist Critique.”
The Honors College student from Stonington, Maine plans to join the Peace Corps then perhaps enter law school or work in the criminal justice system.
A financial gift from Dennis and Beau Rezendes provides the university the opportunity to annually offer the John M. Rezendes Ethics Essay Competition in conjunction with hosting the John M. Rezendes Visiting Scholar in Ethics.
Dozens of University of Maine students are headed to Honduras, Belize, Florida, the Grand Canyon and New Orleans and other places over spring break, March 4–15, to build houses and a sewage system, clean up parks, deliver health care services to the poor, and help out in rural schools and orphanages.
In the last few months, students from varied academic disciplines have been raising tens of thousands of dollars for travel and living expenses during their service-learning and volunteer projects in the U.S. and Central America. Some leaving Maine for the first time will immerse themselves in diverse cultural and philanthropic adventures while making a difference in the quality of life for the people they will serve.
“I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to be able to make an impact in the lives of people in need,” says Gwen Beacham, a molecular and cellular biology major from Farmington, Maine. She is heading March 2 to the outskirts of Dulce Nombre in western Honduras with the UMaine chapter of Engineers Without Borders. She and four other students, an interpreter, a faculty adviser and a private-sector engineering consultant will spend two weeks finishing a new sewer collection and sanitation system that UMaine student engineers designed and helped build. They’ll also teach the 120 villagers in Dulce Vivir how to operate it.
Beacham, who has never been outside the United States or Canada, isn’t sure what to expect on her first “real” travel experience, she says.
“I can imagine that I will return to Maine with such different eyes,” she says. “I am excited that I am actually able to do something to help, and I especially love that this project is so collaborative, as the community members have played a major role in the implementation of the system. Not only is this more sustainable, but it ensures that our effort is being put into a project that the community wants.”
UMaine’s Engineers Without Borders has won several honors, including a $25,000 award last year from the Newman’s Own Foundation for its work in Dulce Vivir, which started in 2008. The project will help villagers struggling with poor sanitation and overflowing latrines during the rainy season, which contaminates water supplies.
“This project provides valuable lessons in the field of engineering, while allowing me to participate in a humanitarian, life-changing experience,” says Logan Good, a mechanical engineering major from Presque Isle.
Meanwhile, 13 UMaine School of Nursing students in the UMaine Nursing International organization have partnered with International Service Learning to offer medical assistance in rural clinics in San Ignacio, Cayo District of Belize. Accompanied by Nilda Cravens, School of Nursing faculty member, they’ll work over the break with physicians providing health care to underprivileged families and children.
The UMaine Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism and UMaine Alternative Break also are organizing dozens of students planning spring break trips in the United States, says Andrea Gifford, assistant dean of students for Student Affairs and director of student and administrative support services. The students will partner with a variety of national organizations to help children victimized by domestic abuse in Virginia; improve housing conditions for low-income families in the coal-camp communities of West Virginia; assisting at a rescue camp for neglected and abused animals in Pennsylvania; provide respite in Florida for vacationing families of children with terminal illnesses; and help with disaster relief and rebuilding homes in New Orleans.
The Bodwell Center also is overseeing student volunteer trips to help with maintenance and trail restoration in the Grand Canyon in Arizona and in the Moody Forest Natural Area in Georgia.
Aaron Cyr, a Bangor native and senior nursing student making his second trip to Belize, says his trip last year was a startling introduction to poverty that many Americans can’t imagine unless they experience it firsthand.
“Things such as clean running water, the availability of limitless amounts of food and small things such as heat or air conditioning, that we take for granted every day,” he says. “I am being given the opportunity to positively affect countless lives for the better.”
Gwen Beacham agrees. “I believe that becoming aware of the different ways people live will lead to positive personal growth and development, and I’m sure I will realize how lucky I am to have some things I have always taken for granted,” she says.
Contact: George Manlove, 207.581.3756