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2014 Outstanding Graduating Student — Ariel Bothen

Bothen named Outstanding Graduating Student in College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Ariel BorhenAriel L. Bothen of Mount Desert, Maine, is the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Maine.

The Honors College student majored in anthropology and international affairs, with a concentration in political science. She minored in Spanish and history.

Her numerous honors include membership in the All Maine Women honor society, and the Paul G. Coulombe and Sun Trust scholarships. In 2012, she participated in the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea and last summer she studied at the Universidad del Pais Vasco in Spain.

On campus, she was involved in the Community Governing Board, International Affairs Association, Alternative Breaks and Provost Council. She was president of the UMaine chapter of Amnesty International and was a Student Government senator. The resident assistant was also a certified lifeguard with Campus Recreation and a peer adviser in the Office of International Programs.

Tell us about the research, internships or scholarly pursuits you were involved in as a student
I studied abroad twice while in college. I did Semester At Sea during spring 2012, which took me to 12 countries and across three continents. I also studied abroad in Spain this past summer in the Basque Country, which became the focus for my Honors Thesis. The topic of my thesis is on the Basque political situation and independence movement within Spain.

A great internship opportunity I had was to work on the Elizabeth Warren for Senate Campaign in Massachusetts. This was my first opportunity to work in the political arena and I learned so much about grassroots organizing through this experience. It was immensely helpful in directing me in my post-college pursuits.

Beyond academics, what extracurricular activities occupied your time? (clubs, sports, etc.)
I was a Student Government senator for three years and served on the services and student entertainment committees. One of our roles was to meet with Auxiliary Services each month to go over issues in parking, dining and housing and act as liaison between students and administration. I have also participated in Alternative Breaks for four years, as well as Amnesty International, Sophomore Eagles, the International Affairs Association, All Maine Women and intramurals whenever I have time. 

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation I will be interning for the summer with U.S. Sen. Angus King in his office in Washington, D.C. After that, I hope to be able to work in foreign policy advising in some capacity also in D.C. I would like to go to graduate school as well, though, within the next two years, for international affairs.

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
UMaine has given me every opportunity I could have asked for. It has allowed me to attend incredible conferences, like the Camden Conference, with inspirational speakers, and exposed me to professionals in my field of interest. I have also had the opportunity to study abroad and have transformative and life-changing experiences, which would not have been possible without the support, financial aid and scholarships that UMaine has offered.

Have you had an experience at UMaine that has changed or shaped the way you see the world?
My involvement in community service has been the biggest difference between my time in high school and my time in college. UMaine fosters a spirit of community involvement that I had not previously been exposed to. Having that expectation here has [helped me rise] to the level of an “active citizen.” While this change first occurred for me through my participation in Alternative Breaks, which is a volunteer organization that combines travel with service, I soon found that every organization I joined [was service oriented] in one way or another. Now it has become an invaluable part of my life that I see as a responsibility that I will continue to do wherever I am.

Why UMaine?
UMaine has provided me with fundamental life lessons and experiences that I used to think I would need to go far away to learn and have. In reality, college is an experience that is going to change you and teach you no matter where you are. UMaine places value on … community, academics and leadership … [which is] guaranteed to shape you into a better person. Best of all, this university is student-centered and I’ve personally known members of the faculty and administration who go above and beyond to help students reach their goals, fund organizations’ trips, and all around make sure that those who come here can pursue any opportunity they want. And, of course, being greeted with a “Hearty Maine Hello” on arrival isn’t so bad either.

How would you describe UMaine’s academic atmosphere?
UMaine has a challenging but supportive academic environment. I am seldom left wanting more from my classes and I am never far from help if I should need it. Tutoring is available, teachers make themselves available, TAs have office hours and many departments have labs to which you can go and seek help if needed.

Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
Absolutely, It’s not easy to pick just one but I will say that I’ve had incredible opportunities thanks to professors, as well as staff in the Office of International Programs, where I work as a peer adviser. I have been so lucky to have professors really take an interest in me and encourage me to apply and participate in different opportunities, jobs, committees, etc. They have vouched for me to receive awards, attend different conferences and always lifted me up when I would get particularly down on myself over an assignment or project. They have always been a really great source of support and that was essential for me as I pursued more and more difficult academic tracks.

What advice do you have for incoming students?
My advice would be to take advantage of every opportunity you can because you never know what might come of it. There are student service organizations like Alternative Breaks that can take you all around the country, even the world, and show you life from another perspective. The Honors College, too, presents so many opportunities to travel and go to incredible conferences all free of charge. Aside from the great experiences these things present, joining campus organizations early on is the best way to make friends, feel engaged with the campus and find your passion. Start in early on anything that might interest you, though, because you may find that you love it so much, you want to do it all four years.