Fall 2023 Killam Fellows Feature

Michael Sabol & Lauren Poulin

University of Maine undergraduate students Lauren Poulin and Michael Sabol are both Killam Fellows for Fall 2023. The Killam Fellowships Program provides undergraduate students in Canada and the U.S. with opportunities to spend a semester or full academic year in the other country as exchange students. Recipients like Poulin and Sabol receive $5,000 per semester, an allowance to offset health insurance costs, and a grant of up to $800 for an educational field trip, according to the program website. The Killam Fellowship operates under Fulbright Canada and provides students with academic and cultural connections with the Canadian Fulbright community.

Poulin is a second year theater major at UMaine and has been studying at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Ontario. During her time in Ottawa, Poulin has been cast in a University of Ottawa theater production. According to Poulin, “University of Ottawa has a really good theater program. It’s also in a city, which I really like. I can walk places, there’s good public transportation. But it’s also not too busy, as somewhere like Toronto might be. It’s also not too far from home for me, so I don’t have to pay for a flight ticket.”

Sabol is a third year electrical engineering major at UMaine and has been studying at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia. According to Sabol, studying abroad as an engineering major can be quite difficult. “With specifically engineering, even if you can travel to all these places, you can only take general electives. So it was very limiting on where I could go as a third year engineering student. When I was talking with them about the Killam Fellowship, it really lined up nice because at each of these different universities I can take courses that actually help for my major, which has been really lovely.”

Poulin and Sabol both found support from the UMaine Study Abroad offices, the office of major scholarships, and the Canadian-American Centers outreach coordinator. Sabol says, “The best place to start is the Canadian American Center. It’s always lovely. I always felt very nice walking in there,” and Poulin says, “Definitely go to the Canadian-American Center, especially their outreach coordinator who helped me through this entire thing. Also Nives and Katrina in the office of major scholarships were so helpful. They helped me edit my essays, and guided me through the entire application process.”

We spoke with Poulin and Sabol about their goals and experiences at UMaine and in Canada:

What inspired you to study abroad?

I love traveling and I wanted to take advantage of how relatively inexpensive it can be through exchange programs. I have lived in Maine my entire life, so I knew I wanted to go abroad during college in order to explore the world a bit more.

I always thought it was important. When you’re getting an education, no matter what, it’s nice to have different perspectives on anything, because anything you learn, there’s not one way of learning it. Our world is more interconnected than ever and it’s so important to understand different ways of thinking. My particular field also hasn’t been historically very diverse. One of the ways we can try to increase that diversity is by understanding different cultures, different types of people. So that was very important to me when getting an education.

Outside of academics, what do you look forward to about this experience?

I really just like all the opportunities to travel. There’s a lot of really cool areas nearby, and Ottawa is in the center of everything. Right now I’m planning a trip to Niagara falls with some friends for Canadian Thanksgiving. In a couple of weeks I’m going on a trip to Winnipeg, to visit the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, so there’s just a lot to do.

I’m very excited after coming here because I love the ocean and I’m finally getting Scuba certified. I’m a big outdoors person, but I love any sort of travel and Victoria is such a culturally rich city to explore. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up one morning with classes starting at one or two and decided to just take the bus somewhere and then figure it out from there.

Why did you choose UMaine?

I came to Maine because I was awarded a Maine Top Scholar Award, which also came with a wonderful scholarship and a lot of opportunities to do research so it was a really good opportunity for me.

I wanted a school that’s not too big but not super tiny and I definitely wanted to get out of my comfort zone. At least half my high school went to the same two colleges when they graduated and I just wanted something completely different. It is also really important to me to also have a chance to work with what I am learning about. My program, electrical engineering, has been very good about having active labs where topics covered in class are implemented.

What advice would you give to any students who are currently interested in the Killam Fellowship?

I’d definitely say start working on your application now, they really look for a strong application. It’s a decent amount of work,but it really is worth it: the events you get to go to, the name to put on your resume, it’s a wonderful opportunity. It’s honestly really amazing, but it’s not really something you can pull together at the last minute.

UMaine students interested in applying for the Killam Fellowship can reach out to Nives Dal Bo-Wheeler at the Office of Major Scholarships (nives.dalbowheeler@maine.edu). The Office of Major Scholarships also offers support for other national merit-based scholarships, such as Fulbright, Gilman, Goldwater, etc. Students can also reach out to the Canadian-American Center’s outreach coordinator, Emma Schroeder. The campus deadline for the Killam fellowship – for studying abroad in Fall 2024 or Spring 2025 – is January 12th, 2023.

For a full list, visit the Office of Major Scholarships website here.