UMaine Virtual Commencement 2021 Grad School
The Star-Spangled Banner
Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Joan Ferrini-Mundy: Greetings. I am Joan Ferrini-Mundy, President of the University of Maine and our regional campus, the University of Maine at Machias. I also serve as Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation for the University of Maine System.
Welcome to the University of Maine Spring 2021 virtual Graduate School commencement ceremony.
Many thanks to our graduate students, guests, alumni and friends of the University of Maine. As president of the University of Maine, it gives me great pride to be with you in this virtual platform to celebrate the achievements of our graduate students. Earning an advanced degree under normal circumstances can be a monumental task, but preserving and continuing to progress toward completion of a masters, doctoral or certificate of advanced studies during a global pandemic is an admirable accomplishment. I salute our graduate students for their resilience and dedication to complete their respective degrees.
I also want to acknowledge the families, friends and the many individuals who have supported our graduate students. I join our students in thanking each of you for helping these remarkable graduates to stay the course.
I’m also proud of the stellar faculty and staff at UMaine who have helped to guide our students through graduate education, which is very different from undergraduate education. At the graduate level, faculty are bringing students into their own professional fields and preparing them for new levels of professional engagement. They provide opportunities for students to conduct research in their labs, in the field and other spaces. They read countless revisions of their theses and dissertations, and spend important time with individual students, helping them to reach their goals. Kudos to all who had a part in ensuring that our graduate students were successful in earning their advanced academic degrees.
Now, it’s my distinct pleasure to introduce administrators, guests and honorees who are taking part in today’s Graduate School commencement.
- Board of Trustees chair Jim Erwin
- Board of Trustees member and UMaine class of 2002 alumna Emily Cain
- University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy
- Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost John Volin
- Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School Kody Varahramyan
- Commencement speaker Edison Liu, President and CEO, The Jackson Laboratory
Many thanks to each of you for participating in this virtual ceremony.
Jim Erwin: Greetings to you all from the University of Maine System Board of Trustees. I’m Jim Erwin, Chair of the Board.
Once again, we find our university’s most important event is compromised by a viral pandemic. For those of you who may have endured the disease or have family members who did, please accept our sympathies and wishes for a return to good health. While this pandemic is not quite ready to let go, to succumb to the laws of epidemiology, neither are we succumbing to the pandemic — not by a long shot. Instead, we gather by virtual means to do what it is so important for us to do — to take the time to celebrate the achievements of over 4,000 degree recipients across all our campuses.
At this time last year, even as we celebrated with amazement the ability of students, faculty and staff to turn on a dime from in-person to 100 percent remote learning in a matter of days, and to press ahead to finish the year’s work, we looked back and said, “What just hit us?” At that point, it would have been easy to get discouraged, to step back, to hold out for the experience you thought you had signed up for. Yet a remarkable 87 percent of our students continued from fall to spring, compared to 75 percent a year earlier when there was no pandemic. The Board is so very impressed by and proud of the individual decisions and commitments this number reflects. Once again, students, families, faculty and staff have shown their Maine bona fides, pulling together with tremendous resilience, adaptability, patience, cooperation, and persistence.
This year, even as we remark with astonishment on the emergence in real-time of a very different higher-ed experience, many of the attributes of which will stay with us long after COVID departs from center-stage, we look back and think, what a long, strange trip it’s been.
The commencement, of course, is also a time to look forward. Let me take a moment to do that.
First, remember as you carry this experience with you, that pandemics like this one are very uncommon. They’re like 100-year floods. We don’t really engineer our institutions to withstand them, and we have to adapt on the fly. I hope you will draw from your triumph over this level of adversity, an extra measure of confidence in the next phases of your lives. Second, many of you have spent the last four or so years acquiring the skills and knowledge needed for a specific vocation. But some of you have not. You’ve entered college not knowing you needed to explore, to experiment. Maybe you know now, maybe you’re not there yet.
But whatever your path, the one acquisition that should be common to you all should be the ability to think critically and for yourself. We’re bombarded regularly from every direction with carefully packaged messages, purporting to distill the complexities of our society, and even human nature itself, into conveniently simple memes. These memes get repeated enough to become accepted as fact. Often they are anything but. For example, when you hear, “Follow the science,” stop and question. Science is a process of inquiry, not a magical incantation that confers legitimacy on a theory or a contention. Ask, what is the science underlying the command to follow it? When you hear, “Do the math,” well, that’s generally a good idea, but try to make sure it’s the right math.
Your world is going to be awash in data and data analyses and they will not all be trustworthy. Try to understand what’s behind them. Try to satisfy yourself that it’s the right math. Critical thinking, whether it’s following the science, doing the math or some other form of due diligence, will rarely provide certitude. Often, however, it can lead you to an understanding of probabilities that help you make good decisions. If your university experience has given you the ability and the inclination to approach important decisions with that kind of thinking, then we did our job.
I want to conclude by looking ahead for our System as well. The pandemic caused us to make sudden and extensive modifications to how we operate, at great cost, so that you and your fellow students, faculty, and staff would be able to continue your education safely and largely uninterrupted. At the same time, we’ve tried very hard to keep our eyes on and over the horizon.
We have many challenges and we are applying our best critical thinking skills to identify the best strategies to overcome those challenges, so that improving student success — through better accessibility, affordability, relevance, and efficiency — can be our everyday focus. But in addition to these challenges, we have many opportunities as well. A new engineering facility at the University of Maine nearing completion. Construction about to begin on a Student Success Center and the first residence halls for the University of Southern Maine’s Portland Campus. A new accreditation model that fosters collaboration across the System to make all of our programs widely accessible and to approve academic efficiency. And an unprecedented gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation that includes creation of a system-wide College of Engineering, Computing, and Information Science, funding for three system-wide initiatives to improve student success and the completion of the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center, and related plans for investment in our law school.
I’m proud to say that despite the disruption, we have persevered together. So once again, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, congratulations for staying in the course in a time of unprecedented challenge and change, and best wishes for what lies ahead.
Emily Cain: It is my great honor to bring greetings and congratulations to the UMaine class of 2021 on behalf of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees. My name is Emily Cain and I’m a proud member of the UMaine class of 2002.
I came to UMaine because it was what my family could afford. I stayed because of the opportunity that the University of Maine afforded me — the opportunity to get a world-class education at a top notch research institution and be part of the Honors College, which changed my life. The opportunity to tour the Northeast and the world, singing with the University of Maine Singers and Renaissance, where I made lifelong friends.The opportunity to be a resident assistant, an All Maine Woman and a Chi Omega, which taught me leadership skills I use every day. The opportunity to cheer on championship sports teams at Alfond Stadium and the Alfond Arena, something I still love to do today. The opportunity to meet my husband, Danny Williams, another proud UMaine Black Bear, who found his dream job here on campus, running the Collins Center for the Arts. The opportunity to cultivate a love of Maine that knows no bounds, and with roots so deep, they have led me to the State House and to the Board of Trustees seeking to honor this state through public service. Wherever I go, UMaine is with me.
In my work, I travel a lot and I always have something featuring the UMaine logo on me. Everywhere I go, I make Maine connections because being a Black Bear means something special, from coast to coast and around the globe. Now, it’s extra special because of you. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I say congratulations to the UMaine class of 2021. Under extraordinary and once-in-a-lifetime circumstances, you did it. And congratulations to your family and friends who helped every one of you get here because they did it too. My only ask is that you do not waste the investment that you’ve made in yourself and that your state and UMaine have made in you. Your connection and the opportunity it opens doesn’t end today. It only just begins, and I can’t wait to see how you make the most of what you’ve been afforded by the University of Maine. Thank you.
Dannel Malloy: I am proud to join you today. You are the graduate students of the University of Maine, and this is your graduation.
Congratulations on the hard work, the years of hard work, that have gone into your obtaining this degree. But let me also thank your family and loved ones, as well as the outstanding faculty members, who have participated in this educational road that you’ve been on. I also want to say thank you for the extraordinary work and help that you have lent our efforts in the pandemic, and quite frankly, your tenacity in overcoming obstacles that you could not possibly have anticipated.
I ask that you remain loyal to Maine, and to this university system, that you don’t forget us, and that you continue to contribute to the welfare of your fellow human beings as you’ve done throughout the pandemic this year. Thank you.
John Volin: I am very happy to be here today to recognize the great accomplishments of UMaine’s graduating students. I congratulate you, as well as your family and friends who have supported you. Your journey to graduation has required a new kind of grit, perseverance, and determination.
Faculty and staff have worked hard to adapt to offer new ways of connecting and delivering coursework, supporting your research, and ensuring as much as possible our collective safety. But you too as a key member of the UMaine community, also did your part by wearing your mask, social distancing, and the like.
But most importantly, you engaged with this new reality and succeeded, your ability to adapt and to overcome brand new hurdles, helped bring you to this point. You have gained knowledge and skills in your academic areas, and beyond that, you have been tested in your ability to overcome diversity to meet your goals. As you move beyond graduation, I encourage you to think not only about the accomplishments of the courses on your transcript or the completion of your research thesis, but to extend that reflection to what it means to be a university graduate, and what responsibilities actually come with this education we celebrate today. The world is facing extraordinary challenges, and you have the ability to make real advances and the responsibility to contribute to the solution of these challenges. As your educational experience at UMaine comes to an end today, your journey has only started. The world is yours to experience it, to protect it, to be an asset to it. I encourage you to stay connected to UMaine as an alumni and I look forward to hearing about your contributions as well as your adventures. Congratulations.
Kody Varahramyan: Hello, I’m Kody Varahramyan, the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my congratulations to you as members of our graduate student community receiving master’s or doctoral degrees in 2021. You have proven that you can not only overcome obstacles as presented by global pandemic, but persevere and succeed with strength and courage, and indeed this has impacted very positively on our community.
I would like to share with you just a small sample of your positive impact and contributions. In some cases, students have dedicated their research time to assist with the pandemic. For example, graduate teaching assistants enhance undergraduate student success by organizing virtual collaborative group work in mathematics courses that the undergraduate students were enrolled in. Assistant professor of economics Andrew Crawley and his six graduate assistants helped state of Maine officials estimate the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Assistant professor of bioengineering, Caitlin Howell, with the assistance of her doctoral students, compiled a list of research on N95 mask decontamination and provided this information to hospitals in the state. Graduate students in the Emotion, Pain, and Interpersonal Communication Laboratory, working with director and professor of psychology Mollie Ruben, have been studying the social impacts of face masks. Graduate students have also persevered in their important fields of study despite the pandemic. For example, doctoral student in biomedical science Andrew Ouellette worked with the Jackson Laboratory faculty associate professor Catherine Kaczorowski to discover a new connection between Alzheimer’s dementia and a specific gene. Doctoral student Sabrina Sultana has been investigating ways in which Maine’s forests can contribute to the state’s economic health. Graduate students in the laboratory of Dorothy Klimis-Zacas had been studying the wound-healing properties of blueberries.
These are just a few examples of your important work. I would like to thank all of you for your contributions to the University of Maine, the state of Maine and beyond. Moreover, as you graduate, you’re starting a new chapter in your lives. By graduating from the University of Maine, you are receiving UMaine’s stamp of approval and joining the thousands of individuals who have received their degrees from this great institution for over 150 years. The stamp of approval from the University of Maine means that you have received high quality and high impact education through distinctive programs and by world-renowned faculty who have prepared you well for professional success and lifelong learning. Finally, the University of Maine is great because of you and those who graduated before you. For all that you have done and continue to do to make the University of Maine the flagship institution it is today, thank you. We appreciate the opportunity to celebrate your success. Please keep in touch as we want to hear from you about all of your endeavors.
Congratulations to you, the class of 2021.
Faye Gilbert: On behalf of the faculty and staff in the Maine business school and in the Graduate School of Business, I congratulate you. You are completing a degree from an AACSB accredited program, one of the best in the world. Most of you earned this degree while you were working either full-time or part-time. Amazing perseverance in the middle of a global pandemic. We are very proud of you and today we all salute your achievement. Please stay in touch as your lives progress. Share your triumphs and your promotions with us and then consider reaching back to connect the next MBA student with an internship, a project for your firm, or a career opportunity. We believe you will continue to accomplish great things and we thank you for choosing the University of Maine for your graduate studies. Best wishes to you and congratulations. Go big, go blue, go business.
Mary Gresham: I remember well how I felt when I finally finished my doctorate. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Graduate work can be personally challenging because it is at this level that you are expected to integrate and utilize the knowledge you have acquired in your discipline in order to formulate your own position about theory and practice. You have successfully mastered that challenge. But as newly minted professionals in education, I submit that this is just the beginning. As you move on to embrace your professional identities, I’d like to share with you a favorite saying by Robert Browning that I hope you will consider, and I quote, “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for.” Stretch beyond your comfort zone and do not settle for what is easily attainable. To me this says, never stop learning. I congratulate you for achieving this milestone in your life, and I offer my sincere wishes for your continued success and I thank you for allowing me to be part of your well-deserved celebration.
Dana Humphrey: To earn a master’s degree or a Ph.D. is one of the most significant events in your life. To me, it takes second place only to defining the love of my life. Thus, you need to take time to celebrate this major accomplishment. Earning a graduate degree is also one of the most difficult things to accomplish in life. Earning your degree took tremendous self-discipline, overcoming self-doubt, solving problems that at the outset seemed unsolvable, creating new knowledge, making connections between knowledge that never existed before,and it took at least twice as much time and effort as you thought it would. When I look back on what it took to earn my own Ph.D., everything in life after that has been easier. This would make you all breathe at least a little sigh of relief. You’ve also developed a level of knowledge that is far above that of most of your peers. This knowledge comes with an obligation. That obligation is to make the world a better place. A world that is more caring, more equitable and more sustainable. Thus, go forth and use your knowledge to make the world at least a little better. Congratulations for all that you’ve accomplished, and let me thank you in advance for all that you will accomplish.
Emily Haddad: My name is Emily Haddad and I’m Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Maine.
The purpose of our college is to advance and share knowledge in the arts, the humanities, the social and behavioral sciences, and the physical and mathematical sciences. I am delighted to congratulate the 49 students being awarded graduate degrees in the liberal arts and sciences. Your degrees span chemistry, communication, computer science, digital curation, English, French, GIS, global policy, history, information systems, mathematics, music, psychology, spatial information science and engineering, Spanish, and spatial informatics. Whether you have earned a graduate certificate, a master’s degree or a Ph.D., your accomplishment shows your fortitude and dedication, your intelligence and passion for learning. You are empowered to improve the world. I am confident that you will, in whatever ways best suit you and your circumstances. Thank you and good luck to you.
Mario Teisl: Hello everyone. I’m Mario Teisl, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture.
I was a Maine student back in the day in the School of Economics. My time as a student opened not only opportunities, but new ways of thinking. I left Maine to pursue my Ph.D. but never forgot the people in Orono. When I returned as an assistant professor, I knew I was truly at home. The time you’ve spent here matters. As Maine’s land, sea, and space grant university, all that we do ultimately aims to advance the greater good, not only on campus, but across Maine and beyond.
You should know that the stories faculty are most eager to share are not about publications or grants, but about their former students’ successes. Please keep in touch with your mentors.
Over the past year, you have faced significant unique challenges and each and every one of you succeeded. The fact that you’re here today is a testament to your dedication to your field of study and professional growth. Thank you for the countless contributions you have made to Maine. Enjoy this moment. You absolutely earned it. Keep striving to make life more fascinating, fulfilling, and better for us all.
Edison Liu: Today is a very special day. I am sure you’re feeling it, and I certainly can feel it in you even remotely. Some may describe it as reaching a goal, but in truth, graduating is not an end, but the action of crossing a boundary, a phase transition in the life of a modern young adult. That transition can be as profound as a shift from a stationary solid to a flowing liquid. Your fundamentals are still the same, but your form is strikingly different. From an entity solidly planted, you’re becoming one that will be constantly moving and morphing, both adapting to the contours of your environment, but also reshaping and sculpting your surroundings. And it’s all about growth. Neurobiologists and psychologists tell us that emotional and intellectual growth is not continuous and linear, but a series of step functions characterized by dramatic shifts followed by relative plateaus. What’s really happening though, is not expansion and stasis, but growth and consolidation. That consolidation is where the fluidity of change takes useful form. Your college experience represented one cycle of expansion and consolidation. Now, you’re about to embark on one of the most profound, and most delicious periods of emotional and conceptual growth of your life.
This phase shift you’re about to experience will be fundamentally different from any that you’ve seen before. That’s because, before this graduation, most of you were being shaped and molded by your parents, your schools, your teachers and your friends. From now on you are given the license to be an effector of change, to change yourself, your environment, and even the world. You’re like a bird out of the nest and now ready to soar through the skies. As you are readying for flight, let me tell you about the landscape that you may encounter on your migratory journey. Not to give you direction, but to identify for you where you can expect a bit of food, respite, and where you may find favorable currents in unimpeded paths. If I may, let me suggest a moral destination for your landing spot.
The world you are entering is all about change. Importantly, these changes are happening with unparalleled speed. The Gutenberg printing press was thought to have been invented in 1440, but the first printed newspaper by Johann Carolus was serialized 165 years later in 1605. The World Wide Web, which is what we call the internet, was first launched in 1993, but Google was founded only five years later in 1998. Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928, but was not medically used until 1940, a lapse of 12 years. The COVID crisis started in January of 2020, and the first vaccines rolled out 11 months later in December of 2020. From Gutenberg to Google, the time to social impact declined from 165 years to 5 years. From penicillin to COVID vaccine, that time to impact decreased from 12 years to 11 months. What this means, is that to navigate your journey in life well, you will have to be flexible in order to deal with new challenges, seemingly both big and small, that will come at a dizzying pace.
On a personal level, concerning relationships and jobs, sociologists suggest that you will have on the average, five to six serious romantic relationships in your lifetime. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ survey of baby boomers in 2019 suggested that the average number of jobs in a lifetime is 12. Add to that the possibility of a family with children and you can see how your intimate environment will change often in your future. Unlike the changes you experience going from home to the university, the changes we’re talking about are now decided by you and affected by you. Flexibility does not only mean adjusting but also knowing when to let go. When are you ready for the next job? When you are in a disruptive, or even worse, a destructive relationship, you must leave. As for children, I’m a father of three and I firmly believe parenthood is for life. However, even in this seeming permanence, I’ve had to learn to let go.
In my personal case, I adapted mightily as an immigrant kid moving from China to America. I went through the same changes as you are experiencing today in my own education. But then, as a physician and oncologist, a cancer specialist, I had to adjust to being directly responsible for someone’s life. Then I converted from patient care to being a scientist, investigating fundamental truths about cancer. This then led me from a university professorship to Washington D.C. and Singapore, where I ran research institutes for two nations. From tropical Singapore, which is amongst the most densely populated urban cities in the world, I came to the Jackson Laboratory in the town of Bar Harbor, Maine. Each move posts social, cultural, and organizational challenges. But with each move, I found excitement, fulfillment and community.
From these experiences, I can tell you that the best preparation is to expect the unexpected. My advice to you is not to over plan. Sometimes life currents will carry you to very interesting and fertile places. However, let’s be clear, to adapt is never to avoid responsibility or to accept injustice. This is your transition from being a recipient of actions before graduation to an actor, a player on the stage of life after commencement becomes important. If somebody attacks your family, you will act. If you see injustice in the form of racism or corruption, you must act. But to be effective, how you act and when you act will require the flexibility of nuance and judgment.
That you will encounter many challenges is a given. As I have told you, after today, you may be called upon to act, to effect change, and not only to accept. But as someone who’s had to make many decisions, both personal, professional, and as an executive, I can tell you that you will make mistakes, sometimes big mistakes. For some, the fear of the wrong decision leads to paralysis and inaction. Others become cavalier and dismiss any error. Neither is correct or good. So, how do you navigate to do the right thing? Well, first, admit the error and learn from your mistakes. But just as important, you must find a guiding principle that brings coherence to your actions. What do I mean by this? Your response as an effector to the many personal, professional and social challenges that you will face, should have a moral center. A center that acts as the North Star with which you navigate your actions in this world. For me, I have a binary North Star that tells me to do good, and to make a difference.
As a philosophy, seeking to make a difference unifies the disparate roles I’ve had personally taken as a practicing physician, a research scientist, a university teacher, a government official, an institute director, a friend, a husband and a father. We cannot all achieve global recognition for our actions, but surely, in this interconnected world, all of us can have a global impact in small but measurable ways. An act of kindness to a dying patient will not change the medical outcome, but the goodness it embodies will spread to the grieving family and to the hospital staff, and society will be better for it. A single laboratory experiment usually will not bring a Nobel Prize, but may significantly contribute to curing human disease or to creating a more livable Earth. The gift of time and attention to one’s children and to one’s students will produce wiser and kinder progeny, thus populating another generation seeking to make a difference, by doing good.
In most cases, these individual actions will pass without being recognized, but each act of goodness, no matter how small, will inevitably be placed in the balance of righteousness and darkness as we’re judged as a whole being. In the end, being a fantastic father or a helpful, generous colleague are as great as making a single groundbreaking scientific discovery.
In the realm of institutions and nation-states, bigness and power are sometimes traits that can be surprisingly eclipsed by small examples of goodness. Who has made a greater contribution to humanity? Enron or Oxfam? Which force has shown humanity the way out of pain and misery? The communist revolution in giant Soviet Russia, or the miracle of peace in Northern Ireland? Like nuclear physics, a small mass can be converted to huge energy if the conditions are right. The reality is that the culmination of a multitude of small actions in the same direction can be very, very powerful. Human affairs are all fundamentally affected by personal attitudes that drive individual efforts. Lethargy and difference, selfishness, bigotry at the individual level will ultimately affect policy at the national level. For this reason, our individual biases and motivations do make a difference. For all of us to strive for goodness will give society the momentum in the right direction.
What I have learned in my personal sojourn that has been guided by my North Star of to do good and to make a difference. What I’m about to tell you may surprise you. I firmly truly believe that small is beautiful and small is powerful, that you can make the greatest difference in small places and with small actions. I chose to move from the scientific giant of the American National Institutes of Health to the small country of Singapore, and then from the country of Singapore to the town of Bar Harbor. I did so because I wanted to bust the myth that only big and famous institutions can make a difference. And I wanted to demonstrate how the conduct of scientific research can have a direct effect on a community.
With each move I joined institutions with high aspirations, a cohesive community and a strong work ethic. The social distance between the rank and file and the leadership is small. Decisions can be made and executed with speed and the impact of our actions assessed quickly. Add to these beautiful surroundings, and the package is complete.
In the nearly 10 years that I’ve been here as President and CEO of the Jackson Laboratory, I have witnessed the emergence of a new Maine that has, paradoxically, been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This Maine is safer and more beautiful than Boston in New York during the pandemic. This Maine is growth oriented and technological. Portland is becoming a lifestyle and information technology hub. JAX has expanded significantly into Ellsworth and now to China. This Maine is becoming more ethnically diverse and international. Small is indeed beautiful, and small is now global.
For the graduates of 2021, I hope that in your post-graduation flight, these trends will entice you to remain or, if you decide to leave, return to Maine and to grow your families here. On this wonderful day, I congratulate you all. Professors, for your teaching, students, for your persistence and hard work, and your parents, for their steadfast love and support. To the new graduates whose lives are about to commence, I wish you good fortune and success in achieving your goals. To you, I encourage you to go forth, to do good, and to make a difference.
2021 Commencement Stage Walk
Anna Elizabeth Godsey
Benjamin Nicholas Evans
Lydia Lucia Balestra
Brieanne Devaney Berry
Leslie S. Devine
Paige Nicole Emerson
Abbie Virginia Hartford
Gadson Elise Lefft
Holly Constance Leung
Simona Marie Lukasik
Colleen Laura Mayberry
Michael Joseph McCormick
Katrina Collinsworth Mercer
Haley Elizabeth Sattler
Ericka Maelissa Saucier
Michael Paul Wilczek
Maylinda Ann Boynton
Mackenzie Jean Bumpus
Grace Kathryn Crook
Frank Cruz Jr.
Pamela H. Doyen
Phillip Robert Haines
Kerry Michael Hanson
Jill Elizabeth Harper
Christina Mary Harrick
Elizabeth Katherine Hogan
Aysan Naid Mazhar
Braedon Charles Kohler
Aidan Patrick LeClair
Eben Joshua Lenfest
Derek Wayne McKinley
Renee Catherine Michaud
Molly Frances Miller
Mikayla A. Mitchell
Barbara M. Moody
Carson Nolan Neumann
Emily Suzanne Neville
Jill Walton Plummer
Jordan Raye Pratt
Daniel Paul Regan
Laura Crosby Rhoads
Paulina Patricia Sargent
Mary Jean Sedlock
Elisabeth Marie Waugh
Colleen Grace Keegan
Joan Ferrini-Mundy: On behalf of the Trustees of the University of Maine System, and in accordance with the authority vested in me, I hereby confer upon each of you the degree for which you have been recommended. Congratulations.
Kody Varahramyan is fond of saying that possibilities are endless at UMaine. Our graduate students repeatedly prove him right. In the midst of a pandemic, they have contributed to our understanding of it, through their work in the lab, in the field, and in communities. They’ve also helped students, educators, town and state officials and others meet its challenges.
And, they’ve helped to enrich and improve lives — through artificial intelligence, aquaculture and art, communication and climate, and economics and education.
Here are just a few of the many contributions and findings of UMaine graduate students:
- Provided state officials with estimates about the economic fallout and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
- Served on a subcommittee of the Maine Climate Council, which released its “Maine Won’t Wait” report in December.
- Gathered and provided research about decontaminating N95 masks to Maine hospitals.
- Found that peoples’ perceptions of science can predict the likelihood of wearing a face mask.
- Enabled undergraduates in online mathematics courses to participate in collaborative group work to enhance student success.
- Earned a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
- Worked to develop a “smart spoon” that enhances food flavor to improve quality of life for people on restricted diets.
- Helped communities that rely on natural resources for recreation and tourism prepare for the ramifications of climate change.
- Assisted with a mobile app-based intervention program that helps co-parents successfully resolve disputes.
- Explored the connection between Alzheimer’s and a specific gene.
- Investigated ways in which Maine’s forests can contribute to the state’s economic health.
- Examined wound-healing properties of blueberries.
- Found that virtual and augmented environments created novel ways of exploring mathematical ideas.
- Earned a Garden Club of America Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat.
- Worked on an AI program that identifies homes and neighborhoods that would need to be evacuated during floods.
- Created art that advocates for COVID-19 vaccination and equitable distribution of doses.
- Co-authored papers about physical risks and oxygen availability on Mt. Everest.
- Joined a team to test the effectiveness of an ingredient that creates strong immunity to diseases in fish in farms.
- Will help design an AI-guided monitor that examines sleeping babies’ sucking movements in order to reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Helped develop a tool that predicts how biotoxins released by algal blooms that can cause public health issues travel through coastal waters.
It is our charge to prepare you meaningfully to contribute through research and professional preparation to both local and global communities. You are more than well underway with that. Thank you for the contributions you have already made to the world and for those to come. Thank you for making us look good.
As I mentioned earlier, your successes reflect on your loved ones, mentors, and all of your talented, dedicated educators — from preschool to the University of Maine. Please thank them and continue to pay forward that generosity of spirit.
Congratulations on your journeys, achievements and contributions. I wish you the best as you continue to grow, learn, rise to challenges and serve as an example to others, and to define tomorrow. Thank you.
The Stein Song
Oh, fill the steins to dear old Maine
Shout till the rafters ring
Stand and drink a toast once again
Let every loyal Maine fan sing
Then drink to all the happy hours
Drink to the careless days
Drink to Maine, our alma mater
The college of our hearts always
To the trees, to the sky, to the spring and its glorious happiness
To the youth, to the fire, to the light that is moving and calling us
To the gods, to the fate, to the rulers of men and their destinies
To the lips, to the eyes, to the ones who will love us someday
Oh, fill the steins to dear old Maine
Shout till the rafters ring
Stand and drink a toast once again
Let every loyal Maine fan sing
Then drink to all the happy hours
Drink to the careless days
Drink to Maine, our alma mater
The college of our hearts always
Our hearts always