UMaine Virtual Commencement 2021 NSFA
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 commencement ceremony.
The University of Maine recognizes that it is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of Penobscot people, where issues of water and territorial rights and encroachment upon sacred sites are ongoing. Penobscot homeland is connected to the other Wabanaki Tribal Nations, the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Mi’kmaq, through kinship, alliances and diplomacy. The university also recognizes that the Penobscot Nation and the other Wabanaki Tribal Nations are distinct, sovereign, legal, and political entities with their own powers of self-governance and self-determination.
Today, I am thankful and delighted to be part of this virtual commencement for the classes of 2020 and 2021. Like you, I wish that we could celebrate this significant achievement all together in the Alfond Arena on our beautiful campus. Although that’s not possible, I’m grateful that people from around the state, country, and world can be part of this virtual event to recognize and honor you, our caring, resilient, determined, and accomplished University of Maine graduates.
Graduates, your loved ones and supporters have been invaluable in helping you achieve this milestone. Let’s thank and acknowledge them. Parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, significant partners, close friends, children, aunts, uncles, cousins. Everyone watching with you today is sending a clear message that they care about you. They are proud of you and they are excited for you. This is their celebration too.
This year, even more than others, there are so many people to thank, including the flexible and extremely dedicated faculty, staff and administrators who have guided, encouraged, and mentored you along your chosen paths during these extraordinary times.
Now, it’s my distinct pleasure to introduce administrators, guests, and honorees who are taking part in today’s 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 Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence and Dean of Students Robert Dana
- University of Maine Alumni Association Distinguished Maine Professor, Dr. Hemant Pendse
- Valedictorian Bailey West, a Biochemistry major from Stockton Springs, Maine
- Commencement speaker Edison Liu, President and CEO, The Jackson Laboratory
- Honorary degree recipient Melissa Smith, UMaine alumna, Class of 1991, Chair and CEO of WEX Inc.
- University of Maine Alumni Association Board of Directors Chair Robert Frank III, alumnus, Class of 1988, and Chief Development Officer at WBRC Architects Engineers
Many thanks to each of you for participating in this virtual ceremony.
The University of Maine System Board of Trustees oversees the management and operations of the University of Maine System with its seven member campuses, including this flagship campus, our only public research university. It is a pleasure to have with us today University of Maine System Board of Trustees Chair Jim Erwin and UMaine alumna and Board of Trustees member Emily Cain.
Jim Erwin was appointed to the University of Maine System Board of Trustees in 2012 by Governor Paul LePage. Trustee Erwin, who leads Pierce Atwood’s Employment Group, has extensive litigation experience. His practice involves the defense of all types of employment claims, including sex, race, religious and national origin discrimination; sexual and racial harassment; disability discrimination; retaliation and whistleblower claims; defamation; and labor arbitrations. Before joining Pierce Atwood, he served for five years as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Maine. Chair Erwin earned a B.A. degree from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Boston University School of Law.
Governor Janet Mills appointed Emily Cain to the UMS Board of Trustees in 2020. Since 2017, she has been executive director of EMILY’s List — the nation’s largest resource for women in politics. In 2004, at age 24, Emily was elected to the Maine House of Representatives. In 2008, when Emily served as House Minority Leader, she was the youngest woman to do so in the state’s history. Emily earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 2002 from the University of Maine and a master’s of education in 2004 from Harvard University. She is now pursuing a doctorate in higher education at UMaine.
Please welcome Chairman Erwin and Trustee Cain.
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.
Joan Ferrini-Mundy: Thank you, Chairman Erwin and Trustee Cain
I’d now like to welcome Chancellor Dannel Malloy. Dannel Malloy, who became Chancellor of the University of Maine System in 2019, led the development of a safe reopening framework this spring for all higher education institutions in Maine. He also has led the System’s push for unified accreditation for its seven universities to better serve the students and people of Maine. He will be integral in implementing the Harold Alfond Foundation’s historic $240 million gift to the System, which makes investments in engineering, student success and retention, graduate and professional programs, and Division I athletics and gender equity. Chancellor Malloy is a former prosecutor, lawyer, professor, mayor, and two-term governor of Connecticut. In 2016, he received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for defending the U.S. resettlement of Syrian refugees amid security concerns, and for welcoming a family of Syrian refugees to New Haven, Connecticut. Chancellor Malloy earned a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from Boston College, a J.D. from Boston College Law School, and he holds six honorary degrees.
Dannel Malloy: Congratulations, graduates of the University of Maine. This occasion marks your receipt of your baccalaureate degree. It honors the commitment that you have made to receiving an appropriate education that will guide you through the rest of your lives. I ask that you acknowledge the support and love of the family members that have perhaps contributed and made your success possible. I also note the outstanding faculty and its contributions at the University of Maine, and the contributions they’ve made to your success. Finally, I want to say thank you for your extraordinary efforts in keeping your fellow students, faculty, and staff of the University of Maine safe throughout the pandemic. Thank you, President Ferrini-Mundy for your outstanding leadership as well. Go get them.
Joan Ferrini-Mundy: Each year, the university celebrates the achievements of our inspiring faculty and staff with several awards. The University of Maine names three Presidential Award winners for Outstanding Teaching, Research and Creative Achievement, and Public Service Achievement.
This year’s recipients are:
- Dr. Judith Josiah-Martin, instructor in the School of Social Work. She is presented the Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award. Nominators cited her passion for the material and her “active, social, contextual, engaging and student-owned approach to learning.” Dr. Josiah-Martin wants students to use information to add value and meaning to their lives and she encourages all to expand their “thinking capacity” — to question, discuss, challenge, and present — and become problem- solvers and strategic planners.
- Dr. Elizabeth Allan, professor of higher education, is presented the Outstanding Research and Creative Achievement Award. Her work is rooted in the belief that “higher education can be a driver of social change toward a more equitable, inclusive, sustainable and socially just world.” Dr. Allan leads the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention, stophazing.org, and the Hazing Prevention Consortium. She also conducts research on campus culture and climate, including on student engagement, diversity and equity.
- Dr. James Dill, pest management specialist and Extension professor, is presented the Presidential Public Engagement Achievement Award. The UMaine alumnus coordinates the UMaine Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory and leads the Tick Identification Lab. In his 40-plus-year career, Dr. Dill has been instrumental in developing Maine’s crop, animal and public health integrated pest management, and pesticide safety education, and effectively communicating these evidence-based strategies to homeowners, gardeners, commercial growers and policymakers. Senator Dill, a member of the Maine legislature, is currently serving his fourth term in the Senate, representing part of Penobscot County, and serves as the Senate Chair of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife committees in the 130th Legislature.
Profiles of these three outstanding faculty members, and stories about all of today’s honorees, are highlighted on the UMaine commencement website.
Each year, the University of Maine Alumni Association awards the University of Maine Distinguished Maine Professor in recognition of a faculty member who exemplifies the highest qualities of teaching, research and public service. This year, Dr. Hemant Pendse, an internationally recognized leader in forest bioproducts research, is the recipient. Dr. Pendse, professor of chemical engineering, chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, and director of the Forest Bioproducts Research Institute that he founded, joined the UMaine faculty in 1979. Since then, he has spearheaded innovative research that has earned two patents and produced 82 publications. Dr. Pendse has presented more than 200 technical papers, garnered $17 million in external funding, and has developed new economic opportunities for Maine through his work on forest bioproducts. Students know him as an educator who challenges them to think critically. He provides clear and concise lessons, is always willing to help, and dedicates himself to their success.
Hemant Pendse: Congratulations to all graduating students. Be proud of your achievement and enjoy this moment because you have worked hard to get here. This work will serve you the rest of your life. Be always mindful of the relevance of your research, not only now, but in the future. Striving for new knowledge — new to you, new to your department, and new to the world — is an exciting enterprise. Always keep eyes open for the opportunities, and prepare yourself to take advantage of those, benefit from those, so that many others will benefit from opportunities that you will get as you move on. Always keep in mind that you need to think about: why should one care about something as much as you, if not more. That communication is an important aspect, it will serve you well in all aspects of your life, not only at work, but everywhere all the time. Show your passion for what you do and your vision for anything you take on. Take this message home and it will serve you well.
Joan Ferrini-Mundy: Thank you, Dr. Pendse, and congratulations again on being named this year’s Distinguished Maine Professor.
This spring, the University of Maine established the Black Bear Award for Extraordinary Impact, which recognizes an individual or group that makes a deep, significant and lasting mark. The inaugural recipient is the University of Maine Emergency Operations Center, which since February 2020, has led COVID-19 response for the UMaine and the UMaine Machias communities. The EOC has professionally coordinated our emergency response — with facilities, procedures, personnel, and communication, and with an extraordinarily strong level of care and commitment to our university. Members have done everything from designing how to set up testing sites, to calculating how many people can fit within 6-foot distancing in classrooms of various sizes, to reviewing proposals for events for safety. And so very much more. I am immensely grateful for the time they have given, which has been significant, and the expertise they have brought to bear over these past months, which is considerable. Their diligence, skill and creativity have enabled us to foster the success of our learners; discover and innovate for the state, the nation and the world; and grow and advance partnerships to serve communities.
Some students’ academic regalia includes a medallion with a white ribbon. These distinguished scholars are graduating from UMaine’s Honors College, which is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the country. To succeed in the Honors College, each student must meet the prescribed requirements for all UMaine students, plus take honors courses, conduct research, and write an honors thesis which they defend before a faculty committee. Congratulations, all.
Military training has been a part of the University of Maine for more than 140 years. Each spring, the commissioning of officers into the Army, Navy and Marine Corps is a very special experience. ROTC programs on campus help develop students’ discipline, physical stamina, teamwork and management skills, and other qualities essential to success. The battalion staff draw from decades of valuable experience to teach cadets what it means to be a leader in today’s modern military. Congratulations, all.
The Doctor of Humane Letters is an honorary degree given in recognition of exceptional contributions to society, scholarship or the arts. The University of Maine celebrates outstanding individuals who make a difference in the state of Maine, in our country and the world.
This year, we are proud to award the honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to two outstanding individuals: Class of 1991 UMaine alumna Melissa Smith and former University of Maine System Trustee Wayne Newell. Provost John Volin will first share some highlights about Melissa Smith’s incredible career.
John Volin: Thank you, President Ferrini-Mundy. It’s my pleasure to introduce Melissa Smith. Melissa grew up on a potato farm in Winn, Maine, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting in 1991 at UMaine. She now is the chair and CEO of WEX, a financial technology solutions provider that serves millions of companies worldwide. She leads the creation and execution of global strategy and development of talent and culture. Melissa began her career at WEX as a senior financial analyst and also served as CFO and president of the Americas. Melissa, who says her mother was her first role model, was recognized in 2017 as the Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year and in 2012 as the Mainebiz Woman to Watch. In 2015, the Maine Women’s Fund presented her with a Tribute to Women in Industry award. In 2013, the Girl Scouts of Maine presented her with a Women of Distinction award. Melissa views her responsibility to use her CEO platform to foster growth in communities. She co-founded the Executive Women’s Forum, and sponsors and participates in Tri for a Cure. In 2019, as a Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow, Melissa visited campus, engaged faculty about research and public policy, and talked with students in the Maine Business School.
Joan Ferrini-Mundy: Thank you, Provost Volin. We are pleased to have UMaine alumna and Board of Trustee member Emily Cain here to present the honorary degree recipient.
Emily Cain: President Ferrini-Mundy, it gives me great pleasure to present Melissa Smith, fellow UMaine alumna and Maine business leader, upon whom the trustees of the University of Maine System have voted to confer the Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree. Congratulations Melissa, and thank you for your leadership and many contributions to the people of Maine.
Melissa Smith: Thank you, Dr Ferrini-Mundy and Trustee Cain for this great honor. Some of my first memories are sitting on the lawn at the Mall of the University of Maine and looking at the beautiful old buildings, dreaming about my future. I come from a long line of strong, independent Maine women who believe in the importance of education. I’m a third generation legacy. My mother, and her mother before that, were both Black Bears and UMaine alum. My mother worked at UMaine specifically so that her three daughters could someday have a leg up in the world by having an education that would give me choices about my future. One of my first economic lessons came when my mother sat me down and went through the finances of my attending college. It became quite clear that by choosing to go to UMaine, I would graduate in a much better financial position. What I didn’t know at the time is that 47 percent of CEOs in the Fortune 100 companies went to state schools. That choice in college, well affordable, has also provided a great foundation for whatever my aspirations would be. Each of you has more control over your destiny than you probably know.
I grew up in a tiny town with 400 people in Northern Maine on a working farm. My mother raised her three daughters to be ridiculously independent and pushed us to try new things. Her motto was, “‘Why Not?” If there wasn’t a legitimate reason, then push through the discomfort of doing something new. That meant that when I was old enough to see over the steering wheel, I drove the hay truck during haying season, an early lesson in accountability. If you knocked the hay off, you picked it up. My mother told me that I could do anything, but that I had to be willing to work for it. She also reminded me that life was unfair, and that the deck would be stacked against you sometimes — that you had to chart your own course and live every day with the consequences of those choices.
One of my first choices was my profession. When you grow up in a small town, you can’t fully understand the scope of your options. I knew I was interested in business and I will be forever grateful to an accounting professor at UMaine, Dr. Marshall Geiger. Dr. Geiger did something that was highly impactful to me as a young woman. When Dr. Geiger returned my tests, he would write notes then encourage me to consider accounting as a career. He called on me in class and he made me accountable for my learning. He spoke to me about my career options. Through those conversations, I chose a career in public accounting.
Marshall Geiger: Melissa Smith, congratulations. I am so happy for you. I am glad that the University of Maine has decided to grant you the honorary degree of doctorate. It is well, well deserved. You have been the perfect example of how to take your education and get the maximum out of it. You’ve also been a great example of how to accomplish your goals the right way. Thank you for that. I am so glad to have been just a small part of your story, but we all know it’s been all you. You have done amazing things, so congratulations. I don’t want to take any more of your time, this is your special day. I just want to wish you continued success in your professional life and in your personal life because we all know that you need both of those things. Congratulations, Dr. Smith. Keep up the good work.
Melissa Smith: When I graduated in 1991, it was into a horrible job market, yet I had multiple job offers because of my education at the University of Maine, internships and interest in people. I picked a career with Ernst and Young to start. In my career, I’ve moved in circles where I frequently was the only woman. I’d see it when I’d walk into a room and get a visible, uncontrolled reaction from prospective investors as I met them for the first time. I get it, they were potentially going to make a $100 million investment decision, and I didn’t fit the norm. I learned to brace for their reaction, and I spun a story in my head about how it meant that I would be immediately memorable. My whole career, I felt the pressure to conform and a desire to stake a claim to be unique. Also, a tremendous responsibility to show others what is possible by doing it well. I’ve landed firmly with the opinion that I don’t want to be like everyone else, average is, well, average. It’s safe, but not that interesting.
My advice to each of you is to embrace what makes you different and unique. Each of you is amazing. Find your own place in the world that’s going to bring you purpose and happiness. When you’re about to tell yourself something that you can’t do, or you aren’t good enough, or some other self-critical talk, stop. There’s enough judgment and negativity that will legitimately come your way — you simply can’t add to it yourself. People will judge you. Remember you, and only you, are the keeper of your narrative. Take chances, and remember that only you can decide what’s right for your own life. Thank you.
Joan Ferrini-Mundy: Congratulations, Ms. Smith. On behalf of the University of Maine, we are pleased to bestow you with this honor. As a Doctor of Humane Letters recipient, you join an august body of honorees.
Our second honorary degree recipient is Wayne Newell.
Wayne Newell has made significant contributions to the Passamaquoddy people, the University of Maine, the state of Maine and the nation. Wayne was the first Wabanaki citizen to serve as a Trustee of the University of Maine System. He also served in the Maine Legislature and dedicated his talents and life to the preservation of the Passamaquoddy language. The U.S. Department of the Interior/Bureau of Indian Affairs has designated him as a “National Living Treasure.” Wayne was selected for a Ford Foundation Fellowship in leadership development, during which he interned in Washington, D.C., and volunteered in the office of then-Senator Edmund Muskie. He then attended Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning a master’s degree from Harvard in the area of linguistics. His work has focused on bilingual education in the Passamaquoddy Nation schools and preservation of the Passamaquoddy language and culture. Wayne’s work as a cross-cultural bridge-builder culminated with the publication of “A Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Dictionary: Peskotomuhkati-Wolastoqewi Latuwewakon,” a 1,200-page volume published by the University of Maine Press. Wayne was twice appointed to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education, serving in both the Carter and Obama administrations.
Unfortunately, Mr. Newell could not take part in this virtual event today, but please join me in extending our deepest congratulations to him for this special honor.
Traditionally, the university community honors the top two students in our graduating class — the valedictorian and salutatorian. Faculty and staff nominate candidates and a university-wide committee makes the difficult choices. This year’s valedictorian and salutatorian are extraordinary and I appreciate having had the chance to speak with each of them. Here are some highlights about them and their outstanding academic careers.
Bailey West is valedictorian of the Class of 2021 and the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture, and in the Honors College. Bailey, a biochemistry major, earned the 2021 Society of Toxicology Undergraduate Research Award and the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship. Her honors thesis, under the mentorship of associate professor of biochemistry Julie Gosse, is titled “Oral-care antimicrobial cetylpyridinium chloride inhibits mast cell function: role of tyrosine phosphorylation cascade.” In spring 2020, she studied abroad at University College Cork. Bailey has been involved in research since high school, first with scientists at The Jackson Laboratory, MDI Biological Laboratory and Maine Medical Center, and then with professor Julie Gosse at UMaine. Bailey also has been a peer tutor and teaching assistant, a student ambassador for the Honors College and for the Study Abroad Program, and a student organizer for the Honors College’s annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s team. This summer, Bailey will participate in The Jackson Lab’s Summer Student Program, a 10-week research fellowship in mammalian genetics and genomics, then pursue a Ph.D. in pathobiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She comes from Stockton Springs, Maine.
Drew Bennett of Brewer is the salutatorian of the Class of 2021. Drew is a mechanical engineering major with a minor in robotics and he has received Mid-South Engineering scholarships and the Thomas P. Hosmer Scholarship. Drew was an undergraduate research assistant in the Advanced Manufacturing Center. Last year, he also was a manufacturing intern with General Electric in Bangor. And this year he’s been an education application engineering intern with PTC in Boston. Drew also has been president of Black Bear Robotics and the UMaine NASA Robotic Mining Challenge Team. He shares his expertise with youth robotics teams, including at Brewer High School and Bucksport High School. He intends to continue working with K-12 youth and has accepted a full-time position as an education technical services engineer at PTC, where he’ll work with teachers, students and STEM organizations to implement the company’s software technology.
We now will hear from valedictorian Bailey West, who will provide remarks and introduce our commencement speaker.
Bailey West: Dear class of 2020, congratulations. Our college years had been challenging to say the least, especially this past year. Graduating college is no small feat under any circumstances, let alone during a global pandemic. Senior year did not look how we expected it, with Zoom classes, the lack of crowds at sports games, and other traditions we typically enjoy, and even this virtual commencement format. But we were creative and resilient, as were our professors and mentors who helped us adapt to these challenging circumstances. We should be proud, not only of the work we’ve done as individual students, but of the ways in which we’ve come together and maintained the vibrant spirit of our Black Bear community. If there’s one thing I know about Black Bears, it’s that we pushed through our challenges, and today is a real testament to that. For this, I want to say thank you to my fellow graduates for all you have done to make the most of these circumstances. I would especially like to thank the members of our graduating class and community who have served as essential workers throughout this pandemic, such as the nursing students who have helped many of us get vaccinated. Thank you to our professors, mentors, families and friends for helping us get to where we are today. We all come from different backgrounds, but we have one thing in common, we have persevered. With every challenge of college, we have grown in our resilience. Each of us has taken a challenging situation and gotten something positive out of it.
It is clear that from our education, we’ve gained not only skills and knowledge, but also character. Many of you I’ve been fortunate to know personally during my time at UMaine, and many of you I’ve never met. But between all of us graduating today, we have thousands of diverse strengths that we have developed during our time in college and have used to impact our UMaine community. Now, we will each go in our different directions and we’ll use those strengths to impact our future communities. Our hard work at UMaine has set us up, not only for the work we will do in our future careers, but for the ways in which we will engage with our communities, take on leadership roles, and pursue our hobbies. Before too long, we will be immersed in the everyday hustle and bustle of our next endeavors and a newfound sense of normalcy. As we look forward to whatever is next in our academic and professional journeys, I sincerely hope we take the time to pause and reflect on just how significant an accomplishment this is. These are lessons we can take with us. In our next chapters, there will be new challenges and our comfort zones will be further stretched. But that discomfort is a sign of growth, and in those moments, we will be able to look back and remember how we grew through the challenges of college. Congratulations again, class of 2021 and best wishes and all you do.
I would now like to introduce our commencement speaker. Dr. Edison Liu is President and CEO of the Jackson Laboratory, an independent research institute focused on complex genetics and functional genomics with campuses in Maine, Connecticut and California. He also directs the NCI-designated JAX Cancer Center. Previously, Dr. Liu was the founding executive director of the Genome Institute of Singapore and the president of the Human Genome Organization. He also was the scientific director of the National Cancer Institutes Division of Clinical Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, where he was in charge of the intramural clinical translational science programs. In his earlier career, Dr. Liu was a faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was the director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Centers’ Specialized Program of Research Excellence in Breast Cancer, the director of the Laboratory of Molecular Epidemiology at UNC School of Public Health and the chief of Medical Genetics.
Dr. Liu is an international expert in cancer biology, systems genomics, human genetics, molecular epidemiology, and translational medicine. His research has focused on the functional genomics of human cancers, particularly breast cancer, uncovering new oncogenes and deciphering, on a genomics scale, the dynamics of gene regulation that modulate cancer biology. Dr. Liu has authored over 320 scientific papers and reviews and co-authored two books. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and psychology and his M.D. at Stanford University. He then received his residency and fellowship training at Washington University and Stanford, and postdoctoral training in molecular oncology at the University of California at San Francisco.
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.
Joan Ferrini-Mundy: Thank you, Bailey and Dr. Liu, for sharing your inspiring thoughts with our graduates. Now we will hear from Dr. John Volin, University of Maine Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.
John Volin: I’m 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 adversity 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.
Joan Ferrini-Mundy: Now, we will hear from Robert Dana, Vice President for Student Life and Inclusive Excellence and Dean of Students.
Robert Dana: Hello, my friends. How wonderful to be with you, albeit virtually. What a remarkable experience you’ve had in college. How great you’ve made this campus, this community. What a wonder you’ve brought to my life. For you, the graduates of the Class of 2021, congratulations. There’s just nothing more wonderful — it’s a peak experience and you deserve every sense of wonder and joy that this moment brings to you, your parents, your friends, your family, your loved ones. They’re all proud of you and I’m proud of you. You’ve made the world a better place already. I know you’ll go forward and make it an even better place. Being a graduate of a university such as the University of Maine confers upon you all sorts of privilege. You have all sorts of expectation on you also, and with the expectation and the privilege comes responsibility. I ask you one final time, and all of our times together, please do all the good you can possibly do, for all the people you can help. And it doesn’t matter where they are or how you do it, but do for others and let others do for you, please. Remember the golden rule, which is treat people just as you would like to be treated. Enjoy. I’ll miss you. “The college of your hearts always” will always be here for you. I’ll be here, please come back and visit. Congratulations.
John Volin: President Ferrini-Mundy, upon completion of all requirements these students will be recommended by the faculty and approved by the Board of Trustees. I have the honor of presenting them to you so that they may have their respective degrees conferred upon them.
2021 Commencement Stage Walk
College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture
Tyler Zachary Condon
Danielle Skye Donadio
Sydney Elizabeth Abramovich
Austin Garrett Harmon
Jonathan Dudley Bartlett
Dylan James Beauregard
Kobe B. Borden
Jeremy Edwin Braun
Emma Catherine Budway
Lauren Marie Carver
Jamie Leigh Chiles
Abigail Jane Comtois
Matthew John Cooper
Sarah M. Delano
Paul Christopher Eskow
Thomas John Fennell
Anna Alden Fitch
Mikaela Rebecca Fleenor
Carley Jolene Fredericks
Paige Kendall Giffault
Alex Keith Glabau
Sheldon John Green
Aaron Mark Hallett
Jillian Blair Henderson
Nikayla Lore Hetzell
Jessie Lee Hutchinson
Rachel Caroline Hyatt
Trevor Loomis Jones
Daniel Andrew Karparis
Zachary Ryan Kunow
Pamela Rebecca Lerch
Rebecca May Levasseur
Kassandra Brooke Martin
Kaylie Rae Mason
Nicholas Joseph May
Kaylee Maeve McKenna
Deven P. Moroney
Meghan Margaret O’Neil
Grace Lindsey Perron
Courtney Higgins Reddish
Samantha Brooke Reilly
Kaitlin Marie Robinson
Shannon Agnes Ryan
Nicholas Joseph Scavuzzo
Megan Kathleen Sinclair
Shannon Lynn Smith
Sierra Mae Snow
William Lauring Somes
Jackson Arthur Spinney
Catherine McKay Street
Anthony Edward Genatossio Sullivan
Haley MacKenzie True
Taylor Ashley Wotton
Hannah Mae Burns
Mikaela Liem Callahan
Kendra Grace Campbell
Sophia Constanza Chapman
Grant William Chmura
Iris Kathryn Connolly
Andrew Scott Czwakiel
Elizabeth Xue Dee
Madeline Kate Eberly
Taylor May Emerson
Daniella Leal Espinal
Keeley Ann Gomes
Sara Rose Griffin
Noelle Marion Heron
Julia Alison Iannuzzi
Emily Mae Jackson
Michael Keith Jamison
Samuel Arnold Jennings
Alexandra Taylor Johnson
Alyssa Leigh Johnson
Alexandra Park Kaiser
Kat Jennim Klebon
Irene Melita Koistinen
Joanna Kate LaFrance
Sophia Claire LaFrance
Sarah Grace Latario
Emily Marie McLaughlin
Brittany Ann Morales
Haley Lynn Morrill
Erika Lyn Pacheco
Kilian Catherine Pierce
Emma Elizabeth Reedman
John Curtis Ross
Claire Elizabeth Schaffer
Josie Nicole Swoboda
Zoe Lynn Tacheny
Bailey Ellen West
Amber Katheryn Westley
Jessica Jade Wibby
Bailey Michele Woodard
Benjamin North Moore
David Aloysius Bennett
Austin Michael Caruthers
Enya Willow Childs
Maia Elise Conway
Kelsey E. Davis
Krissa Amanda Davis
Hannah Lynne Dill
Megan Elizabeth Driscoll
Evan Scott Dunn
Mikala Irene Dwelley
Ryley Claire Fay
Amber Lynn Ferris
Katelyn Mallory Gilcrease
Russell S. Glann
Sydnee Kate Hamblen
Lilly Connor Hanks
Grant Mitchell Herchenroether
Stuart Lees Hodge
Nicole Marie Kaizerman
Hannah Elizabeth Koehler
Anson Peter Kuzmickas
Ciara Nicole Larence
Bradlyn Jane McEttrick
Jessica Kate Moore
Irene Esthela Moreno
Oliver Emerson Newbold
Emma Duftin Newcomb
Katelyn C. Phillips
Emily Ruth Pierce
Jeremy Carleton Pooler
Aidan Noah Redding
Isabelle Claire See
Brian Eugene Silva
Emma Catherine Spies
Patrick Jeremiah Stafford
Madison Harmon Stahle
Sara Billings Swett
Forrest Kazu Temple
Raleigh Kaytlin Toussaint
Elena Emilie Ueland
Alexis Rae Welch
Seth Rognerud White
Zachary David Procter
Ellen Marie Babbidge
Kayla Noel Balsley
Catherine Faye Christiansen
Claire Marie Collins
Alexandra Mary Constantine
Nicole Emily Despres
Delaney Rose Dow
Karineh Anne Dumont
Olivia Mills Eckert
Tatum Rose Erlandson
Alexis Leigh Fowler
Gabrielle Lynn Gamache
Madeline Nicole Giordano
Kristina Marie Glynn
Kelly Nicole Goodall
Sarah Genia Griffiths
Isabelle Rose Gutheinz
Sierra Nicole Harmon
Marybeth Michelle Heyse
Sylvia Elin Jackson
Taylor Elizabeth Jackson
Alyssa Grace Karlins
Kaylin Cindy Le
Emily Grace Lund
Brady Michael McEwen
Emma Caroline Moulton
Hannah Melinda Nadeau
Stephanie Eva Nichols
Kyleen Marie Nixon
Allie Marie Novicki
Emma Grace Orton
Ashley Jordan Ouellette
Lydia Hope Peterson
Brianna Taylor Rambo
Ashley Ann-Marie Reynolds
Leila Emily Rollins
Elizabeth Marie Round
Andrea Elizabeth Shane
Victoria Marie Shepardson
Emilienne Annette Soucy
Isabelle Magnolia Spearin
Amelia Fay Sullivan
Katie Lynn Swanson
Jennifer Ruth Turner
Kristen Gail Vielleux
Danielle Miranda Viselli
Kayleigh Tomoe Wick
Lauren Jillian Williams
Madelyn Mary Young
Haley Noel Hines
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.
To symbolically reflect this conferral, undergraduates, please move your tassel from right to left.
Now is the point in the program where the president delivers a “charge” to the graduates, and I will do that. In this extraordinary time, though, I’ll first take a few minutes to reflect on the profound experience we at the University of Maine, and others across the world, have shared in a 14-month global pandemic, and how that affects all of us going forward.
The college experience is transformative for everyone — and in very different ways. Many undergraduates come as eager beginners, ready to explore a new world of options and possibilities. Others come with significant career experience to explore their path more deeply, or build a new one. Some of you knew exactly what you wanted and progressed on a direct path, uninterrupted and without wavering from your first day on campus to today, and are now ready to implement that preparation in a career you envisioned from the outset. More of us, though, in college, changed direction, even lost our way, readjusted and got back on track, or changed track completely. It is true that everyone leaves changed, ready to go on to whatever comes next.
But while you were here, a pandemic happened, bringing hardship and tragedy to so many. To those who lost family and friends, and to all who suffered from, and were affected by, the ravages of the coronavirus in any way, you have our sympathy, understanding, and support.
Every graduate’s college transformation was affected by this, and maybe by so much else going on in the world around us, including renewed calls for action on racial justice and an increasing focus on global climate change. Yet here you all are today, changed by this extraordinary time at the University of Maine.
You have had no other option than to learn to be flexible. To manage. Dig in. Hang on. Persevere. Be determined. And to take care of one another. Along the way, you’ve succeeded in so many ways, great and small, and you may have surprised yourself. So your transformation includes new-found levels of tenacity, resilience, patience, confidence, and capacity to care.
Thank you for sticking with it, and know how much pride you can take in who you are, and how ready you are for whatever comes next, as a result.
I congratulate you all for the part you played in the pervasive efforts made on our campus to keep everyone safe during this terrible time. Through April 28 of this semester, for instance, more than 90,000 COVID-19 tests were conducted on campus. You all, collectively, tested thousands of times. Thank you for what you did for your community.
Learning, and teaching, required flexibility, adaptation and innovation. And technology. Last fall, you and all UMaine students enrolled in more than 2,500 course sections. Of those, 1,700 were in-person, a combination of in-person and online, and service learning. Another 538 were in-person research and independent study sections. 151 sections were online, 59 were hybrid, and 58 were completely distance synchronous, wherein students from various locales attended class together. Thank you for navigating through this complex array, for overcoming large and small technology challenges, and mostly, for keeping your own learning going successfully.
As president, I’m very proud of UMaine. This past year, I’ve never been more proud of all of you, including nursing students who have been working in hospitals and residential care facilities and giving vaccinations during the pandemic. Including all who worked on projects and initiatives to help our state, from designing thermometers, to taking wastewater samples, to helping to produce hand sanitizer, to participating in service projects to help others get through this difficult time. Thank you for representing the University of Maine in so many wonderful ways.
Members of this exceptional Class of 2021 have:
- Taken part in virtual internships at IDEXX Laboratories, at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and at dozens of additional organizations in Maine and beyond.
- Played on the Swedish Men’s National Basketball team.
- Participated in a chemical engineering co-op at Verso Paper in Jay, Maine.
- Completed an Honors thesis titled “The Role of the IEX in a Fragmented Market System,” and led the American Sign Language Club.
- Examined how viruses that infect bacteria contribute to antibiotic resistance.
- Earned the Outstanding Graduating International Student twice — last year in the College of Education and Human Development and this year in the Maine Business School.
- Completed a degree after beginning courses at another college in 1994.
- Been invited to a WNBA team camp.
- Served as president of All Maine Women and student ambassador at Fogler Library, co-chaired the Feminist Collective, and participated in the Hip Hop Club, and Black Bear Mentors.
- Worked as a research assistant with the Marine Fisheries Partnership and interned in Kyiv with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
- And so, so much more.
My charge to you is simple: Congratulations. You have already changed the world. You are ready to take on whatever the future brings. You are ready to shape tomorrow. So go forward and make a difference.
I am pleased to introduce Robert M. Frank III, chair of the University of Maine Alumni Association Board of Directors, who will welcome the members of the Class of 2021 as the newest graduates. In 1988, Rob graduated from UMaine with a bachelor of science in civil engineering. He is Chief Business Development Officer at WBRC Architects Engineers.
Please welcome Rob Frank.
Robert Frank III: A hearty Maine Hello to the class of 2021 and to their family and friends. On behalf of the UMaine Alumni Association, let me offer a heartfelt congratulations to all of today’s graduates on finishing your degrees. You’ve worked hard to get to this point. You’ve also overcome a variety of personal and academic challenges along the way. Perhaps no impediment on your path to graduation was this as great or disruptive as the pandemic. Your final year was certainly unconventional with respect to the university’s 150 year history. But despite the hardships you encountered, you achieved your goal.
Now that you’re in the final stage of wrapping up your UMaine education, I want to remind you about “The Stein Song.” No, not the “fill the stein” part. You can celebrate that part later if you wish. But the part that says this, “To Maine our alma mater, the college of our hearts always.” Remember those words. UMaine will forever remain relevant to you, through the education you’ve received, the friendships you’ve made, the experiences you’ve enjoyed, the networking career opportunities that you’ll make and so much more. The Alumni Association wants to help facilitate that for you. We’ll keep you informed about what’s happening in Orono and with your classmates through our print and digital communications. We’ll invite you to social and professional networking events and programs that will take place on campus and the geographic regions where you’ll end up and online.
We’ll also invite you to get involved as volunteers and advocates for UMaine. The Alumni Association needs help to fulfill a major purpose, to help strengthen UMaine’s quality, affordability and value. We look forward to having you be part of those efforts to build and sustain UMaine’s relationships, resources and reputation. In July, we’ll be sending you a package. It will include a graduation gift and a copy of the summer edition of Maine Alumni Magazine. The gift will acknowledge your membership in our organization. By the way, membership is free and the magazine will include the names of all members of your class of 21. But to get that gift and magazine to you, we need your personal postal address. Please send it to us at this email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s email@example.com. Thanks in advance for doing that. Again, congratulations to the class of 21 and to the family and friends who supported you along the way. Your graduation creates a bond with more than 100,000 other Black Bear alumni living in all 50 states and more than a hundred countries. From today forward, you have the right — and the pride, I hope — to claim the University of Maine as your alma mater, the college of our hearts always. Thank you and good luck to all of you.
Joan Ferrini-Mundy: Thank you, Rob.
This concludes the University of Maine’s Spring 2021 virtual commencement ceremony. I want to offer my thanks to the commencement committee, led by Vice President and Chief of Staff Kimberly Whitehead, which has been meeting weekly since July 2020. Special gratitude as well to committee members Margaret Nagle, Geremy Chubbuck, Ben Evans, Kathleen Harding-Heber and Danny Williams. In this extraordinary year, this committee balanced our traditions, our deep wishes to hold an in-person event, civil guidance, health and safety concerns, and the wishes and ideas of students, alumni, parents and so many more. And I believe, with all the challenges, they came up with a solution that works. Thank you for your creativity, persistence, flexibility and hard work to execute this historic, first UMaine virtual commencement. We all owe you our thanks.
Thank you to all participants and honorees, including Dr. Ed Liu; Melissa Smith; Wayne Newell; Jim Erwin; Emily Cain; Chancellor Malloy and others involved in making this ceremony a wonderful event. And the biggest thank you goes to our 2,238 graduates in the Class of 2020 and 2,051 graduates in the Class of 2021 — for sticking with us, completing your degrees, and participating in this virtual commencement.
Please join in the singing of “The Maine Stein Song.” 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