Blanca Millán-Modia: College of Education and Human Development Outstanding Graduating International Student

Blanca Millán-Modia of Santiago de Compostela, Spain is the 2021 Outstanding Graduating International Student in the College of Education and Human Development. She is a kinesiology and physical education major with a concentration in exercise science, and minors in child development and family relations, and in human nutrition. The scholar-athlete and member of the women’s basketball team is a two-time America East Player of the Year and America East Defensive Player of the Year — the only woman in America East history to win both honors twice. Millán-Modia did her kinesiology internship in Latti Fitness Center — UMaine’s strength and conditioning facility, where she worked with other student-athletes on other UMaine teams. She has entered the 2021 WNBA draft and also plans to play in Europe. Following her professional basketball career, Millán-Modia plans to use her academic training to assist athletes and teams perform at the highest level.

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
First and foremost it gave me an opportunity to explore many different facets of my interest in the past five years, allowing me to get my degree and two minors. It also gave me the opportunity to play basketball at a high level and continue pursuing my career path of being a professional athlete. It has helped me grow as a person and as a player. Coming from Spain to a community like UMaine was a difficult decision but the family environment we have here made it so much easier. It gave the opportunity to meet some incredible people that became family.

Have you had an experience at UMaine that has changed or shaped the way you see the world?
I can’t choose one particular experience. I will say that coming from Spain when I was only 18 years old, impacted me in many different ways. The cultural differences are many, I had to learn how to adjust and fit in, but it helped me to be aware of how many ways of understanding life there are and know that they are all valid. The same thing happened with food, people and sports, everything is so different and I am lucky enough to have more than one perspective and have an open mind, to still learn and take in new things five years later. Being in such a multicultural community, where I met people from all over the world, from the dorms to my team and other athletes and friends was also something that I got to experience and shaped the way I see the world.

Why UMaine?
There were multiple reasons why I chose UMaine. Even though at the beginning of my five years here I was undeclared, I always knew I wanted to do something related to sports. When I learned that UMaine had a Kinesiology and Physical Education program it made a difference. Since the beginning of my recruiting process, education was a priority for me and my parents and we knew that UMaine had a great reputation as well as a great basketball program. The family environment also played a big role in my decision.

How would you define the opportunities for student success at UMaine?
The University of Maine has so many amazing resources that it is hard not to be successful as a student. There are so many offered opportunities, such as internships or jobs around the area, and the faculty always makes sure that we get them and we are successful. On top of all the extra hours, and labs there are also resources like the Writing Center, which I found very useful. Something that helped me succeed was the Tutor Program. There were some times where I wouldn’t understand some topics in lecture or it was too fast, specially at the beginning, and to have a tutor was very helpful since they could go over the material again, make clarifications and slow it down.

Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
The Kinesiology and Physical Education program has excellent professors. I would say all the professors I had in the past four years were very helpful and enabled me to be successful in this program. I would like to thank them for everything they have done for me and for understanding how hard it can be to be a student athlete at times. Here is a special mention to all of them: Sherrie Weeks, Shannan Fotter, Jennifer McNulty, Lauren Jacobs, Robert Lehnhard, Christopher Nightingale and my adviser Jesse Kaye-Schiess. Thank you so much.

What advice do you have for incoming students to help them get off to the best start academically?
One of the things that I learned was to ask for help, ask for tutors, mentors, professors or whoever else you may need. Take advantage of all the facilities and resources the university offers. It is the first time you are in college and there are going to be things that you don’t know, and that’s OK. There is always someone in your program that is willing to guide you if you have any academic struggles. It might be hard at the beginning, but as long as you put in the work every day, you will be fine. I will also make sure that you are as organized as possible and you are able to manage time.

Contact: Margaret Nagle,