Katherine McCarthy: Finding and building community at UMaine

Katherine McCarthy of Greenville, North Carolina is a University of Maine graduate student pursuing her M.Ed in student development in higher education. McCarthy, who moved to Maine in fall of 2021, has a graduate assistantship for training and outreach in the Office of Diversity and inclusion and is heavily involved with the Center for Student Involvement (CSI).

McCarthy says that through both of these jobs she has been able to have two very different, but equally meaningful experiences. Through the Diversity and Inclusion Office she has been able to see students lead very small, intimate and oftentimes challenging discussions. While through CSI, she has seen students excel at leading huge groups through fun activities.

“I have learned from these experiences that every student is different and that is OK,” says McCarthy. “I have learned to take things as they come because things never go the way they are planned and it’s always important to have a plan B.”

When McCarthy came to Maine, she says it was difficult to pick up and move her entire life to a place she has never been. But she says that UMaine has given her confidence not only in her work, but also in herself. In addition, she has come to appreciate the outdoor spaces available around her and says that the accessible walking and hiking trails have provided her with meditative spaces to get away from the stress of business and academics.

McCarthy began her assistantship when she started at UMaine and her internship with Ben Evans, assistant director for campus activities, at CSI in spring 2022. “Working with CSI I have found a lot of community. Although my internship ended, I plan to continue to be involved with CSI and late nights at the U. It keeps me going to see the students having fun,” she says.

Through her internship with Evans, McCarthy was able to build off an idea she had to make the UMaine “bucket list” more accessible to students and has now turned it into a whole year project with the help of the Hamm activity fund.

In addition to her community at CSI, McCarthy has also been inspired by her mentor and supervisor in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Anila Karunakar, director for diversity and inclusion. “She is the most emotionally intelligent leader I have ever met and she centers herself with grace and perspective. She does what she does really well and it has been an honor working with her,” says McCarthy.

After she graduates in the spring, McCarthy plans to seek an entry-level position in student affairs. She wants to expand upon the work she has done for students at UMaine and plans to continue engagement in student life in her future.

“UMaine has prepared me for my future in student life because I have learned a lot about troubleshooting and the importance of providing a space to build community for students,” McCarthy says.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, nagle@maine.edu