Alyssa Limeburner: Outstanding Student in Human Development

Alyssa Limeburner of Belfast, Maine is the 2024 Outstanding Student in Human Development. Read a Q&A with Limeburner below.

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?

A photo of Alyssa Limeburner.
Photo courtesy of Alyssa Limeburner.

UMaine has allowed me to explore my interests, make lifelong friends and find a career path I love. I found many passions through my Human Development studies, and I also learned a lot about myself and where I see myself in the future. I have been surrounded by the most incredible people, peers, faculty members, mentors and friends alike, who have made my experience better than any I have had in an educational setting. I am so proud and grateful to be a Black Bear.

Have you had an experience at UMaine that has changed or shaped the way you see the world? If so, tell us about it.

Working in the undergraduate Admissions office for nearly two years, I have had the ability to meet people from all over the country. I have met prospective students from as close as the town of Orono to as far away as Alaska. With each interaction, I get the opportunity to watch a new generation of students become excited about their future and all that it will hold. Whether or not they choose to become Black Bears, I still hold the same excitement and gratitude to be a part of their decision process and get to show them why I love UMaine. Also, UMaine has students from all over the world, allowing me to meet students and faculty from places I have yet to see or learn about. My horizons have expanded past boundaries I never knew existed and I have learned with and from so many people here at UMaine. I am forever grateful to every person I have come across and will carry them with me in my future professions.

Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better? If so, tell us about them.

I have worked with many amazing faculty members, mentors, and professors at UMaine, but a few stand out as having made my experience better.

First, Dr. Sandra Caron, my incredible advisor and the 2023 inductee into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame. Sandra has been a pillar in my UMaine experience, helping to guide me through my transition from undergraduate to graduate studies and to find my passion for the field of social work. Dr. Caron has always been there to answer my questions and late-night anxiety-ridden emails and has always made it clear that she believes in me. Without her support and guidance, I would not be where I am today.

Second, Dr. Julie DellaMattera, the person who took me under her wing and introduced me to the Servant Heart Research Collaborative (SHRC). Dr. DellaMattera welcomed me into the research collaborative along with her co-researcher, Dr. Melissa Ladenheim, and UMaine alumna Patty Morell (both of whom also made my time at UMaine better). In my time as a member of the SHRC team I have gained skills and knowledge I had never before thought possible. Additionally, Dr. DellaMattera has always been there to give advice and help guide me toward a career path I am so honored and excited to be able to follow. I am proud to call her a mentor and friend.

Last, but not least, Rebecca (Becki) Rand. When I began my time at UMaine I was hired as a graduate assistant at the undergraduate Admissions office. I was unsure of myself, anxious, and still healing mentally from the scars that the pandemic left. Becki was the person to hire me to join the Admissions team, and though we have had our ups and downs, she has always been there to cry with me, laugh with me, grieve with me, etc. Becki has not only acted as a supervisor but also as a mother at times when I needed her. She listened to me, provided advice, and helped in any way she could. Even when I thought she didn’t, she always had my best interests in mind. She made my transition to graduate school easier and provided me with an experience that gave me my best friends and professional development skills I will never forget. I owe her many thanks, more than I can write, and I cannot wait to continue to watch her blossom in her career at the Admissions office.

What advice do you have for incoming graduate students to help them get off to the best start academically?

To any incoming graduate students, I would advise you to always be open to new possibilities. When you’re in your undergraduate years it’s easy to find a niche and find comfort in clinging to it, declaring your career goals before you’ve even obtained your degree. Graduate school is a time to explore your interests and open yourself up to new career opportunities and possibilities. When I came to UMaine for graduate school I was sure I was going to go on to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and then somewhere along the way I found myself falling in love with social work. Now, I have been accepted into the Master of Social Work program and am happily continuing my graduate studies in a field I had never considered before coming to UMaine. I would also advise new graduate students to create connections with their faculty and peers, to get involved on and off campus, and to stay on top of their studies. It’s easy to get behind and hard to stay ahead, so take your time and enjoy every second of it.

Why UMaine?

I chose UMaine because of the opportunities that the university offers its students. Coming from a smaller institution where I received my bachelor’s, I wanted to find a university that was close to home but also offered opportunities for me to explore my research and academic interests. Less than nine months into my studies at UMaine, I joined a research collaborative run through the UMaine Honors College and have been able to help an amazing group of faculty, alumni and undergraduate students create Attachment Theory workshops with and for many different international organizations. I was able to work on projects I never thought I would be able to work on and have had opportunities I never thought I’d be able to have all because of UMaine.

Favorite UMaine memory:

Meeting my best friends for life, Mary Giglio and Mary Kate Jones. I met them both as a graduate assistant in the undergraduate Admissions office and I am sure I never would have survived graduate school without them. I will never forget the silent giggles at the front desk of the Heritage House, late-night FaceTime calls to play Stardew Valley, or the last-minute get-togethers to help each other with homework. Here’s to the end of this chapter and the start of our next!

Special Thank You message:

I want to take this opportunity to thank my amazing fiance who has always put my needs above everything else. From cooking dinner to reading all of my assignments, he has helped me and cared for me when I was at my lowest and barely treading water. Everything I do I do for you and I cannot wait for you to finally watch me swim into the amazing future we have built together.

I also want to thank my friends and family, my amazing parents, Adam and Trisha Limeburner, and my little sister (and best friend), Madison Limeburner. You all made me the person I am and wherever we are in the world, with you three I am home.

I also want to thank the family I have found through love, Heather Moran, Randy Stearns, Bob Bilodeau, Darcy Baggett, Elliot Murphy, Dina Murphy and Lexey McManus. I also want to thank my amazing grandmothers, Carrie Limeburner and Tina Burton for always believing in me, as well as Andrew Moran, Elizabeth Moran, Joline Bilodeau and Roger Bilodeau for being the best grandparents-in-law a girl could ask for. 

Finally, I want to thank my grandfather Jerry Burton, who has battled dementia for many years and will not be able to watch my graduation this year. If you were here papa, I know your cheer would be the loudest and I am so grateful to be your granddaughter.