Garrett Graham: Outstanding Graduate Student/Graduate Assistant in Kinesiology and Physical Education

Garrett Graham of Newport News, Virginia is the 2024 Outstanding Graduate Student/Graduate Assistant in Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Maine College of Education and Human Development. Read a Q&A with Graham below.

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

A photo of Garrett Graham at the University of Maine's undergraduate commencement.
Photo courtesy Garrett Graham.

UMaine has given me experiences that will last a lifetime. I’m grateful for the relationships I’ve made and how the university has helped me grow as a person. Throughout the ups and downs, I received exceptional support.

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

An experience that had a lasting impact on me was during my senior year as an undergrad. I had just gotten out of football practice and headed to one of the kinesiology courses I was taking at the time. That day a special guest taught the class and changed my outlook towards life. It wasn’t the material he taught but the way he taught. You could tell he cared about each student as a human being and not just a test score. After that class, I felt a drive to become a better person internally and externally.

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

Working as a graduate assistant for Jennifer McNulty and Dr. Robert Lehnhard made the work environment feel like home. These are two individuals who care about people and making change in the world. Dr. Lehnhard is one of the smartest and caring individuals I know. He is the definition of tough love but will always put the people he cares about before him. Unless it’s a bag of Smart Pop. Jennifer McNulty is someone that can’t be described in a few sentences. This is someone that constantly has a full plate, but continues to show up everyday with the same drive and positivity to teach future educators. Her admirable work ethic and dedication never goes unnoticed. I’m more than lucky to work with these amazing people.

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

One piece of advice I would give to incoming graduate students is to find your craft. Whether that’s a career choice, a thesis or a subject. This is where you get to hone in on your field and become an expert in it. I’m nowhere near an expert and will never stop learning. Focusing on your craft will give you a sense of direction.

Why UMaine?

UMaine gave me the opportunity to continue my education while playing football.

Favorite UMaine memory:

Spending time with my closest friends throughout the years.

Special Thank You message:

Thank you for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be a graduate assistant. I wouldn’t be here today without the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. It’s been a journey these past six years, filled with laughs and crying. I wouldn’t change a thing.