Meet UMaine’s 2016 Outstanding Graduating Students
Eleven undergraduates have been named 2016 Outstanding Graduating Students at the University of Maine.
Among them is Connor Smart, the Outstanding Graduating Student in the Maine Business School, and the 2016 salutatorian.
The Outstanding Graduating Students will receive their degrees at UMaine’s 214th Commencement in Harold Alfond Sports Arena May 14.
The other Outstanding Graduating Students are:
Ahmed Almaghasilah of Qatif, Saudi Arabia, has been named the Outstanding Graduating International Student in the College of Engineering at the University of Maine.
Almaghasilah is an electrical engineering major, with a minor in mathematics. He is a member of numerous honor societies.
In 2014, he was invited to China and New Zealand to attend the Envision Global Forum on engineering and technology.
Almaghasilah has been a teaching assistant in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and assisted electrical and mechanical engineering students in their senior projects.
A full Q&A with Almaghasilah is online.
Mikaela Gustafsson of Sodertalje, Sweden, has been named the Outstanding Graduating International Student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Maine.
Gustafsson is majoring in sociology, with a concentration in crime, law and deviance, and minors in psychology, and child development and family relations. She is a member of UMaine’s women’s basketball team and a scholar-athlete.
She received the University of Maine Sociology Department Prize and was an American Sociological Association Honors Program student, presenting a research paper at the national association’s annual meeting in 2015. Gustafsson was a member of UMaine’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Athletes for Sexual Responsibility.
She plans to pursue a professional basketball career and a master’s degree in international development, ultimately doing work related to immigration and welfare policies.
A full Q&A with Gustafsson is online.
Kathleen Hill, a Lincoln native now living in Ellsworth, has been named the Outstanding Graduating Student in the Division of Lifelong Learning at the University of Maine.
Hill is majoring in university studies, with minors in English, psychology and business management. She received an associate degree from Eastern Maine Community College in 2014.
Hill has been a University of Maine employee for 18 years, first as a catering supervisor and now as manager of Buchanan Alumni House. She is a member of five honor societies, including being president of the UMaine chapter of Golden Key. For the past three years, Hill has been a peer tutor in UMaine’s Writing Center. She also led the winning team in the inaugural International Trade Show, organized by the Maine Business School, and served on the Library Student Advisory Committee.
Hill plans to pursue an MBA at UMaine.
A full Q&A with Hill is online.
Jade McGuire of Augusta, Maine, has been named the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Maine in Orono.
McGuire, an honors student majoring in elementary education, with a concentration in mathematics, will receive a bachelor’s degree with high honors at UMaine’s 214th Commencement May 14.
Her research for her honors thesis, “Preservice Teacher Self-Efficacy for Teaching Mathematics,” focused on teacher beliefs about teaching math in the elementary grades. McGuire participated in the study abroad program Semester at Sea, and she was active in UMaine Black Bear Mentors and Alternative Breaks.
She plans to start her elementary school teaching career in Maine and, ultimately, pursue a master’s degree in education.
A profile about McGuire’s UMaine student experience is online.
Yi Peng of Chongqing, China, has been named the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Engineering.
Peng, a civil and environmental engineering major and a nontraditional student, is the recipient of numerous scholarships, including those from the Maine Better Transportation Association and Associated General Contractors of Maine. In 2014, she took first place in the student paper presentation at the 64th Maine Transportation Conference.
Since 2013, Peng has been employed at UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, collaborating on research on the VolturnUS floating offshore wind turbine and ultra-high performance concrete project.
She participated in the National Science Foundation 2014 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in Sensor Science and Engineering at UMaine, and the following summer, interned at HNTB Corporation in Westbrook, Maine.
Peng is an officer in the UMaine chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the first president of the UMaine Table Tennis and Badminton Club.
She will pursue a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering at UMaine and plans a career as a structural engineer.
A full Q&A with Peng is online.
Dominika Trzilova of Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic, has been named the Outstanding Graduating International Student in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture at the University of Maine.
Trzilova, a double major in molecular and cellular biology, and biochemistry, will receive a bachelor’s degree at UMaine’s 214th Commencement May 14.
Trzilova was the recipient of the Susan Elliot Judd Roxby Memorial Scholarship and the James Totman Scholarship, , and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society. In summer 2014, she was a research intern studying signaling controlling bone metabolism at the University of Connecticut Health Center. In summer 2015, she participated in a Biochemistry Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (BSURF) at the University of Iowa, where her research focused on stem cell maintenance in the fruit fly.
In her junior year, Trzilova joined the UMaine lab of Dr. Robert Wheeler, where she used the zebrafish to analyze the innate immune responses to infections with Candida albicans, an opportunistic fungal pathogen that causes severe infections in immunocompromised patients. For her capstone project, she examined the role of macrophages in these fungal infections.
In addition to her coursework and research, Trzilova was a resident assistant, a peer tutor in biology and biochemistry, and a microbiology lab teaching assistant. She served as vice president of both the Biology Club and the UMaine chapter of the Maine Society for Microbiology. Trzilova was active in the International Student Association, and participated in intramural basketball, soccer and swimming.
This fall, she is enrolled in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
A full Q&A with Trzilova is online.
Nipun Vaidya of Katmandu, Nepal, has been named the Outstanding Graduating International Student in the Maine Business School.
Vaidya is majoring in accounting and finance. From the Maine Business School he received the Melvin T. McClure Scholarship and the Clark Noyes Liscomb ’60 Prize.
Vaidya interned with Fairchild Semiconductor in South Portland, Maine, and is a student accounting/finance assistant with UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. He is president of the UMaine chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants, a student ambassador in the Maine Business School and a resident assistant on campus. Vaidya also participated in intramural soccer.
He has been hired as an external auditor with Ernst & Young in Boston, and plans to be a certified public accountant.
A full Q&A with Vaidya is online.
Hilary Warner-Evans of West Bath, Maine, has been named the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Maine.
Warner-Evans is an honors student majoring in anthropology, with minors in English, folklore and Maine Studies. Her academic honors include the Maine Studies Research and Creativity Award and a University of Maine Humanities Center grant.
As a George J. Mitchell Peace Scholar, Warner-Evans studied abroad in Cork, Ireland in 2015. Also that year, she attended a Library of Congress Field School for Cultural Documentation at Utah State University.
At UMaine, she has collaborated on research at the Maine Folklife Center, and in the School of Marine Sciences and the School of Biology and Ecology. Warner-Evans’ research for her honors thesis, “Themes of Identity and Power in Contemporary Topical Song,” involves studies of songs written about Maine’s North Pond Hermit and about water charges in Ireland, as well as new adaptations of “Which Side Are You On.” She presented her research on the North Pond Hermit songs at three national conferences, including the annual meeting of the American Folklore Society in 2015.
Warner-Evans has participated in Maine Peace Action Committee, the UMaine Conversation/Culture Partners program and the Honors College Student Advisory Board.
This fall, she will pursue a master’s degree in folklore at Indiana University.
A full Q&A with Warner-Evans is online.
Annabelle Wilson of Geelong, Victoria, Australia, has been named the Outstanding Graduating International Student in the College of Education and Human Development.
Wilson, an elementary education major with concentrations in English and human development, is a member of UMaine’s women’s cross country, and track and field teams, serving as captain of both this past season. She is a three-time student-athlete scholar, and a member of the All Maine Women and Kappa Delta Pi honor societies. She has been a member of UMaine’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and student-athlete mentor/tutor, and a co-chair of the UMaine chapter of Colleges Against Cancer.
In 2012, the year she joined the UMaine community, Wilson placed 10th overall in the World Mountain Running Championships, and competed in the Commonwealth Mountain Running Championships.
In Maine, she did her student teaching at McGraw School in Hampden and Leonard Middle School in Old Town. This past winter in an internship at Carrabassett Valley Academy in Carrabassett Valley, Maine, Wilson helped establish a peer mentoring program for the school’s ski and snowboard athletes.
She plans to start her elementary school teaching career in Maine.
A profile about Wilson’s UMaine student experience is online.
Elizabeth Wood of Catlett, Virginia, has been named the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture at the University of Maine.
Wood is an honors student majoring in biology with a pre-med concentration, and a minor in chemistry. She is a member of UMaine’s women’s basketball team, serving as captain for the past two seasons.
Her numerous academic and athletic awards include the America East Elite 18 Award, America East Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year and 2015 Dean Smith Award.
The summer after her sophomore year, Wood participated in a NASA-funded cancer biology internship project at Colorado State University. At UMaine, her honors research focused on prevention of Type 2 diabetes, exploring nerve function, calories, energy expenditure and fat storage. The title of her thesis: “Novel Role of Neurotrophic Factor in White Adipose Tissue.”
Wood has served as president of the UMaine Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the America East Conference representative on the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
She plans to pursue a professional basketball career, followed by medical school.
A profile about Wood’s UMaine student experience is online.