Thilee Yost: Outstanding Graduating Student

Thilee Yost, of Damariscotta, Maine, has been named the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Yost, a student in the Honors College, is a double-major in political science and philosophy, with minors in legal studies, and political philosophy and ethics.

Her numerous honors include the John Mitchell Nickerson University of Maine Memorial Scholarship, a UMaine Center for Undergraduate Research Fellowship and U.S.-Singapore Exchange Scholarship.

Her honors thesis is “Asian American Political Incorporation: A Case Study of Hmong Americans in St. Paul.” At a National Collegiate Honors Council conference, Yost presented, “Dialogues and Diatribes: An Eloquent Discussion for a More Civilized Age,” which focused on the Honors College current events course in which she is a teaching assistant.

She has been a resident assistant for three years, and had leadership roles in UMaine’s Pre-Law Society and the Mock Trial Team. Yost is a member of All Maine Women honor society.

She plans to pursue a joint degree program to earn a law degree and a master’s in public policy.

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals? 
UMaine is extremely underrated in how many opportunities you can find here. I traveled to Singapore on a full scholarship, I am a resident assistant, I am a course facilitator who helps teach a class without a professor present and helps shape the course curriculum, I presented at the NCHC conference, I have worked on research and articles with professors, my thesis research is getting funded, and I’ve been able to be a part of programs and groups where I’ve gained a mentor who has helped me know what I want to do and where I want to go. I am only one student — there are a lot of opportunities for students here, and I have been privileged enough to have those opportunities made available and accessible to me.

Have you had an experience at UMaine that has changed or shaped the way you see the world?
The courses I’ve taken within my philosophy major have definitely helped shape my morals and ethics. But what has furthered my ability to self-reflect on these ethics is being able to talk about these current issues and events with close, intellectual friends who push me to think harder and more critically, and be able to articulate those thoughts and beliefs.

Why UMaine?
I primarily chose UMaine for its affordability as I am an in-state student, but since coming here, I’ve learned UMaine has so much more to offer than just a low price tag.

How would you define the opportunities for student success at UMaine? Is there any particular initiative, program or set of resources that helped you succeed?
I would describe the opportunities at UMaine as hidden but plentiful. For all of the opportunities I have taken advantage of, I have to largely thank the Honors College. The Honors College not only provides a lot of special opportunities, but also a network of professors and peers who care about your success and want to support you so you can do well. Both professors and students will point out extra opportunities that will interest you because they know you better than peers in other classes.

Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
This is a difficult question as there are countless people and professors who have taught me so much and have had a positive impact on me. I want to mention and thank my first political science professor, Glen Holman, and my first philosophy professor, Jessica Miller. My first semester here, I took classes with these professors and they are the reason why I chose both (disciplines/fields) as majors. I definitely want to recognize my thesis adviser, Amy Fried, who supported me through the challenging process of research and analysis. Without her, I wouldn’t be doing a thesis. I also had the opportunity to work with (Rezendes Preceptor for Civic Engagement) Mark Haggerty, as he oversees the class that I TA for. He has given me a lot of independence and autonomy in the position and it has given me invaluable skills.

What advice do you have for incoming students to help them get off to the best start academically? 
My personal secret to success is keeping a detailed assignment notebook of all my tasks. Accountability and promptness are key skills students should start practicing as soon as they can. Another general piece of advice for college is to say yes to opportunities that come your way. I don’t think I could have arrived at where I am if I had said no to the opportunities I’ve had here at UMaine.