Bailey West: UMaine 2021 Valedictorian and Outstanding Graduating Student

Bailey West of Stockton Springs is the 2021 Valedictorian and the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture, and in the Honors College. The biochemistry major and honors student is a Maine Top Scholar. 

Her numerous honors include the 2021 Society of Toxicology Undergraduate Research Award and the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship. Her honors thesis is titled “Oral-care antimicrobial cetylpyridinium chloride inhibits mast cell function: role of tyrosine phosphorylation cascade.” In spring 2020, she studied abroad at University College Cork. 

West has been involved in research since high school, first with scientists at The Jackson Laboratory, MDI Biological Laboratory and Maine Medical Center, and then at UMaine with professor Julie Gosse. 

On campus, she has been a peer tutor and teaching assistant, and a student ambassador for the Honors College and the Study Abroad Program. 

This summer, West will participate in The Jackson Lab’s Summer Student Program, a 10-week research fellowship in mammalian genetics and genomics. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences this fall.

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals? 
UMaine has pushed me in every way, in terms of independence, knowledge, leadership, empathy and confidence. By consistently pushing me outside of my comfort zone, UMaine has prepared me well to pursue my goals in science.

Have you had an experience at UMaine that has changed or shaped the way you see the world?
The cumulative impact of all my experiences at UMaine has shaped the way I view the world. In particular, my experiences in the Honors College and studying abroad have contributed tremendously to that growth. With its strong emphasis on the humanities and discussion-based learning, the Honors College experience has challenged me to embrace new perspectives and subject areas outside of my discipline. The Honors College has also provided me with experiential learning through service projects and travel opportunities, including a trip to Washington, D.C. Studying abroad in Cork, Ireland was one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. It further pushed my comfort zone and made me more cognizant of my position as a global citizen by increasing my empathy for the immigration process, acceptance of uncertainty and appreciation of my Irish heritage.

Why UMaine?
I was drawn to UMaine for the extensive opportunities to engage in undergraduate-driven research in my home state. I have been fortunate to participate in the Maine Top Scholars program, which has provided extensive support for these research endeavors and made college affordable.

How would you define the opportunities for student success at UMaine? 
In my experience, the most important resource has been the supportive community. My peers, professors and mentors have helped me navigate the challenges and opportunities of my undergraduate education. UMaine strikes a great balance between a tight-knit community and a wealth of opportunities limited only by your imagination. Whenever I have wanted to pursue something here, there has been a mentor who has helped me find or create an avenue to do so; it’s just a matter of reaching out.

Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
I have been fortunate to have several incredible mentors during my time at UMaine, one of whom being my research mentor: Julie Gosse. Professor Gosse welcomed me into her lab during my freshman year and has consistently pushed me to develop independence and confidence as a researcher. She has gone out of her way on countless occasions to support my growth as a scientist and a student. Melissa Ladenheim has also been a fantastic mentor since my freshman year, and she is now the adviser of the newly developed Honors Ambassadors program. Professor Ladenheim’s enthusiasm and vision are unmatched, and she has provided me with a platform to take on leadership roles in areas in which I am passionate. Melissa Maginnis and Sally Molloy are professors in my department who have also had a significant impact on my growth, having mentored me in several courses and in my career development on countless occasions throughout the past four years.

What advice do you have for incoming students to help them get off to the best start academically? 
Make the most of the supportive community and resources that are available to you. Reach out to your peers and professors, and know that you do not have to do this alone.

Contact: Margaret Nagle,