Amanda Sandberg: Outstanding Graduating International Student

Amanda Sandberg of Skurup, Sweden is the Outstanding Graduating International Student in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture. She is a biochemistry major with a pre-med concentration, and a minor in molecular and cellular biology. Sandberg is a member of the women’s soccer team and a scholar-athlete. Her numerous honors include 2020 and 2022 Team Maine Scholar Athlete Awards, UMaine Presidential Scholar Awards and the Professor Frederick H. Radke Award. In collaboration with professor Melissa Maginnis, Sandberg has been studying calcium signaling in JC Polyomavirus infection. In 2021, Sandberg participated in a summer scholar research internship at Stowers Institute for Medical Research, studying downstream open reading frames and post transcriptional regulation. On campus, she has been a peer tutor, teaching assistant and Maine Learning Assistant. Sandberg will pursue a master’s degree in microbiology at UMaine while playing her final season of eligibility. Following graduation, she plans to go to medical school or earn a Ph.D. in a biomedical field. 

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals? 
Coming here allowed me to continue playing soccer at a high level while getting a great academic degree, something that would not have been possible back home. UMaine has given me the opportunity to move across the world, grow as a person and gain unforgettable experiences. I have met so many new people that I now call family and my life would definitely not have been the same had I not moved here four years ago. 

Have you had an experience at UMaine that has changed or shaped the way you see the world?
I would not say one specific moment, but that my whole experience as a UMaine student has changed the way I see the world now compared to before. Since moving from Sweden, I have gained more perspectives on the differences and similarities of different cultures and populations around the world. I still learn new things everyday from people of all walks of life and volunteering and connecting with the community has been especially eye-opening. 

Why UMaine?
I chose UMaine for the great science education and hands-on research opportunities, as well as the incredible support from faculty and athletics personnel. With the inclusive atmosphere and familial feel between students, I am happy to call UMaine my home away from home. 

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?
The opportunities for student success at UMaine are incredible. Faculty are knowledgeable, and all of the staff members are always helpful and want you to succeed. Additional labs and help hours are offered for challenging courses and other non-class resources are available. I have used the Academic Center, Career Center and the Office of International Programs many times and always received great help and support when I needed it. 

Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
During my time at UMaine, I have been lucky to meet a lot of impactful people, both in Athletics and in the Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences. My research mentor, Melissa Maginnis, is definitely one of those people. Ever since she gave me the opportunity to join her lab, she has helped and challenged me to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be every single day. She never doubted my abilities and showed me that with hard work and resilience, anything is possible. All of the staff in the Athletics Department, along with my coaches and especially my teammates, have also played a huge impact on my time at UMaine. Without their endless support and encouragement, I would have never been the person I am today.

What advice do you have for incoming students to help them get off to the best start academically? 
My best advice is to never be afraid to ask for help or go to office hours when you need to. All professors are here to help, so let them! Another piece of advice is to not be too hard on yourself — instead, enjoy the journey and take advantage of every opportunity you get. One opportunity always leads to another.

Contact: Margaret Nagle,