Abigail Mulligan: Outstanding Graduating International Student

Abigail Mulligan of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada is the Outstanding Graduating International Student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Mulligan is an Honors College student triple-majoring in chemistry with a pre-med concentration; in food science and human nutrition, with a concentration in dietetics; and in zoology. She is minoring in psychology, sustainable food systems and neuroscience. Among her numerous honors is the Charles A. Brautlecht Scholarship, the S.P. Livermore Award, and the Dr. Melanie Gershman-Tewksbury ’77 Scholarship. Her honors thesis is: “The Development of Sustainable, Flax-Integrated, Plastic Composite.” Mulligan has been a student researcher in professor William Gramlich’s laboratory, studying the development of sustainable, flax-integrated biocomposites. She is president of the Nutrition Club, secretary of the UMaine chapter of Kappa Omicron Nu and a 4-H STEM Ambassador. Mulligan also has been a member of the UMaine Swimming and Diving team and was a peer tutor. She plans to attend medical school to pursue a career in pediatric neurosurgery.

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
UMaine has fostered an environment of academic growth and exploration. In my experience, the administrative staff and professors on campus have shown extensive support for all academic endeavors. These individuals have fostered an environment where academic curiosity and exploration are not only supported, but encouraged. Depth of knowledge and learning has been at the forefront of my academic career as a result. Part of the success I experienced at UMaine is due to the support and guidance of administrative staff and professors who have helped me to navigate an interdisciplinary academic career, the responsibility and grit that accompanies it, as well as the joy and reward this learning can bring.

Have you had an experience at UMaine that has changed or shaped the way you see the world?
Being able to participate in the courses the Honors College had to offer was formative to my worldview. Sitting at a small table with individuals of diverse backgrounds and diverse perspectives of the world was enriching. It is so rare and so special to work so closely with other students and professors in such a way. I have been so fortunate to not only learn from textbooks, lectures and professors, but my peers as well. Learning of, and engaging with, diversity of thought has changed the way I see the world.

Why UMaine?
The first time I visited UMaine, I knew I would be offered the academic experience I was looking for. The small campus size and subsequent small class sizes offered an intimate learning community and environment that ultimately enriched my undergraduate career. Not only was I able to interact with professors more closely, but I was able to interact with student peers more profoundly than I expected. This exposed me to diverse opinions and perspectives that added a human dimension to my learning, which I immensely value.

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?

UMaine has numerous resources in place in support of student success. In an academic sense, there are in-class learning assistants available, tutoring resources and learning labs. With respect to an individual’s future success, there are student mentors available and a Career Center available to students. In addition, UMaine supports students’ social success through the encouragement of student organizations and student events, promoting community involvement on campus.

Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?

One professor I have worked closely with during my time at UMaine is professor William Gramlich. Dr. Gramlich was my adviser for my honors undergraduate thesis. Dr. Gramlich provided me with the privilege of being able to conduct research, as well as the privilege of learning from him. Dr. Gramlich has provided me with a plethora of knowledge that not only supports me as an academic, but at an individual level as well. Working with him has been a privilege. In addition, Jennie Woodard of the Honors College definitely enhanced my experience at UMaine. Jennie brought about the humanity of academia and life beyond the classroom. She also offered unconditional support and companionship throughout my undergraduate career.

What advice do you have for incoming students to help them get off to the best start academically?
My advice for incoming students to help them get to the best start academically is to pursue what you enjoy! Learning is so much easier when it is about something you are passionate about. UMaine has many diverse course options that meet any academic prowess. Aside from this, there are many organizations on campus that support diverse learning as well. Engaging with individuals of the same interests will only be conducive to academic success, whether it be in courses or student organizations.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, nagle@maine.edu