The Year of Opportunity — Donors to Date
UNE abundant Opportunities shaped the life of Jessica Brancely, and now she wants to pay it forward
Jessica Brancely ’15, ’20, a resident of Saco, Maine received her medical biology degree from UNE in 2015. She was recently accepted into the College of Osteopathic Medicine’s doctor of osteopathy program and will begin her studies in August. While pursuing her undergraduate studies, Jessica was the recipient of a Presidential Scholarship and a Global Education Scholarship. These scholarships allowed her to explore her interests in the neurosciences and spend a semester studying abroad in Seville, Spain. Jessica says the opportunity to apply for the Doctors for Maine’s Future Scholarship, along with her experience serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer, were important factors in her decision to apply to the College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is passionate about serving her community and paying it forward.
When Jessica first applied to UNE as an undergraduate student, she was offered a Presidential Scholarship, but instead decided to enroll at another institution. After one semester, she transferred to UNE and was pleased to learn she could still take advantage of the scholarship originally offered to her. Having come from a university where class sizes were 300 plus, the smaller class sizes at UNE allowed her to form more personalized relationships with fellow classmates and professors.
Jessica’s hard work caught the attention of her professor, Dr. Lei, who asked her to do research over her first summer at the University. This opportunity to join Dr. Lei’s research team solidified Jessica’s interest in the neurosciences and provided her with an experience she could apply to real life work. During her sophomore year, Jessica studied neurogenesis (the formation of brain tissue) in baby and adult mice to see how the deletion of a particular gene may affect the development of brain tissue, and how this could impact the possibility of developing a neurodegenerative disorder like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease.
One of Jessica’s best UNE experiences would come a semester later, when she received the Global Education Scholarship and studied at UNE’s satellite campus in Seville, Spain, the commercial hub of Andalusia. While in Seville, Jessica lived with a Spanish host family and studied Spanish culture, art and history. Her favorite aspects of living in Seville were being able to fully immerse herself into the culture and lifestyle of the city, and see firsthand the architectural treasures she learned about in her classes. Jessica also loved living with her host family and found it hard to return to the states at the end of the semester. But more opportunities awaited her back home.
During her senior year, Jessica was required to participate in a community service project. After meeting an AmeriCorps volunteer on the UNE campus, she became interested in and applied for a position in the Multilingual Leadership Corps, which places AmeriCorps members in Maine schools. She was accepted into the program, and currently works at Lewiston High School as a mentor, helping students problem solve academic and social issues. Also as a mentor, Jessica works closely with 25 multilingual students who hail from Somalia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. Her students often need extra support because they may have missed school, or have a full load of classes while working to improve their English. Jessica describes this as the most rewarding job she has ever had, with the rewards being both emotional and spiritual.
“I’m not doing this for money or because it looks great on a resume. This is about the lives I’m touching and the true impact I am making on those lives. When I read their college essays and see what they’ve been through — living in a refugee camp, seeing family killed in front of them — it’s hard when they find themselves here getting detention for not being able to stand in a lunch line. This experience makes me even more determined to continue to do service in the medical field in the future.”
Jessica is appreciative of all of the scholarship support and learning opportunities she’s received at UNE. “I could not have attended UNE without the continuing scholarship support UNE gave me throughout my years as an undergraduate student. This support has made tremendous impact on my life and I’m very grateful. These opportunities make me want to pay it forward. I’m very excited about continuing my medical studies in order to provide further support to the people of Maine.”