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The Year of Opportunity — Donors to Date

donors to date graphicAnnouncing UNE’s Year of Opportunity

The Vision 2017 ten-year strategic plan developed under the leadership of President Danielle N. Ripich is largely completed. But before we can declare the campaign a complete success, we still have a little more work to do in order to ensure that every student who aspires to be part of the UNE experience has the Opportunity to do so. That’s why contributions for scholarships and student support will be our primary focus during the final year of the Moving Forward campaign, the Year of Opportunity.

Stories of Opportunity at UNE

Ian Corbett ’14, ’19, graduated magna cum laude from the University of New England with a B.S. in medical biology and a minor in English and is currently a student at UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Chelsea Toussaint ’08, ’10,’17, a dental hygiene alumna who is currently a student in UNE’s College of Dental Medicine. On June 9, 2016, each spoke at the President’s Gala, introducing the Year of Opportunity.

As Maine natives, UNE undergraduate alumni and current students of UNE graduate schools, Corbett and Toussaint shared their stories of how opportunities they’ve received at UNE have already impacted their lives.

Ian and Chelsea with Pres Ripich

President Ripich looks on as student speakers Chelsea Toussaint and Ian Corbett take the stage.

Below we share excerpts as well as video highlights from their speeches.

Ian Corbett’14, ’19


My name is Ian Corbett, and I have recently completed my first year medical school student at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. I did not always want to pursue medicine, however. In fact, I can recall a conversation I had with my parents in 2010 when I became dissatisfied with my choice of major. I was certain I would be a pharmacist, but, as is often the case when confronted with young adulthood, began questioning my decision.

That I am speaking to you tonight should tell you that none of this actually came to fruition. It was, however, the beginning of building the life and future I wanted. I began that journey as a freshman, right here at UNE. My four years of undergraduate study culminated in an interest in the basic sciences and a passion for clinical medicine.

I took a gap year after graduating in 2014 and worked in the microbiology lab of UNECOM faculty, Dr. Meghan May. At the conclusion of my year-long experience in Dr. May’s lab, I had participated in investigating a novel way of predicting antibiotic resistance in common pathogens, and characterized growth rates and virulence factors in Mycoplasma gallisepticum, a zoonotic pathogen. More recently and following the conclusion of my first year of medical school, I began working under Dr. Katherine Hanlon investigating a novel approach to the treatment of breast cancer as part of a summer research fellowship. These special mentorships have provided deeper understandings of the basic sciences and have granted me windows into various specialties. As the primary educator of Maine’s physician workforce, particularly those in primary care, UNE upholds its responsibility of producing competent doctors. Early clinical exposure merged with rigorous basic sciences, I think, are what set students and graduates of UNECOM apart from their peers and colleagues.

UNE has provided the resources and opportunities that self-assured and searching freshman needed to become the person and burgeoning professional I am today. After completing my degree within UNE’s College of Arts and Sciences, continuing my education at its College of Osteopathic Medicine seemed like a natural progression. I knew my courses would be rigorous, that I would be supported and challenged by faculty and that there would be no shortage of opportunity when the next fork in the road arose on my path to becoming a physician.

At the moment, I think I’m in the market for a residency in internal medicine. It has an appealing breadth of practice and the patient relationships that will test and sustain me. Moreover, the need is certainly here in the state of Maine. I am also one of the fortunate few who have the added benefit of being a Doctor’s for Maine Future scholarship recipient. Your generosity has allowed me to pursue specialties based on personal interest, rather than out of financial necessity. I hope to repay your kindness by remaining in Maine to practice. If you’re lucky enough, it might be me walking into your exam room in a few years. I want to offer a sincere “thank you” for the support that has made this endeavor possible. As I mentioned before, I am one of the lucky few who found myself in the graces of your faith in my work ethic and personal investment in my future.

Chelsea Toussaint ’08, ’10,’17

Chelsea Toussaint


So before I begin, how many of you know where Madawaska, Maine is? Alright! So for everyone who doesn’t know, Madawaska is the most northern town in our state. It’s a six-hour drive from here, right on the border of Canada. Lots of valleys and farms, big fields, wilderness and some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. It’s where I was born and raised, and it’s helped me build a character of hard work and appreciation for Maine’s rural beauty.

While there are so many things to be thankful for up there, there’s still one difficulty we face that also affects the other rural communities across our state—the shortage of dental care. When I was young, I remember being driven across the bridge into Canada for my dental care, as our town couldn’t keep a permanent dentist and the nearest one was 25 miles away. 

A few years go by, and I graduate from Madawaska high school. This is when I really started to think about job characteristics and what I might like to do. I thought, “I’d love a few things: a flexible schedule, free nights and weekends, and time to spend with my family on the holidays. I also want to change lives in a good way. These characteristics led me right to the dental field, and before I knew it, an acceptance letter from UNE’s dental hygiene program landed on my doorstep — first big opportunity. So, I became a dental hygienist and returned home to practice in northern Maine for a year. I loved my job and everyone I worked with: from the patients, to the staff, to the care providers. Yet, I began to realize that I wanted to do more for my patients. I also began to wonder where I might work when both my employing dentists retired in 5-10 years. That was precisely when another opportunity came from UNE, which was the chance to become a dentist in my home state! Maine never had anything like this before. It was a brand new dental school, not even built yet and I was able to become part of the first class — second big opportunity.

The opportunities I’ve received from UNE began before my enrollment and will continue far beyond my graduation. After granting me initial scholarships for my hygiene education, UNE provided constant incentive for hard work and leadership through distribution of additional scholarships throughout the years.

So overall, my experience in this dental medicine program is one of the greatest opportunities I’ve been given in my whole life. At UNE’s Oral Health Center we don’t just rebuild teeth, we rebuild the entire patient experience and change lives in a good way. This is why I’m honored to be a part of our very first class of dental medicine in the state of Maine. We are part of a movement to end the shortage of dental care, as many of us will actually move into these rural areas to establish our dental practices and our lives. I know I’ll be giving a new dental home to a community like mine. Thank you very much to UNE, and to you all for being here tonight, as I know everyone at UNE is grateful for your support in our journey to change the world wherever we go.

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Learn about more Year of Opportunity success stories