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The Year of Opportunity — Donors to Date

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Announcing 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.

Obtaining personal growth through opportunity

Melissa Klemt

Melissa Klemt ’17, a native of Ellsworth, Maine, is pursuing a double major in Psychology and Sociology. As she finishes her second to last semester at UNE, she reflected on her UNE experience and the impact it has had on her. “My time at UNE has been exceptional. It’s taught me how to step out of my comfort zone, to feel discomfort and then master discomfort to overcome it.”

Throughout her time at UNE, Melissa was sure to take advantage of every opportunity possible. In addition to a full course load and working in the Sociology department as an office assistant, Melissa participated in various clubs at UNE including TABS, the chorus/musical group and the UNitEd Multicultural Club, of which she is currently the treasurer. “I fell in love with the mission of the UNitEd Multicultural Club, to promote awareness and appreciation of cultural diversity through on-campus educational and cultural programming, and off-campus excursions. Every year, the club puts on an event called UNitEd Culture Fest, an interactive celebration of diversity in all its forms.”

During her sophomore year, Melissa completed the Diversity Leadership Program designed to increase awareness about multicultural issues and social justice. The rigorous, year-long program has an online curriculum as well as work and educational components within the community. “As part of the course, a Buddhist monk came to UNE and taught us how to meditate. My psychology courses also taught meditation, so this experience was invaluable to me.”

Academically, Melissa was growing as a student and a researcher. As a sophomore, she participated in the UNE Undergraduate Spring Research Symposium, presenting an experiment on the “bystander effect” that she had designed and conducted herself. As a junior, she became a teacher’s assistant for several sociology courses, doing some lesson planning and creating PowerPoint presentations.

Melissa also started a five month internship in the spring of her junior year at an organization in Biddeford called Violence No More. She did intake for their Peace Plan course, an alternative to prison for persons convicted of domestic violence. “This was the busiest time of my life, but it was also just incredible. The most interesting part of the internship was the participant interviews when they described what they did to warrant a conviction. Their stories will stay with me forever. I could see that most of the participants who came from abusive backgrounds thought violence was okay because that was all they’ve ever known. I was able to see success stories, too, which was very powerful. The experience also reinforced my education — I was teaching these participants the same things I was learning just a few weeks prior at UNE.”

To complete her major in sociology, Melissa was required to complete a capstone thesis. She decided to continue an academic research project started by Dr. Samuel McReynolds, the chair of the Sociology department, examining the sustainability of the year round populations on the islands of Maine. Melissa was awarded the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Scholarship to carry out her research. She constructed a survey and polled all 4,800 residents of the 14 islands on topics including food crisis, housing affordability, property taxes, population information and age. Melissa said, “This information will help us determine if the islands are moving away from places where people live and work all year to places where people live six months out of the year and then leave. I presented the findings at the SURE symposium this fall and I’ll be presenting again at the SURE symposium in the spring.”

In addition to the SURE scholarship, Melissa was also awarded a Merit Scholarship, the Women’s Literary Union Scholarship and has just been awarded a grant to go to Cuba on a faculty-led short term travel course in January 2017.

“UNE has presented me with so many opportunities. The feeling of stepping out of your comfort zone only lasts a short time. Once you overcome the discomfort, these opportunities teach you and sustain you for a lifetime. It’s better to learn through these opportunities than to dismiss them.”

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