Alums share their stories and pass on advice to current Marine Affairs students

Susan Farady with alums
Grayson Szczepaniak, B.S. ’17 (Marine Biology), Susan Farady, Maeve McGowan, B.S. ’19 (Environmental Science), and Adam Race, B.A. ’20 (Marine Affairs)

Three UNE alums recently returned to campus to discuss their career paths and their current jobs and to offer some advice to students in Susan Farady’s Marine Affairs senior capstone class.

They hold very different positions, but their jobs all have one thing in common. They have something to do with the ocean.

Adam Race, B.A. ’20 (Marine Affairs), currently works as production manager for Ocean’s Balance, a seaweed products company with a farm off the coast of Falmouth. Before landing in his current position, he took an interesting path after graduation. His advice to the students is, “Do not get so focused on landing your dream job right away.”

“I was always super focused and anxious about trying to find my career,” he explained. “Graduating in 2020 with the pandemic going on, that was not realistic. I got experience doing a ton of different things, from working construction to working on a food truck. There are things you can take away from any job. All those things can come together in helping you find what your path really is going to be.”

Maeve McGowan, B.S. ’19 (Environmental Science), writes grants and does fundraising for the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, a nonprofit based in Portland. She told students to never underestimate the power of networking.

“In Maine, the community is so tight-knit that once you have a good connection, it is just going to grow exponentially,” She commented. “I did some casual networking by identifying someone I wanted to be connected with. She ended up being my advocate. If you can build a network and start becoming comfortable introducing yourself and telling your story, it can go a really long way.”

Grayson Szczepaniak, B.S. ’17 (Marine Biology) came to the class one day after learning she passed the bar exam. She is an attorney with Thompson, Bowie, and Hatch, a local law firm that specializes in maritime and insurance law. She said the biggest thing that helped her after graduation was stepping out of her comfort zone. She advised the students to do the same.

“I took my first solo trip to Nashville, Tennessee,” she told the students. “I went for a week by myself and stayed in a hostel. Looking back, I think it was a defining moment of my life, going to a new city where I did not know anyone. I met people from all over the world at that hostel. Had I not left my comfort zone, I never would have experienced that.”

All three alums say their degree from UNE helped them to land in the positions in which they now find themselves.

“UNE is very well recognized in Maine, particularly in my industry,” McGowan stated. “The University is known for work in marine resources, research, and our connection to the aquaculture community.”

Race added, “My degree and the connections I have built through UNE, my advisors, and the Career Services office have made things a lot more manageable in my job searches.”

Susan Farady, J.D., associate professor of Marine Affairs, says she was delighted to learn that her former students are doing so well.

“It is just very gratifying to see these three all grown up and doing great things,” she commented. “They have taken their education from here and turned it into really nice lives for themselves.”

By inviting them back to tell their stories, Farady is hoping her current students took away some valuable lessons from the alums’ experiences.

“I am hoping that they see themselves in the future,” she explained. “They are anxious about what is next. I thought that hearing about the experiences of people who were students not too long ago would be helpful for them.”

alums in class