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USM Grads with Unique Stories

commencement at USM

Each college graduate has a unique story. The graduates profiled below arrived at USM via diverse paths. Some arrived directly from high school, while others transferred from different colleges. One emigrated from Iran, while another took 16 years off before returning to finish his degree. All of them have excelled at USM and promise amazing things in the future.

Wise Family Members Earn One Ph.D. and Two Bachelor’s Degrees

Most high school students want to leave home, even their state, when thinking about college. Not so the three Wise offspring. Johnny, James and Cathy of Cape Elizabeth chose to attend USM where their father, Professor of Toxicology and Principal Investigator of the Wise Environmental & Genetic Toxicology Laboratory John Wise, teaches and conducts research. Saturday, John Jr. and James will receive their bachelor’s degrees. Both have worked in the Wise Lab alongside their parents since before entering USM. Johnny’s next stop is Purdue University where he will pursue a Ph.D. in neurotoxicology, researching Parkinson’s disease. Johnny was named an Outstanding Student Leader at the recent USM Student Involvement Recognition Gala.

James is headed to the other USM, the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. There, he will conduct research into the long-term impact of the Deep Water Horizon Disaster on fish. At USM, he participated in research on the Disaster’s impact on marine mammals and humans. Enrolled in a master’s program, he plans to complete his doctoral program at Southern Mississippi.

Not to be outdone, their mother and Dr. Wise’s wife, Sandra Wise, program director at the Wise lab, will receive her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology — a UMaine degree offered in collaboration with USM. Daughter Cathy, still an undergraduate at USM, plans to pursue her doctorate when her time comes.

Student Commencement Speakers

Noah Hurowitz, a resident of Portland originally from Arlington, Mass., is the student speaker at the 9 a.m. morning ceremony. He is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in Spanish. A staff writer and the news editor at USM’s student newspaper, The Free Press, Hurowitz is putting that experience to good use as a news assistant at the Falmouth Forecaster.

Hurowitz spent the 2012 fall semester at the School for International Training in Peru, studying indigenous identity, globalization and collective memory of conflict, writing his 50-page research paper in Spanish.

Roya Hejabian, a Cape Elizabeth resident originally from Tabreez, Iran, will present the student speech at the 2 p.m. ceremony. She is graduating with a master’s degree in social work. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from USM. While attending USM, Hejabian was involved with the Campus Bahai Association. She also holds a degree from the Bahai Institute for Higher Education in Iran. This institution offers classes secretly to members of the Bahai Faith, who, by law are not permitted to enter college in Iran.

Before arriving in Maine, Hejabian fled Iran to Turkey, where she lived for a year, volunteering for the U.N. working with refugees from Iran.

Senior Husky Achievement Award

Eryn Neptune of Readfield is this year’s winner of the Senior Husky Achievement Award, the highest honor awarded a graduating senior, presented for leadership, scholarship, and service to the University and community. Neptune, a 2008 Maranacook High School graduate, is graduating with a B.S. degree in health science, exercise and nutrition. At USM she served as a resident assistant for two years, a campus tour guide, and played on USM’s varsity volleyball team. She has been described as having an attitude that “is contagious” leaving no one “unaffected by her charm and enthusiasm.” Currently she works at the YMCA as a swim instructor and lifeguard and is volunteering at Maine Medical Center. She plans to become a physician’s assistant.

It’s Never Too Late To Complete Your Degree

This commencement, 17 graduates who returned to college after a gap of five or more years using Osher Reentry Scholarships, will graduate. These awards are funded through the Osher Foundation, whose president, Mary G.F. Bitterman, will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Among them, Christopher Sutherland of South Portland returned to USM after a 16-year hiatus, during which he toured the world and recorded with the band, Cerberus Shoal. He will graduate with a self-designed major in Hispanic Studies, minoring in history. While at USM, the father of one with one on the way, travelled to the Dominican Republic as a medical interpreter; received an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program Grant to study at the Latino community in Milbridge, ME; and volunteered with the Maine Migrant Health Program.

Sutherland now performs with Olas, writing and singing original lyrics in the Spanish language. In August, he will enter USM’s Extended Teacher Education Program with the goal of becoming a Spanish language and Latin American history high school teacher while continuing to perform his music. He is the husband of Molly Angie.

Built for Speed

Molly Carl of York transferred to USM to expand her running opportunities and the two-time NCAA All-American hasn’t slowed down since. Running on USM’s cross-country, indoor and outdoor track and field teams, she has broken school records, was named to the USFTCCCA Division III All-Academic Cross Country women’s team, and was a CoSIDA All American. Carl says she can run anything from an 800 meter to a 5K race. Her signature event at USM was the steeplechase.

The 2009 graduate and champion hurdler from York High School is graduating with honors from USM with a bachelor’s in geography and anthropology with a concentration in anthropology. Future plans include racing into the Maine job market.