There are many great stories to be told from the Class of 2019, and we'd like to share just a few of them here. Watch as several of our featured graduating students share how they have made the most out of their time here at USM. Not only have they excelled in their classrooms, but they have also achieved success by engaging in their campus and their surrounding communities.
Congratulations to all members of the Class of 2019!
Meet the Featured Graduates
Meredith Sells had worked for five years on Wall Street — cultivating relationships and helping her clients invest their money — when she decided to return to Maine and enroll at the University of Southern Maine. For a young woman who grew up in Cape Elizabeth and had succeeded in New York City, it was an abrupt shift. But Sells, who describes herself as a “curious chameleon,” is a formidable person with the talent and drive to achieve her goals. She has earned a master’s degree in Policy, Planning, and Management. Read more.
Sam Matey of Gorham enrolled at the University of Southern Maine as a high school student. Three years later — at 18 years old — the new graduate is preparing to go study lemur populations on the other side of the world. "I wanted to go to Madagascar to see what it was like, before I go to grad school and really specialize in something," he said. "I wanted to see if I enjoyed living my dream, and I think I will." He has earned Summa Cum Laude honors and will graduate with a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science. Read more.
Dani Cournoyer began her college studies elsewhere, married and had a child on the way when she found the University of Southern Maine where she decided to complete her degree. For Cournoyer, who is originally from Reno, Nevada, school seemed to fit — financially and academically — with her goals as a rising artist. She earned Summa Cum Laude honors and will graduate with a bachelor's degree in Photography and Digital Art. Read more.
Claire Owens can finally pull down the reminder to complete college that hung on her pantry door in Westbrook. After years of study — often shared with her 16-year-old daughter, Marie Claire — Owens has earned her bachelor's degree in French*. "She and I did our homework together every night," Owens said. "It was really fun to be in a place, like her, to challenge myself to do the best that I could." She is graduating Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in French. Read more.
Jarvis Thanex Louis spoke no English when he left his home of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti in the months that followed the 2010 earthquake there. Maine and the University of Southern Maine became his place to start over— away from the reminders of the tragedy. "In Haiti, every day you saw something that reminded you of what happened: you lost all of your friends; you lost family members." In Maine, he found peace. He learned English with the help of library staff — "They are my favorite people at USM," he says — and the farmer's son began taking classes in Environmental Science. And he has just completed his master's degree in Policy, Planning, and Management. Read more.
When Regan Thibodeau picks up her degree this Spring, the Falmouth woman will become the first deaf Maine native to earn a doctorate and one of a shockingly few number of deaf doctorate-holders worldwide. Thibodeau, who has taught for years at USM, says she wants her Ph.D. — in public policy with a concentration in educational leadership — to show other deaf people that it can be done. And she hopes it will happen more often. Read more.
Kimberly Howrigan of Fairfield, Vermont spent USM years creating an impressive resume as a scholar and an athlete. She will graduate with a bachelor's degree in business administration. She earned magna cum laude honors for her academics. She served as the captain of the women's basketball team and president of the USM Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which earned national honors for efforts in the community, including working with athletes from the Maine Special Olympics. Read more.
Ezra Merriman Briggs came to USM from the tiny Down East town of Lubec, Maine. “I was homeschooled and this was my first time coming into a formal educational setting,” Briggs said. “It was also my first time living in close proximity to a lot of other people.” He excelled, earning magna cum laude honors with his bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Read more.
Lexi Bartlett grew up in Houlton, Maine, the last exit on the 1,908-mile-long highway, Interstate 95. Since enrolling at USM she has become an international traveller, taking school trips to both Iceland and China. And she’s getting ready for another leap abroad after she graduates from USM, where she earned cum laude honors with her bachelor’s degree in political science. Read more.