Annual Muskie School student awards!

The Muskie School of Public Service is thrilled to announce the recipients of the Best Student and Capstone Awards from our various programs, recognizing outstanding achievement and dedication to their respective programs of study:

Policy, Planning & Management:

Jess Walker has been awarded the Best Capstone Award for her exceptional project on recycling options in South Portland. Through meticulous research, including surveys, literature reviews, and interviews with municipal leaders, Jess provided valuable insights that informed decision-making in the city.

Lindsey Mingo Ellis and Sam Moran have been recognized with the Best Student Award for their exemplary academic performance and remarkable analytical skills, setting them apart as future leaders in their fields.

Public Health:

In the undergraduate Public Health program, Candace Lee has been honored as the Best Student for maintaining a high GPA and demonstrating a passion for public health and service and strong research skills.

Brianna Holston was celebrated as the Best Researcher for her outstanding contributions to the Maine Rural Health Research Center, showcasing a strong grasp of policy research and a dedication to improving rural health outcomes.

In the graduate Public Health program, Urja Patel has been recognized as the Best Student for her exceptional leadership and contributions to the program, including her work on equity and inclusion initiatives.

Catherine Gelsinger has been awarded the Best Capstone for her sophisticated study on trends in postpartum contraception among individuals with substance use disorder in Maine, highlighting her ability to address pressing public health challenges with thorough research and analysis.


Matthew Bourassa was awarded the Best Student Award for exemplary work throughout his academic career and his deep engagement in research and service on equity issues.

Isabel Smith was awarded Best Capstone for her extensive fieldwork, data collection and richly documented research capstone project on women in traditional handicraft industries in Mexico.

Tourism & Hospitality:

Madison Ward was awarded Best Capstone Award assisting in two major conferences hosted by USM, including for Maine’s school counselors learning about the THOR (Tourism, Hospitality & Outdoor Recreation) Institute and the ICHRIE NENA (International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education – Northeastern North American Federation) conference in Portland, Maine.

Sydney Auclair was awarded Best Student Award, recognizing her leadership skills and talent in the visual arts for the tourism sector. She contributed to artwork in an award-winning cookbook, A Taste of Two Worlds, which was a collaboration between Greenlandic and US students in tourism and hospitality and she represented USM on an educational exchange in Greenland.

These award recipients exemplify the commitment to excellence and service that defines the Muskie School community, and we are proud to celebrate their accomplishments as they embark on their future endeavors!