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.
What led you to pursue your education at USM? Nearing the end of high school, I had wanted to work towards a law degree. I chose USM partially because of the inclusion of the University of Maine School of Law. However, an equally large draw for me was the highly accomplished Theatre Department at USM and the location in and around the beautiful city of Portland.
Have you had an experience at USM that you feel changed your life or your view of the world? Yes. I cannot talk about life-changing experiences if I do not mention Dannick Breton, the freshman hockey player who passed away on campus last year. Dannick, #21, was my resident on 2nd Hastings. Through the grief and confusion that comes with a tragedy like that, I learned something truly beautiful about humanity and about our school. After Dannick passed, the campus was silent for at least a week. As we engaged in a sort of corporate grieving, I saw students reaching out to others to offer and ask for support; faculty and staff made themselves available to anyone who needed a little extra help; a group of students I attend church with made their way through a hurricane to be with me as I struggled to process what had happened. Some other RAs put up a poster outside Dannick's door, on which we all left notes to him. His door itself was covered with little sharpie hearts, and tiny glow-sticks were placed on the doorframe. In our pain, I saw what it means for people to take care of each other. I learned that we do not have to go through life alone and that it is our connections with others that makes life worth living. This radically changed the course of my life. I was no longer going in search of a fortune or even a stable job. Albert Einstein said that "only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." USM: the students, faculty, staff, and Dannick have shown me that, in this dreadful world of injustice, discrimination, fear, and war, I can take solace in the connections that we all share as humans.
What are your future plans? I want to be an elementary school teacher and fight against inequality. I am currently researching ways to get a certification to teach English. I also to travel the world, spreading a curriculum of love and peace to my English students around the world.
Is there anyone you'd like to thank? The RA staff of Upton Hastings Hall, 2017 - 2018 and the whole Reslife team; the residents of 2nd Hastings Wing, 2017 - 2019; Diane Geyer (Health and Counseling); Professor Claire Holman (Linguistics); Rebecca Niesitich (Honors); Samantha Frisk (Service LEarning & Volunteering); Professor Timothy Ruback (Political Science); Alpha Omega (club); Casco Bay Church of Christ; and my family and all of my friends who have helped me throughout my college career.