Name: Anthony DeVecchis
Town: Philadelphia, PA
Major: Environmental Science
There were times Anthony DeVecchis attended class from his car. He would take his lunch break from work, set up Zoom, and spend the next hour or so immersed in Environmental Science before heading back to his warehouse job.
When you work full time and go to school nearly full time — and take on extra research — you carve out hours where you can.
“I just do my best to try to manage time. . . try to get some reading and studying done sometimes on my lunch breaks, try to make it as efficient as possible,” he said.
It’s hard work that will soon pay off. DeVecchis, 34, graduated on Saturday, May 7, with his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. It was his second go at college.
“A lot of times in your teens and twenties, you’re making these really important life decisions and you don’t necessarily know the gravity of them. Then when you you face some struggles, it kind of makes you face yourself in the mirror and try to learn about why you made the mistakes you made and try to be a better person, to be the best you can be in the future and think a little bit more about the decisions and choices you make and think what are the right things for you,” he said. “I don’t know if I would have been able to do that and learn some of those lessons if everything had gone perfectly before.”
DeVecchis was 17 when he first attended college in New Jersey as a Marine Science major. He was unprepared for the pressure.
“I ended up just struggling and falling behind,” he said. “Once I did start to get everything back together, I realized I wasn’t ever really going to catch up and I was wasting all this money. I felt like it would probably be best to cut my losses and figure out something else to do for the time being.”
That “something else” was a job. In his late twenties, DeVecchis ultimately found himself working at a chemical plant and refinery. It didn’t feel like a great fit for a person who wanted to be a steward for the environment.
So with some money saved and a better sense of the pressure he’d face, DeVecchis started taking classes at Bucks County Community College just outside Philadelphia. In 2020 he transferred to USM. He considered other colleges but ultimately chose the University for its Environmental Science program, its location in Portland, and its affordability.
“I figured why not take the chance and see what happens,” he said.
DeVecchis couldn’t afford to solely be a student, so he got a job at a warehouse, then as a tasting room associate at the Maine Beer Company. He worked full time, went to school almost full time. And he signed on to help with extra field research, including looking at how soil salinity affects the spread of invasive plants at the Scarborough Marsh.
“It’s just been fun and interesting to have hands-on interaction in the field, in a variety of topics and with a variety of students,” he said.
DeVecchis has been considering his future after graduation. He’d like to focus on environmental work for a government agency or field research.
He might stay in Maine.
“I feel like it’s the kind of speed and the kind of people that I want to be around, and also the kinds of environments that are around here — beautiful and varied nature,” he said.