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.
What led you to pursue your education at USM? Pursuing my education at USM was not something I originally intended. After I moved to Boston following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, I needed a change. I decided to move to Maine with my cousin, and I really liked how Maine reminded me of home. I enjoyed the peaceful quiet, being in nature and being by the coast. I already earned a bachelor's degree in Haiti, but I decided to start another degree in Environmental Science, which I hope to use to serve my community. After I finished my bachelor's, some mentors I had at USM encouraged me to apply to the master's program in Policy, Planning, and Management at the Muskie School of Public Service. I completed the program within a year while working full time at Muskie's Cutler Institute.
Have you had an experience at USM that you feel changed your life or your view of the world? The whole experience at USM has changed my life because I am the first one in my immediate family not only to come to the United States, but to attend college and earn a master's degree.
What are your future plans? I am looking for my next opportunity with the hope that I can work in environmental protection and regulations.
Is there anyone you'd like to thank? I would to thank the USM Environmental Science and MPPM faculty and Emma Gelsinger for encouraging me to apply to the MPPM program. Finally, a very special thank you to Emily Bauer and my family for helping me during my time in school.