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.
What led you to pursue your education at USM? I was homeschooled, and I finished up high school-level work at age 15. I wanted to pursue college without moving away from my family. USM was the only college I could walk to. It was just luck that it turned out to have a great environmental science program (the field I had already decided to pursue) as well!
Have you had an experience at USM that you feel changed your life or your view of the world? I've really enjoyed writing my environmental science newsletter, the Weekly Anthropocene. It grew out of my studies, not as an assignment and more as a thought experiment. It's a newsletter that I write online weekly about environmental science and policy issues in the world. I came out with it independently, but I received a huge amount of support for this from several USM faculty, including doctors Robert Sanford, Travis Wagner, Joseph Staples, and my academic advisor, Karen Wilson. I've been writing it for over a year now, and I've learned a huge amount!
What are your future plans? I am heading to Madagascar in July to volunteer with the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership! I'll really be able to apply a lot of what I learned at USM, as the team there both studies endangered lemurs and administers a community reforestation program. It's a really fascinating mix of hardcore biological and ecological research and community development, which is very much what I am interested in— that intersection of science and sustainable development.
Is there anyone you'd like to thank? Laurl, Chris, and Zack Matey — my amazing mom, dad, and brother respectively — have supported me every step of the way. I couldn't have done any of this without them. They are incredibly smart, loving, amazing people, and I'd love to be able to thank them publicly for all the ways they've supported me.