Office of Public Affairs

Sept. 19, 2018 — USM students to join country’s top student-veterans in Washington D.C.

For Immediate Release: 9/19/18

Press contacts:
Danielle Vayenas, USM Director of Communications,, 207-780-4150, (cell) 207-239-5715

Daniel Hartill, USM Communications and Media Relations Specialist,, 207-780-4744

**photos available here & here**


USM students to join country’s top student-veterans in Washington D.C.


A pair of University of Southern Maine students will join a select group of the country’s top student leaders — all of whom are veterans  — for an immersive three-day program in Washington D.C.


The Student Veterans of America picks 100 student veterans each year for its annual Leadership Institute. It begins on Thursday, Sept. 20.


Saco native Kelsey Earley, a senior who served in the Navy, will attend the institute along with Waterboro native Mary Swanson, a sophomore who served in the Marines. They will be joined by Jennesa Fabbri of Bowdoin, a student at the University of Maine at Augusta.


Swanson — the president of USM’s Student Veterans of America chapter: the Husky Veterans —  is studying biology and plans to become a doctor with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.


“I feel as though my calling has always been the medical field. I have this medical dictionary that my parents gave to me when I was about 9 years old, when all I wanted was to be a doctor,” Swanson said. “Turning to higher education and connecting with the SVA made me remember I joined the Marine Corps to make a difference.”


This week’s conference marks the second time in two years that USM has sent two student veterans to the Leadership Institute. Last year, it featured an address by former President George W. Bush.


Kelsey Earley is eager to join the other Mainers in Washington.


“I am humbled and honored to have been chosen for this once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Earley, who works as a peer advisor for Veterans Education while she pursues a degree in Business Administration. “While the experience itself will be incredible, the thing I look forward to most is working with and learning from not only the mentors, but from the fellow attendees. I hope to learn a variety of styles of leadership and gain the ability to recognize the strengths and optimal usage of each one.”


During the 2017-2018 academic year, the University of Southern Maine had 327 veterans among its students, the most of any Maine university.


In 2016, USM was recognized as one of the top 25 Military Friendly public universities in the country for its work to help veterans succeed. In 2017, USM began hosting a new Veterans Upward Bound Program, a first-in-the-state initiative to help low income veterans prepare to become college students.




University of Southern MaineSituated in Maine’s economic and cultural center, the University of Southern Maine (USM) is a public university with 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students taking courses online and at campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn. Known for its academic excellence, student focus and engagement with the community, USM provides students with hands-on experience that complements classroom learning and leads to employment opportunities in one of the nation’s most desirable places to live.