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USM Names First Pioneer Scholars

Eight high school graduates from Biddeford to Caribou have been accepted into the new Pioneers Program at the University of Southern Maine, the state’s first collegiate honors program for students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines.

Students accepted into Pioneers receive a full tuition scholarship for four years, paid internships and a notebook computer. They also will have opportunities to work directly with USM faculty on research projects designed to expand their knowledge in STEM fields and prepare them for careers after graduation.

“Competition for students of this caliber is keen among institutions across the country,” said USM President Selma Botman. “This program is an important step toward helping to keep our best and brightest students here in Maine where they can help drive the economy of the 21st century.”

USM announced the program last fall, with a goal of recruiting six to eight students for the fall of 2011, and then 10 or more Maine students per year thereafter.

A total of 48 Maine students applied for admission to the 2011 inaugural Pioneers class, 21 of whom were interviewed by a panel of faculty members and administrators. Those 21 students had an average high school grade point average of 3.72 and average SAT comprehensive reading and math scores of 1320.

The eight USM Pioneers for 2011 are:

Dustin A. Denbow of Caribou plans to major in biology. The Caribou High graduate plans to attend medical school and becoming a physician.

Patrick Doherty of Biddeford plans on majoring in biochemistry. The Biddeford High graduate hopes to one day pursue doctoral studies in mathematics.  

Raisa S. Lück of Gorham plans to pursue a double major in the Fine Arts, along with biology or engineering. She is a graduate of Gorham High.

Cody Poland of Cushing, a graduate of Georges Valley High School, plans to major in electrical/computer engineering.

Collin Sage of Limerick, a graduate of Massabesic High School, plans to major in computer science.

Nathan J. Thurlow of Hampden plans to major in mechanical engineering.  He is a graduate of Hampden Academy.

Ryan Turner of Winslow, a graduate of Winslow High, plans on majoring in electrical engineering.

Deedra Zeeh of Waterboro plans to major in physics.  She is a graduate of Massabesic High School.

“We are so proud that these exceptional, young scholars will be joining our campus community,” said Botman. “Longer term, we look forward to developing collaborations with K-12 educators, focused on engaging more young people in the study of STEM disciplines.”

USM’s Pioneers Program is made possible through a start-up grant from the University of Maine System’s Strategic Investment Fund (SIF), which was created to support new curricular developments that align academic programs with Maine’s changing economy. In addition, USM is raising private sector, foundation, and federal funding to sustain the program.

More information on the program is available at