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USM Students Honored at Annual Awards Gala

On Friday, May 3, the University of Southern Maine Leadership Development Board and the Division of Student and University Life sponsored the annual Student Involvement Recognition Gala, celebrating the accomplishments of student leaders, student organizations, and members of the faculty and staff who support the success of students.

This year’s commencement speakers, Noah Hurowitz and Roya Hejabian also were recognized at the Gala.

The following students, listed alphabetically by hometown, received recognition:

Alexandria Huber of Auburn is one of two recipients of the Outstanding Student Employee Award. Huber served as an intern and student fellow for the USM Cares Suicide Prevention Program. She was actively involved in training her peers through the Student Support Network and consistently sought new ways to reach the USM community, including acting as the co-coordinator of the PostSecret U Project.

Maryalice Walker of Biddeford is one of two recipients of the Outstanding Contribution to Campus Diversity. Walker, a student in the School of Nursing, collaborated with fellow winner, Laura Sawyer, USM’s Center for Sexualities, University Health Services, and the School of Nursing faculty and staff to organize an event called “Caring for the Invisible Patient: How Providers Can Advance LGBTQ Health Justice.”

John Wise Jr. of Cape Elizabeth is one of two recipients of this year’s Outstanding Student Leader Award. Wise’s involvement with various organizations during his time spent at USM include raising funds for the Outdoor Adventure Club and involvement in the Biology Club and the Environmental Health and Toxicology Club.

Samantha Pingree of Portland is one of two recipients of this year’s Outstanding Employee Award. Pingree has worked as a peer educator in The Well, USM’s Wellness Resource Center. She has been instrumental in many program initiatives, including National Eating Disorder Week, “Tealaxation,” and other programs sponsored by the Campus Safety Project.

Laura Sawyer of Portland is one of two recipients of the Outstanding Contribution to Campus Diversity. Walker, a student in the School of Nursing, collaborated with fellow winner, Maryalice Walker, USM’s Center for Sexualities, University Health services, and the School of Nursing faculty and staff to organize an event called “Caring for the Invisible Patient: How Providers Can Advance LGBTQ Health Justice.”

Eryn Neptune of Readfield is this year’s recipient of the coveted Senior Husky Achievement Award. Neptune is a graduating student, a second year Resident Assistant, a tour guide for USM, and member of the volleyball team. With every interaction that she has with fellow students, she spreads her love of USM. 

Forreste McCormick of Sanford is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Campus Life Award. McCormick is a Resident Assistant on the Honors Floor, Front Desk Employee in New Hall, a New Student Orientation Leader, and Admissions Tour Guide, and active in USM Circle K. She also organizes study hours for the students on her floor.

Josh Ouellette of Sanford was this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Community Service Award. Ouellette is the incoming president of the USM Circle K. He ensures that Circle K is involved in opportunities to promote the club and its activities at events such as Student Involvement Fairs, Accepted Student Days, and Commencement. Additionally, the organization has service connections with STRIVE, Preble Street Resource Center, the Ronald McDonald House, Relay for Life, The March of Dimes, the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Institute, and others.

Shaun Carland of Shapleigh was one of two recipients of this year’s Outstanding Student Leader Award. Carland is the founder of Students for Environmental Awareness and Sustainability (SEAS). As leader of the organization Carland is in charge of coordinating and leading weekly meetings, planning events, and managing interests that are related to SEAS such as Take Back the Tap, DivestUSM, Local Food, and the Community Garden.

Faculty and staff were also recognized. Donna Bird, lecturer in sociology, was the recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Involvement award in recognition of her support, motivation, and inspiration to the undergraduates in her courses. Julia Pond, coordinator of Commuter Student Engagement, Portland Student Life, was the recipient of the Outstanding Staff Involvement Award for her impact on the lives on the students on the Portland campus and work to engage students with each other and the greater community.

Several USM groups and events also received awards for promoting diversity, community service, and fun on campus and in the greater community. The Maine Deaf Film Festival is the recipient of the Outstanding Event of the Year; the International Relations Association is the recipient of the Outstanding Student Organization Award; fraternity Phi Mu Delta is the recipient of the Outstanding New Student Organization Award; and the Alternative Spring Break is the recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Community Service award for traveling to New Jersey and dedicating their time to participate in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.