October ’21 Honors Student Features

Honors Features

Sam Holbrook is a third-year student in the UMaine Honors College. Pursuing a future career in paleontology, Holbrook is majoring in Biology and minoring with Earth Sciences and engaged as a member of UMaine’s Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society and the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. This past summer, Holbrook got hands-on experience with the Bighorn Basin Paleontological Institute to help excavate dinosaur fossils at two different sites in Montana. Digging up dinosaur fossils is not easy, says Holbrook, “you can find fossil fragments scattered everywhere at the sites, the hard part is finding something worth digging up.” At one particular site, over 30 diplodocus died and, “there are so many fossils it’s difficult to excavate one because it will be tangled with three or four others.” All the while, this astounding experience has only made Holbrook more excited about continuing his education, going on to research and teach in paleontology. “Digging up the beasts with some great people was a dream come true.”

Brenna Jones is a second-year Honors student — double majoring in Mathematics and Sociology, with minors in both Women, Genger, and Sexualities Studies and in Criminal Justice. When Jones is not engrossed in her studies, she is working hard on a long-term project with the Greater Bangor Housing Coalition. GBHC is a coalition of community members, activists, and local organizations looking to address and communicate the systematic problems that contribute to houselessness in the in the greater Bangor area, provide valuable support and pathways for those in need, and create lasting change in the community. 

Jones is on a project focused around precarious housing and the housing crisis in the Bangor/Orono area. Despite the daunting and serious challenges, she says, “it’s been exciting preparing to interview individuals and doing research about evictions, homelessness, and job security,” as it can be quite powerful to feel like you are making a difference. Jones looks forward to spending the next few years working with the GBHC to solve real problems.

The Greater Bangor Housing Coalition efforts are continuous and persistent, there are many ways to support the GBHC. Aid in any capacity is greatly appreciated – please consider donating today.

 Jasmine Olshin is a third-year student in UMaine’s Nursing Program, also pursuing a minor in Psychology. Olshin knows how to stay busy between her classes and clinicals — she is also a sister in Alpha Phi, an inductee of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, and involved in the Peer Mentor Program. Recently, she was selected by Dr. Jennie Woodard, instructor in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program and assistant professor in Honors, and Dr. Sam Jones, assistant professor in Honors, to be part of an Honors Research Learning Experience with three other students in the Honors College. Their collaborative pedagogical research focused on the integration of students’ personal and identity narratives into the classroom as a means towards increasing student engagement and deepening learning. Each student expressed, “a new or renewed passion for their major, excitement for their future scholarship (including their honors thesis), and an understanding of how collaboration and sharing is part of the academic process, even if their research or academic future might seem to be individually-driven,” says Dr. Woodard. Olshin felt mutually excited to be part of research, “that could in turn be greatly beneficial to future Honors students here at UMaine”. 

Abby Logan is a fourth-year Secondary Education major, with a concentration inEnglish, currently working on her Honors thesis. Logan is setting out to write a dual perspective novel that explores the social, emotional and physical responses to trauma, as well as the grief response of a parent when they lose a child. The story follows a seventeen year-old girl, Avery Landon, who is victim of sexual-assault and how her unraveling depression leads her to commit suicide. Logan weaves this story between two perspectives, Avery’s and her fathers, as both of them come to terms with their respective traumas in separate ways. Logan chose to write this novel because she’s, “incredibly passionate about bringing awareness to sexual assault victims and the immense struggles they face after experiencing an intense trauma.” By including a parental perspective, Logan is able to, “provide some insight into how parents cope with child loss and how it can shape a person’s development,” also mentioning that parents’ shared traumas are, “an aspect of this kind of story that isn’t talked about enough.” Logan is pressed for a challenge, but feels “incredibly proud of my work so far” and “excited to see the final result of a project that I’ve wanted to write since I entered college four years ago.”

Claire Shaw is a third-year Political Science major and Legal Studies minor, here at the UMaine Honors College. Her time here in Orono is well-spent: Shaw is on Team Maine, writes for HerCampus, and is a member of University Singers. Also a new member of UMaine Renaissance, she was part of their virtual showcase and also helped the all-treble, a cappella group professionally produce an arrangement of Queen’s Somebody to Love (watch here). Shaw is happy to say that “these performances proved to spread joy throughout the community, as well as our group, during exceptionally difficult times.”

Shaw was recently awarded the John Mitchell Nickerson scholarship, presented to political science students who have demonstrated scholarship of the highest order and have the greatest potential to serve the public unselfishly. Receiving the Nickerson scholarship, “was a great personal achievement,” and will actively help Shaw further her studies – she hopes to use this award in the spring, to study abroad in Bulgaria, and in the future, as she applies to law school.

Keely McConville is a Political Science major, pursuing a minor in Psychology, here in the Honors college. Besides starting her Honors thesis work soon, McConville is busy working as a legal intern at the Attorney General’s Office in the Child Protective Division, representing as a Student Senator in Student Government, serving as a UMaine UVote ambassador to mobilize her classmates to register to vote, coordinating outreach as the UMaine’s Pre-Law Society Social Media Chair, and supporting other students as a Peer Mentor. Last spring, McConville had the opportunity to work as a legal intern at Partners for Peace where she spent time working on the helpline as a Direct Services Advocate. Here she was able to support survivors of domestic violence, “by validating their experiences and providing emotional support,” connecting callers with local specialized resources, and “guiding survivors in creating plans to keep themselves safe.” This experience inspired her to focus her Honors thesis on a topic related to domestic violence and Maine laws and policies. Beyond graduation, McConville aspires to attend law school and work in the public interest sector.