Meet the 2022 Outstanding Graduating Students – UMaine News

Twelve undergraduates have been named 2022 Outstanding Graduating Students at the University of Maine.

Among them is Dominique DiSpirito, the Outstanding Graduating Student in the Honors College, and the 2022 valedictorian. Her profile story is on-line. Short biographies of the other UMaine Outstanding Graduating Students follow:

A photo of Tiana Bucknor
Tiana Bucknor

Tiana Bucknor

Tiana Bucknor of Milton, Ontario, Canada is the Outstanding Graduating International Student in the College of Education and Human Development. She is a kinesiology and physical education major, with a concentration in exercise science. Bucknor, a Presidential Scholar, is the senior captain of the women’s soccer team and a member of the America East Student Athlete of Color Leadership Group. On campus, she serves as a chair on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and is a student-athlete mentor / tutor and a peer tutor in the College Success program. Bucknor also is a teaching assistant in the School of Kinesiology and Physical Education. In the fall, she will pursue a master’s degree in kinesiology and physical education. After her graduate school work, Bucknor plans to play professional soccer, followed by a career in exercise physiology.

A full Q&A with Bucknor is online.


A photo of Nancy DesJardin
Nancy DesJardin

Nancy DesJardin

Nancy DesJardin of Winterport, Maine is the Outstanding Graduating Student in the Division of Lifelong Learning. DesJardin is a university studies major, with minors in anthropology, and peace and reconciliation. Her academic honors include an Adult Degree Completion Scholarship and two American Association of University Women (AAUW) Non-Traditional Women Scholarships. She is a member of Alpha Sigma Lambda honor society. For her senior project, DesJardin researched food insecurity in the United States. DesJardin, a US Army veteran who served in Desert Storm, is a licensed cosmetologist and owns and operates a hair studio. She also is a substitute teacher at Hampden Academy. Following graduation, DesJardin plans to pursue a career as a secondary school teacher in history or the social sciences.

A full Q&A with DesJardin is online.


A photo Grace Graham
Grace Graham

Grace Graham

Grace Graham of Cary, Maine is the Outstanding Graduating Student in the Maine Business School. She is majoring in accounting, finance and financial economics. Her numerous awards include a Presidential Scholarship, Maine Society of CPAs Scholarships and the 2021 Maine Business School Faculty Award in Finance. For a year, she was involved in the MBS initiative Undiscovered Maine, astudent research project with the goal of increasing tourism and economic development within underrepresented areas of Maine. As a senior, Graham had two audit internships at Berry, Dunn, McNeil & Parker LLC. Throughout her college years, Graham held three weekend jobs in Houlton and in Old Town. Following graduation, Graham will be a member of the Berry, Dunn, McNeil & Parker audit staff while pursuing a MaineMBS in accounting in the Graduate School of Business and sit for the CPA exam.

A full Q&A with Graham is online.


A photo Anna Lane
Anna Lane

Anna Lane

Anna Lane of York, Maine is the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture. She is a double-major in microbiology and biochemistry, and a UMaine Presidential Scholar and UMaine Flagship Award recipient. Her numerous scholarships include the 2021 Liuba De Siervo Merit Scholarship. This past year, Lane received a Frederick Radke Undergraduate Research Fellowship in support of her capstone research.That research, in collaboration with Professor Melody Neely, investigated the effects of antifungals on Candida albicans in the presence of Group B Streptococcus, and the symbiotic relationship of the two organisms. In summer 2020, Lane interned with Lonza Biologics. On campus, she has been a peer tutor, teaching assistant and Maine Learning Assistant, and a member of University Singers and Renaissance. After graduation, Lane plans to pursue a career in the biochemistry field.

A full Q&A with Lane is online.


A photo of Hua Lin
Hua Lin

Hua Lin

Hua Lin of Portland, Maine is the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Engineering. He has earned dual degrees in mathematics and in engineering physics, with a concentration in mechanical engineering. In 2019, Lin received a Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR) Fellowship and a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Fellowship in sensor science and engineering. In NSF REU Sensors initiative, he collaborated with professor Sheila Edalatpour on the project “Silicon Carbide Nanowires and Thin Films for Sensing Strain and Pressure in Harsh Environments.” Lin’s honors thesis is “Near-Field Thermal Radiation in Graphene-Based Systems.” He has begun his master’s work in mechanical engineering and will have his graduate degree in 2023. Lin plans to have a career in engineering research.

A full Q&A with Lin is online.


A photo of Ethan Mathieu
Ethan Mathieu

Ethan Mathieu

Ethan Mathieu of Sanford, Maine is the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Education and Human Development. He is a secondary education major with a concentration in physical science. Mathieu is the recipient of the Edward and Barbara McManus Scholarship and the Hervey A. Hanscom Scholarship, and served as treasurer of the Student Maine Educators Association. His Honors thesis is “The Effects of a course in Multicultural Education on the Development of a Socio-Cultural Consciousness of Pre-Service Teachers. ” Mathieu did his student teaching at Orono High School, and had field placements at John Bapst High School and Kennebunk High School. On campus, he was a tutor with TRIO Student Support Services and a student instructor’s aide in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Mathieu plans to be a physics teacher in Maine and pursue a master’s degree in teaching science.

A full Q&A with Mathieu is online.


A photo of Aubree Nygaard
Aubree Nygaard

Aubree Nygaard

Aubree Nygaard of Brunswick, Maine is the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Nygaard is a double-major in computer science and philosophy whose numerous academic awards include the Non-Traditional Student Scholarship and the Roger B. Hill Humanities Scholarship. Since 2019, she has been a developer and student representative in the Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction Lab (VEMI Lab), where she has collaborated on research focused on an iOS autonomous vehicle ride-sharing app and other projects involving human computer interaction, virtual reality and information access, specifically for blind or visually impaired people. She has co-authored two peer-reviewed papers in the field of privacy research. Nygaard has been a Maine Learning Assistant, and a research assistant in the Privacy Engineering – Regulatory Compliance Lab (PERC_Lab), and for Professor Hao Hong in the Philosophy Department. From 2019–21, she served as vice president for the UMaine chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Council on Women in Computing. Following graduation, Nygaard will pursue a career in software development.

A full Q&A with Nygaard is online.


A photo of Chisom Orakwue
Chisom Orakwue

Chisom Orakwue

Chisom Orakwue of Lagos, Nigeria is the Outstanding Graduating International Student in the College of Engineering. Orakwue, a biomedical engineering major, received the International Presidential Scholarship and the Richard E. Durst Scholarship. This academic year, she has been involved in research in Professor Karissa Tilbury’s laboratory, focused on the use of spatial frequency domain imaging (SFDI) for detecting biomarkers of diabetic neuropathy and sepsis. For her capstone project, she designed a wheelchair cushion to help reduce pressure sores. Beyond the lab and classroom, Orakwue has been a Black Bear Mentor, a resident assistant and a peer tutor. Last year, she was vice president of the International Student Association. Orakwue plans to pursue graduate school.

A full Q&A with Orakwue is online.


A photo of Jinyoung Park
Jinyoung Park

Jinyoung Park

Jinyoung Park of Seongnam-si, South Korea is the Outstanding Graduating International Student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Park, a chemistry major, has received International Presidential Scholarships and the Charles A. Brautlecht Scholarship, and a Center for Undergraduate Research Fellowship. For the past three semesters, Park has been collaborating with Professor Matthew Brichacek on research to isolate and analyze large carbohydrate molecules called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) using TEAB auxiliary. She is president of the International Student Association and a leader in Operation HEARTS, and has served as a Maine learning assistant in three chemistry courses. Park will attend Dalhousie University Dental School.

A full Q&A with Park is online.


A photo of Amanda Sandberg
Amanda Sandberg

Amanda Sandberg

Amanda Sandberg of Skurup, Sweden is the Outstanding Graduating International Student in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture. She is a biochemistry major with a pre-med concentration, and a minor in molecular and cellular biology. Sandberg is a member of the women’s soccer team and a scholar-athlete. Her numerous honors include 2020 and 2022 Team Maine Scholar Athlete Awards, UMaine Presidential Scholar Awards and the Professor Frederick H. Radke Award. In collaboration with Professor Melissa Maginnis, Sandberg has been studying calcium signaling in JC Polyomavirus infection. In 2021, Sandberg participated in a summer scholar research internship at Stowers Institute for Medical Research, studying downstream open reading frames and post transcriptional regulation. On campus, she has been a peer tutor, teaching assistant and Maine Learning Assistant. Sandberg will pursue a master’s degree in microbiology at UMaine while playing her final season of eligibility. Following graduation, she plans to go to medical school or earn a Ph.D. in a biomedical field.

A full Q&A with Sandberg is online.


A photo of Jakub Sirota
Jakub Sirota

Jakub Sirota

Jakub Sirota of Kroměříž, Czech Republic is the Outstanding Graduating International Student in the Maine Business School. Sirota is a double-major in marketing and management and a member of the men’s ice hockey team. He is a two-time member of the Hockey East All-Academic Team and has been a three-time University of Maine Scholar-Athlete. He also was named to Athletics’ 13th annual Team Maine. Sirota plans to pursue a hockey career, followed by an entrepreneurial path in business.

A full Q&A with Sirota is online.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, [email protected]

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