Hail Champagne, a University of Maine rising senior from Lewiston, has been awarded the 2022–23 George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship to study abroad at University College Cork (UCC) in Ireland.
UMaine partnered with the UCC to create the scholarship that honors the 1998 Northern Ireland peace accord brokered by then-Senator George Mitchell between Ireland and the United Kingdom. The merit-based scholarship allows recipients to participate in semester-long student exchanges at UCC, with funds for 12–15 credits of study, housing, and meal and airfare scholarships.
The award is granted annually to a UMaine student with high academic achievement, leadership skills, commitment to community service, and the ability to promote the scholarship to the academic and wider community.
Champagne, who uses she / they pronouns, is double majoring in political science and sociology with minors in legal studies, and women, gender and sexuality studies. Previously, she was named a John Nickerson Scholar from 2021–23 and a 2019 high school Mitchell Scholar. Champagne’s application was supported by the Office of International Programs, the Office of Major Scholarships, Professor Karyn Sporer in sociology, Professor Robert Glover in political science, and the selection committee.
In light of her recent accomplishment, Champagne reflects on how she came to UMaine, the professors who helped guide her and what it means to study abroad as a first-generation college student.
Why motivated you to study abroad?
Coming from a low-income, first-generation background, I felt compelled to apply for an opportunity that could broaden my experience and excel my academic career. I felt as if I had to be uncomfortable and in a new environment in order to grow, and I found the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship to be a perfect opportunity to do so. I have never traveled outside of the country, so I thought this would be great to strengthen my social and independent life skills. Wherever I go, I always find joy in meeting new people and experiencing their perspectives. I think the idea of studying abroad is the epitome of experiencing new life and culture, and hopefully I will be able to bring some of that back to Maine and my community.
How do you feel about earning the Peace Scholarship?
I feel ecstatic and anxious for the future. The Peace Scholarship has truly opened my eyes to how hard I work in and out of school, and what I can really contribute to my community. I think this will be a great opportunity to make new friends and explore the Earth.
Why did you choose to come to UMaine?
I transferred from USM to UMaine in 2020 in hopes that I could pursue my goal of law school and meet new people.
Describe any research, internships or scholarly pursuits in which you have participated.
I just completed a year-long political science practicum doing research on public policy surrounding food insecurity with three of my peers and Professor Glover. In the spring semester, I interned with Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund to learn about public advocacy, and women’s and LGBTQ + reproductive rights.
This summer, I will be participating in the Maine Government Summer Internship Program, where I will be working with the state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. Here, I will be taking part in the Step-Up Program at UMaine that guides high school students with autism along the pathway to college. I am very eager to learn about what Maine’s departmental services can do for students and how valuable this experience will be for my career in law
Have you worked closely with a mentor, professor or role model who made your time at UMaine better?
I would like to thank Dr. Sporer and Dr. Glover for encouraging me to apply for opportunities that I would not have thought were applicable to me. Their availability and openness to help students are something that I will continuously look for in law school and in my career. The Office for Major Scholarships has also done a phenomenal job helping me access resources in order to succeed through this opportunity. Finally, I’d like to thank my mom, meme, and Abby for always pushing me to do my best and truly reach for the stars.
Describe UMaine in one word.
I have learned quite a bit about myself by transferring to this school and I am grateful that UMaine could be my stepping-stone into higher education.
Contact: Sam Schipani, firstname.lastname@example.org