Last week, the University of Maine announced the valedictorian and salutatorian for the class of 2021. Bailey West, a biochemistry student from Stockton Springs, Maine, is the valedictorian this year, and Drew Bennet, a mechanical engineering student from Brewer, Maine, is the salutatorian. Both students will be graduating this spring.
West is honored to be named valedictorian and says she has enjoyed her time at UMaine. In high school, she graduated summa cum laude, showing that West has always had a drive to succeed. West says that college has been a wonderful experience for her and she’s happy to be part of the UMaine community.
“My favorite thing about UMaine is the sense of community. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive community of peers and mentors. It is amazing how groups feel so tight-knit, and yet there are always new people to meet on campus,” West said.
She also attributes some of her success to the fantastic mentors she’s met during her studies here, including faculty from the Honors College and professor of her favorite class about phage genomics, also called HON 150/155, Sally Malloy.
“My research mentor, Dr. Julie Gosse, has supported me immensely ever since I joined her lab during my freshman year. She has pushed me to develop independence and confidence as a scientist and has encouraged me in all of my endeavors. Dr. Sally Molloy, who was my professor for HON 150/155, has also been incredibly supportive of my goals over the past four years, as has Dr. Melissa Maginnis, my academic advisor, who has offered advice on countless occasions,” West said. “Dr. Melissa Ladenheim, associate dean of the Honors College, has also been incredibly supportive of me during my college career and has recently served as my advisor for the Honors ambassador program. The passion, dedication and enthusiasm of each of these professors has very much helped me get to where I am today.”
After graduating from UMaine, West plans to attend Jackson Laboratory’s Summer Student Program, which is an internship where she will research genomics for 10 weeks. After that, she will pursue a Ph.D. in pathobiology at the John Hopkins School of Medicine.
Bennet did not offer comments to the Maine Campus. In an interview with UMaine News, he said that UMaine was his first choice for school.
“As a local resident whose parents both graduated from UMaine, I’ve been familiar with the university for a long time. After attending the Consider Engineering program, I was impressed by how many unique engineering opportunities UMaine had to offer and how affordable the tuition was, making it an easy choice,” Bennet shared in the interview.
He also shares that mentors at UMaine have shaped his experience and led him on a path to achieve his own success, saying that the opportunity for student success is abundant.
“The director of the Advanced Manufacturing Center, John Belding, gave me a position at the AMC after I graduated high school. Since then, I’ve worked on many projects with John and made a great number of connections to industry professionals who helped me earn my internships. I wouldn’t have been able to find this much success without him,” Bennet shared with UMaine News.
Bennet will be using his degree to work as an educational services engineer in Boston for the company PTS, where he will work with teachers and STEM organizations to integrate the company’s technology into schools.
After a year of challenges, UMaine’s valedictorian and salutatorian have enjoyed a number of successes and have had a huge impact on the local community.