Photo provided by Kerissa Marquissee.

Fourth-year University of Maine student Kerissa Marquissee will soon be registering for her classes for the last time in her undergraduate studies. Even though the pandemic impacted more than half of her time in college, her spirit and energy never dampened. 

Marquissee grew up in the village of Mohawk in New York. Before transferring to UMaine in the fall of 2020, she attended Herkimer County Community College in Herkimer, New York. She was a member of their volleyball team there, and traveled to different community colleges to compete against them.

Originally, she was studying to become a physical therapist, but changed her major and received her associate’s degree in liberal arts and sciences. Now, at UMaine, she is studying for her bachelor’s in wildlife ecology.

“My passion for wildlife was stronger than the medical field,” said Marquissee. “This passion runs in [my] family. I grew up loving it through my dad and decided it would be the best career path for me.”

During her first year as a transfer student at UMaine, Marquissee found ways to get involved. She participated in Club Volleyball for her first semester, and is a member of the Wildlife Society. She attends their weekly meetings to do fun activities outdoors with other students in her major.

Over the summer after her first year at UMaine, Marquissee interned at the Utica Zoo as a conservation education intern. 

“I attended birthday parties, nursing homes and schools to educate the public on animals and the importance of their role in the environment, as well as identifying the animals’ physical features and where they are from,” said Marquissee. 

Marquissee plans to graduate from UMaine next spring. After graduation, she hopes to find a job in Florida, although she is willing to move to just about anywhere that her work will bring her.

“I want to become a research-based wildlife biologist, preferably working with mammals,” said Marquissee. “I am also willing to branch out into other focuses, though, and work with any animals or species that I can. Overall, I will just be excited to be out in the field doing what I love.”

She is still deciding whether or not she will attend graduate school. If she does, it won’t be for a few years after she graduates from UMaine.

“I’m going to go into the field first with my bachelor’s and see if it is what I like and what I really want to do before deciding if I want to go to graduate school,” said Marquissee.

Although she’s registering for her final semester of classes and nearing graduation, which makes her sad knowing her time at UMaine is almost over, she remains hopeful and excited to finally begin her career and build a life for herself.