This Alumni Spotlight shines this week on Jesse Blackburn from Cherryfield, Maine, who graduated from the University of Maine at Machias in 2013 with a major in Psychology and Community Studies. He is currently working as an Academic Counselor with Bowdoin College’s Upward Bound program in Brunswick, Maine.
Tell us a little bit about what you are doing now.
I currently work for Bowdoin College’s Upward Bound (UB) program as an Academic Counselor. It’s a unique position because I am based remotely from Bowdoin and work primarily with the high schools in Washington County. Throughout the academic year I meet with first generation high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, where we have conversations ranging from college and career goals/aspirations to exploring new ways to study for a Chemistry test. The term first generation means that these students will be the first individual in their family to attend college. During my visits I work to develop time-management/organizational skills, as well chat with students about their personal, college, and extracurricular interest. The academic visits during the school year are followed by a six-week summer component, where the students get an opportunity to live in the residence halls at Bowdoin College, take advantage of college prep courses, college visits throughout New England, as well as exposure to the arts and culture of Southern Maine. I thoroughly enjoy the work I do with Upward Bound, not only because it’s rewarding, but because I was also an Upward Bound student, when I was a student at Narraguagus High School, and remember what a pivotal role this program played in my own transition into college. The conversations I have with students about the college application/financial aid process, augments my previous roles in college admissions, at the University of Maine at Machias and Eastern Maine Community College, in a way that I am able to help students gain an edge on communicating with college staff and avoiding any pitfalls while applying to college. This program is a transformative experience for so many students and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to come around full-circle and find my dream job where I get the chance to connect students in Downeast Maine to this amazing program. I also just recently graduated this past May with my Masters in Science in Adult & Higher Education through the University of Southern Maine.
What is the most valuable thing you learned while at UMM?
One of the most valuable things I learned while at UMM was the importance of community and the power a supportive community can have on transforming and shaping an individual’s drive and motivation.
Do you have any advice for current students at UMM?
The advice I would give a current UMM student would be to realize the power you have to make change in the world around you. Revitalize your community and make it your own.
How did your time at UMM prepare you for what you are doing now?
Most people at UMM associate me with the Admissions office. This work-study turned staff position played such a crucial role in preparation for the work I currently do with Upward Bound. My work with UB has put me on the other side of the admissions desk and I am now able to guide first-gen. students through the sometimes convoluted college admissions process.
How has UMM made a positive impact on your life?
UMM made a positive impact on my life by giving me a place of acceptance and exposure where supportive groups left me feeling totally inspired. (Shout out to my Admissions people!)