This week’s UMM Alumni Spotlight shines on Kimberly Bastille, Class of 2014, with a degree in Biology with a concentration in Fisheries and a minor in Marine Biology. Kim, is originally from Saco but is now living and working at Chipemba Village, Luwingu District, Northern Province, Zambia, where she is a Peace Corps Rural Aquaculture Extension Agent.
Tell us a little bit about what you are doing now:
I am living in rural Zambia, Africa without running water or electricity. I am volunteering for the Peace Corps to teach fish farmers to raise tilapia in ponds. I work with farmers to build, maintain and manage fish ponds, in the hopes to increase food security and family income. I am establishing a fingerling production center with one of my farmers which will provide fingerlings to all the ponds in my district. I am working on building a cement furrow to bring water to ponds further from the stream. I am working to integrate rice and other crops with the fish ponds. I work with children and adult groups to promote HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention. I also teach a reading and writing to a women’s group.
What is the most valuable thing you learned while at UMM?
At UMM, I worked for two summers at the Downeast Institute. During this time, I learned about the needs of organisms in aquaculture situations. My classes at UMM taught me the necessary knowledge of fish anatomy, diet and management to effectively communicate the information with the fish farmers. My work in the Kappa Alpha Kappa Service Sorority taught me to network effectively and how to maintain personal and professional connections. These skills will be invaluable to me in Zambia.
Do you have any advice for current students at UMM?
College is an amazing time to learn how to balance your life. Your studies are incredibly important but it is equally important to create memories and lifelong friendships. Join a group or club because no matter what you do after college, it feels great to know you have a great support system.
How did your time at UMM prepare you for what you are doing now?
While at UMM, I worked on a research project which prepared for the many setbacks and failures I face in Peace Corps. I also gained valuable problem solving skills. In my classes, I learned a bit about grant writing which I am now using to write a grant for the money to build a 2km cement furrow, which will supply water to distant ponds even in the dry season. The professors at UMM prepared me for work in fisheries as well as critical thinking that living in rural Africa requires.
How has UMM made a positive impact on your life?
UMM increased my independence and confidence. With the friends, contacts and skills I gained at UMM I know I will succeed in Peace Corps and after. I made lifelong friends, brothers and sisters at UMM that will continue to be an amazing support system. They will continue to be positive impacts on my life long after UMM.