Shannon Garland: Graduate Student Making a Difference

This Alumni Spotlight shines this week on Shannon Garland from Robbinston, Maine, who graduated from the University of Maine at Machias in 2016 with a major in outdoor recreation management with a concentration in sports and fitness management. She currently attends graduate school in Raleigh, North Carolina. Alongside her graduate assistantship, she holds two-part time jobs: one as a server at O’ Charley’s and another as a front desk clerk at Duke University.

Tell us a little bit about what you are doing now.

Currently, I am in the process of studying for my master’s degree in physical education at North Carolina Central University, along with having a graduate assistantship. My assistantship includes working with an associate professor in the physical education department. My responsibilities include supervising undergrad students in recreation classes, conducting some classes myself, teaching an adventure recreation activity in a physical education class, and creating a lesson plan. Throughout the semester, I will supervise a group of undergraduate students as they complete their clinicals at local public schools. A few other job requirements include: keeping office hours, being available to help students, and helping my advisor with a research project by assisting with a literature review, data collection, and analysis. Later in the semester I will assist my advisor at the North Carolina state conference in adventure education, along with creating schedules for the undergraduate classes.

What is the most valuable thing you learned while at UMM?

That’s very hard to narrow down to just one specific thing. I feel as though my life had just started when I was at UMM. If I have to pick out just one thing, I would have to say learning how to use the resources around me and listening to what the staff and faculty told me. When your professor says they can help you after class, be sure to use that time.

Do you have any advice for current students at UMM?

Take advantage of the community and support UMM offers. This means getting involved with activities and clubs that will bring you out of your comfort zone. Get involved with career services, resume editing, mock interviews, and other opportunities. Remember that you are paying for all these resources with your tuition, and you won’t have them once you graduate. Don’t back out on a trip just because your social group is not going. This is how you meet people and build strong connections with one another on campus.

How did your time at UMM prepare you for what you are doing now?

Classes in UMM’s recreation management program are structured so that students enjoy hands-on learning experience outside of the classroom. Students are able to take the lead, plan activities, engage in classroom planning discussion, and debrief at the end with one another. Students go to local public schools to lead group recreational activities. Within the recreation degree, students are required to complete an internship that includes 40 hours a week over the span of 10 weeks. I have thought numerous times that if I had not done my internship at the fitness center at UMM, I would not be as qualified and prepared for my graduate assistantship position at NCCU. Being involved with the outing club and being a community advisor help me step out of my comfort zone and realize the capabilities I did not know I had along with creating more skills and lessons to carry on with me in graduate school.

 How has UMM made a positive impact on your life?

UMM has made a positive impact on my life throughout the years by guiding me and helping me build up my confidence. Having the opportunity to try new things without any experience played an important role. For example, I joined the cross-country team as a freshman just to have something to fill my free time and to make new friends, some of whom I still have today.  The outdoor recreation department classes at UMM offer a lot of hands-on experiences and let students try out different types of leadership roles, and this has helped me gain more confidence and knowledge for what I am doing now in graduate school. I am very glad I stayed at UMM for my degree.