Seven Students are Maine Policy Scholars

Students at each of the seven University of Maine campuses have initiated research on important policy issues for Maine in the Maine Policy Scholars program. This year’s scholars are Julianne McLaughlin (UMF), Hannah Cole (UMaine), Emma-Marie Banks (UMA), Shawn Cyr (UMFK), Elizabeth Wilson (USM), Alyssa De Silva (UMM), and Idella Thompson (UMPI).

Their research covers an array of topics: application of the Common Core in Maine; decline of bee pollinators; implementation of distance learning for high school equivalency; asylum seekers in Maine; protection from abuse orders; relationship of the UMS office to the state; and oil spill best management practices.

The Maine Policy Scholars Program engages students from the University of Maine System in the public policy process. Scholarships are awarded annually to one student from each of the seven campuses to work with a faculty advisor and a community mentor to tackle a real-life policy issue facing Maine. Topics may range from local to statewide significance and are expected to be well-defined, subject to research, and of real concern to Maine or a segment of its people.

The scholars conduct extensive research from literature, data analysis, interviews – or all three. In the spring, each produces a final report as a memo to the governor or appropriate policymaker that outlines the problem, data available, and recommended policy solutions.

Historically, one of Maine’s most important characteristics is the openness of its public policy process. Legislators, the governor, and local and state agency leaders are accessible and interested in practical solutions to real-life problems. The Maine Policy Scholars program gives our students an opportunity to experience that process and make meaningful contributions to our future.

The Maine Policy Scholars Program was conceived by the late Peter Cox to engage students from the University of Maine System in the public policy process. The program is funded by the Maine Community Foundation and administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine.