New Student Activities Coordinator Puts a Unique Spin on Things in SAO

Violet Washburn, Tabitha Lewey and Sam Carpenter at orientation.

    If you’ve ever been inside the Campus Center, there is an excellent chance that you’ve passed by the bright blue walled office of Student Activities. If you peek in, you’ll often find the work study within planning events and making posters. This is where you’ll also find Violet Washburn, the new Coordinator of Campus Engagement and International Student Affairs.

     Violet did both her undergrad and masters studies at SUNY Potsdam, located in Potsdam, New York. For her undergrad, she studied dance and sociology as a double major. She received her master’s degree in instructional technology. She was mainly trained in modern dance but didn’t want to go into the dancing field directly after college. Instead, she took up jobs and volunteer work that revolved around students and residence life.

     “I’ve always loved helping people. It’s kind of just who I am by nature,” Violet said.

     Violet grew up in New York state and until February, she had never visited Maine.

When she visited northern Maine at the beginning of the year, she fell in love with Houlton and the small-town feel of Aroostook County. She decided to take up the position as the coordinator of campus engagement at UMPI not very long after that.

     “That was a total risk my husband and I decided to take and it just kind of worked out,” Violet said. “There’s just times in your life when you’re like, ‘Hey, why not?’”

     Since then, Violet has been very busy planning events and keeping students engaged. She has put a twist on old traditions and made new ones, such as having a new tree planted for every incoming class, starting this year with the class of 2021. There have also been food bingo, movie nights, tie-dye water balloon fights and many more activities to get students engaged. If she’s not in her office, she can often be found out and about interacting with students.

     UMPI senior, Samantha Bonczyk, is one of Violet’s work study students in the student activities office.  “I think Violet is a nice new addition to our campus. She’s got some new ideas that we can incorporate into our daily lives to make it easier and better,” Samantha said.

     Violet has been very happy here at UMPI and plans to stay for a long time. “I found a career where I get to go to work every day and do what I love,” Violet said.

     Violet always encourages students to pop into the office anytime. She also wants to hear student feedback. “I really want to encourage students to tell me what they want because I can plan events and my staff can plan events until we’re blue in the face, but I don’t represent the entire UMPI population,” Violet said. “So if students don’t tell me what they want or what they’re interested in, I’m going to be hitting roadblocks and I don’t want that. I want students to be engaged.”

     In other words, stop by the student activities office next to the University Credit Union on your way through the Campus Center and say hi!