by Belen Dougherty


The University Times

PRESQUE ISLE, ME– The University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI) is a small public university located in central Aroostook County; its red brick buildings are located at the entrance to the city of Presque Isle. This small university has equipped alumni to tackle big issues long after they leave their brick walls. This is the case of Melanie Tompkins who graduated from UMPI in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in social work.

Tompkins is a mother of two and lives in Mapleton, ME, with her husband Kaleb.  She dedicated her time to helping people. After graduating from UMPI, Tompkins joined the U.S. Peace Corps. After a break, she pursued her masters degree in social work. 

When asked about her time at UMPI and its impact in her life Tompkins said  studying at UMPI gave her the tools to thrive.

“UMPI was really the like launching pad for my entire life. [Professor] Shirley Rush (was) one of my all-time favorites. It offered me like such great opportunity. It’s affordable and I still got to experience the world like I traveled while I was here. I got to go to the UN (United Nations), Guatemala, Africa like UMPI provided me such a vibrant education.”

Tompkins came back to UMPI to speak to a classroom full of social work students back in February, giving them a look into the field and the possibilities that await them after graduation. 

Tompkins said she understands the value of higher education and the importance of the institutions that support this rural community, “I hope that this institution continues to thrive and if I can, do what I can to support this and NMCC.” 

Currently Tompkins, a Democrat, is running for the Maine House of Representatives representing District 6. The district encompasses a wide swath of land from Smyrna north to Oxbow. The seat is held by Rep. Donald Ardell, R-Monticello.