Celebrating Mothers in the UMPI Community

     As Mother’s Day quickly approaches, it is a great time to appreciate the mothers and special women in our lives. At the University of Maine at Presque Isle, there are many brilliant and loving mothers and mother-figures involved with the institution. There are lots of students, staff and faculty members on campus who are mothers and who deserve some recognition this year. Mother’s Day is on May 9 and it is a perfect opportunity to show every mother-figure in your life that you love and appreciate them. 

     With many states starting to ease COVID-19 restrictions, families are starting to plan some Mother’s Day festivities. While people look forward to this year’s Mother’s Day, they are still reflecting on 2020 and everything that the year took away from them. Many families spent Mother’s Day away from one another. Some families could not see their mothers in person during 2020, so this year’s holiday is something to be very appreciative of. 

     Rachel Rice is the director of UMPI’s marketing and communications department.  She is also the wife of UMPI President Ray Rice. Mother’s Day is a very special holiday for her family, especially her daughter, Naomi, and son, Zach. The Rice family usually spends Mother’s Day relaxing and enjoying quality time together. They eat breakfast together and if the weather is nice, they will spend some of the day outside. 

Ray and Rachel Rice with their children, Zach and Naomi.

     “Naomi and Zach are 12 years apart, so we’ve always joked that we’re the parents of two only children. While they are two very different kids, my favorite part of parenting with both of them are those moments that catch you off guard,” Rachel said. “When you realize how funny or smart or kind this little human being is becoming.” 

     The first person you see when you walk into the UMPI Admissions Office is Nancy Nichols, who works at the front desk. Although she is not a biological mother, many people in the UMPI community look up to her as a kind, motherly figure. Nancy brings energy, enthusiasm and kindness every day when she comes to work. Despite not being a biological mother, she is and has been a mother to many on UMPI’s campus.

     “I’ve always been someone who would ‘take care’ of others. That’s who I am and I am doing the same working in the admissions office. I ‘take care’ of visitors who come on campus. I want their visit to be memorable and fun,” Nancy said. “There is satisfaction in knowing that their visit on campus was an enjoyable experience. I want them to walk away with a positive experience.”

     Michelle Mishaan is an art professor at UMPI who has a young son. She usually spends the holiday with her family, but this year she will be driving to Ohio to spend it with her mother and two brothers. 

     “I usually spend Mother’s Day with my husband and my son. I do not have any immediate family in Maine. My favorite part of being a mother is watching my son grow and learn each day. I get to experience his joy of learning new things,” Michelle said. 

     Rachel, Nancy and Michelle are just a few more reminders of the amazing people working for UMPI. Take the time this Mother’s Day to send some love to every mother-figure in your life. If you are a part of the UMPI community, then you have many wonderful women to choose from.

A Hopeful Future for College Students in the UMS

     College students at the University of Maine at Presque Isle and throughout the entire University of Maine System are very excited for their future next semester in the fall of 2021. In a press release on March 10, Chancellor Malloy and the UMS presidents announced, “Faculty and staff to prepare to provide students with traditional, in-person college experience and a return to near normalcy in fall 2021.” This announcement gives UMPI and the rest of the UMS universities a sign of hope, which is much needed considering the difficult year it has been. 

The University of Maine at Presque Isle campus clock.

    Students at UMPI will experience fall 2021 similarly to what is was pre-pandemic. The UMS will do its best to give students a great college experience, despite the circumstances. Students, faculty and staff members will still be requiring people to social distance and wear masks. COVID-19 asymptomatic testing will also continue. The announcement stated that faculty and staff throughout the UMS should plan for in-person classroom instruction, an increase in residence hall occupancy and campus-based activities that involve outside community members.

     The entire country is moving forward with the pandemic and that includes the state of Maine. With more and more people getting the COVID-19 vaccine, the country is beginning to feel hopeful. Universities and colleges around the country are also moving forward. UMS and other state college systems are doing their best to offer their students a quality college experience. 

     “I think it will be nice to have campus opened up more normally. I am not really a fan of classes over Zoom because I have a hard time with online classes,” UMPI student Bethany McAvoy said. “It will be nice to have more activity on campus because it seemed so quiet this year.” 

     The 2020-2021 school year was not ideal for many people. But despite this, the UMPI community worked together to make it a great experience. Students, faculty and staff members at UMPI dealt with a lot of changes to campus, but they still persevered. The fall 2021 semester is looking very hopeful for the UMPI community, which is something that everyone has dreamed about since the beginning of the pandemic. 

     “I am beyond thankful that the appropriate precautions were put in place to make UMPI such a safe place to work and learn these past two semesters. With that being said, I am ready for a normal return in Fall 2021,” Danielle Pelkey, assistant director of financial aid, said. “I am hopeful students, staff and faculty can experience a more normal environment for in-person instruction, dorm room occupancy and more in-person events.”

UMPI Holding Survival of the Fittest Contest

     The University of Maine at Presque Isle is excited to announce a new survival of the fittest competition where students will get the chance to participate in an outdoor, overnight contest. The student who lasts the entire night and earns the most points wins a cash prize of $500. Throughout the night, students will compete in challenging games, which will earn them points that can be used toward their final score. Participants will also be battling cold weather and high winds, something that is very normal in northern Maine during the spring. The competition is on April 10 and starts at 8 p.m. and will go to 8 a.m.

     The competition will take place on the edge of UMPI’s soccer field. All participants are allowed a few items to bring to the competition. Students can wear only a short-sleeve shirt and shorts. As college students living in northern Maine, they should be able to handle the cold, which is something they experience every day. Students are allowed to bring a tent, a folding chair, a blanket and their phone. Food and drinks will be provided during the event. 

UMPI plans on hosting overnight competition for students.

     There are three games that students will be participating in throughout the night. The first game will be a fire-starting competition, starting at 11 p.m. Participants will be given some wood and tinder. There will be 30 minutes on the clock and whoever finishes first earns three points. The 2nd place winner will earn two points and the 3rd place winner will get one point. This point system will be the same from all three games. 

     The next game will be a bit more challenging, but doable because UMPI is in Maine, a popular area for moose. At 2 a.m., contestants will travel into the woods and search for a moose. Once they see the animal, they will need to ride it back to the contest location. The first three contestants to successfully ride a moose back to the event site will earn their points. 

     “This is going to be one of my favorite competitions. Moose are a big part of Maine’s culture, especially Aroostook County. It is going to be crazy, but I am looking forward to seeing students interact with them,” Debbie Deering, event organizer, said.

     The next game will be a snowman building contest. Students will have 15 minutes to create their best version of a  10-foot-tall snowman. Four of the event runners will be judging the competition and deciding which snowmen are the best. 

     UMPI is excited to hold this event, which no other Maine college or university has done before. This competition is going to be challenging, but the event organizers know that UMPI students are capable of anything, even freezing weather and moose riding.

     “We are hoping that this competition will be the first of many on our campus. We knew that we could hold this event with COVID-19 protocols in place because it is outside,” Eric Blueberry, event organizer, said. “I am excited to see the student turnout and maybe even some moose riding!”

Wild Animal Terrorizing UMPI Community

    A few members of the University of Maine at Presque Isle community have recently seen a suspicious wild animal near the far end of campus by the tennis courts. This medium-sized animal has even attacked a student and a staff member in the last month. The campus community is on edge and everyone is on the lookout for this dangerous animal, some people are calling a “Rakunk.”

     A couple of people around campus have seen this animal and they are describing it as having brown fur and stripes along it’s back. Individuals who have been near the animal have noticed that it has a very pungent odor. A few people immediately assumed that it was a skunk due to the smell, but many others who have seen the animal thought it was a raccoon. 

     “I had just gotten out of the gym and I was walking back to my dorm. I saw an animal by the gates near the soccer field and I thought it was raccoon. But then I noticed that it had stripes,” Cole Beaver said. “I talked about it with my roommate and he joked around by saying it was a Rakunk.” 

     Students across campus are now calling this mysterious animal “The Rakunk,” which people believe is a raccoon-skunk hybrid. Some people have even parked their cars by the tennis courts to catch a glimpse of the Rakunk. 

     The student who was attacked by the Rakunk was a freshman commuter student who was just taking a walk in between classes. She was walking by some trees near the back of campus when it came at her. She thought it was just a squirrel, so she approached it, only to find the Rakunk. It was the middle of the day, so many people are confused about why the attack happened. 

People are on the lookout for a raccoon-skunk hyrbid on UMPI’s campus.

     The Rakunk made his second attack a few weeks later in the early morning. It attacked an UMPI facilities worker and he suffered bruises and scratches. The animal attacked his upper body, leaving many scratches on his arms and face. The facilities worker remembers it running up on him from the side. He noticed that the animal had a terrible smell and was very frantic. 

     Campus security and the Presque Isle Police Department are doing everything they can to catch the animal and possibly identify its species. Nothing like this has ever happened before on UMPI’s campus, and everyone is concerned about their safety. 

     “Please stay away from that area of campus. We do not want anymore attacks happening from this dangerous animal,” Taylor Gram, Vice President of UMPI, said. “I have heard many speculations regarding its identity, but I can assure you that there is no such thing as a Rakunk. The safety of our community is first priority at this institution.”  

How Students Can Cope With Mental Health

     The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone, especially college students who are continuing to pursue an education during this stressful time. The devastation and uncertainty of the Coronavirus has affected everyone’s livelihood and mental health this past year. College students have had almost every component of their lives changed in 2020, including their academics, athletics and social life. The pandemic has been hard on all college students’ mental health and how they relieve stress. Despite these lifestyle changes, there are still many ways for college students to cope with their mental health and ways to live a healthy life during this historic pandemic. 

Fred Thomas talks with student Madi Exferd.

     Although there are many ways college students can maintain their mental health, with COVID-19 guidelines in play, it can be much harder. There were substantially fewer human interactions in 2020 and many college students suffered. There have been higher rates of depression and anxiety among college students due to social isolation, stress and the feeling of uncertainty. Mask wearing, social distancing and the avoidance of large gatherings has played a role on the connections and friendships students have. Through this pandemic, it is important to maintain those relationships and friendships. Students can maintain these friendships digitally through phone calls or Zoom. 

     It is extremely important for students to take care of their bodies so that they can be healthy both physically and mentally. Students should maintain a healthy sleep schedule and set a goal to get about 7-8 hours a night. It is always beneficial to eat healthily and get plenty of exercise. A healthy lifestyle starts with exercise, even if it something small. It is very good for your mental health to get some fresh air by going for a walk or bike ride. 

A Thank You to All UMPI Employees

     Despite the difficulty and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Maine at Presque Isle has stayed strong due to the hard work and resilience of its employees. From the university’s president to the custodial workers, the entire institution has dedicated this past year to keeping its campus and community safe. UMPI is one of the few universities in the country still holding in-person classes. The university’s faculty and staff members have dedicated a large portion of their time to keeping UMPI’s environment safe and healthy. This pandemic has shone a light on the generous and hardworking people working for this institution.  

     UMPI students were able to make a safe return last fall when campus reopened. Faculty and staff members of UMPI spent the summer working on a strategic plan for students so that they could return. UMPI was able to reopen, but it did come with some changes. With COVID-19 regulations in place, campus looks very different from what it used to. 

Dick Gardiner measures some exercise equipment in Gentile Hall.

     When people walk onto campus, they will immediately notice some changes. Masks need to be worn at all times when people are on campus. The Campus Center, one of the most popular spots on campus, also looks different. A large portion of the seating area in the Owl’s Nest was taken away to encourage social distancing. The Kelley Commons cafeteria in currently serving food through a takeout system. Students can still eat in the cafeteria, as long it is one person per table. Many larger onsite classes are being held in the Multipurpose Room. In the Campus Center and throughout the rest of the campus, there are arrows placed on the floor in order to regulate traffic flow. COVID Testing is taking place in the MMG Center throughout the semester. 

Tips for Students Attending Zoom University

     The University of Maine at Presque Isle will return to fully online on Nov. 23, which means students will need to adapt to a new change in their education. With some UMPI classes already online or hybrid, students will have a head start on transitioning to fully online. Although online learning through Zoom is very flexible and easy-to-use, many students feel they learn best in an environment of in-person classes. 

Tips for students as they transition to online learning.

     The switch to fully online classes this semester plays a huge role in students’ social lives and their mental health. Students will be taking their classes from home and in their bedrooms, which is a much different experience from in a classroom. There are many tips and tricks students can follow to stay focused during these last weeks of the fall semester. 

     Students have been using Zoom for many months now, so they should be getting used to the application. Zoom is very accessible and easy-to-use, so students are now more confident using it. Students should know how to work their camera and mute button. It is always important to arrive on Zoom a couple of minutes before class time. When their camera is on, students should have good lighting and pay attention to their body positioning. It can be difficult to speak on Zoom, so patience is key during participation and conversations with one another. 

     Another tip for students as they switch to online learning is to keep a schedule and stay organized. It is very easy to lose track of time when working on a computer, so making a schedule or to-do list could be helpful. Many students use academic planners to map out their days. Something as simple as Post-it® notes or a sheet of paper can do the job. It is also important to take breaks from your computer screen. Looking at a digital computer screen can be mentally exhausting and physically painful on your eyes. Walking away from your screen is beneficial when you spend long hours on your computer. Take breaks from your computer screen to grab a snack or take a walk during the day. 

     “I like to make lists of everything I have due each week. I think the most important thing with online school is setting aside time to complete schoolwork,” UMPI sophomore, Emily Blauvet, said. “It’s important to have good communication with your professors and stay on top of your work. I just hope for the best!”

     Having a comfortable and pleasant environment is crucial to college students’ educational experience. It is important to find a comfortable workspace to take classes and complete homework in. Students need to be able to feel comfortable and relaxed in their space, whether that is a bedroom or office. Having a cozy chair and a proper desk is something all students should have. 

     When students take classes on Zoom, it can be very easy to become distracted by their surroundings. They are no longer in a learning environment inside a classroom. They are no longer face-to-face with their classmates, so it is easy to get distracted from their classes on Zoom. Students can take away distractions around them by turning off their phones or other electronic devices. Sometimes when classes have more students, it can be easier to lose focus. 

     Students also should take care of their bodies and minds during these last weeks of classes. Having good physical and mental health will benefit students and their academics. Students should be getting enough sleep, even if that means taking naps during the day. They should be drinking plenty of water, not just coffee in the morning. Students can also incorporate exercise and a healthy diet into their routine. Taking these steps will allow them to have positive mental and physical health during the rest of the fall semester.  

     “It’s going to be hard going fully online, but I plan on my making a schedule every day to keep me organized. If I stick to my schedule, it is easier for me to adapt to change,” UMPI senior, Marissa Valdivia Reagle, said. “Last semester when we went online, I had to move a desk into my room. I wanted it to be more of a school environment in my room.”

     All of these steps will benefit students in one way of another. Taking classes and completing an education at home is a unique experience. It is definitely not easy. Even real-world professionals are struggling with working remotely and at home. As students travel back home for the holidays, please remember to make your health a number one priority. Having good grades is not as important as taking care of yourself.  Finish the semester and year off strongly because we all need a good break for the holidays. 


COVID-19 in the North Pole

  This year has been difficult for everyone, including Christmastime’s very own, Santa Claus. The COVID-19 global pandemic has affected hundreds of areas worldwide and even places such as the North Pole. Santa, Mrs. Claus and all the elves at the North Pole have had to adapt to COVID-19 regulations. With Santa’s older age and weight, he is at high risk for Coronavirus, so he has to be extra safe. Yet even in the face of a global pandemic, Santa is still preparing to deliver millions of presents on Christmas Eve so that children around the world can have a good holiday. 

     People may have seen their local “Santa Claus” in shopping malls or Christmas tree farms around the country. The real Father Christmas has been preparing for months on end at the North Pole with his elves. When COVID-19 took over the world earlier this year, the North Pole was no exception. The elves in the North Pole do not travel much and Santa only journeys outside the area if he has an important meeting. Although there haven’t been any positive COVID-19 cases at the Pole, Santa has all the residents taking precautions as they make toys for Christmastime. 

Be like Santa Claus and wear a mask!

     Santa’s Workshop and everyone at the North Pole have been following CDC guidelines. Santa’s elves have been socially distancing and staying six feet apart in the workshop. Due to this regulation, a large number of elves cannot work in the same space, because of the problems with social distancing. The elves can no longer build toys in large groups at the workshop, so they have been working longer hours. These elves are continuing to stay positive, despite the change in their working environment. Their main goal is to make children happy on Christmas Day. 

     “It has been a very different year at the North Pole. We still drink plenty of hot chocolate and sing Christmas carols, but it hasn’t been the same. Santa has done a great job cheering us up,” Buddy, a North Pole elf, said. “We have been working longer hours, but we do not mind because our ultimate goal is for every child to have a wonderful Christmas. We want to do everything we can to cheer them up from this terrible year.”

     Everyone in the North Pole has been wearing masks: Christmas themed ones, of course. Every elf working on toys has been using hand sanitizer and wet wipes. Although elves have had to follow all of these regulations, they are still very energetic and excited for Christmas, as usual. 

     Santa recognizes that families around the world, especially in the U.S., may be struggling financially. He wants to do as much as he can for these families. Santa plans on delivering to all children across the world who are deserving. Many individuals died from the virus this year. People also lost their jobs throughout this year, so they were unable to provide for their children. With COVID-19 playing a huge role in the economy and health of the United States’ population, Santa and Mrs. Claus want to make this Christmas a special one for families in need. 

     “When this virus hit, we didn’t know what to do. We could see that the elves were losing some of their Christmas spirit and that the reindeer were upset,” Mrs. Claus said. “Nick has been working endlessly to make everyone feel safe and I couldn’t be prouder of how he has dealt with everything.” 

     Christmas is a year-round event at the North Pole and when COVID-19 surprised the world, Santa acted quickly. The North Pole was able to continue its progress in the workshop, while following CDC regulations. There haven’t been any parties or gatherings this year at the North Pole, but the elves have continued to show Christmas spirit. Santa will be delivering gifts on Christmas Eve, like any other year. His sleigh will be sanitized and ready to go for his long journey delivering gifts. Despite this eventful year, Santa is doing everything he can to make this holiday season a memorable one for millions of families in the world. 

Honoring the Life of John Haley

John Haley, the kind and loving teacher at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, died on Sept. 10, 2020. Ever since, the campus has been celebrating his life. As an adjunct teacher and director of University of Experience at UMPI, John was a loved and admired person on campus and in the community.

Remembering John Haley.

Born in Aroostook County, John received his bachelor’s degree from Aroostook State Teachers college, which is now UMPI. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Maine at Orono.
Although he was a seed farmer for 30 years, John truly found his passion as a teacher. He was a mentor and instructor at UMPI for 15 years, where he influenced and inspired others during his time. His impact on the people around him was clear on Sept. 18 during a campus memorial service.

In conjunction with UMPI’s Homecoming Spirit Week and Memories Day, people gathered in front of South Hall for the event. During this service, a select number of students, faculty and staff members gathered for a ceremonial tree planting. President Ray Rice and Business Professor Kim Jones shared some brief words about John during the service, as did others. Kim announced that the Excellence Every Day award, which is given each year to an employee who embodies the university’s service excellence
promise, will be renamed the John Haley Service Excellence Award. Due to COVID-19, only a set number of people were allowed to attend. The individuals who did could see firsthand how much John meant to those around him.

“If I had to describe him in one word, it would be caring,” UMPI senior Roni Shaw said. “He was the type of professor to always keep class light and fun. Everyone was just happy with him around. He was a great man.”

During the ceremony, attendees were able to write a note about John on a small paper owl ornament and tie it to the freshly planted tree. People could also write a note on a luminary bag. The luminaries were placed along the walkway from Folsom and Pullen Hall to the Campus Center and lighted that night. All of the notes and sentiments were collected afterwards, so they could be shared during UMPI’s commencement ceremony in the spring.

“He was the kind of professor who helped us outside of the classroom. He could tell if his students were having a bad day, and he would be the first to try and make everyone else feel better,” UMPI senior Marissa Valdivia Reagle said. “As my English professor, he helped us relate our schoolwork to our personal lives. He always made an effort to talk to us about our lives and how we were doing.”

John Haley’s life continues to be celebrated around campus as the semester goes on. His spirit at UMPI was strong and anyone whom John affected was devastated by the news. His death reminds us of the importance of cherishing the people in our lives, because we do not know the last time we will see them. John was known as selfless and giving person. Although his physical journey is over, students, faculty and staff members are continuing to embrace his life.

Making the Best of 2020

Hello everyone, Saint and Dusty here! We hope everyone is doing well during these difficult times. It has been a strange semester, but we are happy to be back on campus with Mummy. Although we cannot see students’ faces, we still can recognize their smells. Mummy’s
classes are not in her usual spot, so we get to travel down the hall. Tuesdays and Thursdays are long days, but we get to see lots of students throughout the day.

Saint and Dusty cuddle up for PCJ 396 on Tuesday mornings.

When students come to class, they take these wet wipes from the front of the class and use them on their desks. It is very stinky, but we are getting used to it. During class time, Dusty and I lie on our cozy bed and enjoy class. We have noticed that students are spread out and do
not sit next to each other like they used to. Mummy only takes us to campus a couple days out of the week, so we try to make the best of it.

With all these changes on campus, we are staying positive for Mummy and her students. We like to greet students, especially the ones in the morning. We cannot see their faces, but we know they are smiling. This semester has been like no other, but it is our job to be there for Mummy. We are ready for whatever the rest of this year has in store for us!