Hail Champagne, a rising University of Maine from Lewiston, has been awarded the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship 2022-2023 to study abroad at University College Cork (UCC) in Ireland.

UMaine has partnered with UCC to create the scholarship that honors the 1998 Northern Ireland Peace Agreement brokered by Senator George Mitchell between Ireland and the United Kingdom. The merit-based scholarship allows recipients to participate in semester-long student exchanges at UCC, with funds for 12-15 credits of study, housing, meals, and airfare.

The award is given annually to a UMaine student with high academic achievement, leadership skills, a commitment to community service, and the ability to promote the scholarship to the university community and at large.

Champagne, who uses the pronouns she/they, is a double major in political science and sociology with minors in legal studies and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. Previously, she was named the 2021-23 John Nickerson Scholar and the 2019 Mitchell High School Scholar. Champagne’s candidacy was supported by the Office of International Programs, Office of Major Scholarships, Professor Karyn Sporer in Sociology, Professor Robert Glover in Political Science, and the Selection Committee.

In light of her recent achievement, Champagne reflects on how she came to UMaine, the professors who helped guide her, and what it means to study abroad as a first-generation student. .

Why motivated you to study abroad?

Coming from a low-income, first-generation background, I felt compelled to apply for an opportunity that could broaden my experience and excel in my academic career. I felt like I needed to be uncomfortable and in a new environment to grow up in, and I found the George J. Mitchell Peace Fellowship to be a perfect opportunity to do just that. I’ve never traveled outside the country, so I thought it would be great to build my social and independent skills. Wherever I go, I always find joy in meeting new people and discovering their points of view. I think the idea of ​​studying abroad is the epitome of experiencing a new life and culture, and I hope to bring some of that back to Maine and my community.

How do you feel about winning the peace scholarship?

I feel ecstatic and anxious for the future. The Peace Scholarship really opened my eyes to my hard work in and out of school and what I can really contribute to my community. I think it will be a great opportunity to make new friends and explore the Earth.

Why did you choose to come to UMaine?

I transferred from USM to UMaine in 2020 hoping to be able to pursue my law school goal and meet new people.

Describe any research, internships or scholarly activities in which you have participated.

I just completed a one-year political science internship researching public policy surrounding food insecurity with three of my peers and Professor Glover. During the spring semester, I interned at the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund to learn more about public advocacy and reproductive rights for women and LGBTQ+.

This summer, I will be participating in the Maine Government Summer Internship Program, where I will work with the state’s Department for Vocational Rehabilitation. Here I will participate in UMaine’s Step-Up program which guides high school students with autism through the journey to college. I am very excited to find out what Maine Departmental Services can do for students and how valuable this experience will be for my legal career.

Did you work closely with a mentor, teacher, or role model that enhanced your time at UMaine?

I want to thank Dr. Sporer and Dr. Glover for encouraging me to apply for opportunities that I would not have thought would apply to me. Their availability and openness to helping students are qualities that I will continually look for in law school and in my career. The Office of Major Scholarships has also done a phenomenal job of helping me access the resources needed to succeed through this opportunity. Finally, I would like to thank my mom, meme, and Abby for always pushing me to do my best and truly reach for the stars.

Describe UMaine in one word.

Insightful.

To explain.

I learned a lot about myself by transferring to this school and I am grateful that UMaine could be my stepping stone to higher education.

Contact: Sam Schipani, [email protected]