Hail Champagne, a rising University of Maine senior from Lewiston, was awarded the 2022-23 George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship for a study abroad program at University College Cork (UCC), Ireland.

UMaine has partnered with UCC to create the bursary honoring the 1998 Peace Agreement of Northern Ireland brokered by then Senator George Mitchell between Ireland and the UK. The merit-based scholarship allows recipients to participate in a semester-long student exchange at UCC, with funding for 12-15 credits of tuition, accommodation, and food and air bursaries.

The award is presented annually to a UMaine student with high academic achievement, leadership qualities, dedication to community service and the ability to promote the scholarship to the academic and wider community.

Champagne, who uses she/them pronouns, has a double degree in political science and sociology with minors in law and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. She was previously named a John Nickerson Scholar in 2021-2023 and a High School Mitchell Scholar in 2019. Champagne’s application was supported by the Office of International Programs, the Office of Major Scholarships, Professor Karyn Sporer in Sociology, Professor Robert Glover in Political Science and the Selection Committee.

Given her recent accomplishments, Champagne reflects on how she came to UMaine, the professors who helped her, and what it means to be a first-generation college student studying abroad.

What made you decide to study abroad?

Coming from a first-generation, low-income background, I felt compelled to apply for a position that could broaden my experience and enhance my academic career. I felt that in order to grow I needed to be uncomfortable in a new environment and I found the George J. Mitchell Peace Fellowship a perfect opportunity to do so. I have never traveled outside of the country so thought this would be great to strengthen my social and independent life skills. Wherever I go, I always enjoy meeting new people and experiencing their perspectives. I think the idea of ​​studying abroad is the epitome of experiencing a new life and culture and hopefully I can bring some of that back to Maine and my community.

How do you feel about earning the Peace Fellowship?

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

Why did you decide to come to UMaine?

I transferred from USM to UMaine in 2020 with the hope of pursuing my goal of law school and meeting new people.

Describe any research, internship, or academic activity in which you participated.

I have just completed a year-long political science internship researching public policy related to food insecurity with three of my colleagues and Professor Glover. During the spring semester, I did an internship with 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 Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. Here I will participate in UMaine’s Step Up program, which guides high school students with autism to college. I am very excited to learn what Maine Department Services can do for students and how valuable this experience will be in my legal career

Have you worked closely with a mentor, professor, or role model who enhanced your time at UMaine?

i want dr Sperer and Dr. Thank Glover for encouraging me to apply for jobs I didn’t think would apply to me. Your availability and openness to helping students is something I will constantly look for in law school and in my career. The Office for Major Scholarships has also done a phenomenal job of helping me access resources to be successful in this opportunity. Finally, I would like to thank my mom, Meme and Abby for always pushing me to do my best and really reach for the stars.

Describe UMaine in one word.

Revealing.

To explain.

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

Contact: Sam Schipani, samantha.schipani@maine.edu