Student Experience - Shelby Saucier
Shelby Saucier, a University of Maine graduate student in the School of Policy and International Affairs, recently traveled to China on an internship with Study Group, an international organization that aims to help students from around the world achieve their academic goals. UMaine is one of seven higher-education institutions in the United States that is working with Study Group. The organization has partners in seven countries. From June 19 to July 8, Saucier met with local high school students who are interested in attending college in the United States. She represented UMaine by explaining all it has to offer and sharing stories of her experience as a student.
Major and minor(s):
Anthropology, with a minor in Spanish; attending graduate school for global policy and international affairs.
What is Study Group?
Study Group is an organization that facilitates students from abroad with completing tasks, such as honing their English skills and completing pre-university courses so they can attend college in the United States. It also sends out recruiters to connect with students and give them all the information they want about affiliated schools. Student recruiters are able to share their personal experiences with the students and their families.
How did you get involved with Study Group?
I was nominated to apply by UMaine’s Office of International Programs.
How many students received this internship?
I am the only student from UMaine who received this internship, and the second position was filled by a student from Chicago. I believe we are the only two interns with Study Group this season.
I guess they liked my resume.
Tell me about the internship:
I was stationed mostly in Beijing, but traveled to a few other cities, such as Jinan, Shanghai and Ningbo. On the weekdays I was mostly at an office talking with students who were interested in attending a university in the States.
I represented UMaine and answered any questions they had, described our programs, and told them about my experience here. If I was able to encourage just one student to study at UMaine, then I will be very happy.
On the weekends I traveled to college fairs in other cities and was part of a group of representatives who talked with interested students. I also presented at these events; using a slide show in Mandarin characters and with the help of a translator (I spoke in English). I shared some of my experiences while presenting and showed a few photos of me at UMaine.
I also had the amazing opportunity to explore these cities in the mornings and late afternoons, and even went to the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. I honestly can’t wait until I get the chance to go back; I loved China.
Did the trip meet your expectations?
The trip met my expectations and exceeded them. International recruitment is certainly different than domestic, which I have done through Team Maine for the past three years. I learned a lot about the field and also a lot about myself, both professionally and personally. I met many other recruiters, counselors and interns. It was certainly an eye-opening experience.
Where have you studied abroad before?
I thrive on travel. I graduated high school early and moved to Costa Rica for a few months to teach English in a community center. Last year, I traveled to Tanzania, Africa to document ecological information throughout the different climates of the country, and last fall I studied abroad in Bangalore, India. Although I have been to many amazing places around the world, I had never been to China, except for a layover in Hong Kong on my way to India.
Beyond academics, what extracurricular activities occupy your time?
I am a member a Team Maine; this is my third year as a student ambassador, campus tour guide and telecounselor.
I love to volunteer. I was vice president of the Sophomore Eagles honor society, which focuses on philanthropy work. I also did two years of Alternative Spring Break, working with the homeless and hungry in Washington D.C., and helping rebuild Mississippi communities.
What are your plans for after graduate school?
After graduate school, I hope to either own or work at a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping the homeless and hungry recover and get back on their feet. It is my passion to make sure no one goes hungry or has to sleep in the rain. I am hoping to start in Maine, expand across the country and then do outreach abroad.
What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
I would not have any of the resources I possess now to reach any of my goals if it weren’t for UMaine. This university has facilitated every aspect of my future goals. Without the people I’ve met, the jobs I’ve had, and the opportunities presented to me, I probably wouldn’t know what my future goals were. With UMaine’s help, I have a clear focus of what I want to do with my life and how I am going to get there.
I actually didn’t choose UMaine, it sort of chose me. I was not the “going-off-to-college” type of girl. I wanted to travel and work abroad and be a nomad, but my mother had other plans. After sending in my enrollment deposit without telling me, she informed me I would be attending in the fall. Upset that my travel plans were being disrupted, I dragged myself to campus, and after spending two-and-a-half minutes here, I knew this was the place for me.
This has been more than a home to me, it has been where I have spent the best days of my life; where I have met my best friends, and have secured my future. After my first day of freshman year, I never looked back; UMaine has pushed me and supported me to only look to the future.
How would you describe UMaine’s academic atmosphere?
The atmosphere here is indescribable. When you step onto campus, you just feel at home, like you really have a place and a purpose and you never want to leave. I know that four years wasn’t enough time for me, so I am spending at least two more here while I get my master’s degree. Once I graduate, I think UMaine is still going to have a hard time getting rid of me, because I enjoy it here so much. The atmosphere is positive and welcoming.
I could go on forever about this university, luckily my Study Group internship allowed me to do that.
Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who has made your UMaine experience better?
All of my experiences with my professors and employers have been wonderful, but I have to say the influence of one professor — Constanza Ocampo-Raeder — has been most influential.
I vividly remember my first anthropology class with her, Anthropology 102, from that day on I idolized her. The way she brought her own research into the classroom and really made us feel as though we were a part of her purpose was a priceless experience I don’t think I could have gotten anywhere else. She wrote the recommendation that earned me the opportunity to travel to Tanzania, Africa, and I have enjoyed sharing my travel excursions with her.
I feel like no matter what your major is, you will always find one person to really connect with and inspire you to reach your full potential.