Class of 2020 Summer 2021 Class Note

Kari Suderley

Julia Van Steenberghe 

I’m Kari Suderley and a co-writer of the Class of 2020’s column. I was a non-traditional student and employee of the university in the Division of Lifelong Learning. I graduated with a degree in psychology and a minor in leadership studies. I have worked in the Early College Program since 2018 but within five months of graduation, I was promoted to the coordinator of the entire program. This was very exciting for me as I have a passion for higher education and love sharing my program with those who will benefit from it most. I have recently been accepted into the graduate school and will start this fall in the Student Development in Higher Education program. I love being a Black Bear even though my path was a little bit different from most of the class.

I am Julia Van Steenberghe and a co-writer of the Class of 2020’s column. I am so excited to have the opportunity to share my fellow Black Bears’ stories! While at UMaine, I studied and graduated with a double major in elementary education and child development and family relations. I was a member of the cheerleading team, Alpha Phi, Phi Kappa Phi, Team Maine, Order of Omega, Kappa Delta Pi, and a variety of other clubs and organizations. I am currently in the master’s of human development program at UMaine and look forward to graduating in May of 2022. 

I was crowned Miss Maine USA in November 2019 and competed in the Miss USA pageant in November of 2020 (Search YouTube for “THE 2020 MISS USA Competition” You can see the segment at 2:47.

Our graduating class was the first to have commencement delays due to the COVID pandemic. But our class collaborated with Student Life to host a replacement event. As many as 500 seniors received a certificate of graduation, with a squirt of hand sanitizer. These certificates came with an elbow bump from Dean of Students Robert Dana ’80. An actual commencement ceremony was postponed several times and alternate options were presented such as scoreboard recognition (Search YouTube for “UMaine 2020 Commencement video scoreboard”) or:

and video stage walks (Search YouTube for “UMaine 2021 Commencement Stage Walk — Class of 2020”). We are thankful for the virtual components that were offered to us as we strove to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

COVID response:
Thirty-eight nursing students graduated several weeks early so that they were able to assist with the growing pandemic and beyond. This early graduation allowed for early licensure to speed up their entry onto the frontlines. Katelyn Ford expressed her gratitude to the program as she headed to Johns Hopkins Hospital to work in the Weinberg Trauma ICU. Currently, Nicole Brown, Bethani Dickson, and Adam Wilcox are working as cardiac care nurses for Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, and Nicole Chasse is working in their ICU. Grace Kelley was hired by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Manchester, NH, to work in their emergency department. Duke University Health System welcomed Chad Morin to their critical care team. Katie Mercier joined the maternity and pediatrics team at Maine General Hospital in Augusta, and Alison Wyman joined their postpartum and pediatrics team. New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Portland, ME, hired R.N. Emily Gagner.

While the Class of 2020 is accomplished in many areas, we thought it was critical to acknowledge their athletic accomplishments and achievements this summer. Former basketball star Maddy McVicar signed her first pro deal with Newcastle of the Women’s British Basketball League. Currently there are seven Black Bear Hockey alumni continuing their careers on the ice elsewhere. Stephen Mundinger and Tim Doherty have continued with their NCAA eligibility playing as graduate transfers at Long Island University and Penn State respectively. Ryan Smith joined the ECHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, the Adirondack Thunder for the 2020-2021 season. Former Black Bear captain Mitch Fossier inked a deal with the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, the Rockford IceHogs. Women’s ice hockey is no stranger to post UMaine success either with Ebba Stranberg playing in Sweden’s top league, the SWHL. Tereza Vanisova, the Black Bear’s All-Time Points Leader, earned herself a 12th overall pick in the WNHL 2020 draft signing to the Boston Pride. Carly Jackson, also a UMaine record breaker, was selected third overall in the WNHL 2020 draft, signing with the Buffalo Beauts! 

Student specifics:
Maura Philippone was awarded a 2020 National Student Speech Language Hearing Association Scholarship. Maura was one of only three students nationwide to receive this scholarship. 
Sophie Paddon is working as a paralegal with Providentia Group, a Portland-based law firm that works with businesses and entrepreneurs. She also serves on the Alumni Association’s board of directors.
Alison Bartlett, who majored in food science, works for LaBree’s Bakery in Old Town.

The Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions wrote a story about research on potential risks in food waste recovery and recycling that featured two classmates —Astha Thakali G, who received a master’s in environmental engineering, and Skyler Horton, who graduated with a major in the human dimensions of climate change.
Please contact us with any updates you may have. We are excited to hear news of our class and all the wonderful things 2020 Black Bears are doing! Email us with your updates: or