Choosing the University of Maine came naturally for Oxford, ME, native Abby Bennett.
“Of all the colleges I visited and toured, UMaine felt the most optimistic and homey,” Bennett said. “I loved that there were so many opportunities in a school that maintained a close community feel. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Bennett, a junior majoring in financial economics, said that UMaine’s in-state tuition rate made it possible to her to go to college without going into debt. UMaine’s six-year tuition freeze resulted in the university having the lowest in-state combination of tuition and fees among New England’s six state flagship universities, something Bennett said has made staying in Maine for college even more attractive to her and other state residents.
Bennett notes that her UMaine experience has given her the knowledge, experience, and tools she needs to be a successful leader, fundraiser, and public speaker–all essential qualities for someone with public service and political aspirations. Currently Bennett chairs the statewide Maine Federation of College Republicans, and previously served as president of the UMaine College Republicans student organization.
In addition, she is a vice president of Student Portfolio Investment Fund (SPIFFY), UMaine’s student-run investment organization, which manages almost $2.5 million in investments. Bennett is also a member of the International Affairs Association and the class historian of the Class of 2018. Bennett’s favorite event on campus is Maine Day. She loves the tradition associated with the day, and the sense of community that it evokes. “It’s so unique to UMaine, and it’s something everyone who has ever attended UMaine can relate to.”
Because of the countless opportunities on campus to get involved, Bennett says her hardest challenge has been learning to manage her schedule–and how to say “no” to taking on new projects. Her advice to current and future UMaine students is to “not get caught up in what others want you to be or do.
“It’s so easy to get off the path you set for yourself and to forget your goals when you feel like you need to please others,” she offered. “Work hard and stay on track.”
Bennett cites many UMaine faculty members within and outside of her academic major who have advised and influenced her during her three years at UMaine. She said two members of the School of Economics have been particularly influential: professors Mario Teisl and Karen Moffett. Her overall university experience has made her a committed advocate for her alma mater.
“I work to be a positive part of the UMaine community by being involved and advocating for the school beyond its [campus] borders,” Bennett said. For example, in 2015 traveled to the State House to testify before the Maine Legislature’s Appropriations Committee to urge increased funding for UMaine. More recently she organized a bipartisan group of student leaders to attend a legislative reception in Augusta and advocate for UMaine’s funding needs.
When she has free time from schoolwork and political activities, Bennett enjoys hiking, kayaking, skiing, running, spending time with her family, and reading. The most recent book she read was Michael Lewis’ The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds. The book is the true story of two psychologists whose research launched the field of behavioral economics and whose groundbreaking work challenged conventional assumptions about human behavior and decision making.
As for her future, Bennett said she hopes to attend graduate school, run for public office, and work in the private sector.
“I want to live and work in Maine for as much as my life as I can,” Bennett said.
—Aliya Uteuova ’18
The UMaine Alumni Association’s Dirigo Award, granted with support from University Credit Union, recognizes an undergraduate student who exemplifies the academic and civic ideals of the University of Maine.