FARMINGTON, Maine — When F. Celeste Branham travels to Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship this fall, she plans to look at that country’s apprenticeship program for students in higher education.
Branham, the University of Maine at Farmington vice president for student and community services, was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship through the German-American Fulbright program.
Started in 1952, the program promotes Sen. J. William Fulbright’s vision to promote mutual understanding between the two countries through an academic and bicultural exchange, according to the program’s website.
Branham is one of not more than 20 higher education administrators across the U.S. chosen to participate in the program. There may be fewer than 20 participants due to financial constraints, she said.
As director of UMF’s Partnership for Civic Advancement, Branham hopes to learn more about the German model of apprenticeship, which offers experiential learning for students, she said. It’s pretty pervasive in the German system, she added.
“I know I’ll learn so much in this process,” she said. “It’s the most rewarding aspect of getting the award.”
Within her work on UMF’s Partnership program, she has explored and is interested in all models that exist for experiential learning, she said.
According to a news release, the Partnership for Civic Advancement is a center that collaborates with regional businesses and organizations to provide real-world learning opportunities for students that complement their course of study at UMF and at the same time meet priority needs and strategic community development goals in Farmington and beyond.
The partnership started in January 2012 and received a three-year $45,000 grant from Bangor Savings Bank Foundation to fund student internships.
Since then, the partnership has more than doubled to 58 partners and is still burgeoning, Branham said. The partners consist of businesses and organizations within Franklin County.
It’s a one-to-one program, she said. It provides that number of internships for UMF students to gain work and life experiences while helping with business and community needs.
She’s looked at American and European models of apprenticeship and then became interested in the German program.
She applied for the Fulbright scholarship in February and made it through a three-tier review.
On the financial scholarship she’ll spend October and November there, she said. The first half in Berlin involved in an intensive study that includes visits to several universities throughout Germany. She ends her study in Strasbourg, France.
Excited about the opportunity and what she can learn, Branham said it will also be good for the local university. UMF President Kathryn A. Foster agreed.
“We are delighted that Celeste has received this great honor,” Foster said in a news release. “We expect that she will make the most of this unique opportunity and bring back new understandings and approaches that will greatly benefit UMF, particularly our blossoming Partnership for Civic Advancement.”
For the past eight years, Branham has overseen 12 student affairs areas at UMF concerned with the welfare and success of students and has been a member of the university’s leadership team.
She is president of the Western Maine Community Action Board of Directors and a gubernatorial appointee to the Maine Commission for Community Service.