ORONO, Maine — Two University of Maine sophomores have been named winners of the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship for the 2014-15 academic year and will study abroad in Ireland as part of the student exchange program.
George J. Mitchell Scholars Morgan Gustin and Hilary Warner-Evans each will spend a semester at the University College Cork in Ireland. The scholarship honors the 1998 Northern Ireland peace accord brokered by Sen. Mitchell between Ireland and the United Kingdom and is open to full-time undergraduate students in the University of Maine system.
The scholarship allows one student to study for a year in Ireland or two students to study for a semester each with all expenses paid, including airfare. This year — for the second time — both winners are from the Orono campus.
Gustin, an animal sciences major from Merrill, will study in Ireland during the fall 2014 semester. Warner-Evans, an anthropology major from West Bath, will make the trip in the spring of 2015. Both students are enrolled in the Honors College.
While in Ireland, Gustin plans to pursue animal science courses from a new perspective, specifically through integrating Ireland’s farming, livestock and agricultural techniques into her learning.
“Studying in Ireland will allow me to broaden my understanding of life in a different culture, expand my horizons within animal sciences, and gain experience that will help me decide whether my goal of living abroad long term is a desirable reality,” Gustin said in a press release, adding that she is looking forward to pushing herself out of her comfort zone personally and academically.
In the long term, Gustin aspires to explore a variety of areas within animal science, particularly field research on large animals and management practices within the context of a ranch.
She has worked as a student farm intern at the University of Maine Witter Farm Equine Cooperative and as a tour guide and carriage driver with Carriages of Acadia in Bar Harbor. At Carriages of Acadia she leads narrated historic tours of Acadia National Park and the carriage road system while driving and handling draft horse teams in a variety of situations.
Gustin also is a College Reading and Learning Association Level 1 certified tutor for the UMaine Tutor Program and a member of the student leadership group for Campus Crusade for Christ. She has taken mission trips to Chile and Haiti as a member of CRU, volunteering her time to serve others and raise funds for the expeditions.
“I hope to return with an even deeper insight on how to step into the unknown and rise up to meet the challenges it presents,” Gustin said of her next adventure.
Warner-Evans, who is pursuing a degree in anthropology and aspires to become a folklorist, will study Irish folklore while abroad.
“Folklore is a discipline uniquely suited to celebrating both cultural variation and universality,” she says. “An understanding of it provides insight into both the specific identities of groups and the dynamics between them.”
Since 2012, Warner-Evans has volunteered at the Maine Folklife Center, where she has contributed to the center’s community outreach efforts by conducting research for its Maine Song and Story Sampler website. She also volunteers as a UMaine Conversation and Cultural Partner and is a member of Maine Peace Action Committee, the UMaine German Club and the Honors College Student Advisory Board.
“The Mitchell Scholarship will give me an unprecedented opportunity to broaden my understanding of the field of folklore, as it will expose me to a second interpretation of the discipline,” said Warner-Evans in the press release. She currently is currently working on a research project about reactions to the discovery of the North Pond Hermit and how those reactions relate to Maine identity.
Warner-Evans says she is driven by her dream of living in a world where tradition and tolerance are valued equally, and where groups with different views can take pride in their own identities while acknowledging that does not mean they are inherently superior to others.
“The ability to study folklore at University College Cork is an invaluable tool for me to further the implantation of my vision of a more tolerant and empathetic world,” she said.
More about the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship is online.