ORONO, Maine — A University of Maine professor spent Friday at the White House alongside 11 other AmeriCorps alumni for their leadership and service to their communities.

Sharon Wagner, a UMaine assistant professor in the School of Economics, was recognized as a “Champion of Change” in AmeriCorps Alumni, an organization geared toward connecting former AmeriCorps volunteers and advancing their careers in leadership, during an all-day event in Washington D.C.

Friday’s program was meant to recognize leaders who “demonstrate how AmeriCorps alumni have leveraged their national service experience to become influential in their careers and leaders in their communities,” according to a White House press release.

Since 1994, more than 775,000 Americans have served in AmeriCorps.

Wagner was an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps volunteer stationed in Charleston, S.C., where her team completed seven projects in the areas of education, environment and unmet human needs.

She said her experiences ignited her passion for conservation and interest in the economic and social implications of energy decisions. She said AmeriCorps helped her decide on her career path.

Today, Wagner’s research focuses on the environmental, social and economic implications of energy decisions.

Wagner received her Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University in 2011. After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Wagner worked as an environmental technician in San Diego, Calif. She then worked for three years as a middle school science teacher and earned a California Teaching Credential from National University. She taught international baccalaureate environmental systems to high school students in Quito, Ecuador, for two years.

“In a career path committed to service, my experience in AmeriCorps was a crucial step during a transition from youth to professional that gave me the confidence, knowledge and skills to solve critical social and environmental problems,” Wagner said.