June 01, 2020
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University of Maine at Machias names Class of 2020 valedictorian and salutatorian

Community Author: Cara Cushing
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Photos courtesy of Dawn Johnson (left) and Kirsten Lisee | Contributed
Photos courtesy of Dawn Johnson (left) and Kirsten Lisee | Contributed

MACHIAS — Dawn Johnson of Orleans, Massachusetts is the 2020 University of Maine at Machias valedictorian and Kirsten Lisee of Milbridge is this year’s salutatorian. Both students majored in psychology and community studies.

A member of the Clippers soccer team and recipient of the 2018 USCAA Student-Athlete of the Year award, Johnson draws on her counseling training to help her foster youth development through athletics.

“I love coaching soccer and inspiring young people to play the sport that I fell in love with at a young age,” she says.

Johnson served as vice president of Student Senate for the 2019–20 academic year and is a mentor for UMM’s Crossing Borders program, a humanities course taught in a collaborative virtual classroom with students in five countries.

She will continue mentoring students in that course after graduation and plans to pursue a master’s degree in counseling next year.

Lisee received the Norman W. Duzen award for community-engaged scholars in 2018. She had a minor in counseling and plans to pursue a master’s degree after graduation.

Lisee hopes to become an elementary school counselor specializing in play therapy. She also says a course at UMM taught her the value of animal-assisted therapy, something she wants to use in her counseling practice.

“I feel that dogs provide children with a sense of calmness as they’re processing emotions and thought,” says Lisee, who enjoys hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.

Valedictorian and salutatorian are the highest honors awarded by the University of Maine at Machias, requiring a minimum 3.8 GPA and a history of academic excellence, strong character and service to the community.

The honorees will be formally named in a virtual Recognition Ceremony set to air online at 1 p.m. May 30, and will be invited to deliver speeches at a traditional Commencement Ceremony, tentatively scheduled for September.