FARMINGTON, Maine – UMF senior Dovey Balsam’s passion for helping military families has its roots in her family’s history of service. So it was only natural that as UMF’s 2012-2013 Maine Public Policy Scholar, her research explored the problem of domestic violence among Maine veterans and how best to help them and their families.
The Maine Public Policy scholarship program challenges students to tackle real-life policy issues currently facing the state of Maine and, after an extensive process of research and analysis, to recommend policy solutions to the highest level of state government. Balsam recently presented her research at UMF’s annual Symposium, a day-long celebration of student scholarly and creative achievement.
“We are so proud of Dovey and her important research that is at the forefront of a national issue,” said Kathryn A. Foster, UMF president, in a press release. “It is so rewarding to see our young scholars invest themselves in developing policies and realistic goals on serious issues that are important to all Maine citizens.”
Balsam of Industry is majoring in political science and interdisciplinary studies — a degree program that helps prepare students to integrate knowledge from different perspectives — with a concentration in sociology/anthropology. Her class work and close collaboration with faculty, in addition to her previous research as a UMF Wilson Scholar into the effects of combat trauma on veterans, motivated her to be interested in finding answers for domestic violence in the veteran population.
As a non-traditional student with family members that have served multiple deployments in the military, Balsam understands the challenges that military families can face. Her recommendations explore how community-based services can help veterans and their families avoid and recover from the crisis of domestic violence. She concludes these local outreach programs can better serve this population in states like Maine that have a large veteran population spread over a wide rural area with limited VA resources.
Balsam served as an intern last summer with the Maine Emergency Management Agency and with the American Red Cross. She is a first responder with the Industry Fire Department and a member of Veterans for Peace. After graduation she hopes to continue advocating for veterans and their families and to become an emergency medical technician.
Since 1995, the Maine Public Policy Scholars Program has offered one undergraduate from each of the University of Maine System campuses the opportunity to learn about a public policy in Maine through direct engagement with the issue, policy makers, and existing research, and to present his/her conclusions and a policy recommendation to the legislature. This scholarship, funded by the Maine Community Foundation, awards the recipient $1,000 to be used for six course credits associated with the policy research and $1,000 for related research and travel expenses.