By Keely Gendron, Staff Writer

UMF biology major Veronica Manasco (Photo by Mariah Greatorex)

UMF biology major Veronica Manasco (Photo by Mariah Greatorex)

Life for first year student Veronica Manasco has not always been simple. Manasco, a biology major here at UMF, faced her biggest challenge her junior year of high school; homelessness.

According to Manasco, one of the most difficult aspects of the situation was lack of space. My family lived in a motel. It was difficult having eight people all within one room, as well as our cats,said Manasco.

Through the hardship, Manasco remained driven and dedicated to her schoolwork. It was this passion and promise that helped Manasco obtain a handful of prestigious awards, including the 2015 Mitchell Scholar, 2015 Horatio Alger Maine Scholar and 2015 Dell Scholar.

Most recently, Manasco was recognized at the 2015 Mitchell Institute Gala where she received the Paddy Frank Walsh Pioneer Scholar Award. This award is appointed to someone who shows great promise in terms of citizenship, scholarship, perseverance and who are supported by the Pioneer Donors for which their awards are named.

After receiving these awards, Manasco admitted that she felt a bit of weight on her shoulders. I did feel pressure, but more excitement than anything because with the awards it is such a huge scholarship to go with it.With the pressure also came expectations. I know I want to do well, but really need to if I want to keep these scholarships,said Manasco. At the same time since Ive already received these awards, I feel like I need to keep striving for more and also keep up with what Ive already done.

Manasco is also setting the bar high for her younger sibling. Im the second oldest out of my siblings,said Manasco. I dont feel like I have to be a role model for my younger siblings, but I know I am.Manasco is currently a first year generation student working towards her bachelors degree.

Education has always been a staple item within Manascos life. Ive always loved school,said Manasco noting that staying devoted to her studies has never been an issue. Ive always just stayed on track and when I know I have work, I know I just need to do it.But that isnt to say she never finds herself preoccupied with other social aspects of life. Facebook and friends can be a huge distraction. I sometimes have a hard time telling my friends I need to go do homework

Manasco’s advice for anyone struggling with their academics: Find a reason why. Find an end point; The reason why youre going to college. If you only come to college because its expected, then youre not going to do very well.

Plans for after college have been on Manascos mind. Id eventually have to go through graduate school; and then a residency. So, I would hope to get a residency with a hospital to work as an ER doctor. Thats many years in the future though, so we will see!