By Natalia Asis, Secretary 

Jennifer Gravrok in Montreal (Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Gravrok)

Jennifer Gravrok in Montreal (Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Gravrok)

Lauren Crosby in Memphis (Photo Courtesy of Lauren Crosby)

Lauren Crosby in Memphis (Photo Courtesy of Lauren Crosby)

Lauren Crosby and Jennifer Gravrok, students at UMF, have been recently recognized with an NSE (National Student Exchange) Student Achievement Award based on their exchange participation. Crosby’s award was related to her involvement in music, while Gravrok’s was linked to her research on boldness aggression syndrome in crayfish.

Crosby, a secondary education junior, spent a semester at the University of Memphis, while Gravrok, biology major and chemistry and psychology minor senior at the University of Wisconsin Superior (UWS), spent a year at UMF.

According to the NSE press release, “while priority is given to academic accomplishments, consideration is also given to social welfare service, contribution to the campus or community environment, and unusual or creative use of time while on exchange.”

Crosby, who is currently participating in another NSE exchange in New Mexico, went to Memphis to get connected to the music scene and to further develop her singing and songwriting career. “NSE certainly opened up my opportunities to perform, write, and see more music,” said Crosby. “If I hadn’t of gone to Memphis, I don’t think I would have an album out,” said Crosby. “Living in the city really helped me build up my confidence, along with my songwriting skills.”

Gravkrok made UMF her home for a year because it is a NSE participating school. “I chose to study at UMF because it was one of only two schools in Maine that participate in the NSE program, and I really wanted to go to Maine,” said Gravrok.

After her NSE exchange, Gravrok claims that this experience helped her get an NSE fellowship at Michigan State University last summer. “The NSE experience has really helped me to stand out on applications and in academic settings,” said Gravrok. “Since this experience people have really taken notice of me and the opportunities I took advantage of during my time on exchange.

Gravrok claims that her research and her professional career advanced at UMF. “At Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, I got to amplify and sequence DNA from plant and beetle species with other classmates form UMF during a week long short course,” said Gravrok. “This was a great opportunity to see how a professional lab runs and an experience that I would never have gotten at UWS.”

“I presented this research at the Northeast Undergraduate Research and Development Symposium (NURDS) and the UMF and UWS symposiums,” said Gravrok.

Crosby’s has nothing but fond memories from her time in Memphis. “Singing on the stage of the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale St. was one of the most memorable experiences of my life,” said Crosby. “Several people that I barely knew came to see me, and the crowd was huge and really supportive. Just walking down historic Beale Street with my guitar was a dream in itself,” said Crosby.

Gravrok’s experience at UMF was also enjoyable outside of the school setting. “I made lifelong friends from all around the world and had my eyes opened to many other cultures,” said Gravrok. “While in Maine, I took every opportunity to travel the East Coast. I saw a Broadway show in New York City, was in Boston over Thanksgiving, Montreal in the spring, and many places in Maine,” said Gravrok.

The National Student Exchange (NSE) program provides a great opportunity for UMF students to have rewarding and affordable study away experiences,” said Lynne Eustis, the Assistant Director from the Office of International Programs. “UMF students have utilized NSE to participate in unique programs not offered at UMF, expand their curricula options and explore graduate schools.”

“I believe that NSE has opened a whole new set of doors for me because of the experiences and connections I was able to make while at UMF, said Gravrok. “NSE is a truly invaluable experience.”