Where have your wings taken you?

Sara Packard

Sara Packard in athletic training office

UMPI Class of 2018, Bachelors in Athletic Training

When considering the college she wanted to attend, Sara Packard had three specific goals: to stay in the New England area (specifically Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire), play softball at a competitive level, and be able to focus on her studies to become an athletic trainer. When touring schools that she was considering Sara’s visit to campus made it clear to her that UMPI would be her home away from home for the next four years.  During her campus stay, Sara felt that everyone she encountered really wanted her to succeed not only academically or athletically but as a complete person in life. Coming from the small Maine Town of St. Albans, UMPI and Presque Isle’s size was a natural fit; the decision to attend UMPI was an easy one.

One thing that stood out to Sara during her time at UMPI was the small classes and the ability of the faculty to know who you are, by name.  Sara readily recounts that professors that she had for general education classes would see her senior year and still know who she was and wanted to know how she was doing. To Sara, the ability of faculty and staff to remember her even though she wasn’t in their program or often on their part of campus confirmed her initial feelings during her campus visit years prior. Whether they work for the café, physical plant, housing, athletics, business offices, or are a member of the faculty, the people at UMPI genuinely care about you and your success.

A critical part of Sara’s education at UMPI was experiential learning.  Meeting the clinical hour requirement took Sara all over the state of Maine. Locally, Sara completed hours at UMPI’s athletic training room supporting UMPI athletes under the guidance of head athletic trainer Patrick Baker, and at Presque Isle High School with Andy Helstrom, an athletic trainer with County Physical Therapy.  Farther afield, Sara spent time working with Maine General Hospital to provide services for the athletes under their care. A standout experience for Sara was completing an athletic training clinical with UMaine’s NCAA Division I football team. According to Sara, the opportunity to spread out your clinical experience gives students the ability to learn from many different people in different settings and then take all those pieces and bring them together into your own knowledge and experience.

As graduation approached, Sara applied to and was offered several jobs around the state of Maine, including a position as a member of UMPI’s athletic training staff. She chose to join the UMPI team.  Sara is a believer in having mentors and welcomed the opportunity to work with and continue to learn from, those UMPI professionals she had gained so much from as a student.

“UMPI is a family outside of your original family.  Going to college can be really intimidating for people away from home and their support system but you come here, and you find more family and a new support system.  It becomes a second home. I was really happy here, and that influenced my decision to stay and join the staff.”