By Rachel Rice
COVID-19 can’t keep a good writer down. In the case of UMPI student Melanee Terry, who’s been writing about members of the campus community since March 2020, it hasn’t even come close. The stories she’s written in the past 14 months have helped to inform what life has been like for members of our campus during the time of COVID, but they’ve also helped to build community during a time when that hasn’t been so easy. And that makes Melanee an incredibly deserving Owl Hero.
Melanee is a senior English major with a PCJ concentration and she hails from California. In addition to her academic work, she’s a member of the Women’s Softball team, a writer with the University Times student newspaper, and she’s participated in an internship with the Aroostook Area Agency on Aging.
She’s worked in the Marketing and Communications Office for her entire four years at UMPI. While she’s tackled many projects–from hanging endless fliers to updating the marquee to clipping newspapers–the assignment she took on last March has been by far the most comprehensive.
In the 14 months since she began writing her stories, which include three series–#newnormal, #SafeReturn, and #OwlHeroes–she’s composed 34 individual features, many times with more than one subject to interview and spotlight. The coverage has been diverse–students from in-state and out-of-state, international students, commuters, online students, and student athletes, as well as students, faculty, and staff from a wide variety of majors, offices, and campus support areas.
From story to story, Melanee worked very hard to convey the lived experiences of her interview subjects and to share the realities, good and bad, of their situations. And just to brag a little on her behalf (because she’d never do it herself), she was sure to consistently meet or beat her deadlines.
In her signature quiet and kind way, her stories have helped to capture a very difficult time in our University’s history and preserve for future audiences the many ways that we lived and worked through a global pandemic. And, as mentioned at the beginning, her stories did even more than that–they brought us together as a campus when we weren’t able to come together in-person. They helped us to understand on an individual level what people were going through. And they helped us to connect, commiserate, and celebrate.
But Melanee has always done that, quietly doing what needs doing, and doing it incredibly well. Her amazing work ethic on the softball field led to her being named the Female Athlete of the Year her freshman year. And her dedication throughout her four years at this institution are why she was named the recipient of the UMPI Spirit Award during the 2021 Awards Ceremony. She hasn’t just shown great UMPI spirit, she’s helped to lift many spirits.
Melanee graduates in three days and, while it’s always hard to lose our seniors, we are so excited to see her off on the next part of her journey. It seems fitting to close with an excerpt from one of her stories, #SafeReturn: My journey back to campus, which ran Sept. 2, 2020: “The reality of the situation is that this is hard: I am grateful to be able to be on campus and go to class in person, but it’s still hard to have to do things so differently than what we’re used to. I think one of the main reasons I am here, though, is because of the faculty and staff members who worked so hard to make it safe for us to come back to campus. Going through this pandemic has taught me a lot and I am thankful that I am in Presque Isle–a place I’ve learned to love and appreciate–for my final year of college.”
We’re so glad you stuck with us and helped to tell our stories, Melanee. Thank you for being a true Owl Hero!
If you ever want to go back and read some of Melanee’s stories, we’ve archived them all at umpi.edu/news. Just look at the left-hand links for #newnormal, #SafeReturn, and #OwlHeroes.