News & Events

Six to be honored with UMPI alumni awards

The University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Alumni Association will present six awards of distinction during the upcoming Homecoming 2022 activities. The annual alumni awards presentations will be made during the Alumni and Friends Blue and Gold Evening to be held on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. in the Campus Center. To reserve your ticket, please contact Lynelle Foster at lynnelle.foster@maine.edu.

Oz Sailors, Class of 2015, will receive the Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award. This distinction is presented to an UMPI alumnus/alumna for outstanding professional achievement, contributions to community, and exemplary service to the University. The recipient must have completed their degree within the last 10 years.

Sailors, originally from southern California, received her Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from UMPI in 2015. After breaking barriers in high school baseball in California, Sailors became one of the only women at the time playing NCAA DIII college baseball when she joined the UMPI Owls. She held her own against her male counterparts, including impressive outings against Division I Maine. She was the first woman to pitch in a baseball game against a NCAA Division I opponent, was a NCAA Woman of the Year 2015 Nominee, and the first woman to Captain a NCAA Men’s Baseball Team. She received mentions in national publications and used her platform to inspire other girls to follow in her footsteps.

Following graduation, Sailors signed with the Virginia Marlins and went on to play baseball in Australia (Central Coast Marlins, 2015 and Canberra Bears, 2017). She later relocated to China to coach baseball for a Major League Baseball development organization while playing for the Shanghai Buccaneers. While in China, she helped write the curriculum for Baseball China and the Chinese Government to be implemented as part of their physical education classes. Sailors returned to the US and became the first woman to coach American Legion Baseball for the Ashland Pilots in Oregon State. She later served as a development coach and director with the San Francisco Seals, coaching some of the best Division I and II collegiate players, and then accepted a position with Moreau Catholic High School in California as the very first female head varsity baseball coach in the United States.

She became the first woman to play in the World Pro Baseball League and the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball, is a 3-time Alumna of the U.S. Women’s National Baseball Team, helped launch the first Baseball for All National Baseball Tournament in 2015 (and was a key factor in transitioning the organization from a small girl’s baseball resource to a national youth organization), and is the only U.S. player to play in Japanese Women’s Professional Baseball (Kyoto Flora, 2019). She is currently serving as a head baseball coach and director of baseball development with Urban High School in San Francisco and works for the San Francisco Giants as the head ambassador for the Junior Giants (MLB Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program) for the East Bay.

Christopher Smith, Class of 1983, will be honored with the Distinguished Staff Award. This award is presented to a current or former staff member for their positive impact on the alumni of the University. Nominations for this award are accepted from members of the alumni association, with any staff member past or present eligible for consideration.

Smith, who has served at UMPI for over 30 years, is the Associate Director of Wieden Hall and Head Coach for the Women’s and Men’s Cross Country (since 1987) and track and field teams (since 2018). He received his Bachelor’s degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation from UMPI in 1983, his Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education – Teaching from UMPI in 1988, and his Master’s degree in Education from the University of Maine in 2002. He is a USATF Level I coach and is certified as an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Exercise Physiologist.

He has coached his teams to 18 Team Championships, been named cross country Coach of the Year 12 times, and has had more than 150 of his athletes earn spots on all conference, all-district, all-region, all-Dirigo Cup, and NCAA Association of Division III Independents, and North Atlantic Conference teams. His teams or individual athletes have competed in NAIA or USCAA national championships on 23 occasions. Of particular note are the accomplishments of NAIA All-American Katherine Chabot (1996), USCAA two-time All-American Kayla Legassie (2012, 2013), and Maine All-State runners Charlie Violette (1991), Chabot (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996), Sara Richard (1995), Michael Waugh (1998), and Evan Graves (2001, 2002).

He also managed several versions of the University Fitness Center, coordinating activities and serving campus and community members in pursuit of their health and fitness goals. He additionally coordinated UMPI’s Intramurals programs and managed all aspects of game operations for the Varsity Athletics programs, all while training, scheduling, and coordinating as many as 35 student workers. Race Directing is also a big part of Smith’s career. He has directed the UMPI Spring Runoff 5K since April 1989, the 2010 Presque Isle Sesquicentennial 5K, the Caribou Labor Day 8K from 2009-2018, the NAIA Northeast Region X preliminary and championship races in 1995 and 1999 with two races each year, TAC USA (now known as USATF) age group races on the UMPI campus, and the Sam Ouelet Memorial.

Shirley Rush, past UMPI Professor of Social Work and BSW Program Director, will be presented with the Distinguished Faculty Award, presented to an UMPI faculty member for exemplary service and positive impact on University alumni. Nominations are accepted from members of the alumni association with any faculty member past or present eligible for consideration.

Rush recently retired after serving as a professor at UMPI since 1998. In addition to her faculty service on various campus committees, she was the longtime advisor of UMPI’s Student Organization of Social Workers. She is known for her work promoting social justice and international social work through trips she has helped to facilitate for her students to the United Nations in New York City, and further afield, to places like Guatemala and Tanzania. She was twice named the Social Worker of the Year (in 2000 and 2009) by the Maine chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

She brought UMPI students on service learning trips to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala in 2009 and 2013. Also in 2013, she was awarded an UMPI Trustee Professorship, which allowed her to spend a semester teaching at Stefano Moshi Memorial University College, in Moshi, Tanzania. In 2015, she brought 13 of her former Tanzanian students, plus their director and principal, to Maine where they performed traditional African music in Aroostook County and the Orono area. She has taken more than a dozen students from Maine to volunteer in Moshi, Tanzania—collectively, they provided more than 2,000 hours of international service to vulnerable children and youth.

Rush is also a recipient of the Donald and Linda G. Zillman Family Professorship. During her two-year professorship, she worked to develop workforce skills in youth ages 16-24, brought two groups of UMPI students to Tanzania, and brought Tanzanian scholars/educators to the UMPI campus to discuss issues of inclusion among students with low vision.

Stephen and Kim Perreault, both Class of 1980, husband, wife, and respected educators will both be awarded with the Distinguished Educator Award. This award is presented to an UMPI alumnus/alumna who has received ongoing recognition as an outstanding educator. This recipient may also have shown active or supportive involvement with the Alumni Association and/or the University or the community in which he/she lives or works and is an individual who has served as an educator for at least 20 years.

Stephen Perreault graduated from UMPI with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education – History and a minor in Psychology. Perreault spent most of his career, more than 40 years, teaching science and social studies at Caribou Middle School. He held Maine certifications in grades 7-12 history, life science and physical science as well as K-8 elementary education. He has served for 40 years as the Caribou Middle School and Community School boys soccer coach, 38 years coaching the Caribou Middle School boys basketball team, 5 years as a middle school girls softball coach and 12 years as a Caribou Little League baseball coach.

He served as a co-chair of the Caribou Middle School Blue Ribbon Committee application team and 10 years as a building representative for the Eastern Aroostook Education Association. He is currently working as a full-time substitute teach for the Caribou Community School and resides in Caribou with his wife, Kim.

Kim Perreault graduated from UMPI with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education – Science and Math. She taught grades 7-9 math, science and reading at Caribou Middle School from 1980-1998. She went on to teach physical science and then math at Caribou High School until she retired from teaching 2017. During her career in education, she served as a department chair for the Caribou High School Math Department, a CHS Accreditation Committee Chairperson, a committee member for moving RSU 30 towards proficiency-based learning and was a mentor to new, academic and vocational teachers in her district.

Her community service efforts include serving as President of the Caribou Music Boosters, class advisor, Catholic catechism teacher and cheerleading advisor. After her retirement in 2017, she has served as a math tutor for UMPI and for the Caribou Community School children in grades 5 & 6. She cannot let go of her passion for math and students, which has led her to accepting a new position with Fort Fairfield High School, teaching math this semester.

Paul Stearns, Class of 1977, will be presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award. This award is presented to an alumnus/alumna who has made long-term contributions to the Alumni Association or the University, or has received professional recognition that reflects positively on the University.

Stearns earned a Bachelor’s degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation from UMPI and began his career as a physical education instructor in MSAD#4, Piscataquis Community Schools. He took on duties of athletic director, assistant principal and coaching along the way. During his time as boys soccer coach at Piscataquis Community High School, his teams garnered four Eastern Maine Championships and one State Championship.

A lifelong learner, he acquired a Master of Education degree from UMaine in 1992 while serving as principal of the Upper Kennebec Valley Memorial Sr./Jr. High School in Bingham, Maine. In 1999, he obtained his Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Leadership from UMaine and took on a new position as principal for the SeDoMoCha Middle School in Dover-Foxcroft. He finished out his career in education as the Superintendent of Schools for Piscataquis Community Schools from 2003-2013.

Stearns has given his time and talents in several areas, both school related and otherwise, serving with local civic organizations, superintendent’s associations, community task forces, numerous boards, and most recently as a Representative in the Maine House of Representatives, where he is the ranking minority member of the Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs. He is the recipient of the Warren “Pete” Myrick Community Service Award and Distinguished Service Awards from the Maine School Superintendents Association and the Maine Department of Education. Stearns resides in Guilford with his wife Melissa (Moran) Stearns (Class of 1977). The couple has two adult children and three grandchildren.

All awardees will be honored during the Alumni and Friends Blue and Gold Evening slated for Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. in the Campus Center, located on the UMPI campus. For more information on the Alumni Association awards, please contact Sharon Roix at roix@maine.edu or to reserve your ticket please contact Lynelle Foster at lynnelle.foster@maine.edu.