As part of the Maine Community Foundation’s Maine Policy Scholars Program, students from campuses throughout the University of Maine System pursued a year-long program of applied research in the area of Maine public policy during the 2015-2016 academic year.
At the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Andrew Hunt served as the institution’s Maine Policy Scholar. Hunt, who lives in Limestone and is originally from Dillon, S.C., has a B.A. in Criminal Justice with a Psychology minor, and a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Sustainability with a Chemistry minor. During the last three years of his studies, he also has worked as a tutor, teacher, and a counselor. Hunt conducted Maine policy research focused on how state lottery proceeds are used and how some of that funding could be diverted to help people in need get a college education. He also called for greater public disclosure on how lottery proceeds are spent.
“I’m focusing on this because I know a lot of people who are very intelligent who simply lack the means to attend school,” Hunt said. “And I think we should be doing more to help these people out. I’m about second chances; that’s why I pursued the field I’m in and why I do this type of research. I had to have a second chance to come back to school. I had a full scholarship when I graduated in 2004 from high school. I blew it, so to speak, but then I came back and graduated Magna Cum Laude at UMPI. I’m living proof that when people are given a second chance, they can excel and do great things.”
Hunt looked at how much lottery funding was going toward educational needs. What he discovered was that, while some states put a large percentage of their lottery funds toward education, that may not be the case in Maine. He also said that following the paper trail could be difficult, which is why he decided to include the public disclosure component of his research.
“I want the public to be aware of how that money is being used and I definitely think it should be used for a good cause,” he said.
Hunt worked to establish a paper trail by looking through resources such as news articles, journals, and legislative briefs. He also plans to consult with officials that represent the Maine State Lottery Commission in continuation of his research.
Hunt’s hope was that policy makers could come to some sort of an agreement on his proposal that will better the education system in Maine and make it easier for people to receive a postsecondary education.
Whatever future impact his research has on Maine Policy, Hunt said he was grateful for the opportunity to be involved in the Maine Policy Scholars Program.
“It has always been my firm belief that education is the only way that one can rise above poverty and achieve their hopes and dreams,” Hunt said. “I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work on a policy that may afford many individuals that come from an underprivileged background the opportunity to attain a postsecondary education. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the Maine Policy Scholar for UMPI.”
The Maine Policy Scholars Program was conceived by the late Peter Cox and funded by many donors as a means of engaging students in the University of Maine System in the public policy process. The program is managed by the Maine Community Foundation with input from an advisory committee.
The Maine Community Foundation works with donors and other partners to improve the quality of life for all Maine people. For more information, visit www.mainecf.org.