The Year in Review 2023

December 2022

Three New Leaders Join the Mitchell Institute’s Board of Directors

The Mitchell Institute announced the election of three new members to its Board of Directors in December 2022, including two Mitchell Scholars (left to right): Brian Harris ’07, founder and CEO of MedRhythms, a Portland-based digital therapeutics company focused on the intersection of music, neuroscience and technology; Christina Marie Lemieux ’95, planning director at the global advertising company Publicis Groupe; and Dr. Rebecca Wyke, CEO of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MainePERS).

Alumni Spotlight: Heidi Harrison Builds a Career in Brand Strategy on a Foundation Made with LEGO

Heidi Harrison, the 2009 Mitchell Scholar from Hampden Academy, says two Fellowships from the Mitchell Institute were critical to refining her career goals when she was a Government and Legal Studies major at Bowdoin College. Read on to learn how the Fellowships led to a career as Global Marketing Manager for LEGO in Denmark and later as Senior Director of Strategy for the global consulting firm Material.

Alumni Spotlight: Caleb Cullen Cares for Patients Nights and Weekends — at Hospitals in Maine and Beyond

Caleb Cullen’s job was already fast-paced before the pandemic. But after March 2020, the stress level of being an ER nurse surged off the chart. Find out why the 2015 Mitchell Scholar from Katahdin High School and University of Maine at Fort Kent graduate chose to stick with the profession — but make an important switch — to achieve a better work-life balance.

January 2023

The Mitchell Institute Decides to Award 20 Additional Scholarships

A photo of Mitchell Scholars aboard a sailboat

Every April, the Mitchell Institute Scholarship Selection Committee faces a perennial challenge: How to select one Mitchell Scholar from each of Maine’s public high schools when there is often more than one worthy applicant. “The quality of finalists is so impressive that the longstanding tradition of awarding one Scholarship per school prompted us to ask ourselves, ‘How can we not leave more students behind?’” said Mitchell Institute President and CEO Jared Cash. After careful consideration, the answer became clear: offer more scholarships — and offer them right away. Thus, in 2023, the Mitchell Institute decided to say yes to 20 more applicants statewide, bringing the total number of Mitchell Scholarships awarded to 166.

Scholar Spotlight: Patrick Luizzo Accomplishes What His Parents Were Unable to at Northeastern University

A photo of Mitchell Scholar Patrick Luizzo overlooking San Francisco Bay

For many Mitchell Scholars, one of the greatest celebrations of the holiday season is graduation. That’s how it was for Patrick Luizzo, the 2018 Scholar from Edward Little High School and December 2022 graduate of Northeastern University. Being the first in his family to earn a college degree has special significance for Luizzo, as he accomplished what his parents were unable to at Northeastern. They both had to withdraw from the school in their senior year when his mother learned she was pregnant with him. “They weren’t able to financially support themselves and a child and continue with college,” Luizzo said. “I was a teenager when I learned that story. Knowing how much both of my parents sacrificed for me lit a fire in me. It instilled within me this drive to graduate and succeed.”

The Mitchell Institute’s Podcast Moves to Apple and Spotify

The Mitchell Institute’s podcast, Scholars Speak, found a new home — and new audiences — on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Podbean. Add us to your favorite shows to make sure you get the latest episodes with Mitchell Scholar Alumni far and wide about their career paths and life experiences.

February 2023

A New Mitchell Institute Alumni Giving Society Comes to Life in Honor of a Scholar’s Passing

Amidst all of the celebration at Fall Gala 2022 was a more solemn announcement: the formation of a Mitchell Institute alumni giving society named in honor of Truc Huynh, a remarkably gifted and altruistic Scholar, who passed away at the age of 40 in mid-June of 2022. While Truc’s history of community service is nearly legendary in the greater Portland area, what may not be as widely known is that he made financial contributions to the Mitchell Institute at a level that matched and eventually surpassed the entire amount of the Scholarship award that he received in support of his education at Bowdoin. Since then, several Mitchell Scholars have been inspired to do the same.

Picture Story: The Roux Institute Opens Its Doors to Mitchell Scholars with Offers of Generous Scholarships

In early February 2023, the Roux Institute at Northeastern University — Portland’s newest graduate degree and research campus, funded by a $100 million investment from technology entrepreneur David Roux and his wife, Barbara — welcomed nearly 50 Scholars and members of the Mitchell Institute community to an exclusive open house. Attendees learned there’s a lot in the offing for Scholars at the Roux Institute, including a minimum $25,000 scholarship for master’s programs in Analytics, Applied Machine Intelligence, Bioengineering, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Computer Science, Data Science, and Project Management.

Alumni Spotlight: Grace Bell Hits All the Right Notes at the Bowdoin International Music Festival

A photo of Mitchell Scholar Grace Bell in her office at the Bowdoin International Music Festival

Every summer, the population of Brunswick swells by more than 300 as the students, faculty, and staff of the Bowdoin International Music Festival travel to Maine’s oldest college campus to study, compose, and perform chamber music. At the center of it all — conducting student admissions and the operations of the world-renowned, six-week summer music program — is Grace Bell, the 2009 Mitchell Scholar from George Stevens Academy and 2013 graduate of Middlebury College.

March 2023

Picture Story: MILE II Positions Scholars and Alumni for Career Success in 2023

Sponsored by Unum, the Mitchell Institute Alumni Council organized the annual Mitchell Institute Leadership Experience (MILE) II at Unum in March 2023 to help Mitchell Scholars learn how to navigate the career development process as well as form the networks that can yield internship and career opportunities.

Picture Story: Mitchell Scholars Hunter Steele and Melina Masselli Raise Aspirations and the Number of Mitchell Scholarship Applications at Lewiston High School

At the request of the Guidance Office at Lewiston High School, Scholarship Director Kim Gustafson organized a 90-minute Q&A session in early March 2023 for a dozen LHS seniors applying for the Mitchell Scholarship. The LHS-based discussion featured some compelling, relatable voices in Mitchell Scholars Hunter Steele ’19 and Melina Masselli ’20. They are, after all, LHS graduates — and just a few years removed from the 2023 applicants. And both gladly took time away from their spring breaks at Bowdoin and Wheaton colleges, respectively, to help the next generation of Mitchell Scholarship applicants.

April 2023

Wendy Gibbs Joins the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society with the Largest Alumni Gift in Mitchell Institute History

A photo of Mitchell Scholar Alumna Wendy Gibbs

With her gift to the Mitchell Institute shortly after representing Bangor Savings Bank at MILE II in early February, Wendy Gibbs, the 2012 Mitchell Scholar from Mount View High School, became the 13th and latest member of the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society. And owing to the size of her contribution, she has the distinction of making the single largest Alumni gift in the Institute’s history.

On the World Stage Again, 25 Years Later: Senator George Mitchell Visits Northern Ireland

As reported by local, national, and international media outlets, Senator George Mitchell, chair of the negotiations that led to Northern Ireland’s historic 1998 accord and an end to decades of sectarian bloodshed, was overseas in early April 2023 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. At 89, he was once again on the world stage, urging leaders to uphold the peace that began, as he said, “when history opened itself to hope.”

Video: Osage Crie’s Senior Scholar Reflection

As he concludes his degree in Applied Social and Cultural Studies at the University of New England, Osage Crie has some wisdom to impart to current and future Scholars: “Being a Mitchell Scholar is pretty much like everything else in life. You get out of it what you put into it.” That’s why the 2019 Mitchell Scholar from Fryeburg Academy recommends “being an active Scholar” by attending events, especially the Welcome Celebration, MILE I, and MILE II. Learn more about what Crie thinks of the Mitchell Institute and the opportunities it has provided him in these three Senior Scholar Reflection videos recorded in the Bush Center at UNE.

May 2023

Video: How the Fixing of a Tie Was the First Gesture of Friendship

Jean-Daniel Liwanga (right), the 2020 Mitchell Scholar from Baxter Academy for Technology and Science and a rising senior Computer Science major at the University of Southern Maine, has one more year to go before his graduation. But he’s happy and filled with gratitude for one fellow Mitchell Scholar who received a degree in Applied Social and Cultural Studies at the University of New England this month: Osage Crie. “He was almost like a big brother, looking out for me,” Liwanga said. “I’m really grateful for that connection and that friendship that was formed through the Mitchell Institute.” Find out how Crie made an impact on Liwanga’s life and what advice Liwanga has for new Mitchell Scholars in these videos recorded in Glickman Library on the University of Southern Maine’s Portland Campus.

Video: Emily Birdsall’s Senior Scholar Reflection

As she finishes her degree in Medical Biology/Pre-med and Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, University of New England senior Emily Birdsall, the 2019 Mitchell Scholar from John Bapst Memorial High School, is grateful for the Mitchell Institute’s holistic scholarship application review process, which, she says, gave her — someone who had missed more than 100 days of school over her junior and senior years due to illness — a shot at becoming a Mitchell Scholar. Four years later, with a medical school acceptance letter in hand, Birdsall says, “It wouldn’t have happened if [the Mitchell Institute] hadn’t looked at me as a complete person, a complete applicant — and everything I had experienced beyond my grades.” Learn more about what Birdsall thinks of the Mitchell Institute and the opportunities it has provided her in these Senior Scholar Reflection videos recorded in the Bush Center at UNE.

June 2023

Video: Jared Cash and Mitchell Scholars Welcome Record Number of New Mitchell Scholars

Interested in knowing who among this year’s 1,467 applicants from every community in Maine received a coveted Mitchell Scholarship — and what we said to welcome them to the Mitchell Scholar community? Sponsored by WEX, this video message from President & CEO Jared Cash, along with Mitchell Scholars Jean-Daniel Liwanga, Emily Birdsall, and Tristan Seavey, features advice for the Class of 2023 and the full list of this year’s recipients.

Picture Story: After a Long Hiatus, the Mitchell Institute Hosts a Graduation Celebration for Mitchell Scholars at Bangor Savings Bank

Over delicious catering from Moe’s Original BBQ-Bangor (courtesy of event sponsor Bangor Savings Bank), Mitchell Scholars who recently graduated from college, members of the Mitchell Institute Alumni Council, and Institute staff gathered for a celebration in early June high atop the bank’s headquarters in the Queen City of the East. The event had one other purpose: ushering the recent college graduates into their new roles as Mitchell Scholar Alumni.

The Mitchell Institute Releases the 2022–2023 Annual Report

Thanks to support from our many loyal donors, the past year was one of tremendous progress and momentum at the Mitchell Institute. Perhaps chief among our accomplishments in service to Mitchell Scholars was the return to in-person programming for our signature events, including the Welcome Celebration, MILE I Weekend, and several on-campus receptions, where Scholars built connections with university leaders and Institute staff. What’s more, we took the bold step of committing to expand the number of Mitchell Scholarships we offer by 20, allowing us to select 166 Mitchell Scholars in 2023. To learn more about our accomplishments over the past year and see the names of our loyal donors whose generosity funded the broad range of supports we provide Mitchell Scholars, please review the latest issue of the Mitchell Institute Annual Report, which is presented in a “flip-book” format.

July 2023

Picture Story: Scholars Gather at the ‘Roux MILE’ to Learn Design Thinking and the NIMBLE Mindset

On a mid-July Saturday, nearly 30 Mitchell Scholars came together at the Roux Institute in Portland for a hands-on startup challenge to explore design thinking, an innovative process for complex problem-solving that can be leveraged in any field. Led by NIMBLE founder Mariette Wharton, Scholars spent the morning learning and practicing ideation skills, participating in a design-thinking crash course, and honing presentation skills in a Pitching 101 workshop. After lunch, they formed teams to develop an innovative solution to a real-world challenge: how to design an online learning system to meet the needs of 70,000 teens who are living in a UN refugee camp in Kenya. The program culminated in a mini-pitch competition, in which teams of Mitchell Scholars presented their online learning system concepts to Hubert Senga, founder and CEO of Generation Aid, who joined virtually from Kenya.

At His One-Year Anniversary, Tristan Seavey Reflects on the Benefits of Being a Mitchell Scholar

With his first two semesters at Bates College complete, Tristan Seavey, the 2022 Mitchell Scholar from Calais Middle/High School, had some time to reflect on how the Mitchell Institute and the Mitchell Scholar community have been forces for good this past year. Since attending his first Mitchell Institute event — the Welcome Celebration — in early August 2022, Seavey has dined with donors and fellow Scholars at Gala and participated in MILE I Weekend. He also has secured a Fellowship from the Mitchell Institute to help pay his living expenses during a summer internship at the Maine MILL, the Museum of Innovation, Learning, and Labor, in Lewiston, where he is researching Wabanaki history for a future exhibit, giving tours, and performing various tasks. Find out more about what Seavey thinks of his Mitchell Scholar experience — at the one-year anniversary of being named a Scholar — in these videos recorded in the George and Helen Ladd Library at Bates College.

August 2023

Picture Story: With His Surprise Visit, Senator Mitchell Gives New Scholars a Warm Welcome

The Wells Conference Center on the University of Maine campus was abuzz on the morning of Saturday, Aug. 5, when more than 200 new Mitchell Scholars and family members gathered to meet one another, learn about the broad range of supports and programs offered by the Mitchell Institute, hear some uplifting speeches, enjoy a delicious brunch, and have professional headshots taken. The 2023 Mitchell Scholars and their families were also treated to a surprise visit from the founder of the Mitchell Institute, U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell. See photos from the event and learn what the Senator shared with new Scholars and their families in this Exposure picture story.

News Center Maine Interviews Senator Mitchell at the Welcome Celebration on Saturday, Aug. 5

Senator Mitchell’s presence at the Welcome Celebration on Saturday, Aug. 5, drew the attention of News Center Maine, which requested interviews for a two-part series that aired shortly before his 90th birthday.

Mitchell Scholar Masselli ’20 Receives Fellowship Funding to Complete a Pre-Physician Assistant Internship in Kenya

With a six-week pre-physician assistant internship in Kenya in her sights, Melina Masselli (second from left), a 2020 Mitchell Scholar from Lewiston High School and rising senior Pre-Med–Biology major at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, applied for fellowship support from the Mitchell Institute and was named a Dubyak Fellow. The $1,500 she received through a gift to the Mitchell Institute from Michael and Denise Dubyak helped defray the cost of her flights to and from Kenya for the summer internship with International Medical Aid. “I can wholeheartedly say that the experience changed me for the better, and I will continue to cherish and carry the memories made there for the rest of my life,” Masselli said. “None of this would have been possible without a fellowship from the Mitchell Institute, and I’m so grateful for the investment in my goal of becoming a physician assistant.”

September 2023

Mitchell Scholar Travis Hosea: From Fellowship to Internship to Full-Time Job

Travis Hosea, the 2020 Mitchell Scholar from Messalonskee High School and Accounting major at Babson College, needed no encouragement to gain real-world experience prior to graduation. Instead, he needed help paying for housing in Boston during a summer internship with Deloitte. Find out how a Fellowship from the Mitchell Institute helped Hosea complete the internship, which yielded an offer of full-time employment for fall 2024.

A Connection Made at the Welcome Celebration Endures

Maguire and Alex after the Brown University Commencement celebration.

When Mitchell Scholars Maguire Anuszewski and Alexander Wilde met at the Welcome Celebration back in 2019, they had no idea how important their friendship would be at Brown University and beyond.

October 2023

Picture Story: Gala 2023 Was a Night to Remember

Gala 2023 guests will likely tell you that the annual celebration of Mitchell Scholars and the Mitchell Institute’s mission to unlock the potential of Maine’s young people was as brilliant and fizzy as ever. And if they say it somehow felt even more lively this year, that’s because we celebrated a very special 90th birthday with the Institute’s founder, Senator George J. Mitchell.

Picture Story: Mitchell Scholars Weathered MILE I Weekend with Glee

As nearly 50 Mitchell Scholars arrived at the New England Outdoor Center in Millinocket on the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 5, for the 2023 edition of the Mitchell Institute Leadership Experience I Weekend, they knew the sunshine would be short-lived. For days in the run-up to the 48-hour program held annually in the shadow of Mount Katahdin, meteorologists had predicted the remnants of Tropical Storm Philippe would reach the area on Saturday, replete with high winds and heavy rain. In keeping with tradition and in support of a goal to imbue Mitchell Scholars with a strong sense of perseverance, Saturday’s outdoor excursions — hiking to the summit of Katahdin and whitewater rafting on the Penobscot — were slated to happen rain or shine. Find out how Mitchell Scholars weathered MILE I Weekend with glee.

Video: A Special Birthday Tribute to Senator Mitchell

We were delighted to have our founder, Senator George J. Mitchell, at Gala 2023 so we could celebrate his 90th birthday with a video tribute from several Mitchell Scholars. In the video, Scholars shared moving stories about how the Mitchell Scholarship helped shape their lives and thanked Senator Mitchell for helping them reach their personal, academic, and professional goals.

November 2023

Picture Story: Mitchell Scholar Allyson Nadeau Shares Her Recipe for Success at the Culinary Institute of America

Allyson Nadeau, the 2021 Mitchell Scholar from John Bapst Memorial High School, recently shared some images of confections she created in courses ranging from Contemporary Cakes to Specialty Breads to Advanced Baking Principles at the Culinary Institute of America. With the holiday season upon us, we offer this no-calorie photographic tour of her recent masterpieces. Take a look, and we think you’ll agree: While being Mainer might rule out her ever appearing on the Great British Baking Show, Nadeau’s creations would surely net her lots of Hollywood handshakes and the honor of Star Baker week after week.

Sean Findlen Joins the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society

With his most recent gift to the Mitchell Institute, Sean Findlen, the 1995 Mitchell Scholar from Fort Fairfield Middle/High School, became the 14th alum to make contributions matching or exceeding the amount of the scholarship awarded to them. “The support I received from the Mitchell Institute transcended the financial realm, as I was welcomed into a lifelong community that embodies the values and ideals that make Maine so special,” said the newest member of the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society. “It is an honor and privilege to express my gratitude by giving back to a community that has provided so much to me over the years.”

Video: Mitchell Scholars Give Thanks to L.L.Bean for Sponsoring MILE I Weekend

Mitchell Scholars who attended MILE I Weekend in early October are grateful to L.L.Bean for sponsoring their adventures at the New England Outdoor Center and for helping each of them #BeanOutsider atop Katahdin, on the Penobscot River, and on the shore of Millinocket Lake. The Mitchell Institute encourages every Scholar to embrace gratitude in their journeys, and, in this video, they were all too happy to give thanks for the unforgettable weekend L.L.Bean made possible.