FARMINGTON – University of Maine at Farmington student Alissa Thebarge was recently honored as an Outstanding Future Professional by the Maine Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. She is one of two Maine college students chosen in 2008 for this distinction.
A senior from Windham, Thebarge is a community health education major with a minor in nutrition and presently maintains a 4.0 grade point average. She was selected by MAHPERD for this award for her academic achievement, campus and community involvement, leadership qualities and professional standing. As part of her award, she will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the organization’s Eastern Districts Annual Conference in February held in Lancaster, Penn.
“The first time I met Alissa, I was struck by her leadership qualities,” said Bud Martin, UMF assistant professor of community health education and Thebarge’s faculty mentor. “She has been an important voice in the continuing development of our pre-professional program. Alissa has a very relaxed demeanor, but don’t let that fool you, she is articulate, serious and always professional.”
In addition to her studies, Thebarge has been actively involved with a number of professional organizations in Maine. She is currently completing an internship with the Maine Center for Disease Control’
s Breast and Cervical Health Program where she helps provide public education to encourage Maine women to obtain regular breast and cervical cancer screening. Additionally, she completed her practicum with the Franklin County Healthy Community Coalition, an area outreach effort that offers health screenings and information on local healthy lifestyles programs.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to take what you’ve learned and apply it in the real world,” said Thebarge. “The program at UMF provides you with the necessary knowledge, helps you see the need, and prepares you to respond.”
While at UMF, Thebarge has taken part in a number of healthy-living projects on campus, including the UMF Tobacco Taskforce, a group focusing on improving the health and wellness of the campus by limiting the harmful effects of tobacco exposure; and Stone Soup Garden, a community garden situated on 40 acres that was recently developed through a UMF/LEAP partnership to promote agricultural and environmental sustainability.
Thebarge was also named the 2008 recipient of the UMF Justin A. Maurer Scholarship, an annual award given to a UMF student majoring in community health education in tribute to the late UMF alumnus Justin Maurer and his passion for nutrition and locally grown organic foods. Thebarge plans on applying to graduate school for public health.
Learning by doing is the keystone of the Community Health Education program. Classroom based research, on campus work opportunities, and service learning projects are led by faculty with a broad range of specialties including nutrition, stress management, human sexuality, environmental health, disease prevention and health promotion. The rich variety of core and program requirements is supplemented by elective courses to reflect the student’s interests in the field of health education. Extensive fieldwork, including a required practicum and internship, prepare the students for future employment.