Student Development in Higher Education Excellence Award

Student Development in Higher Education Excellence Award

Emmanuel Osam Duodu: Student Development in Higher Education Excellence Award

Emmanuel Osam Duodu of Cape Coast, Ghana is the 2024 recipient of the Student Development in Higher Education Excellence Award from the graduate programs in higher education in the University of Maine College of Education and Human Development. This award is presented to a graduating master’s student who has most exemplified combined academic and professional excellence with consistently exceptional classroom performance alongside outstanding service to the higher education graduate program, the university and the field. Read a Q&A with Duodu below.

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?

A photo of Emmanuel Osam Duodu.
Photo courtesy Emmanuel Osam Duodu.

As an international and first-generation college student, I have experienced a lot of differences. I feel fortunate to have come to an environment where I felt heard, seen and supported by the people around me in my personal and professional development journey. Though imposter syndrome set in, I was fortunate to have an incredible supervisor who kept affirming and validating my uniqueness with regard to my identities. Speaking of connections, with the assistance of my supervisor and faculty mentors, this institution has connected me with other professionals, both in and out of the institution. These connections have helped me understand that I am not alone in my professional journey, which has provided me with the confidence to go for what I want and to always aspire to be authentic wherever I find myself in my career journey.

Have you had an experience at UMaine that has changed or shaped the way you see the world? If so, tell us about it.

My experience in the student development in higher education program at UMaine has been truly transformative. As a graduate assistant community coordinator with Residence Life, I have had the opportunity to interact with a lot of students, which has shown me the impact of communication. This experience has made me appreciate the power of words in shaping experiences and has emphasized the importance of empathy, communication and diversity in creating a better world as a student affairs professional. As an international student, UMaine has also played a significant role in helping me embrace diverse identities and has shaped my views on equity and inclusion. I am grateful for my time here, and I believe that the lessons I have learned will stay with me throughout my life and my career.

Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better? If so, tell us about them.

I had the privilege of working with ResLife during my graduate assistantship, which allowed me to work under an amazing supervisor, Cam McDonnell. She taught me the importance of accountability, and her professionalism was truly inspiring. I learned a lot from her, and I believe that the experience will be valuable in my future profession. I worked as a research assistant intern for StopHazing, where I researched international hazing. This allowed me to work closely with Dr. Elizabeth Allan, who provided excellent guidance and helped me understand how research can be used to improve the student experience on campus. I am also grateful to my faculty mentor Dr. Leah Hakkola, and to Dr. Kathleen Gillon, for their incredible contributions to my personal and professional growth here at UMaine.

What advice do you have for incoming graduate students to help them get off to the best start academically?

I would advise incoming graduate students to embrace exploration by trying new things on campus. They need to cultivate curiosity by asking questions and avoiding making assumptions. It’s essential for them to also understand the need to be open about their struggles to receive support from the right resources available to them on campus. For international students, maintaining cultural awareness is important to navigating differences effectively. I believe that following these principles will help them achieve academic success and personal growth throughout their graduate journey.

Why UMaine?

I chose to attend UMaine because of the higher education program’s emphasis on student development. As a first-generation student, I found this focus interesting based on my past college experiences. Additionally, the financial support provided through my assistantship with ResLife was a factor in my decision. The serene environment and overall sense of safety in Maine also played a significant role in my choice of university.

Favorite UMaine memory:

A memorable and exciting experience I had at UMaine was my first encounter with snow. I couldn’t resist making snow angels and sending videos of it to my loved ones. I appreciate the moments of solitude I get while walking the trails surrounded by nature with music playing in my ears. These experiences rejuvenated me and made me feel like a superhero.

Special Thank You message:

I would like to thank God for his grace through this journey. I wish to express gratitude to my supervisor Cam McDonnell, as well as Dr. Hakkola, Dr. Allan and Dr. Gillon for their genuine and purposeful contribution to my personal and professional growth and development during my time at UMaine. I also want to thank my program-mates and ResLife peers for their support. As a first-generation college student, I am dedicating this degree to my Mom, who gave me the blessing to travel abroad for my graduate education.

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