The Alicia Rae Bessey Memorial Scholarship Committee announced that it has selected three students to receive initial awards for this new scholarship.
This scholarship fund honors the memory of Alicia Rae Bessey and her substantial contributions to the UMA-Bangor campus. Bessey was a force for good in everything she did. While she faced mental health struggles throughout her education, she persevered and took life one day at a time, acting as a resource and model for students struggling with similar challenges.
This scholarship honors her memory and the committee found these three students to be worthy recipients of these inaugural scholarships offered in Bessey’s name.
Melissa Bickford will receive a $1,000 scholarship. Bickford is a returning student to UMA-Bangor. After completing her associates of science in legal technology 20 years ago, she is now enrolled as an interdisciplinary studies major, a self-designed major that was the same major that Bessey was pursuing. Bickford works full time in Bangor in community and economic development and her major combines work in transformative justice, community transformations, and systems and structures.
She explained, “I would like to continue making a difference in the community, and advocate for those whose voices are still quiet and need amplifying, and advocate for those that need someone in their corner. I’m still working through what exactly I want to do with this wonderful degree that I am working towards, but I know deep down in my soul that I will continue to help those that need an extra hand, or motivation. I believe that together, we really truly can make a difference.”
Melissa Oakes, a veterinary technology student, and Riley Gray, a dental hygiene student, will each be awarded a $500 scholarship. Gray is a part of the Food Security Coalition and the Dental Club on the UMA-Bangor campus with the goal of being a public health dental hygienist. She explained, “I would like to work with children who need dental care who do not have access to it. Dental care is one of the most important parts of a child’s health. Being able to provide these services to children is super important to me.”
In her essay applying for the scholarship, Oakes wrote about her love for animals and her dreams for starting her own rescue project for senior pets someday. She wrote: “I find purpose in helping, and everything I do is to better my life and help me to keep spreading positive things in this world. I can’t change my past, I can’t redo my childhood or change any of the choices I made in my younger years. But getting back into school gave me the opportunity to help me help myself to make sure my future is something I can look forward to.”
Dale Bessey, Alicia’s mother, shared the following sentiments: “In our time of sadness comes a gift of support to others. Always be grateful and continue helping others, this is what Alicia would want. Though Alicia is not here in the physical world, her spirit is still here making a positive impact and we know she would have been so proud of that. Our family is so grateful to those that have made this scholarship possible.”
UMA is committed to transforming the lives of students of every age and background throughout Maine and beyond, with access to distance education, 10 locations from Saco to Houlton, and dedicated student support. Learn more at www.uma.edu.