Natascia La Verde: Outstanding Graduating Student

Natascia La Verde, of Belfast, Maine, has been named the Outstanding Graduating Student in the Division of Lifelong Learning.

La Verde is a university studies major whose interdisciplinary program predominantly focuses on history, social sciences, psychology, communication and cultural diversity.

She is a member of Alpha Sigma Lambda honor society.

La Verde’s research focuses on the experiences and journey of individuals who historically created social, political and civil resistance. She has written about conscientious objection, and about resistance during the Nazi regime, the Penobscot Nation, and Rachel Carson and the environmental movement.

La Verde is a parent and staff member at UMaine’s Hutchinson Center. She also is an active community volunteer. She has taught Italian to elementary school children, worked with teenagers at a behavioral institution, participated in the Belfast Creative Coalition, and assisted elders. She plans to continue her research on resistance movements throughout history.

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
I have found a culture of intellectual inclusiveness. Most importantly, I have found that the academic staff is uniquely qualified. Most professors I have worked with were clear about the premises of academic discipline, but they were also able to create an atmosphere of intellectual stimulation and constructive dialogue. I value immensely freedom of expression.

Have you had an experience at UMaine that has changed or shaped the way you see the world?
Yes. It was while studying the meaning of myth and heroes. While revisiting the legends and the mythological undertakings of some heroes recounted in ancient or modern history, I rediscovered the value of a human being’s journey attached to the value of his (or her) destiny. The dreams and the desires that we feel inside are like seeds already planted in us. Mysteriously and magically they are there. Staying in faith means to trust that we are loaded with these seeds, which are gifts, talents and divine powers intended to support us during a particular journey and at last to fulfill our destiny. I discovered a deeper meaning of faith.

Why UMaine?
The experiences of life are very subjective. To me, UMaine has provided a support system (mostly academics) that a student can rely on when multiple challenges arise. The quality of university studies, no matter the field of study, comes mainly from the inspiration that a student can draw from their teaching environment. I have met some of the most inspirational professors at this university. Inspiration fuels imagination and boosts the desire to improve and evolve.

How would you define the opportunities for student success at UMaine? Is there any particular initiative, program or set of resources that helped you succeed?
I would encourage students to use the Career Center. Sometimes some opportunities are not always explored in the layout of our agendas, and the people who work there can help think outside the box.

Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
Barbara Howard, the director of the Bachelor of University Studies program. She has always been consistent with her message that “it has to resonate with your soul.” And that message has always played like a music record in my mind.

What advice do you have for incoming students to help them get off to the best start academically?
Apply as much self-discipline as you can: recognize when you are most motivated to best use your energy levels, recognize when you have unproductive urges and try to fight them, and include people in your life that can be supportive because they help to create a psychological boost to your confidence and motivation.