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### Exceptional Special Education Graduate Excels in Early Intervention

Lucinda Marino, a resident of Dresden, Maine, has been honored with the 2024 Outstanding Graduate Student in Special Education (Early Intervention) Award. Below is a Q&A session with Marino.

Reflecting on your journey at UMaine, how has the university influenced your personal growth and supported you in achieving your aspirations?

Photo courtesy Lucinda Marino.

My experience at UMaine has been transformative, especially in reshaping my self-perception as a learner. Initially apprehensive about handling advanced coursework at the graduate level, I faced the challenge of balancing rigorous academic requirements with a full-time position at Maine Child Development Services. Despite my initial uncertainties, I embraced the belief I instilled in my students – the belief that conquering complex tasks is within reach. Through unwavering dedication and effective time management, I proved to myself that I could surmount obstacles. Prioritizing my studies meant conveying to my family that my educational pursuits held top priority. My commitment and resilience, particularly in the face of adversity, set a significant example for my five young adult children as they navigate their academic paths. UMaine has been instrumental in helping me realize my lifelong ambition of attaining a master’s degree in special education with a focus on early childhood education.

Can you share an impactful experience at UMaine that has shaped your worldview?

During my tenure at UMaine, I engaged in in-depth case studies concerning children with disabilities. One poignant experience involved closely supporting a child through the special education eligibility process, ensuring compliance with parental consent requirements. This exposure familiarized me with the assessments mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for determining eligibility and enhanced my proficiency in interpreting assessment results. Subsequently, I played a pivotal role within the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, offering significant input during the IEP session. Following the meeting, parents frequently sought my guidance, underscoring the confidence and competence fostered by my UMaine education.

This experience has profoundly influenced my professional identity as an advocate for inclusive early childhood education, aligning with the tenets of IDEA. It has deepened my commitment to championing the rights and needs of children with disabilities and has nurtured an evolving sense of responsibility, perseverance, and dedication to fostering a more inclusive and equitable early childhood education environment in Maine.

In essence, my time at UMaine has not only equipped me with the skills and knowledge to excel as an early childhood special educator but has also ignited a fervent passion within me to drive positive change and advocate for social justice in early childhood education, guided by the principles of IDEA.

Did you collaborate closely with a professor or mentor at UMaine who enhanced your academic journey? If so, could you share your experience with them?

My successful completion of the program would not have been possible without the invaluable guidance and support of professors and instructors such as Martha Gladstone, Sara Flanagan, Debrajean Scheibel, and Jamie Treworgy.

What advice would you offer incoming graduate students to facilitate a strong academic start?

I recommend finding a fellow student in the program as a study partner and maintaining open communication with professors, whether seeking clarification on assignments or when feeling overwhelmed.

What motivated your decision to choose UMaine as your academic institution?

I selected UMaine to obtain a teaching certificate concurrently with my master’s degree.

Could you share a cherished memory from your time at UMaine?

One of my fondest memories at UMaine was achieving my first A in a graduate-level course.

A Special Thank You message:

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to our advisors for their unwavering support in ensuring we met deadlines and for their continuous encouragement throughout our academic journey.