Unity College Graduates First Master’s Students
With the introduction of the Distance Education program, Unity College has experienced a lot of firsts in the past year: the first graduate degree ever offered at America’s Environmental College. The first degree it’s ever offered completely online. The first full-time faculty member on staff strictly for Distance Education. And now, as the new year approaches, Unity College will soon have its first ever graduating class of master’s students.
Seven graduates will receive Master of Science in Professional Science degrees during an upcoming December commencement after 12 months of rigorous study as full-time distance education students. That experience has given them the training and credentials needed to advance in their career paths.
“The feedback we’re getting from students is very positive. I can’t even begin to tell you how rewarding it is to hear, unprompted, how valuable and applicable this education is for their careers,” Chief Distance Education Officer Amy Arnett said. “They’re passionate. Committed. They love Unity College for its mission — and they love being part of it. They all worked really hard to get here, and we couldn’t be more proud.”
Graduates in the Sustainability Science track include:
Brittany Iafrate of Skowhegan, Maine, works at Johnny’s Selected Seeds. She plans to seek out a career as a sustainability coordinator.
Peter Tarrant Weafer is currently located in Scituate, Mass., and sought out the master’s program to revitalize his passion for the environment and sustainable practices.
Graduates in the Sustainable Natural Resource Management track include:
Erica R. Horne of Farmington, N.H., works with the Cooperative Extension at the University of New Hampshire. She wants to look for jobs as a volunteer coordinator.
Merrill C. Maben is currently located in Alaska for a year-long AmeriCorps program mentoring at-risk teenagers. Ultimately she wants to pursue a career in wildlife biology and enroll in a doctoral program to become a university professor.
Amy Lynne Soper of Livermore, Maine, works as an Education Technician at Livermore Elementary School. She is passionate about the environment and wants to work in natural resource management.
Zach Pesch of Broomfield, Colo., plans to pursue a field research job in the spring and is hoping to focus on small mountain owl species. After gaining more work experience, he will either search for a position in natural resource management or consider a doctoral program studying wildlife-crossing structures.
Paul J. Miller of North Bridgton, Maine, works as a Biologist at Loon Echo Land Trust and hopes to continue working in the conservation field.
“I really enjoyed being part of the first cohort to have gone through this. Attending was a bit of a spur of the moment decision for me, and I’m super proud,” soon-to-be graduate Brittany Iafrate said. “I really valued being able to work at the same time I was doing my course load. I’ve laid down roots, started getting involved in the community here, and I didn’t want to put that on hold to go somewhere else. Sustainable living is becoming increasingly important, it’s going to be even more essential in the future.”
Iafrate focused her Sustainability Science thesis project on six “grab-and-go” learning modules focused on sustainability topics that include a one hour course with a presentation, a follow-up assignment, and a reading list. The courses will be uploaded to an open source educational resource website so that anyone can download the modules for free. She was driven by the belief that anyone interested in learning more about sustainability should have reliable sources of information to depend on instead of whatever they can find on the internet – sharing the wealth of her own education at Unity.
“This graduation isn’t just a milestone for these students — it’s a milestone for Unity College,” Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said. “We’ve taken our sustainability science mission to a broader audience: adult learners, professionals, who can now take that knowledge and make an immediate difference in our world. More and more people are looking for this kind of education, and we are here in the thick of things. These are exciting times at Unity.”