In 2005, nine former recipients of the Mitchell Scholarship came together to form the Alumni Council — a body of Mitchell Scholar Alumni that works to provide resources to Mitchell Institute Alumni and current Mitchell Scholars. The Council continues to support the work of the Institute, its programs, and its fundraising efforts.
Alumni Council President Paul Suitter grew up in Oakfield, Maine and is the 2005 Mitchell Scholar from Southern Aroostook Community High School. He graduated from Bates College with a Political Science major and a secondary concentration in History. After college, Paul spent three years teaching middle school science in Revere, Massachusetts as part of Teach for America. In 2015 he graduated from Harvard Law School, where he served as Chapter President of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. After law school, Paul spent some time working as an associate in the Washington, D.C. office of a large, international law firm and also clerked for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine and for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He currently works for the Office of the Maine Attorney General as an Assistant Attorney General. “I am incredibly grateful to the Mitchell Institute and its staff for providing me career exploration opportunities–both in college and beyond–that simply would not have been available to me on my own, and I am excited to help pay it forward as a member of the Alumni Council.”
Alumni Council Vice President Bethany Schulberg is the 2013 Oceanside High School Mitchell Scholar, from the mid-coast town of Thomaston. She graduated in 2017 from the University of Maine with a degree in bioengineering. As an undergraduate student, Bethany was highly involved with the Mitchell Institute and served as a campus ambassador. Alongside her involvement with the Mitchell campus group, she partook in the dance showcases, worked in the research labs, and helped with the residence life department in Orono. Presently, Bethany has uprooted her life from mid-coast Maine to the Charlotte, North Carolina area to pursue her career in the abundant pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry that North Carolina has to offer. “I am looking forward to my involvement with the Alumni Council to continue helping the scholars and to give back to the group that shaped my college career (and beyond)! I feel lucky to be a part of a group that shows unconditional support to each and every individual involved, and I am honored to be able to pay forward the support I received to the current scholars as they blaze their own paths.”
Alumni council members
Andy Estrada is the 2008 Mitchell Scholar from Hall-Dale High School. He graduated from Colby College in 2012 with a degree in government and religious studies. Andy serves as a Communications Officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, where he develops communications strategy for foundation leadership and engages with journalists on the foundation’s charitable efforts. Before joining the foundation in 2017, Andy spent his early professional career working in an array of government and political campaign roles. He served as North Carolina Press Secretary for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and Deputy Press Secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation under the Obama Administration. Andy has also held positions with The White House, House Democratic Caucus, 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee, and 2012 Obama for America presidential campaign. He remains a passionate advocate of all things Maine and enjoys running, reading, and traveling to new places. “The Mitchell Institute had such a profound impact on my early professional life and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to give back. I’m excited to partner with Mitchell Institute staff and fellow Alumni Council members to expand professional development opportunities for current Scholars and strengthen the Institute’s alumni network.”
Denise Desrochers is the 1999 Mitchell Scholar from Thornton Academy in Saco. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Classical Voice Performance from University of Southern Maine, and a master’s degree in Translation Studies from University of Portsmouth, UK. After completing her undergraduate degree, Denise moved to Naples, Italy, where she lived and worked for 11 years as an ESL Teacher and a Translator. Since repatriation in 2015, Denise has enjoyed working with other scholarship recipients in the Exchange Foundations Department at CIEE in Portland, Maine. She volunteers her time on the Design and Organization Committees with Heart of Biddeford, as well as for Engine: Propelling the Creative Community. “I am thrilled to dedicate my energy and talents to an organization which has had a proven impact in my life and my community. I believe that the Mitchell Institute has greatly contributed to a growing education culture among Maine learners, and that its Alumni can also have a critical role in fostering this positive trend. I look forward to working with members of the Mitchell community, to ensure that the Institute continues to thrive and expand the horizons of its recipients.”
Elek Pew is the 2011 Mitchell Scholar from Telstar Regional High School. He grew up in the small town of Andover, and graduated from The University of Maine in 2015 obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics & Business Management, summa cum laude. While at UMaine, Elek was a member of the Senior Skulls Society and a brother of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He remains involved in the UMaine community serving as the Vice President his fraternity’s Alumni Association. Elek currently works at Unum, a Fortune 500 insurance company, in Portland, ME in their Professional Development Program, a 4 year rotational program designed to give associates broad exposure across multiple business functions. “As a fiercely proud Mainer, I am excited to partner with the Mitchell Institute in its effort to increase the likelihood that students from all communities across Maine have the opportunity to pursue and obtain a college education.”
Elliott Simpson is the 2014 Mitchell Scholar from Hampden Academy. He double-majored in Finance and Accounting at the University of Maine, and earned his degree in 2018. During his time as an undergraduate student, Elliott was the Business Manager of the University of Maine newspaper, a brother of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, and a member of the Senior Skull Society. He is currently a Consultant at BerryDunn in Portland, Maine, where he works in their Government Consulting Group, serving governmental and quasi-governmental clients across the US. As a member of the Alumni Council he hopes to help Scholars succeed in their ambitious goals, and assist the Mitchell Institute in the long-term initiatives that provide the benefits that make the Mitchell Scholarship “more than a scholarship.” Elliott is firm believer in the strength of the Mitchell Institute community and is excited to work with fellow Scholars and Alumni through the Mitchell Institute Alumni Council.
Jessica Watson (President Emerita) is the 2003 Mitchell Scholar from Mt. Ararat High School and earned degrees in Business Administration from USM and International Studies from Northeastern. She currently serves as the Compliance Manager for American Rheinmetall Systems in Biddeford and was previous employed by Bath Iron Works. “Being a Mitchell Scholar has opened many doors for me since 2003. As a fifth-generation Mainer, I am proud to be part of an organization that does so much to help Maine students achieve their educational goals.”
Kate Durost is the 2003 Mitchell Scholar from George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill. She graduated in 2007 from the University of Maine with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and a minor in Spanish. After travelling to Honduras for a service-learning class, Kate decided a career in environmental law would allow her to combine her passion for the environment and desire to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. After moving to Florida to escape the harsh Maine winters, Kate obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, focusing on international and comparative politics, with a minor in Latin American studies from the University of Central Florida. While earning her JD and a certificate in international and comparative law at Vermont Law School in tiny South Royalton, VT, Kate was an Articles Editor on the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law and completed internships with Greenpeace East Asia in Beijing, China and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in Tallahassee. Kate is a member of the Washington, D.C., Bar and is currently the Intern and Research Coordinator for Senator Angus S. King, Jr. in Washington, D.C. She is excited to be a part of the Mitchell Institute Alumni Council and is looking forward to the opportunity to give back to the organization that has played such an important part in shaping her life for the last fifteen years.
Kayla Girardin is the 2013 Mitchell Scholar from Presque Isle High School. She graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington in 2017 with a degree in Secondary Education and Mathematics and a minor in Special Education. As a student, she was involved with the UMF Mitchell Scholars, a member of the cross-country and track and field teams, active in the dance club, and spent time abroad in South Korea. Since graduating, Kayla has taught 7th and 8th grade math at Mt. Blue Middle School and spends her summers working for the UMF Upward Bound program. She is thrilled to give back to the organization that encouraged and supported her educational, professional, and personal endeavors as a member of the Mitchell Institute Alumni Council.
Luis Rovayo is the 2011 Mitchell Scholar from Edward Little High School in Auburn, Maine. Luis was born in Venezuela and moved to the great state of Maine in 1999. A first-generation college graduate, he attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute and graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering. While at WPI, Luis served as a campus tour guide and was a brother of Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity. Luis currently works for Integer, a medical device company, as an engineer in their Rotational Development Program and has spent the past 2 years traveling and working in various cities across the country. “I am proud to be part of the Mitchell family and I look forward to contributing as part of the Alumni Council. I hope to help future Scholars obtain a college education and make an impact across Maine communities for years to come.”
Michelle Henaire is the 2012 Mitchell Scholar from Thornton Academy and a 2015 graduate from the University of Maine at Farmington, graduating Manga Cum Laude with a degree in Social Studies Secondary Education. She is the first person in her family to go to college. She currently works as a Customer Care Representative at Kennebunk Savings Bank, where she is known as a volunteer superstar, putting in over 50 hours of volunteer work each year. “The Mitchell Institute has provided me with invaluable help throughout my college years and beyond. From helping me to improve a resume to encouraging me to apply for an opportunity that seemed way out of reach, I would not be where I am today without the Mitchell Institute’s support. I hope to give back to the family who has given me so much, and being on the Alumni Council will help me do just that.”
Nicholas LaJoie is a 2014 Mitchell Scholar from Van Buren District Secondary School, and a 2018 graduate of the University of Maine in Orono. While at UMaine, he was actively involved with the UMaine Mitchell Scholar Group, which led to an opportunity to serve as a Student Ambassador to the Mitchell Institute during his senior year. Additionally, he was a member of the Senior Skull Society, a brother of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, and served as Chairman of the UMaine Business Challenge. Today, Nicholas lives in Portland and works as a Computer Engineer for the Fitch Company, a Maine-based Industrial Controls and Electrical Engineering consulting firm. “As a proud Mainer, I can confidently say that the Mitchell Institute is one of the many great things this State has to offer. The Mitchell Institute has had a profound impact on my life–academically, professionally, and personally–and I am eager to give back to this community by serving as a member of the Mitchell Institute Alumni Council.”
Nicole Derr is the 2000 Mitchell Scholar from Thornton Academy. She then attended Bowdoin College, graduating in 2004 with a major in English and a teaching certificate in Language Arts, having completed her student teaching at Mt. Ararat High School in 2004. After college, she taught at both public and private schools in New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Massachusetts before returning to her home state. Upon moving back to Maine, she turned her photography hobby into a full-time business called NMD Photography, shooting weddings, families, and newborns. Recently, she has launched a new project: women’s creative wellness retreats called In Thrival Mode; these retreats bring together a professional artist, a chef, and a wellness practitioner to create a recharging weekend for women. She currently lives in South Berwick with her husband, her two daughters, and her dog where she enjoys running marathons, SUP boarding, and exploring nature.
Sean Sibley is the 2010 Mitchell Scholar from Mattanawcook Academy and a graduate from the University of Maine, where he earned an undergraduate degree in Nursing and Theatre as well as a Masters of Science in Nursing. He works as a Family Nurse Practitioner at Cutler Health Center providing primary care services to students and staff of the UMaine community. He remains involved in the campus community serving as advisor to his fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega, and the Senior Skull Honor Society. Sean has earned the title of Career Specialist and previously worked in the UMaine Career Center. These career development skills are ones he brings to other Mitchell Scholars with his service on the Council. As a proud first-generation college graduate, Sean is adrenalized to give back to the Mitchell Institute, which helped to make a higher education more obtainable for himself and many others.
Sierra Kuun is the 2013 Mitchell Scholar from Kennebunk High School. She graduated from the University of Maine with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, magna cum laude. As an undergraduate student, she was enrolled in the Honors College, worked at the Mitchell Institute for Sustainability Solutions, and was involved with the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Sierra currently works for Enterprise Engineering, Inc., located in Falmouth, Maine. As a member of the Alumni Council, she looks forward to helping the Mitchell Institute improve educational opportunities for Maine students.
Taylor McCafferty is the 2011 Mitchell Scholar from Schenck High School and a 2015 graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington. With the career goal of publishing in mind, Taylor majored in English at UMF, studied writing and design, and held internships at Alice James Books and the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. After graduation, she took a summer internship at Islandport Press in Yarmouth, which then turned into her current full-time position as Sales & Marketing Assistant. A lifelong Mainer, Taylor loves working in a place that values the same passions that she holds dear: the power of the written word and her home state of Maine. “The Mitchell Institute’s firm belief in my success gave me a renewed inspiration to continue pursuing my dreams. Without their encouraging words and helping hands, happiness would have been much harder to reach.”