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 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 Vice President 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.
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.”
Brittney Nickerson is the 2014 Mitchell Scholar from John Bapst Memorial High School. She graduated from the University of Maine in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and a minor in Religious Studies. While studying at UMaine, she began her travel blog Sojourner Soul and worked as a field archaeologist, collaborating with the Passamaquoddy tribe in the recovering of their history. Currently, Brittney is a full time education researcher at Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, where she supports the enhancement of STEM learning programs and the professional development of educators across the country. She is excited to serve as a member of the Mitchell Institute Alumni Council and continue building community and leadership across the state of Maine.
Caleb Cullen is the 2015 Mitchell Scholar from Katahdin Middle High School. He grew up in Patten and graduated from Northern Maine Community College in 2017 with an Associate’s Degree in Emergency Medical Services. Caleb then attended the University of Maine at Fort Kent in which he graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. While attending both colleges, Caleb volunteered for his hometown as a firefighter and spearheaded a community smoke detector installation program with the American Red Cross that resulted in over 100 local homes being properly outfitted with high-quality working smoke detectors. After graduating from UMFK, Caleb moved to Hampden and began his nursing career in the Emergency Department at Eastern Maine Medical Center. Currently, Caleb works for Triage Staffing as a traveling Emergency Department Registered Nurse, completing short-term employment contracts in hospitals throughout the country. He also continues to work per-diem as a Paramedic for Northern Light Medical Transport in Penobscot and Hancock Counties. During his second year of college, Caleb decided to step outside of his comfort zone and embrace all of the opportunities for personal and professional growth offered by the Mitchell Institute. Realizing how impactful this was, Caleb has remained involved with the Mitchell Institute and most recently has participated as a representative in the employer expo at MILE II. Caleb is grateful to be joining the Alumni Council and is looking forward to doing his part in promoting the mission and values of the Mitchell Institute, while helping to ensure that present and future scholars continue to have ample opportunities for personal and professional growth.
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.”
Frankie Pappalardo is the 2014 Mitchell Scholar from Gorham High School. He grew up in Gorham, and graduated from Bowdoin College in 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Romance Languages and Literatures. While at Bowdoin, Frankie captained the Bowdoin Rugby Football Club and served as the campus ambassador for Bowdoin’s chapter of Mitchell Scholars. In his junior year, Frankie spent a semester in Bologna, Italy as part of an immersive Italian language program. Upon graduating, Frankie spent his a year with the Beacon Group, a strategy consulting firm in Portland. In the following two years, Frankie worked for the system development team at MaineHealth, where he supported the health system’s leadership with strategic projects across its 10 hospitals. Today Frankie is a MD Candidate at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, kayaking, and live music. Frankie is grateful for the unwavering support he has received from the Mitchell Institute, and hopes to help the Mitchell Institute continue to fulfill its mission.
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.
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.”
Nancy Billings is the 2015 Mitchell Scholar from Lincoln Academy, and a 2019 graduate from Wesleyan University, where she majored in American Studies and Hispanic Studies. She currently lives in Washington, D.C. and works for Senator Angus King as a Legislative Correspondent covering the Homeland Security/Immigration and Tech/Telecom portfolios. As a first generation college student, the Mitchell Institute provided her invaluable professional, personal, and academic support. One of the most impactful resources was the meaningful connections developed with staff, current scholars, and alumni. In joining the Alumni Council, Nancy looks forward to finding creative ways to assist this organization in supporting upcoming scholars and growing the Mitchell Institute community.
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.”
Paige Shortsleeves is the 2013 Mitchell Scholar from Sacopee Valley High School. She grew up in Parsonsfield, and graduated from Colby College in 2017 with Bachelor’s Degrees in Sociology and Biology. While at Colby, Paige ran the Alternative Spring Break Program and worked as a site director for Let’s Get Ready. After graduating, Paige was selected as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow. During her time as a fellow, she completed field work at the Treasure Coast Food Bank in Fort Pierce, Florida, and completed her policy placement at the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington, DC. Today, Paige lives in West Palm Beach, Florida and is the executive director at PEACE, a non-profit that uses the power of people to create local systemic change. Paige is excited to be part of the Alumni Council and to give back to the organization that supported her throughout her college journey and beyond.
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.
Wendy Gibbs is the 2012 Mitchell Scholar from Mt. View High School and is a proud first generation college student. She graduated in 2016 from the University of Maine with degrees in both Business Management and Political Science, and later received her MBA from Husson University. Since 2015, Wendy has built a career in banking at Bangor Savings Bank. She has held various positions from Teller to Commercial Analyst to her current position: AVP, Commercial Portfolio Manager. Wendy is honored to serve on the Alumni Council and be a mentor for other Mitchell Scholars.