Communication the focus of scholars symposium at UMFK

FORT KENT, Maine — Communication is the key to success, keynote speaker Elizabeth Peavey, an award winning writer, performer and educator, told those attending Wednesday’s scholars symposium at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

“If there is one skill I would like all students to have when they leave UMFK, it’s the skill of communication,” UMFK President John Short to the crowd before Peavey took the stage.

The theme of this year’s event was, “Live LIFE: Your Voice, Your Success.”

Although her presentation primarily focused on the topic of public speaking, Peavey also offered the students advice regarding more intimate situations where effective communication is essential in order to achieve positive outcomes, such as with regard to dating and job interviews.

“Dress one notch up,” the Maine native advised. “Walk into the room with what you’re offering; lead with what you have, not what you need.”

Later in the day, students moved over from Fox Auditorium to the UMFK Sport Center where they displayed research findings at a poster and project session.

Adam Wilcox, a junior nursing student, contributed to a poster presentation titled “Firearm suicides in older Caucasian males in Aroostook County.”

He prepared the presentation with fellow nursing students Carol Gapski, Johanna Ellis, Brendan Wallace, Justin Kemp, Christine Henri, Erica Guo, Misty Pelletier, Ashlie Palmieri, Mathieu Coe, and Todd Welsh

“When addressing the topic of gun violence and the effect that it has on communities, we discovered that suicide accounts for over 60 percent of the country’s gun deaths.

We specially wanted to examine the health determinants of northern Maine that might contribute to suicide rates,” Wilcox said.

A Livermore Falls native, Wilcox said he plans to work as a nurse in Maine upon graduation and hopes to utilize his nursing skills on mission trips.

Nursing students Adam Wilcox, left, and Todd Welsh present their findings regarding “Firearm suicides in older Caucasian males in Aroostook County,” during a scholars symposium at UMFK on May 1.
(Adam Wilcox)

“We really felt it important to bring awareness to this public health problem and approach it from a community health nursing perspective,” he said.

“We learned that Aroostook County in particular is experiencing an increase in gun-related suicides and that law enforcement in Fort Kent report an increase  in suicides among older, whites males, especially in the spring. Law enforcement also noticed an increase in substance abuse as the Franco-Acadian culture is diminishing,” Wilcox said. “We also learned, through research, that household gun ownership increases a person’s likelihood of a firearm-related suicide by 3 times. We determined that some of the greatest factors include mental health, a declining economy, substance abuse, and social isolation.”

Wilcox said he appreciated the scholars symposium as well as the presentation by Peavey.

“The symposium was a great exchange of ideas with our own peers,” he said. “It reminded me to be mindful of the messages that I communicate, both verbal and non-verbal. Being able to effectively communicate information is important for almost every endeavor in life.”

Also at the symposium, faculty members recognized four students who received undergraduate scholarship awards.

Tasha Jeffers received the Hubert J. Thibodeau Award; Adam Bagley and Andrew Boutin both received the Thomas S. Pinkham Memorial Scholarship; and Jacob Rockwell accepted the John L. Martin Environmental Scholarship.

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