USM president encourages Yarmouth High School students to pursue higher education

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YARMOUTH — Selma Botman, president of the University of Southern Maine, visited Yarmouth High School this week to encourage students to pursue a higher education.

Her stop in Yarmouth on Monday, Dec. 14,marked the first in a series of high school visits she’ll make around the state.

“I am in the education business because I care deeply about the students,” Botman said. “I love kids and and just want them to succeed.”

Botman became USM’s 10th president on July 1, 2008. Previously, she was the executive vice chancellor and provost for the City University of New York; before that she served as the special assistant to the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

Botman grew up outside of Boston, and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brandeis University, a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in Middle Eastern studies from Oxford University, an associate masters in Middle Eastern studies and a doctorate in history and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University.

She told the high school juniors and seniors who gathered in the auditorium how important it is to further their education.

“Whether it is a two- or four-year institution, my message to you is to ultimately get your bachelor’s degree,” she said. “I commend you because I know you have college aspirations and have learned the importance of hard work.”

Botman encouraged the would-be college freshmen to join a group, to volunteer, to intern or research with a professor. She told them to ask questions of their professors and advisers and stressed the importance of study-abroad programs. She said many students who travel for a year return with a different world view.

“When you are away from the United States you learn about other cultures, and those experiences are far different from those here,” she said. “A semester abroad is good, a year is better.”

Principal Ted Hall said Botman’s visit was a good opportunity for the students.

“It was a pleasure to meet her and have the students hear her perspective on higher education,” he said.

Botman said she intends to visit about a dozen schools throughout the state to answer students’ questions, encourage further education and share her own experiences.

She told the Yarmouth students she believes they are “well poised to be successful in college.”

“Just be open-minded about your choice of schools,” she said. “Ask questions and know they are there to serve you.”

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or

Sidebar Elements

University of Southern Maine President Selma Botman visited Yarmouth High School Dec. 14 to talk with students about the importance of a college education. She gave them advice, answered their questions, and spent time with a few students after her lecture. Her message: Pursue a higher education and strive for at least bachelor’s degree.