Sierra Thibodeau ’19 Pays it Forward

When Sierra Thibodeau came to UMaine from Lawrence High School in Fairfield as a first-year chemical engineering student, she already knew something about the paper industry: her father is a longtime employee at Sappi’s Somerset Mill in Skowhegan. Today, she is back in her hometown of Clinton – “the dairy capital of Maine” – and is about a year into an exciting career at that very same mill. To hear her tell it, the scholarship she was awarded and connections she made at UMaine made it possible – and she was moved to give back just a year after her graduation.

Sierra looks back on her experience in Orono with affection. She was highly involved in student organizations, serving as the president of the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) and the treasurer of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). She participated in intramural sports and served as a counselor for Consider Engineering, a summer program that brings high school students to campus to learn about engineering careers through hands-on experience. Today, she continues that tradition of service by representing the UMaine Pulp and Paper Foundation at high schools in her area, giving students a window into her own career as an engineer. 

Sierra’s role as a process engineer is challenging and always changing. She might work on something different every day, from anticipating problems and solving them as they arise to finding new efficiencies in the paper-making process. While high early career success like hers is characteristic among UMaine Pulp and Paper graduates, her strong work ethic and ability to innovate are a great match for the busy, fast-paced nature of the mill. “UMaine exposed me to career opportunities in the pulp and paper industry that I didn’t think were possible,” she says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. The university has provided so much more to me than a degree.”

We are thrilled to welcome Sierra as one of the first President’s Club members who has taken advantage of new, more easily attainable entry levels especially for young alumni. In the past, President’s Club membership was obtained with a gift of at least $1,000 per year. Beginning this year, alumni who have graduated between 1 and 5 years ago may enter the President’s Club with a gift of $250 or more, and alumni who graduated 6-10 years ago may enter with a gift of $500 or more. President’s Club members receive a pin and certificate in recognition of their philanthropy, and they enjoy invitations to special events throughout the year. Thank you, Sierra!