Posted on March 01, 2010 in News
By Paul Koenig
Jelena Price has been working full-time since starting college, first waiting tables at Olive Garden and now working in collections for TD Bank. She enrolled in USM after graduating from Westbook High School in 2005 and plans to graduate with a Spanish degree this May. She only has to take two classes this semester in order to graduate, but attended USM full-time every other semester – with the exception of three classes last semester.
Price is like the majority at USM who commute. She said at first she “felt like a visitor” at USM since she commuted, but has been able to develop close friendships with a lot of other students in the Spanish program.
Price worked a lot even before she came to college. “I got a job when I turned 16 and I worked as much as I could,” Price said. She said she came to USM because “it was inexpensive and I wanted to stay in Maine with my family.”
Her biggest challenge has been finding classes that fit into her full work schedule. “I’ve had to mostly take night classes,” said Price. This has limited her options of available and appealing classes. “It’s more of the core classes that are offered at night,” she said. “I wish they offered more interesting electives [later on].”
Price said being a Spanish major has helped because she has never had to take a Spanish class before 2:30 p.m. She switched to Spanish after one semester as a linguistics major.
“I kind of majored in Spanish cause it’s something I like. Now that I’m getting ready to graduate I’m looking to get my teaching certification,” said Price. She said she feel very relieved and accomplished to be finally graduating.
Price offered some advice for commuter students having trouble fitting in. “Be outgoing with the people in your classes. It’s not as scary a place as it seems or is made out to be,” she said.
She had some concerns about the status of her major during current restructuring at USM. “I was worried for a while that they were gonna be cutting [the Spanish program],” said Price. Although the Spanish program is safe for now, she said any possible program eliminations are “really frustrating for people who go to the university” and expect the wide range of majors it offers as a public university. “It’s discouraging to think that they might have to cut a lot of programs or even just some.”