Honored Alumnae at Convocation

Alicia Ines Sampson, Harriet Saxon, and Maryann Woods-Murphy

Alicia Ines Sampson graduated Magna Cum Laude from MSU in January 2007. She majored in Anthropology with minors in Philosophy and Latin American and Latino Studies. While studying Latin American local cultural healing practices at the State University of New York at Buffalo where she had received graduate admission, she realized she wanted to become more immediately involved in community development. She is currently the Service Learning Coordinator at the University of Southern Maine’s Office of Community Engagement.

In the last fifteen years, more than 15,000 refugees have resettled in Maine from places like Cambodia, Bosnia, Sudan, Somalia and Iraq. The organization, Community Service and Civic Engagement, attempts to respond to the needs of this growing population. Ms. Sampson provides support for service-learning courses that address community identified needs, serves as the project coordinator for Civic Matters, a symposium of community based research, and collects information about service learning throughout the institution. She helps place student volunteers from local area colleges in appropriate assignments. Ms. Sampson developed the service-learning course The Refugee Experience: From There to Here, taught at the University of Southern Maine. This course examines the causes, consequences, experiences of and responses to forced migration. It then focuses on the successes and challenges of refugees in the Greater Portland area through seminar discussion and service learning activities.

A serious amateur artist and musician, Alicia Sampson connects her artistic interests to her professional work. She is one of the co-organizers of the concert series the “Building of Song.”  Local musicians play live from the 5th Floor of the Congress Street Building, their music projected to the streets of Portland. Sampson's primary role in this public event is to create a poster for each concert. These posters are now on display at Hope.Gate.Way Gallery as part of her first one woman show I sail oceans in maps. She has also exhibited at the Area Gallery at the University of Southern Maine, at the Tower of Song gallery, and currently has a piece titled “Onward the Indian” in SPACE Gallery’s Free For All exhibit.  

Since graduating from MSU, Ms. Sampson has twice come back to campus to inspire anthropology majors with her stories of commitment and community service.
Alicia’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=541482929&ref=ts.
Civic Matters Symposium of Community Based Research: http://usm.maine.edu/studentlife/community/main/civicmatters.html.
Sampson’s Creative Endeavors in Portland, ME: http://theottersden.wikispaces.com/.
(Ms. Sampson’s bio was submitted by Richard W. Franke, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology.)


Harriet Saxon received her M.A. in French Literature from Montclair State University in 1998.  She taught French in the junior high and high schools in the Rutherford School District from 1963-1969.  In 1979, the Rutherford Board of Education approved a French language program which Harriet had proposed for the elementary schools which emphasized a conversational approach to language learning.  This program became a model for many early language learning programs and received awards from the New Jersey and United States Departments of Education for curriculum development.  In 1979, Ms. Saxon returned to the Rutherford Schools and taught in the primary and middle schools until 2006.

President of the Metropolitan Chapter of the American Association of French from 2000-2004, Ms. Saxon presently serves as the Chairperson for the National Foreign Language in the Elementary School Commission of the American Association of Teachers of French.  She has received the NJ Governor's Award for Excellence in Education, the Rutherford School District’s "Outstanding Teacher of the Year" award, the 2002 award for "Excellence in Teaching World Languages" from the New Jersey Foreign Language Educators, and the Best Practices Award from same association.

In November, 2001, Harriet Saxon received the "Chevalier de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques" from the French government, and in May 2001 she and her students received recognition with a plaque from the Mayor of the city of Quebec for their dedication to the culture of Québec.  She was selected in 1995 to be a member of the writing committee for the New Jersey World Language Standards and has been a member of the writing committee for the New Jersey Frameworks for World Languages for the Core Curriculum Standards.  In addition to publishing several articles, Harriet has presented workshops for the American Association of Teachers of French, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, the New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers, the New York City Teachers Association, and the Northeast Conference on Foreign Languages.  She has also organized the French Language Immersion Workshops for the New Jersey Foreign Language Educators and served as a mentor for new and alternate route teachers for the Rutherford Schools.  Perhaps most important, since 2006 Ms. Saxon has been an adjunct professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, and we are proud to have her!


The Spanish and Italian Department and the Department of Philosophy and Religion celebrate the great achievement of their alumna, Maryann Woods-Murphy, who was named the 2009-2010 NJ Teacher of the Year as well as the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Teacher of the Year.  With a B.A. in Philosophy and General Humanities and an M.A. in Spanish literature in addition to a Diploma in Hispanic Studies from the University of Salamanca in Spain, Ms. Woods-Murphy brings to her work as a Spanish teacher and diversity educator in Northern Highlands Regional High School a unique blend of passion for communication, cultural diversity, global awareness, ethical values, and stories and literature.  One only has to go online to Univisión or the New Jersey network and view a sample of her teaching to know that no one can possibly leave her classroom without loving Spanish and appreciating the importance of communication and culture.  Her enthusiasm, sensitivity, personal warmth, and finely tuned pedagogical techniques are quite simply inspirational. 

As part of her dual honor for excellence in teaching, Ms. Woods-Murphy is spending a six month sabbatical advocating for teaching, learning, and language not only in New Jersey but throughout the northeast, from Maine to Virginia.  She’ll be sharing with supervisors, professional organizations, high school students, teacher education students, churches, community groups, and even the Campbell Soup Company her particular journey from monolingualism to bilingualism and her view of teaching as an internal and external  voyage.   We particularly thank her for her generosity in addressing Philosophy and Religion majors and Teacher Education majors at MSU this spring.   Felicitaciones, Maryann!