FARMINGTON — McKayla Marois, a recent University of Maine at Farmington graduate from the town of Oxford, knew she was destined to teach, she just didn’t know her challenges along the way would be a pathway to a position of leadership on campus, in the state of Maine and beyond.

Resourceful, talented and with a passion for teaching, Marois struggled to pass the Praxis, a standardized test required for teacher certification. Rather than let that defeat her, it fueled her interest in understanding how the certification process could benefit from a more inclusive model.

McKayla Marois UMF photo

“I couldn’t let this test become a roadblock to my career goals,” said Marois. “When I learned that at Farmington I could design my own major, I was determined to explore the opportunity.”

The self-designed major at UMF allows a student to create a conceptual framework, design the curriculum and choose specific courses that will help fulfill their academic goals. With the help of her advisers, Marois created an interdisciplinary major in inclusive education and policy with concentrations in leadership and the creative arts.

“When students can pursue what they care about most, it makes all the difference,” said Marois. “Farmington’s self-designed major allowed me to tailor my education to my personal goals.”

Inspired to make a difference on campus, she served as a UMF financial literacy peer educator, an admissions ambassador and a residence hall community assistant. She spoke on UMF’s interdisciplinary major to the University of Maine System board of trustees and at open house events. Marois was also recognized by the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) with an honorable mention for the annual award for her essay on a liberal arts education.


Her interest in educational policy led to an internship with Educate Maine, a nonprofit organization that, according to its website, advances education policies and practices that prepare Maine students to be the next generation of productive, engaged citizens.

Marois began her internship as a senior this year. Her interest in educational policy was soon recognized by Pender Makin, commissioner of the Maine Department of Education. Marois was selected to pursue research on standardized testing and teacher certification and how to make the process more inclusive and accommodating for aspiring educators.

She also delivered testimony to the Maine Legislature on several bills on early childhood education and higher education. As a final project for her internship she provided Educate Maine with an analysis of teacher certification testing and how Maine can expand and diversify the requirements.

“As a first-generation college student, my education at Farmington taught me to believe in myself, and I take that with me wherever I go,” said Marois.

Starting in the fall, she will pursue a Master of Education degree in Higher Education Leadership at the University of Texas at Austin.

For more information on UMF’s self-designed major, visit

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