Award-winning Maine Author Monica Wood will be the University of Maine at Farmington’s 2024 commencement speaker. Submitted Photo

FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington will have best-selling author Monica Wood serve as commencement speaker for the graduating class of 2024.

UMF’s 2024 commencement ceremony will be held off-campus on Saturday, May 4, at 11 a.m., at the outdoor Narrow Gauge Amphitheater at 12 Narrow Gauge Square in downtown Farmington.

“We are delighted to honor Monica Wood at our 2024 graduation ceremony,” UMF President Joseph McDonnell shared in a press release. “Monica Wood is a native of western Maine, a first-generation college graduate, and an award-winning, internationally recognized author and playwright. She is a role model for our graduates – many who come from a similar background and graduate from UMF with high aspirations.”

The award-winning novelist, memoirist, and playwright is originally from Mexico, Maine, and she calls the honor of being UMF’s commencement speaker “special”.

“I could not have been more thrilled because I grew up in Mexico,” Wood told the Franklin Journal in a phone interview. “The whole thing feels very hometown to me.”

“There is nothing like the hometown love,” she added.


On top of delivering her commencement speech, Wood will also be given an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters at this year’s ceremony.

“I’ve only seen these things on TV,” she shared with a laugh. “They are giving me an honorary degree, I think in recognition of my career as a writer, and as you can tell, I still can’t quite get over it.”

Though Wood never attended UMF, she has strong ties to the school. Her sister, her sister’s mother-in-law and her own sister-in-law all attended UMF in their own college careers. She even shared that her husband’s grandmother also attended UMF back when it was originally known as Farmington State Normal School, an institution dedicated to teaching educators much like its modern-day counterpart.

“I feel a connection with UMF just by proximity with all the people that I love who have gone there,” Wood said.

A graduate of Georgetown University in the class of 1975, Wood shared that she started out her college career majoring in French, with the hopes of becoming a French translator, but halfway through college she switched her major to English and “never looked back.”

The real catalyst for her writing career, according to Wood, was when she attended the Stonecoast Writers Conference at the University of Southern Maine.


“It was a life changing experience,” she said. “I learned really more the nuts and bolts of putting a story together.”

Wood added that was the sum of formal writing training, adding that she believes most writers train themselves by being “voracious readers”.

“I would say my real training is having been an avid reader my whole life,” she added.

Throughout her career, Wood has earned a multitude of awards and recognition for her work, including the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance Distinguished Achievement Award in 2016 and the Maine Humanities Council Carlson Prize in 2019. Her short stories have won her the Pushcart Prize.

Her most recent award is for the Sara Josepha Hale award for excellence in New England literary arts, which she received this year.

Wood’s work has been featured in numerous publications, including Oprah and The New York Times, and the debut of her first play, Papermaker, set the all-time attendance record for the Portland Stage in Portland, Maine.

All those accolades, however, pale in comparison to the honor of speaking to the 2024 UMF graduating class.

“You know, if my arms were long enough, I would put them around the River Valley right now,” Wood shared. “That’s how I feel.”

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