Admissions Staff

Office of Admission

Heather Albert-Knopp
Dean of Admission, 207-801-5640

Heather grew up in central Maine and spent her first two years of college in Pennsylvania. After an inspiring semester abroad in rural Costa Rica, she decided to transfer to COA for a more engaging education that would combine her passions in food and agriculture, international studies, ecology, and policy. At COA she found her intellectual home and especially appreciated the close connections with faculty and the opportunity to apply academic learning to real world experience. She eventually convinced her younger brother, now an attorney in Portland, Maine, to also transfer to the college. After graduating, Heather spent more than a decade working on food, agriculture, and community development issues, and ultimately returned to COA because she wanted to help connect more students to this remarkable and inspiring educational community. She is also board president of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA).

Donna McFarland
Associate Director of Admission & Student Services, 207-801-5641

Donna is a Bar Harbor native, and for the past 29 years she has been helping students and their families navigate through the admission process—from application through enrollment. She also works closely with the student life and housing offices. She's a great resource person, so feel free to ask her any questions that you may have. In her free time she enjoys traveling, reading, cooking, gardening, kayaking, and walking.

Cherie Ford
Admission Assistant/Mailroom Supervisor
, 207-801-5642

Cherie's voice was probably the first you heard when you called COA as she was the college's receptionist and front desk manager for many of the past 15 years. Cherie has recently joined us in the Office of Admission where some of her responsibilities include assisting with administrative tasks and visitor services. She will ensure that your visit to our campus goes smoothly. During her spare time she loves cooking, gardening, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Nina EmlenNina Emlen
Admission Counselor – Serves all regions, 207-801-5643

Nina grew up locally on Mount Desert Island. She attended concerts and events at COA and loved visiting the Dorr Museum of Natural History. She went to Oberlin College where she majored in music history and music theory and solidified her love of, and respect for, higher education. After Oberlin she moved to New York City where she earned a master’s degree in information and library science from Pratt Institute. She is very excited to now be part of the admission team at a dynamic and vibrant place like COA. In her free time, Nina enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and being outdoors.

Eliza Ruel
Admission Counselor – Serves all regions, 207-801-5644

Growing up on the sandy coast of southern Maine, Eliza has always felt home is where the ocean is. She came to COA as a student interested in marine biology, but soon found much broader interests in anthropology, Latin American studies, social development, and documentary. She studied abroad in COA’s Yucatán program and designed a residency in Guatemala which provided the experience necessary to complete her senior project on international volunteerism. Since joining the office in 2013, she has enjoyed meeting with prospective students, reading applications, and working with the tour guide and alumni experience admission programs.

Office of Financial Aid

Bruce Hazam
Director of Financial Aid, 207-801-5645

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Bruce did many different things. Among other jobs, he worked in photovoltaics, did a stint driving tractor-trailers with a friend, and worked as an R&D clinical chemist before deciding to get his degree. He came to COA as a student at age 36 where he met his future wife, Atsuko Watabe. He simultaneously took an interest in conservation of endangered species that ultimately led to a focus on tropical fruit bat ecology. After doing bat fieldwork on Borneo for his graduate degree, he went into teaching for five years at a private K-12 school in the Hudson Valley offering courses in biology, chemistry, middle school science, survival and other elective courses. With an itch to return to Maine, he came back and got a job at COA in admissions and financial aid, covering international recruiting for seven years until most of his attention was required in the financial aid office. Today, Bruce still maintains an active interest in bats, offering a bat ecology program every year for COA's summer Family Nature Camp and helping students during the regular part of the year that have an interest in the furry creatures. He and Atsuko live with their yellow lab rescue dog, Omiso, in their log home in Bar Harbor.

Dominika DelMastro
Assistant Director of Financial Aid, 207-801-5646

Dominika was born in Krakow, Poland, a city full of historic buildings, monuments and busy streets—really the furthest thing from Maine she could imagine. She studied cultural anthropology at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and received her master’s degree in 2000. As much as she enjoyed the majority of her classes, she admits she could have used COA’s interdisciplinary approach to design her own course of study. After immigrating to the US in her early twenties, Dominika was marooned on the island of Nantucket, and the next few years of her life were filled with sand and wind. That’s where she met her future husband, John, embraced her love for nature, and decided that she was not a city girl after all. On their way to discover “the way life should be” John and Dominika found Maine…and COA. In their house on “the quiet side” of Mount Desert Island, nestled between cedars, spruces and a swamp, they were quickly joined by Bear, the tenacious squirrel chaser, and a vigorous swarm of mosquitoes.