Presque Isle woman uses art as way to keep learning
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — At age 72 Sharon Belanger has earned her first college degree and hosted her first art show, and she has no plans to slow down.
“I’ve been creating art for a couple of years now but didn’t have as much time when I was in school,” Belanger said, during her show at Hardscrabble Solutions that took place during this month’s First Friday Art Walk. “Art is something that grows on you and makes you want to expand your knowledge and try new things.”
Throughout her life, Belanger has not shied away from trying new things. In the past she worked at Burrelles in Presque Isle, drove a bus from Ashland to Presque Isle, and drove a potato truck from Ashland to Easton during harvest season. In recent years, she has taken courses on welding, small and large engine repair, and quilting from Presque Isle High School’s Adult and Community Education Program.
Although she had never earned a college degree before, Belanger chose to pursue her associate’s degree in medical coding at Northern Maine Community College because she saw the need for the profession in the community and wanted to take courses that would challenge her. She earned her degree in May and now plans to return to NMCC to pursue an associate’s in medical assisting this fall.
Despite the challenges of keeping up with schoolwork and learning about ever-changing technology, Belanger believes that going to college at this stage of her life gives her more opportunities to grow as a student.
“I don’t think I would’ve done as well if I went to college when I was younger,” Belanger said. “Because I was older, I understood more that if I didn’t put the time into my work I wouldn’t get good results.”
Belanger also has enjoyed developing her artistic talents with acrylic paintings, many of which were on display at Hardscrabble Solutions. She most enjoys painting landscapes and has been receiving praise from community members who view her work.
“I love how all her work shows her perspective on the world,” said Jessica Cameron of Presque Isle, who attended the First Friday Art Walk. “Her story shows that it’s never too late to find a passion and go for it.”
In the future Belanger plans on seeing where both her professional and artistic pursuits will take her and wants to encourage others to take chances in their own lives.
“I think a lot of people don’t go back to school or try something different because they’re afraid they can’t do it,” Belanger said. “But there’s no one stopping them. They just have to keep trying.”