The Star-Herald

Aroostook Aspirations joins forces with UMPI

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — In an effort to provide area youth with more wide-ranging higher education opportunities — from college success activities to internships and community service — Aroostook Aspirations and the University of Maine at Presque Isle have expanded and strengthened their partnership.

The two organizations have worked together since Aroostook Aspirations’ establishment in 2012. A year ago, in an effort to enrich its relationship with its scholars and better support their work, Aroostook Aspirations relocated its headquarters to UMPI, on the first floor of Normal Hall. As part of a newly signed memorandum of understanding, UMPI will operate the Gauvin Scholar Program, which includes promoting scholar selection, and run the college success, internship and community service programs.

“We are so pleased to strengthen our partnership with the University of Maine at Presque Isle and to deliver on our promise to provide the very best experience for our scholars that we possibly can,” said Sandy Gauvin, Aroostook Aspirations president.

“The whole purpose of our program is to help more students not just begin, but complete, their college education, she said. “We want to get more students into college, but also to complete their training, and that translates into providing a larger and better workforce for Aroostook County.”

“Our partnership with Aroostook Aspirations has been focused around helping Aroostook County students to reach their potential while supporting regional workforce and economic development, and this new agreement will only serve to further strengthen that work,” UMPI President Ray Rice said.

The new agreement includes UMPI’s oversight of the Aroostook Aspirations Scholar Weekend, which is open to all Gauvin Scholars, no matter which college they attend in northern Maine. The annual two-day event is now called the College Success Program. UMPI will organize, host, and facilitate its two tracks, LAUNCH for first-year Gauvin scholars and ADVANCE for second-year scholars. The University may also expand the program to other students on a tuition basis to enhance the overall experience for all students.

LAUNCH, geared toward academic success, will focus on connecting with peers and community leaders, career exploration, college readiness skills, financial literacy, and other topics from stress reduction to identifying individual learning styles. ADVANCE, which is geared to career success, will include a resume round robin with regional human resources leaders, mock interviews and a forum on issues impacting Aroostook County.

Each program offers opportunities to network with business leaders from around Aroostook County.

Gauvin scholars will learn about the community service program which they will initiate during their first year of college. UMPI staff will mentor scholars through the planning and implementation of their community service projects, which, in the past, have included efforts from cleaning up local highways to teaching local kids about baseball while making improvements to a local ballfield.

Additionally, UMPI will leverage the services of its Career Readiness Office to help lead the Internship Program, providing internship opportunities to Gauvin scholars following their sophomore year of college. The University will work with County businesses to ensure that the positions are paid internships.

“People think of us as a scholarship program, but we think of our scholarships as a gateway to our other programs,” Gauvin said. “Aroostook Aspirations and UMPI enjoy a great partnership already and we look forward to working with UMPI more closely to strengthen these programs and ultimately ensure a greater college completion rate.”

Submitted by the Community and Media Relations Office of the University of Maine at Presque Isle.

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