The Star-Herald

NMCC honors ‘contagiously hopeful’ Student of the Year

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — On April 24, 2019, a large group gathered at Maple Hill Farm in Hallowell, just outside Augusta, to witness the presentation of the 2019 Student of the Year awards for the Maine Community College System.

Each of the seven community colleges awarded a single student this prestigious award, which was accompanied by a scholarship — the John and Jana Lapoint Leadership Award.

NMCC Dean of Students Dr. William Egeler took the podium with liberal studies student Erik Lamoreau of Caribou beside him.

As Egeler made the introduction, he hinted at the hurdles Lamoreau faced in attending college: overcoming the need for a quick fix, taking it one day at a time, and the importance of hope.

“This year we are honored to recognize as Student of the Year, a man who epitomizes the power of hopefulness, and how the journey of earning a degree can not only change you, but can inspire others to change as well,” Egeler said.

“Erik’s past is littered with criminal convictions, drug addiction, self-doubt and displaced dreams. Once sober, his challenge was to remain so, and break the cycles of his past. One dream set aside years earlier was earning that college degree,” he continued.

“Erik has shown us all that we as individuals are the masters of our own destiny. With hard work, perseverance, resilience and a goal, a degree, once thought unattainable, can not only serve as a stepping-stone for yourself, but can symbolize and embody the transformation of a man. Please join me in congratulating NMCC’s now contagiously hopeful Erik Lamoreau.”

“Dr. Egeler,” Lamoreau said through tears as he took the podium. “I walked into your office terrified that you wouldn’t give me a chance. You listened to my story, made some boundaries, and told me to show you the effort. I told you that I would do my very best, and I hope I made you proud.”

Lamoreau thanked those whose shoulders on which he stood: his instructors, his mother, his “gram,” and finally his wife, Stacie Holton, whom he married just this year and who is also graduating from NMCC on May 11.

“You guys have always believed in me and pushed me to do my best. They say tall trees have deep roots — thank you for being my fertile soil,” he said.

Once enrolled at NMCC, Lamoreau excelled. He is an active member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, has earned a 3.83 GPA and serves as a certified recovery coach — which means he is a sponsor for numerous others facing the same challenges he has.

After graduating this spring, Lamoreau will continue his education at UMFK, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences, and intends to complete his master’s degree after that, perhaps in clinical psychology, he says.

“I’ve explained to a lot of people in recovery that this award is bigger than me. It gives hope to me, but also to others moving forward. It shows that we do recover in our community and that others can follow in these footsteps, and that schools are open to people like me here,” Lamoreau said.

In addition to being a full-time student, Lamoreau is a father of three girls: Alysabeth and Ally Lamoreau and Mackenzie Holton. He works full-time at Aroostook Mental Health Center’s residential treatment facility in Limestone for people striving to overcome addiction.

“They stay for 28 days; we introduce them to the process of recovery, help deal with their traumas and help them feel again and manage hard situations that have been buried behind substances,” Lamoreau said.

Due to this recognition, Lamoreau will deliver a commencement speech at the NMCC graduation ceremony, which takes place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, at The Forum in Presque Isle.

For more information about NMCC 2019 Commencement, please visit nmcc.edu.

Submitted by the Development and College Relations Office of Northern Maine Community College.

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