The Star-Herald

Addiction recovery leader sends off fellow NMCC graduates with message of hope

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A student who beat the odds in a struggle with substance abuse marked Northern Maine Community College’s 54th commencement with a message of hope and encouragement Saturday at The Forum.

Nearly 200 NMCC graduates received degrees Saturday in programs ranging from early childhood education and nursing to automotive technology and building construction.

“Your education will continue once you leave here,” NMCC president Timothy Crowley told the graduates in his welcome remarks. “I encourage you to get involved in civic activities. You have a lot to contribute to our country.”

Crowley praised NMCC’s faculty and staff and students for their work over the last year,. Crowley also thanked Aroostook County and Maine voters for approving last year’s $15 million community college bond package, which will bring $1.1 million to NMCC for campus renovations.

Saturday’s commencement speaker, graduating student Erik Lamoreau of Easton, also thanked NMCC’s students, faculty and staff, and offered them some insights from his experiences with addiction and recovery.

“Today, I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a story of a little boy who wanted everything the world had. Eventually the boy’s dreams would turn into expectations, expectations unrealistic for a little boy. The journey of this boy’s life brought tragic and unpreventable circumstances: things like divorce, bullying, poverty,” Lamoreau said.

“The boy, feeling broken, fell into a dark hole. He spent a great deal of time trying to escape. The boy graduated high school and turned to drugs. … The boy developed a cycle of using and hurting others.”

After more than a decade struggling with addiction and the crime that can be associated with it, Lamoreau was in jail for the fourth time and received a letter from his mother.

“The letter told him honestly about the potential for success, the hope she had in him, and that it was time to change. The letter brought the boy to his knees, begging for a fresh start.”

Lamoreau received treatment for his addiction, spent time in a sober living home, and started a new path in higher education, work and family life. He works at the Aroostook Mental Health Center, founded Allen’s Way sober living home in Caribou, and has been active with the Recovery Aroostook Group. He is also now married to a fellow NMCC graduate and is the father of three daughters.

With an associate’s degree in liberal studies, Lamoreau is planning to attend the University of Maine Fort Kent’s behavioral science program and to pursue a master’s degree in clinical psychology.

“I’m standing here today because of the desperation I felt and because of the gift of recovery that has been given to me,” Lamoreau said. “There is resiliency in all of us.”

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