HOULTON, Maine — Adult Education, high school and college graduates received diplomas earlier this year at the Houlton Higher Education Center’s Recognition Night.
Held at the Houlton Community Arts Center, 10 students from the Carleton Project’s Houlton branch received their high school diplomas, along with an additional seven from the Presque Isle branch. The evening also served as a recognition night for graduates from the University of Maine at Presque Isle, University of Maine at Augusta, University of Southern Maine, Northern Maine Community College and Houlton/Hodgdon Adult Education program.
Chuck Ames, center director for HHEC, welcomed those to the evening ceremony.
“Tonight we are here to honor those young men and women who have completed academic programs ranging from high school diplomas to university degrees,” Ames said. “We have a unique center — the only one like it in the state — that has so many working partners to create a ‘one-stop’ center for education.”
Ames also channeled the character Morpheus from the movie “The Matrix” in his closing speech, complete with donning sunglasses as he spoke to the students.
“I’m not a great motivational speaker, but I do derive inspiration from films,” Ames said. “I am going to ask you, you have one special, short life. What will you do with it? It is my hope you will take risks and frequently step outside your comfort zone.”
Fred Grant, owner of Northern Maine Media/WHOU radio station, served as guest speaker for the evening.
“You already have the tools for success,” Grant said. “Nothing I say will change that fact. Your future is coming whether you like it or not. We are so focused on the future that we often don’t leave enough time to reflect on what we just accomplished.”
Grant, a 1988 graduate of Houlton High School who spent 12 years in higher education at Adelphia University in New York and Babson College in Massachusetts, told the students of a colleague of his, who struggled with health and weight issues for years. His friend decided to change that, so he trained hard for the New York Marathon. However, because of a hurricane in New York that year, the event was not held. He received a medal for participating, even though he did not actually run the race and felt conflicted by it. On the one hand, he was proud of training and qualifying for the race, but on the other, he felt somewhat empty that he did not actually get to participate.
So his friend continued to train and found a different marathon to run, where he crushed all of the obstacles he had placed in front of him.
“Maybe getting to this point was a financial or emotional burden,” Grant said. “Or maybe you had somebody tell you that you weren’t good enough. Or you weren’t going to make it. But yet, here you are. You have overcome obstacles and that makes your diploma that much more important. It’s a symbol of what you have learned and also of your struggle. The harder it was for you to get to this point, the more meaningful is the accomplishment.”
Markus Marte of Presque Isle was the student speaker. Marte was born in Caribou in 1994 and entered the Carleton Project in 2013. He is currently a secondary education major at the University of Maine at Presque Isle and serves as a student intern at the Presque Isle branch of the Carleton Project.
Marte informed the audience he had lost his speech prior to the graduation ceremony and would try his best to recreate the words he had put to paper.
“I was frantically thinking ‘What am I going to say to these people?’” he said. “When you think about the Carleton Project, we have all had rocky paths to get here. Maybe we neglected our education in public schools, or we were bullied or we just didn’t fit in. None of that matters now. We are here. Without this institution, there is no way I would have a high school diploma.”
Marte said he was so inspired by his time at the Carleton Project that he decided he wanted to be come a teacher himself.
Carleton Project students from Houlton receiving their diplomas included, Tracy Boynton, Levi Chasse, David Dow, McKayla Graham, Jasmine Hardy, Audrey Miller, Nicholas Parker, Megan Sides, Derek Vose and Nathaniel Wiggin.
Carleton Project students from Presque Isle receiving their diplomas included Sage Ashby, Nicholas Capell, Kaleb Donovan, Mykayla Espling, Jack Fuhrmark, Julia Potter and Marte.
UMPI graduates included Jorge Alvardo, Eric Cone, Taylor Bailey, Heather LaFontaine, Jeanette Phillips, Melissa Pleasance, Jasmine Rockwell, Candace Collins, Melody Gonya, Linde Goodness, Janelle Horten, Cody Pond, Barbara Redman, Amy Schnoor, Elizabeth Lewis, Michelle Russell, Hollis Seamans, Katie Sell, Melanie Drew, Laura Cone, Megan Bither, Samule Hiscoe and Janet Vose.
UMA graduates included Michele Buza, Aimee Gellerson and Jason White.
NMCC graduates include Jared Bishop, Amy Brady, Nicole Clayton, Kristin Cousins, Hilary Ellis, Tracy Kervin, Vanessa Lefay, Glen Littleton, Andrea Perry, Midel Scott, Elizabeth Stratton and Miranda Willett.
Adult Education students recognized include Justin Barry, Robert Briggs, Lisa Butterworth, Amanda Carmichael, Rachele Cole, Shauna Farwell, Madeline Gauvin, Jerry Hayes, Emilia LeClair, Miranda McClure, Melisa Bryant, Matthew Phillips, Brian Reardon, Joel Redman, James Salisbury, Shania Stover, Jessica Stacey and Nadene Vargas.