PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A local organization that has dedicated itself to connecting area youth with higher education opportunities in Aroostook County has found a new home with the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Aroostook Aspirations has relocated its headquarters from one end of Main Street in Presque Isle to the other, establishing its offices on the first floor of UMPI’s Normal Hall. UMPI has partnered with Aroostook Aspirations since its establishment in 2011 and the move is an expansion of UMPI’s commitment to the organization.
“The vision of Aroostook Aspirations is one we whole-heartedly embrace and we’re so pleased to be able to step up our commitment to the incredible organization that Ray and Sandy Gauvin founded in order to better serve its needs and the needs of its student scholars,” UMPI President Ray Rice said. “Community partnerships are an important focus for our campus and this particular partnership has the added benefit of providing an organization with exactly what it really needs–direct access and proximity to a higher education setting.”
“All four of the higher education institutions we partner with in Aroostook County—UMPI, the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Northern Maine Community College, and Husson University—have been outstanding partners since we launched this important initiative in 2013,” Aroostook Aspirations President Sandy Gauvin said. “Recently, our board brainstormed ideas about how we could add value to our interactions, support, and service of the Gauvin Scholars attending the colleges in Aroostook. The concept of having our presence be more visible and consistent on the campuses where our students attend class came from that session. It was further suggested that locating our office on one of the campuses would be a great way to enrich the relationship with our scholars and support their work. We are most grateful to UMPI and President Rice for providing us both with this opportunity and the space on campus.”
Gauvin noted that in the past, scholars would often come to the Aroostook Aspirations office on the north end of Main Street in Presque Isle to meet with staff and be supported in their endeavors. Moving forward, Gauvin Scholars will have more opportunity to interact with the program and receive that support right on their campus. In addition to having an office facility at UMPI, the intent is for staff to otherwise meet with scholars attending NMCC or Husson University on the NMCC campus. The staff of Aroostook Aspirations will also travel to Fort Kent to meet with Gauvin Scholars attending that campus more regularly.
The new Aroostook Aspirations space in Normal Hall includes two offices for staff, a shared conference room for meetings with community partners and scholars, and a shared lounge area that can be used for meetings, gatherings, and other activities.
This move to UMPI will allow Aroostook Aspirations to provide increased access to its student scholars and increased support for student success. This private-public partnership in support of workforce and economic development also allows the non-profit and higher education institution to more closely align their missions to support student success and reaching their potential for students in Aroostook County.
Aroostook Aspirations is a non-profit organization that works to reverse the outward migration of Aroostook County youth. It does this by providing scholarship funding and a strong support structure to graduates of Aroostook County high schools who enroll in the four institutions of higher education located in Aroostook County. Aroostook Aspirations connects its student scholars to opportunities, internships, and community service efforts that show them career pathways available to them in Aroostook County that, when taken, have the added benefit of helping to stem the out-migration of youth from the County and giving a boost to the Northern Maine economy. There are currently 54 Gauvin scholars spanning three graduating classes.
The University of Maine at Presque Isle, one of seven universities within the University of Maine System, is an institution of opportunity where every student has the ability to thrive and succeed. Through its work to deliver exceptional experiences for learners of all ages, UMPI has provided affordable and accessible learning opportunities for students preparing for college. This includes a wide range of early college offerings that save Aroostook County high school students and their families time and money toward earning a college degree. The University also supports Gauvin scholars in particular by funding the second year of their Gauvin scholarships at UMPI.
“It is a pleasure to serve on the Aroostook Aspirations Board. Moving to the University of Maine at Presque Isle campus is a positive step in enhancing community and academic relationships,” Lois Dickson, Aroostook Aspirations Executive Committee member, said. “We are thrilled to further our partnership with UMPI, and work collaboratively to offer the very best opportunities for Gauvin Scholars and Aroostook County youth.”
To learn more about Aroostook Aspirations, visit its website at www.aroostookaspirations.org.