MSSM graduates told to celebrate memories, embrace future opportunities

2 years ago

LIMESTONE, Maine — Twenty-five students from across Maine graduated from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics on Saturday, stepping closer to their futures while honoring the classmates and staff who have shaped them the past four years.

The MSSM auditorium was filled with family members, faculty, staff and friends from as close as Limestone, Caribou and Fort Fairfield and from as far away as York County Though masks were required during most of the indoor ceremony, that did not stop those attending from proudly cheering on each student as they received their diploma.

Those who addressed the Class of 2022 reflected on their time at the Limestone magnet school and encouraged the graduates to stay open to new opportunities as they work toward academic and professional goals.

Senior Melanie Lau of Buxton became the second member of her family to graduate from MSSM — after her brother James Lau in 2020. During her time at MSSM, Melanie Lau was a member of the Key Club, served as a residential assistant and tutor and played soccer and volleyball.

Being involved on campus and embracing the intense academic environment, Lau said, helped her overcome the insecurities and shyness she had while entering the school as a freshman.

“I thought about giving up many times. However, I could hold on because of the people sitting around me,” Lau said. “These people helped me find another home here in Limestone. They encouraged me to work harder and become the best version of myself.”

Sometimes the journey to becoming one’s best self involves changing your mind and following where that new path leads, noted keynote speaker Miles Sweet.

MSSM seniors Ordis Fitzmaurice of Bath (left) and C.G. Wilson of York chat with College Counselor Erica Jortberg (right) before their commencement ceremony. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

Sweet, a native of Fairfield, was part of the second class to graduate from MSSM in 1997, only three years after the school opened its doors. He recalled being one of the first future students to visit the school when classrooms and hallways of the former Limestone High School were still empty.

Years later, Sweet’s love of science led to him earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Wheaton College and becoming a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in London, where he earned a doctoral degree in organic chemistry. He later earned a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and most recently served a vice president of legal and regulatory analysis for IPD Analysis, a Florida company that analyzes shifts in the pharmaceutical market.

When Sweet graduated from MSSM, he never expected to land in a career that combined chemistry and the law. But over time, he learned to follow his instincts toward the career field that most satisfied him.

“You can plan and prepare all you can, but life hardly ever works out exactly that way,” Sweet told the Class of 2022. “Sometimes it turns out better [than you expected].”

MSSM graduating seniors Ehric Kettelhut of Sabattus (front, left), Melanie Lau of Buxton, Lee Wilson of Yarmouth (back, right) and Daniela Chavez de Paz Solis of Caribou cheer on their classmates during the commencement ceremony. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

As students began looking ahead, Sweet encouraged them to remember how the MSSM’s close-knit community has influenced them. He compared MSSM to the setting of the movie “Top Gun”: a “rigorous” academic environment, set in an isolated part of the world, where students learn “from the best of the best” and then share their newfound wisdom with others.

“Whatever you do next, this wisdom you have gained will set you apart,” Sweet said. “The most important thing you can take away from here is the spirit of community you have planted here.”