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AAI weekend event beefs up scholars’ college, career goals

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Aroostook Aspirations Initiative recently held its 2017 Scholar Weekend, an annual event that lets first- and second-year Gauvin Scholars connect with one another, meet influential community leaders and develop a better understanding of college and career.

Northern Maine Community College hosted this year’s event, which featured more than 40 presenters in a three-day span. Presenters represented different areas of Aroostook County, professions and backgrounds.

Sergeant Erica Pelletier of the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office took part in a panel for second-year scholars called “Transitioning from College to Career.” She hopes her shared experiences will have a positive impact.

“I had several people who inspired me as I was growing up. I looked up to those people and continue to meet people along the way who inspire me to do better and not settle,” said Pelletier. “I hope the scholars push to always do better and to never settle. I hope that they were inspired to work towards achieving their goals and learning from anyone they can along the way.”

Patrick Vaillancourt, a native of Van Buren and owner and operator of Northern Turf Management, was part of the panel “Successful Professionals in Aroostook County.”

“I truly enjoyed sharing my educational and entrepreneurial experiences with the scholars. Because I’m so passionate about what I do, if I can plant the seed in just one other young person’s mind to follow a similar career path, I’ve succeeded,” said Vaillancourt. “I was also glad to be able to give them a prime example of what hard work, creating the right connections for yourself, and simply not being afraid to ask lots of questions can create, not to mention it can be done in Aroostook County.”

Though the scholars were overwhelmed by the advice they received, they enjoyed the experience, reporting they appreciated listening to and meeting County professionals through discussions and networking.

“Scholar weekend was a great experience. All of the speakers gave us important information about college, and answered our burning questions,” said David Roy, 2017 Acadia Federal Credit Union Gauvin Scholar. “For me, the networking meet-up was a huge event. Although it was very nerve-wracking and sometimes awkward, it got me out of my comfort zone and connected me to successful businesspeople in the County.”

“The best part of the Scholar Weekend was meeting the different scholars and developing friendships with them. I also liked the networking and how we got to meet different professionals,” said Faith Morrow, 2017 Gauvin Scholar adopted by Hampton Inn. “Next year, I’m looking forward to making new friends and learning more things that can help me choose my career path.”

“I actually really enjoyed the weekend. It made me feel less nervous about going to college because it taught us time management and there were some great study tips,” said Jessy Devoe, 2017 Acadia Federal Credit Union Gauvin Scholar. “I definitely will be using the information that was said during the sessions because it will help.”

Aroostook Aspirations Initiative’s executive director, Kristen Wells, was pleased with the turnout and the scholars’ overall response.

“We went all out this year to bring the best presenters and the biggest schedule of trainings and activities for our Gauvin Scholars,” Wells said. “Scholar Weekend is the best opportunity for us to provide everything our Gauvin Scholars could need to know to be successful in college and in development of their professional aspirations in Aroostook County. I cannot thank our incredible presenters and volunteers enough.”

For more information visit or follow AAI/GauvinFund on Facebook or Twitter.

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