Fort Kent sisters, 23 and 21 years old, earn graduate degrees together from Husson
FORT KENT, Maine — Savannah and Steffany Paradis of Fort Kent, sisters who graduated together with master’s degrees from Husson University on Saturday at just 23 and 21 years old respectively, attribute their success to their parents and community.
Savannah Paradis is a 2013 graduate of Fort Kent Community High School who earned an undergraduate degree in healthcare studies from Husson in 2017 and a master’s degree in occupational therapy from the university on Saturday.
The same day, her sister Steffany Paradis earned both a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s of business administration degree from the university.
“It was a surreal feeling, both of us being able to cross the stage to receive our diplomas for master’s degrees,” Savannah said Monday. “It was a great accomplishment and experience to share alongside my best friend. We have always done everything together, so it was fitting for us to graduate at the same time.”
She plans on pursuing a career in occupational therapy in northern Maine.
“I have always had a passion for caring for others and I’ve wanted to return to The County to give back to the people who shaped me as an individual and to provide my services as an occupational therapist,” Savannah said.
Steffany, a 2014 graduate of Fort Kent Community High School, has accepted a position with the Bangor office of the accounting firm, BerryDunn, which she will begin on July 10.
“It was really an honor to graduate with my sister. I’ve always been close to her, so being able to cheer her on while I was sitting in the graduate seats as well, was a really cool experience,” she said.
The sisters lived together while at Husson and both thank their parents — Denis and Suzie Paradis of Fort Kent — for helping them to achieve success.
Denis is co-owner of Paradis Shop ‘N Save and Suzie is the director of economic and community development for the town of Madawaska.
“My family has always been so supportive of whatever decisions we’ve made. They always guided us in the right direction with their love, guidance and support,” Savannah said.
“I really can’t stress enough how grateful I am for them. They’ve worked so hard to always provide my sister, and brother, and I with the best they could and it’s allowed us to conquer many milestones in our lives. I truly wouldn’t be the individual I am without them,” Steffany added.
The Paradis sisters also attribute their success to opportunities they gained from growing up in Fort Kent. Both girls were graduates of the Pleasant St. Academy Early College High School — a program under the University of Maine at Fort Kent Rural U program.
“I was very fortunate to be in the early college program at UMFK, so I graduated high school with 28 college credits,” Steffany said.
Savannah was among the first class of students to take part in the program, and she said she appreciates the college credits she earned from the academy as well as the encouragement it provided her.
“We’re from the little town that could — anything is possible,” she said. “Everyone is very friendly and helpful in Fort Kent and I believe being exposed to those qualities helped me through college as well.”
Both girls took summer classes all through college to attain their degrees while also working part-time jobs. Savannah said graduating with her master’s degree at such an early age was not easy, but she encourages other St. John Valley students to consider the possibility.
“If you have a passion, or a goal, go for it,” she said. “You can achieve anything you set your mind to.”