Not one, not two, but three family members to graduate within weeks of each other

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5 May 2012

FRENCHVILLE– Stacy Paradis of Frenchville is a proud mom, and with three good reasons.

my family

SMART COOKIES - From left to right, Stacy, Samantha, Sarah, and Patrick Paradis. - Contributed image

Her oldest daughter, Samantha, graduates summa cum laude today, May 5, from the University of Maine in Orono with a dual degree in nursing and psychology. Her youngest, Sarah, graduates from Wisdom High School June 9. The school named Sarah First Honor Essayist. She also won a gold medal in nurse assisting at the recent SkillsUSA competition. She travels to Kansas in June to compete at the national level.

The twist in this story, though, is that 42-year-old Stacy is also graduating – magna cum laude. All three of the intelligent Paradis women will graduate within weeks of each other. Stacy graduates next weekend, May 12, from the University of Maine at Fort Kent with a degree in rural public safety administration.

“It just seemed to happen this way,” said Stacy, who decided to return to college in 2008 after being diagnosed with a debilitating form of arthritis and having a knee surgery that kept her from being as active as she was accustomed.

Stacy and her husband, Patrick, who works at Twin Rivers in Madawaska, have always encouraged learning in their household. They met when they were both students at Northern Maine Technical College, now NMCC, in 1988. They moved to Frenchville together in 1989 and have lived there since. Stacy worked at Wisdom High School before her condition prevented her from working. The couple had children young, and they always worked hard to involve their daughters in things and provide them learning opportunities. Stacy said her husband has been instrumental in her pursuing her goals.

“I thank God I have my husband,” she said. “He has been excellent and helped me. He’s my rock.”

Stacy’s condition prevents her from being as active as she used to be. She says she has good days and bad days, but because of its unpredictability, she chose the rural public safety administration program at UMFK because she could take the entire course load online. She even completed a work study position for Professor Tony Enerva from home. In the meantime, her husband picked up chores that required more physical activity to help, like doing the groceries.

“I’ve always felt that learning is important and I don’t like to be bored,” said Stacy. “I had a lot of time on my hands.”

After earning an associates degree, Stacy took a year off, which lined things up perfectly for her to graduate with her bachelor’s degree at the same time as each of her daughters was completing an era in their respective educations.

“That’s why this happened the way it did, or I would have graduated a year sooner,” she explained.

As each of the Paradis girls closes one chapter in their education, however, they will all embark on the next quite soon.

Sarah, age 18, will follow in her mother’s footsteps and attend UMFK in the fall. She will major in nursing like her sister and will also play soccer for the university. After completing two more college classes over the upcoming summer, Sarah will enter school in the fall as a sophomore, having already earned 24 credits.

In fact, both of Stacy’s girls took advantage of early college learning while they were in high school. Stacy even took a college class once with her older daughter Samantha.

“She got a better grade than I did,” said Stacy. “I couldn’t be any prouder of them.”

Samantha, who is just 21-years-old, graduates with a 3.96 GPA. She completed 150 credits in four years. She’s a member of the All Maine Women Honors Society. This summer, Samantha will intern at the Mayo Clinic. Stacy said her daughter will likely move on to graduate school where she hopes to study to become a nurse practitioner.

Both of Stacy’s daughters share a passion for nursing that might run in the family. Stacy’s aunt owns a nursing home in Houlton and many of her extended family help run it. Both girls worked for St. Joseph’s Nursing Home in Frenchville when they were in high school, and Sarah also works for Ridgewood. Samantha worked at the Veteran’s Home in Bangor while attending college.

“They’ve always loved nursing homes,” said Stacy. “I’ve always stressed the importance of education and caring for the elderly.”

As for Stacy, her plans also include graduate school. Eventually she would like to earn a Master’s degree in liberal arts in disability studies.

“I’d like to be an advocate for others and for myself,” she said. “It’s been a life-changing experience.”

Stacy said they will celebrate their achievements with an intimate family gathering in a couple of weeks.