The year of firsts came to official close for Aroostook Aspirations Initiative (AAI) on December 31, 2014, and the Gauvin Scholars finished up one of their firsts as well -their first college semesters. 

Aroostook Aspirations Initiative

The organization released funds this week to award the $1,000 scholarships for the Scholars’ second semester tuition costs and presented checks to each of three postsecondary institutions, University of Maine at Presque Isle, University of Maine at Fort Kent, and Northern MaineCommunity College.  Husson University is also a postsecondary partner of the organization.

The Gauvin Scholars were collectively happy to end the first semester, and many reflected on the lessons learned in four short months. Elizabeth Guimond, the Gauvin Scholar from Wisdom High School talked about time management, “One major challenge is when you have several important tests in one week along with several projects due around the same day. It's a struggle to divide your time.”  Nicholas Belanger, Ashland Community High School’s Gauvin Scholar mirrored Guimond’s thoughts but focused more on how to deal with the challenge, “I didn’t get frustrated when I had a lot of assignments, I just learned to manage my time better.”  Mariah Hebert, Madawaska High School’s Gauvin Scholar focused her thoughts on horizon broadening, “I made sure to keep an open mind.  I didn’t want to let other people’s opinions influence my own.”  Andrew White, Washburn’s Gauvin Scholar also spoke about keeping an open mind, “I made sure to take a step outside of my comfort zone and remind myself that it was okay to not have all of the answers for my future.  I know that while it’s important to explore my options and have a solid plan, I know I can turn back or change my direction if I need to.”  Stephanie Hammond, the Gauvin Scholar from Easton High School, spoke about making sure to reach out for help when you need it. “AAI has supported me and my Gauvin Scholar peers all semester.  It helped a lot.  I would tell first semester students to make sure not to wait to ask for assistance.  It can make all the difference.”

The Scholars are also looking forward to the challenge of semester two.  Krista Beaupre, Caribou High School’s Gauvin Scholar said what she learned most was “to keep up on assignments.”  Elizabeth Knowles, Katahdin High School’s Gauvin Scholar agreed with Beaupre’s assessment, “If I was going to give advice to any student entering the first semester, it would be to know your due dates. Nothing is worse than realizing something is due this Friday instead of next Friday.”

The 2014 Gauvin Scholars attend one of the three localcolleges/universities, and receive consistent and positive support from thementoring system at AAI. Leadership at the local postsecondary institutions is pleased with the success of the Scholars’ first semester.  Northern Maine Community College’s President Tim Crowley was impressed with the mentoring provided by AAI and by the success of several of the Gauvin Scholars at his college. “We know that students who have mentors perform at a higher level. Aroostook Aspirations provides not only scholarships for these students but the close personal contact needed to increase the opportunity for success.  Of the seven students attending NM as Gauvin Scholars this fall, four have made the Dean's list and all are scheduled to return in the spring semester.  The Scholarships have been important for these students but equally important has been the close personal contact they have with the leadership of AAI and the college staff here on campus.  The first group of Gauvin Scholars at NM has set a very high bar for those who follow. We are proud of these students and proud to be working with the Aspirations Project. “

Scott Voisine, UMFK Dean of Community Education, praised the first year support offered by the University and the AAI program, “By partnering with local colleges and universities and providing focused attention to their Scholars, Aroostook Aspirations has provided a real pathway to success for their scholarship recipients.  UMFK is very pleased to be part of this endeavor.”

Linda Schott, President of the University of Maine at Presque Isle, commented on the work of the Gauvin Scholars, but also on thewonderful role models the Scholars have in Ray and Sandy Gauvin. "We are very pleased that several Gauvin Scholars are attending UMPI and having a great experience.  We are grateful for the inspiration and hard work that Ray and Sandy Gauvin are providing to help make the dreams of all of the Gauvin Scholars come true.  We look forward to continued collaboration with them on this program and to continuing to provide a great learning environment for the Gauvin Scholars and all of our students."

Aroostook Aspirations Initiative (AAI) is a Countywide model of the Founders’, Ray and Sandy Gauvin, initial program, The Gauvin County Scholarship Fund.  With a mission of increasing postsecondary success for Aroostook young people and thus helping to mobilize the future economy of Aroostook, AAI offered 16 high school seniors the prestigious title of Gauvin Scholar in 2014.  April Flagg, executive director for AAI, spoke about how much of an impact the Scholars make in the landscape of Aroostook.  “Gauvin Scholars don’t just attend college locally, each has a job in a local business and shops in local stores.  By attending locally, the Scholars help feed our economy, and have the opportunity to see that living in Aroostook means we can have the best of both worlds.  We have several successful entrepreneurs, businessmen and women in Aroostook.  They are able to work in their chosen profession and have the opportunity to raise a family on the same streets they grew up in.”

Gauvin Scholars receive more than just financial support.  Along with the mentoring, Scholars are also given the opportunity to meet several successful men and women in Aroostook.  This networking gives the Scholars real life examples of living in Aroostook, working in Aroostook, and raising families in Aroostook. Sandy Gauvin, AAI’s president and cofounder is proud of the success of the Scholars.” We are so proud of our scholars.  They have really stepped forward and done well in multiple respects.  Their relationship with AAI is the beginning of a networking experience, and our Scholars will be meeting more people and creating more relationships as time goes on. That’s an invaluable component to being successful anywhere, but most especially in The County.”

Ray and Sandy Gauvin founded Aroostook Aspirations Initiative (AAI) along with VicePresident Jason Parent in April of 2013.  Since that time the program has grown rapidly. The program includes financial support and mentoring, guidance, and networking within the County and statewide.  With all 16 public school districts, the four Aroostook post secondary intuitions, and several County and state business partnerships, Aroostook Aspirations will be a key component of the economic recovery and sustainability of Aroostook’s future.

For more information, or to make a donation and help an Aroostook student make a college dream a degree reality, visit the Aroostook Aspirations Initiative website at, e-mail, call (207) 760-0558, or send a letter to Aroostook Aspirations Initiative, 26 North Street, Box 138, Presque Isle, ME 04769.