Aroostook Aspirations Initiative awards $4,000 in scholarships to high school seniors in Aroostook County that plan to attend the University of Maine at Presque Isle or Thomas College and $2,000 to those who plan to attend the University of Maine at Fort Kent or Northern Maine Community College. If scholars attending Northern Maine Community College choose to transfer to Husson University-Northern Maine for their 3rd and 4th years, they will receive an additional $1,000 for each of those years. As the scholarship fund grows, we will expand the length and breadth of these scholarships.

The Gauvin Scholar Program

Aroostook Aspirations Initiative provides a comprehensive program for each of the Gauvin Scholars to maximize the success of our students in their future social and employment endeavors. The program includes:
Scholar Training Weekends:
LAUNCH: First year Scholars become familiar with the college environment, building self-confidence and goal-oriented enthusiasm as they embark on a college education. They discuss the challenges, excitement, opportunities and stresses of college. They "break the ice" of transitioning to a college life by meeting and networking with other students, conversing about new classes and majors and making connections to campus services.

ADVANCE: Second-year scholars develop skills that advance professional opportunities,such as leadership, resume building, and interviewing. Aroostook County business and community leaders host components of the weekend and provide a networking opportunity for students.

Networking Opportunities: The annual Night With the Stars Gala showcases the Gauvin Scholars, celebrates their achievements and provides them with an opportunity to meet with industry and community leaders.

In addition to the required programs, Gauvin Scholars also have access to:
Internships: Opportunity for scholars to test career paths, meet potential employers, and professionally network in areas of interest through the Internship Hub of Aroostook program
Entrepreneurial Weekend: A two-day event that includes community entrepreneurs and Gauvin Scholars interested in starting their own businesses.
Mentoring: Scholars also receive programming that includes ongoing mentoring and professional/personal development activities.

In addition to helping young people realize their educational and career aspirations, Aroostook Aspirations Initiative will provide a new avenue for higher education institutions in Aroostook County to help prospective students overcome the deterrent of cost in obtaining a college degree. Area businesses will have a single county-wide resource in which to invest in limited resources that will reach across town and school district lines to support the future of the entire county. A better educated workforce will meet local employers' human resource needs, and economic and community development leaders will have new support in creating a region that invests in its future by investing in its youth.

Why we do what we do:

Research shows that first-generation college students are more likely than their counterparts to be less academically prepared for college; possess less knowledge about how to apply to college and for financial assistance; and experience more difficulty adjusting to college once enrolled. They are more at risk for not completing a degree because they are more likely to delay enrollment after high school, enroll part time, or to work full time while enrolled.

High school students that come from low-income households are less likely to attend college and therefore less liable to find employment and more likely to receive lower wages if they become employed. While lower educational attainment is associated with higher crime rates, increasing education levels translates into higher property values and greater local sales, as well as higher property, sales and business tax revenues. Studies show that a person with a college degree earns over $1 million more in his or her lifetime than a person with a high school diploma.

Aroostook Aspirations Initiative sets the standard for bringing together Aroostook County's youth with educational aspirations, setting them on a course for contributing to the economic success of this very important region of our state.

Dana F. Connors

President Maine State Chamber of Commerce