It seemed like old times for 10 Boothbay Region High School graduates Jan. 4 as they attended a pizza party in their alma mater’s library. So why did these graduates, now college students, take time from winter break for pizza? Well, these students are part of a special group. They are all Boothbay Region Student Aid Fund recipients.
Since 1964, the fund has provided financial assistance to BRHS graduates. In 2018, the fund provided assistance to 79 students totaling over $403,650 in financial grants. The BRSAF provides need-based financial assistance to BRHS graduates seeking education beyond the secondary level.
This is the second year BRSAF directors hosted a pizza party. The attendees included students nearing completion of their college degree like Sinead Miller of Bremen. She will graduate this spring from Gordon College and will enter the job market. Kyle Alamo of Boothbay Harbor will graduate from the University of Maine, but plans on attending graduate school. And others like Max Hoecker of Boothbay, a first year student at tRochester Institute of Technology, are just beginning their college days.
Between bites of pizza, the students chronicled their college experience and updated BRSAF board members about future plans. Nicole LaBrecque of Southport is already a college graduate. The fourth year Quinnipac University student graduated a year early from the Connecticut school. She is now in graduate school and will seek a job in physical therapy this spring. LaBrecque attended Quinnipac University for its continuous program which meant automatic placement in a graduate program.
This spring, she finishes graduate school and begins new challenges like finding employment and paying college loans. “I haven’t thought a lot about how I will pay my students loans, but I know if it wasn’t for the Student Aid Fund my debt would be a lot higher,” LaBrecque said.
Her participating in “Greek life” enhanced LaBrecque’s college experience. She held several leadership positions on the Greek Council when she oversaw the school’s sororities. She described this experience as a “valuable life lesson.”
She is seeking a job which calls for her to travel around the country. “I’d like to live in the Northeast, but I’m looking for a company that needs to send a physical therapist to work at different locations for 2-3 months,” she said.
Another BRSAF recipient will be seeking a job this spring in photography. Lisa Pawlowski is graduating from Husson University in May. She is studying marketing and communications in the university’s New England School of Communication. “I may work in public relations or setting up websites, but I really want to shoot portraits. The photos of people usually tell a pretty good story, and that’s what I want to do,” she said.
Following graduation, she wants to live in a big city. “I’ve never had an opportunity to live outside Maine,” she said. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people and making new friendships.”
Kyle Alamo will graduate this spring from the University of Maine. Alamo wants to become a veterinarian which requires three more years of school. He chose the state’s land grant college because he wanted to attend college in Maine. “UMaine had the program I wanted, and plus it saved me money which I can now apply to graduate school,” he said. Alamo’s animal science curriculum required him to work on a farm. He likes caring for animals because it’s a challenging experience. “The veterinarian approach is more sporadic and unexpected. And that’s what attracts me to treating animals,” Alamo said.
Max Hoecker of East Boothbay is a first-time BRSAF recipient. His college experience began last fall at Rochester Institute of Technology. College has been a smooth transition for him attending college in New York State’s third largest city. He is an “undetermined computing” major. The school has six computer science degrees. “I’m not a big fan of securities, but I’m trying each one to get to know them better before deciding,” he said.
Hoecker narrowed his choice of colleges to RIT and UMaine, but chose the out-of-state option because of the school’s co-op program. “It helps you find a job while you are still in school, and that played a major factor in my decision,” he said.
BRSAF Board President President Louise Cowan thanked the students for sharing their experiences with board members. She also encouraged them to think about returning to Maine. Cowan referenced Maine’s new Governor Janet Mills' inaugural address in creating the state’s first Department of the Future. “Come back and start a business or do something in the community and think about how things are and how much we really need you,” she said.
The fund provides grants for BRHS graduates between their first and sixth year of study at a college or university, community college, or school of professional training.