Lewiston grads match wits at UMaine: Roommates both earn 4.0 GPAs

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Matt Bouchard and James Morin are friends, roommates and about to graduate from the University of Maine in Orono.

During the last four years, each never got below an A. Both are graduating May 8 with a 4.0-grade-point average.

Out of a graduating class of 2,000, only about 12 achieved that perfect GPA, said university spokesman Joe Carr.

When considering the small number in the Class of 2010 with a 4.0, that they both graduated from Lewiston High School in 2006, share the same apartment and are friends, “It’s pretty crazy,” Bouchard said.

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Bouchard is class salutatorian. Students aren’t ranked third and beyond that, but it’s safe to say Morin finished in a third-place tie, Carr said.

They attribute their success to a lot of late-nights and all-nights studying. “We’re by no means geniuses. It’s hard work that pays off,” Bouchard said.

It was nice, Morin said, having someone around with similar goals. “Working hard is contagious.”

And they were a good influence on each other; friendly competition between them encouraged each not to let up. “I don’t know if we ever admitted it, but we both wanted to maintain a 4.0 and didn’t want to be the first one to give it up,” Bouchard said.

At Lewiston High Bouchard and Morin were honor-roll students. Both took part in the mock trial but didn’t hang out together.

That changed in college.

They became friends when they played the same intramural sports, hockey and football. They worked out at the gym. “Me and Matt had a competition to see who went to the gym more,” Morin said, adding that they counted their workouts. Both went more than 500 times. “I had him beat by 70,” Morin added.

Morin majored in biology, Bouchard in business finance and accounting.

They weren’t in the same classes.

But they bounced ideas off each other, talking about how to study better, how to do better on a test, more efficient ways to do things.

In the last two years they shared their college apartment with three other students. The five organized everyday tasks. Everyone got their own food. They came up with a rotating cleaning schedule that  went on the calendar.

When it came to career planning, Morin and Bouchard talked about that, too.

What types of questions to ask during interviews, what questions to anticipate, how to respond, what their mindset should be going into an interview, what to write on thank you letters to those who granted them interviews.

Bouchard accepted a job in Manhattan for an investment bank, Nomura Securities. He’ll start in an analyst-training program, and may end up dealing with sales of equities or bonds.

“I didn’t think I had a shot of getting the job. These training programs are geared toward ivy league schools,” he said. “During the final round of interviews there were 15 of us, 13 from Cornell, one person from Australia, and me from Maine.”

Morin is considering a job offer by a Fortune 500 health care company. That career would draw on his medical training and allow him to work in sales. “It’s a great opportunity,” he said.

Both said they’re a bit sad to leave college and all the friends they’ve made.

“I’ve had a blast,” Bouchard said.

They offer advice to those about to start college.

Morin recommends networking, especially in “the most underrated program at U Maine, ‘The Maine Mentor Program.’” That program helps link job-seeking students with established alumni.

“Stay on top of your classes,” Bouchard said. “In college you have a lot of freedom right off the bat. A lot of times you may think, ‘What’s the point of going to class?’ That’s a sure downfall.”

Most of all, he said, “surround yourself with the right people.”

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