Nova Wagg’s story isn’t nearly as desperate as that of the Joad family’s tale in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, but it is one of a family packing all their belongings into a truck and heading to a new place to make a better life for themselves.
In late fall 2004, Nova Wagg and her six-year-old daughter, Treasure, packed many of their belongings (including two cats) into a 1998 Jeep Cherokee and made their way from Kanab,Utah to Edgecomb, Maine. “I left school in the ninth grade to have Treasure. Now, looking towards college I needed classes like GED and College Transitions, but they are not readily available in southern Utah. I didn’t feel that the Kanab education system was supportive of independent women succeeding on their own.”
Friends of Wagg had told her of the educational opportunities available through Maine Adult Education and other educational opportunities available here. Wagg recalled her first GED class in Bath, “they helped me learn how to become a permanent resident of Maine, suggested College Transitions classes, as well as the PAS program, the Aspire program and others to help me afford to live and raise Treasure, while beginning to work toward my degree.”
The next step for Wagg was to enroll in the Maine College Transitions program. She traveled to Lewiston three days a week for six months. “College Transitions helped me get started right away. I had confidence that I could succeed and my study skills were in check for the first time in my life.”
The Maine College Transitions program (www.maineadulted.org), in partnership with community college and the university system, offer high-quality, cost effective and accessible pathways to post-secondary education for adults. Offered through local adult education programs, College Transitions included career planning, assessment, college experience, tracking and follow up, and instruction in college preparation coursework.
Today, there are Maine College Transitions programs located in every county in Maine. In 2009, 1300 Mainers took advantage of the low- or no-cost program.
The hands-on, one-on-one tutoring and support available through Maine Adult Education and College Transitions was a stark contrast to what Wagg experienced in Utah. “I had no teachers at all. There was just the practice book for the GED and an empty room. The ‘teacher’ only came on test day. Besides, if you passed the GED you would have to drive six hours to the nearest university.”
One of many partner agencies working with College Transitions program and Maine Adult Education is the Maine Centers for Women, Work, and Community (www.womenworkandcommunity.org). Wagg found their partnership to be very rewarding, “Classes like How To Finance Your Future, and How To Be Assertive really made a difference with me. One of my goals is to show Treasure what could be done if you use the resources around you.”
Six years after leaving Utah, Wagg has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies for Humane Education from the University of Maine at Augusta and a certificate in Holistic Health through USM. Now married, Wagg works at the Franklin County Animal Shelter as their Volunteer Coordinator and Human Educator, she also volunteers with various community service programs. “It is a wonderful organization to be part of, their offering me that position at a shelter where it had not existed before is yet another example of the opportunities that living and receiving an education in Maine has afforded me.”
For more information on the Maine College Transitions program or Maine Adult Education, visit www.maineadulted.org. To find a program near you, visit the Web site and type in your zip code – a map of adult education centers near you will appear.