University college commencement lauds grads and teachers

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RUMFORD — Dedication,  perseverance to overcome obstacles and a passion for learning are qualities common to graduates at the University College at Rumford-Mexico.

Seventy people attended the college’s commencement ceremony Saturday at the Eagles Club where nine of this year’s 33 graduates received their diplomas and certificates, college director Jean Kay said.

Attending were students Carol Averill, Barbara Dolloff, Tracy Dowland, Karen Hamel, Tina Hazard, Courtney Knox, Tanya Lauzier, Joannn Moulton and Michelle Worthley.

Keynote speaker was Amy Line, one of the college’s instructors and a University of Maine Augusta student services specialist. She was chosen by the Students Association and titled her address: “Things you put in your tool- belt.”

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“Amy Line has taught all of us here,” said Tina Hazard, who received her associate’s degree in mental health services. “She’s an excellent teacher and kept us all in line.”

Line, along with faculty members Tim McInnis, Rodney Abbott and Janette Baldridge received distinction as student-nominated exceptional teacher awards.

“The award usually goes to one teacher,” Elizabeth Ladd of Andover said. “I think it says a lot about the way teachers and staff care here that instead of one teacher, four get nominated.

“The instructors are so passionate about their teaching and making sure we learn” she said. “Take for example my history teacher, Rodney Abbott, who makes learning so fun that I want to go home and read more about people like Theodore Roosevelt.”

Kay had credit for the students.

“The Student Association did it all,” she said of the ceremony. “They put it all together, including the decorating, menu, finding a caterer, set-up and finding a commencement speaker.

“When I first took over as director here in 2007 the commencement ceremony was all handled by the college administrators.  I decided it was important to give the students ownership of their own commencement,” she said.

“Our graduates are amazing,” Kay said. “What many of them have had to persevere through to obtain their education here is impressive. I am honored and humbled to work with them. I was pleased to give one of them, Amanda Allen of Roxbury, a $750 scholarship.”

One of the most emotional moments of the evening was when Tina Hazard’s foster mother spontaneously grabbed the microphone to express how proud she was of  her daughter.

“That was the highlight of my night,” Hazard said. “I tried to keep my tears in check but couldn’t.”

                                 dfayen@sunjournal.com

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