LEWISTON – “For the first time in my life I feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I am worthy!! And I am smart enough!! And I did it!!”

Those are the words of 38 year-old Denise Allen, General Educational Development Diploma recipient and one of the student speakers at Lewiston Adult Education’s graduation ceremony on June 8.

Allen spoke of living for years in an abusive relationship and four years ago deciding, with the support of family, friends and a therapist, to complete her education. She plans to continue her studies in the field of dental hygiene.

“I hope that my story is encouraging and inspirational to any women, especially ones in abusive situations, to realize they are important and they can achieve their goals.”

Jacqueline Gravel also shared her story. At age 53 she returned to school to earn all 19 credits for her high school diploma through the adult education program.

Gravel quit school after eighth-grade to work in a shoe factory. She didn’t think she needed an education. Now she gives her daughter most of the credit for her return to school.

“I realized that if I lost my job at this point in my life, there would not be a job out there for anyone without a high school education.” Gravel kept telling herself “I think I can do this.” She concluded, “I know I can do it because here I am! I did it! Hurrah!”

Each of the over 140 Lewiston Adult Education graduates has a unique life story. Sen. Peggy Rotundo, featured speaker, encouraged the graduates to celebrate their stories. “Believe in your capacity to succeed.” She reminded them that their achievements could help the aspirations of others.

Rotundo also presented Anne Niemiec, retiring director of Lewiston Adult Education, with a citation from the House and Senate recognizing her for 20 years of service in the field of adult education.

Rotundo commented that Niemiec is “the epitome of a life long learner. Lewiston has the best adult education program in the state because of Anne’s leadership and the hard and wonderful work of the faculty and staff.”

Graduates receiving certificates of achievement at the ceremony included Lula Abdi, Denise Allen, Yao Aloegnikou, John Christie, Angela Gagne, Omar Harur and Missilatou Josee Teko.

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