LEWISTON – Lewiston Youth Empowerment Program members, USM/Lewiston-Auburn College student mentors, family and friends gathered recently for the graduation ceremony and reflection dinner at USM/L-A.

Twelve Lewiston Middle School and Lewiston High School empowerment graduates were inspired to dream of going to college while being mentored by service-learning students from USM/L-A’s youth, community and higher education class.

Instructor Michelle Vazquez Jacobus was the guiding force behind the program, in collaboration with Empower Lewiston, a nonprofit organization, which connects downtown Lewiston community members to programs, initiatives, and city planning efforts with the goal of empowering downtown residents.

While members of the program, the Lewiston teens acquired social capital with their peers, mentors and the LA community through various self-esteem and resiliency-building activities, such as yoga, rock climbing, scavenger hunts, making desserts and collages.

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