FARMINGTON — Pursuing more education is not just about getting a job, it’s a springboard to achieving your dreams, John Neal told a packed room of adult learners and family members on Wednesday.

The gathering of students at the Olsen Student Center at University of Maine at Farmington received high school diplomas, general education diplomas and certificates recognizing their work.

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been,” Neal added, relating his own journey through the college transition course and on to community college. Neal, a Wausau Paper worker, planned ahead and was finishing the course just as the mill in Jay closed last year, he said. From there it was a smooth transition to college to chase his dreams.

“You’re not just dreamers, you’re a dream chaser,” he told the 27 adult students about to receive their high school diplomas. Several others received their GEDs and for those receiving certificates, “you’ve caught part of your dream,” he added.

“You can come to Adult Ed and they’ll take you in and help you to have faith in yourself. Today isn’t the end, it’s a new beginning,” he said.

After receiving her high school diploma, one student speaker endorsed his words while sharing her story of difficulties learning as a child only to quit and become a stay-at-home mother. In her 30s, Johni-Anne Atwood wanted to go to work but couldn’t find a job. Through adult ed, she was reassured that she could be employable, she said, as she thanked the instructors and her family for supporting her through her educational journey. Atwood also completed the WorkReady program, one that prepares adults to enter the work force.

The programs are through Franklin County Adult Basic Education and Mt. Blue Regional School District’s Adult and Community Education.

For the 134 students working toward their GED and diplomas, 113 of those came to Adult Ed unemployed, said Ray Therrien, director of FCABE.

RSU 9 Superintendent Michael Cormier presented the diplomas with Assistant Superintendent Susan Pratt and state Rep. Tom Saviello, I-Wilton, presenting flowers and congratulations to each student.

While presenting certificates to several students involved in the Adult Community Education certified nurse assistant program, Paul Brown acknowledged receipt of a grant that will connect the CNA program with WorkReady and help students to move forward, working in local health care situations as part of the program.

Certificates were also presented to College Transition and WorkReady students and those involved in Literacy Volunteers of Franklin and Somerset counties.

Along with adults, the program has worked with 97 students, ages 16-20 years, during this year, Therrien said. While many are still enrolled in high school, they receive help and gain credits through FCABE. This service provided extra revenue for the RSU 9 school district, he said. The state reimburses Adult Ed for the services provided for these students.

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