Tim Stretton, a 2009 Lewiston High School graduate, graduated from the University of Southern Maine yesterday, May 11. One of his claims to fame was racking up a lot of college credit while in high school through Lewiston’s Early College program.

He worked his way through college as a full-time assistant manager at Burger King in Lewiston-Auburn. He graduated from USM with honors in political science, and hopes to one day serve with the U.S. State Department as a foreign officer. He’s off to a good start. After researching the 27-member European Union, he wrote a senior thesis that was picked to be published by the European Union Center of California, one of the top U.S. academic centers on the EU.

Name: Tim Stretton

Age: 22

Hometown: Lewiston,  son of Thomas and Diane Stretton

What is your thesis about, why did you write it? My thesis looks at how effective the newly created External Action Service has been at harmonizing foreign policy among its 27 member states. The External Action Service (EAS) was created in 2011 and is the diplomatic arm of the European Union. In the United States you would compare it to the State Department. The External Action Service represents the European Union abroad and operates over a 140 embassies and diplomatic missions all over the world.

How did you become interested in the European Union? During the summer of 2011 I traveled to Europe and studied the European Union and politics. Ever since, I have been fascinated with the European Union and its dynamic political system. I have also been interested in foreign policy, so studying the EAS seemed to be a captivating hybrid of my two interests. It was interesting to research the EAS because, being only two years old, there hasn’t been too much analysis done on the EAS and the effect it’s had.

I started my thesis in September and recorded how all 27 EU members voted on 600-plus resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly for the last nine years. With my data I was able to determine cohesion rates of foreign policy in different policy areas, disarmament and international security, social, cultural and humanitarian affairs, political and decolonization.

What was the best/worst parts of college? My best part of college was being a part of Model UN. I traveled to compete at conferences in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York City, and I represented countries such as Costa Rica, Norway and most recently the Syrian Arab Republic on a Palestinian refugee committee. I am currently the secretary-general for our high school model UN conference hosted on the USM Gorham campus May 14-16. We are expecting over 450 high school students from all over New England.

I can’t think of my worst part. I had a good college experience. If I had to pick something it would be working a full-time job while going to school. For my first three years of college I worked full time as an assistant manager for Burger King, paying my way through school. I enjoyed the job and the people, but it was tough balancing work and school. But the experience helped make me a better student.

What advice would you give to high school students planning for college? First, look at what their options are for different colleges and look into all their various programs and extra-curricular activities the schools offer. When I first came to USM I didn’t know Model UN existed until my junior year. I wish I had enrolled when a freshman. Model UN and taking a senior thesis really opened up a lot of new doors and opportunities I never even thought about four years ago.

It’s Mother’s Day. As a graduate, what message would you offer to mothers everywhere? Thank you for all you do for us sons and daughters and putting up with all our “stuff” over the years. I would encourage all of you to guide and support your children in whatever choices they decide to make in terms of their education and careers. I would like to give a special shout-out to my own mother, Diane Stretton. Without her I wouldn’t be the young man that I am today.

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