AUBURN — City councilor, founder of the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival and L-A Magazine publisher Joshua Shea is going to college.

He made the announcement Friday during the eighth annual College for ME-Androscoggin awards luncheon, which was held to honor students who pursue higher education and those who help them along the way.

Shea gave the commencement speech at last year’s Lewiston High School graduation and told College for ME luncheon attendees that it was at that moment — standing in front of graduating seniors — that he started thinking about going back to college.

A successful business owner, husband and father who said he dropped out of college three times, Shea drew some laughs when he said he was well past the frat stage of his life, and the audience applauded when he said “I’m going back to college, with the help of College for ME.”

He talked about the importance of a college degree and thanked his 11th-grade Lewiston High School American History teacher and current associate director of College for ME-Androscoggin, Joan Macri, “for nagging me” before asking the audience to “wish me luck.”

They did.

Shea was a guest speaker at the luncheon where three local students were honored.

Jane Brousseau, Doreen Dignan and Tracie Downs Travers were honored for their efforts to pursue higher education while juggling the demands of school, families and careers.

Brousseau of Lewiston is a single mother who worked three jobs to support herself and her two children when she moved back to Maine. She twice had tried going to college but decided to try once more in 2011 and enrolled in Kaplan University. There, she organized study groups for fellow students and served as the vice president of the Kaplan Food Pantry.

Brousseau graduated summa cum laude with an associate degree in health science and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree. She also tutors at the Lewiston Public Library.

Dignan of East Livermore is a 2012 honors graduate of Central Maine Community College, where she earned an associate degree in accounting. While enrolled at CMMC, her husband was diagnosed with cancer and she maintained a full-time job and a full-time college schedule while caring for him. He died in 2010.

An employee of Mechanics Savings Bank in Auburn, Dignan is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and is now enrolled at St. Joseph’s College where she is working toward a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Travers of Fairfield was an honors student, class president and pregnant in high school, graduating in 1990. She took classes at University of Maine campuses in Augusta and Farmington but did not finish her degree before entering the workforce. After a series of job changes, and after a number of employers told her she would not be hired without a bachelor’s degree, Travers enrolled at the University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn College in 2011. She graduated from the leadership program this year.

Travers, who works for Jobs for Maine’s Graduates at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, has written a book about her teen pregnancy, “The Kid in Me: A Personal Account of My Teen Pregnancy.” The book, which Travers wrote under the pseudonym Margaret Thayer Paige, is a highly personal story intended to help others learn about teen sex, pregnancy and motherhood.

College for ME-Androscoggin was founded in 2005 as a regional collaborative in Androscoggin County. The goal of the group, which includes business, community, education and government leaders, is to double the number of college degree holders in Androscoggin County by 2015 and to create a “college-going culture” across the county.

In addition to the three student awards, Androscoggin Bank and Central Maine Community College received this year’s corporate award, honoring employers who support further education for employees.

Jean Blais, Sally Wilson and the faculty at the College Transitions Program at Lewiston Adult Education received advocate awards for working with students who pursue higher education.

Blais is the learning and advising representative at CMCC and Wilson is the learning and development manager at Androscoggin Bank.

For more information about College for ME-Androscoggin, go to www.collegeformeandroscoggin.org/


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