Five Bates College students interviewed by the Sun Journal when they were freshman will receive their diplomas Sunday. From left are Naima Qambi, Asha Mohamud, Allaina Murphy, Mekea Hyde and Alex Parker. 

LEWISTON – Four years ago, five students who graduated from Lewiston and Auburn high schools were starting college at Bates.

“I can’t wait” to start,” Naima Qambi told the Sun Journal in 2011. “I’m sick of orientation. I want to start school.”

Apparently the five have done well. On Sunday morning they are among 487 graduating from Bates College.

They were asked what’s next.

Allaina Murphy, 22, plans to eventually become a lawyer. She’ll spend the next year working as a legal aide for a Portland law firm to gain experience and earn a paycheck. “I have a lot of debt,” she said.

Murphy said Bates College “was the best experience I could ever ask for. In college you grow up so much.”

Mekae Hyde, 22, plans to visit Spain. He’s taking one year off to prepare to apply for law school. Growing up in Lewiston and attending college here, it’s time to try someplace else, Hyde said. “Bates puts you in a good position to succeed.”

Naima Qambi, 22, will teach in public schools in Columbus, Ohio, where there’s a large Somali population, and where her family has moved. “It’s nice to understand both cultures and languages,” she said. Qambi will also take classes for nursing school. Her goal is to become a nurse practitioner.

Alex Parker, 22, will travel this summer, and move to Portland and work in Auburn. He plans to go become a lawyer “or any other doors that opens.” College has taught him “the day is yours,” Parker said. “You can either be productive and get better that day” or not. “Ultimately it’s up to you.”

Asha Mohamud, 21, said her first priority after graduating “is to find a job.” She will also continue her education. “I’m hoping to go to medical school.”

Her experience at Bates has given her “immense opportunity to explore the world.” Through a Bates fellowship she spent two months in Tanzania working in an HIV clinic. “Graduating is bittersweet,” she said.

Qambi graduated from Edward Little High School, Murphy and Parker from Saint Dominic Academy, Hyde and Mohamud from Lewiston High School.

The 149th commencement will see honorary degrees awarded to furniture maker Thomas Moser and Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Others receiving honorary degrees are Manjul Bhargava, winner of the 2014 Fields Medal for mathematics and a professor at Princeton University, and Dr. Mark Abelson, a pioneering ophthalmologist whose research and work has led to dozens of new eye treatments and cures.

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