RUMFORD — Two Mountain Valley High School students and a Class of 2020 graduate spoke about the benefits of the Jobs for Maine Graduates program during the Regional School Unit 10 board of directors meeting Monday.

The program is in its third year at the high school, partnering public education with private businesses to steer students to graduate and to pursue their goals for satisfying jobs and fulfilling careers.

This year, job specialist Larry Thornton has 26 students in the program with six of them learning virtually, he said.

Trinadi Milligan, a 2020 graduate, said the program has helped and inspired her. She is working as a personal support specialist at Pinnacle Rehabilitation in Canton and studying to become a certified nurse’s aide.

“JMG taught me that there are many opportunities in this world that you can jump out and grab but you just have to be willing to do it,” she said. “It taught me that helping others is a wonderful thing to do, and it taught me that not only can you achieve your goals, you can do anything that you put your mind to do.”

Milligan said that she learned how to prepare for and conduct herself during a job interview. She also said volunteering at the school’s Clothes Closet where students can pick up clothing and other essentials for free made her happy to help others.

“JMG has taught me a lot and I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t of done the program,” she said.

Junior Tresdon Mills, a member of JMG since his sophomore year, said it helped him get his “life on track.”

He said he used to be “a big jokester” at school and had a hard time listening to teachers because of his “tough background.” But after a couple administrators suggested he join JMG he finally decided to give it a try. After a short while the program and the people in it helped him change his attitude towards school and life, he said.

“And then I just saw the greatness of what (JMG Job Specialist Mr. Thornton) was trying to do, and I don’t even know; they brought me down to the school’s food bank where there’s clothes and fun stuff there,” Mills said. Once he began volunteering at the food and clothing bank, he began to feel better about himself and took more pride in his school work and life in general.

With some guidance from the program Mills will enlist in the Marines, his dream career, when he turns 17 this spring. His father was in the military and he wanted to follow in his footsteps but didn’t know how, he said.

Senior Hannah St. Laurent said the program is helping her reach her goals and is interested in going to college and having a career as a professional where she will be able to help others.

“In just over a year JMG has helped me to navigate my goals, and my job specialist Mr. Thornton has taught me many life skills,” she said. “I am now better prepared for my future.”

Before joining the program St. Laurent described herself as shy and introverted but said she now has “no issues with speaking with people in my job as a cashier at Walmart or setting up conversations with my teachers.

“Without question, JMG has helped guide me to a better life. I’m confident that I will be a productive member of society because of what JMG has taught me,” St. Laurent said.

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