PARIS — Continuing the tradition of honoring its own alumni, Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School invited a children’s author and publisher to address Saturday’s graduating class.

Stephanie (McCoy) Mulligan, a 2004 graduate, delivered the commencement speech during an outdoor ceremony at Gouin Athletic Complex.

“I am just a kid from Oxford Hills,” Mulligan said, addressing the 250 seniors before their diplomas were awarded. “You are just a kid from Oxford Hills. You should be encouraged.

“One of the biggest reasons I am here today is because … of all the encouraging voices I had, cheering me on.”

Mulligan spoke about the support she had from family and friends when, shortly after graduating from high school, she wrote a poem about working as a deckhand on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, the “Lucky Catch.” Upon hearing it, her mother, Pat McCoy, remarked that it would make a lovely children’s book.

“I shelved the story for six years,” Mulligan said. While pregnant in 2012, she decided to look into getting her story, “How to Catch a Keeper, published before she embarked on motherhood. “But my lack of confidence was holding me back.


“I decided to email a longtime friend, and someone who would become a mentor. This particular individual is sitting behind me on this platform.”

Stephanie (McCoy) Mulligan Brewster Burns

Mulligan was referring to Judy Green, a well-known member of the Oxford Hills community. Green, a former director of Oxford Hills/Nezinscot Adult Education, is the current chair of the School Administrative District 17 board of directors.

“I don’t know if Judy realizes the impact she has had on me,” Mulligan said. “She was one of the very first people to read that manuscript for my first children’s book.

“She was encouraging … ‘I think you really have something here.’ So, sharing a simple sentence of encouragement can hold so much weight in the trajectory of someone’s life.”

Mulligan recalled receiving rejection letters for her manuscript, but the encouragement she received from Green and others helped her eventually self-publish “How to Catch a Keeper” and forge forward from there. In 2019, she established McSea Books as a publisher of children’s titles. She has also written a second book, “How to Tap a Maple.”

“Hang onto the encouragers in your life,” Mulligan advised the graduates. “But also – be an encourager.

“I have heard all of the different ways your class has dominated. In sports, academics, the arts, and music. This tells me you all know a thing or two about work ethic, teamwork, and creativity,” she said. “As a team, you have all the bases covered.”


Mulligan closed her speech by reminding the class that if anyone finds themselves in a rut to remember: they are good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like them.

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