WCCC Students Prepare for Graduation, Maker to be Keynote Speaker

May 6, 2016

For the senior class students of Washington County Community College, the next few weeks will be a headlong rush of wrapping up finals, completing paperwork, and preparing for the next stage of their lives. Each student has spent the last two years working towards what for many is a significant accomplishment: the completion of a college degree.

A college degree means different things to different people. For Small Engine Technician student Nick Michaud, it is something he was told he would never achieve. Diagnosed when he was ten years old with severe pulmonary hypertension and severe pulmonary artery stenosis, doctors told Michaud and his mother that he was not expected to live past 17.
Now 19, Michaud approaches his condition with stoicism. “The arteries in my lungs are narrowing,” he explained. “My heart’s becoming enlarged, which makes it harder for me to walk.” Since being diagnosed, Michaud has had multiple surgeries and 56 dilations at the hospital in Boston.

Despite his medical challenges, Michaud set his sights after high school on pursuing his lifelong interest in taking mechanical objects apart. He came to WCCC in 2014 as it was the only campus in the state offering a program in the trade. Once he graduates, he intends to return to the Skowhegan area to get a job working as a mechanic.

“I’m glad,” Michaud said of graduating. “I can’t wait.” When asked if he ever doubted that he would make it to graduation, he said, “I knew I was going to succeed because I always told myself I was going to succeed.” While gaining his degree is indeed a recognized milestone for Michaud, the adversity he has faced in his life has granted him a rare maturity that will serve him well as he approaches the next phase of his life. “I’m trying to find out who I am still.”

Finding oneself and that which gives us purpose in life is the greatest gift of education and reflection—a concept that the keynote speaker for this year’s graduation knows well. Joyce Maker will address the graduates and their guests, sharing her own story with them and the meaning that can be attained from a life in public service.
Born and raised in Calais, Maker has spent decades committed to the community, including serving on the school board and city council. She took her efforts to assist the residents of Downeast Maine to the state level, and now serves actively in the Maine State House of Representatives. She believes wholeheartedly in giving back to the community, and participates in empowerment programs for young women such as Maine NEW Leadership.

The graduation will be held on Friday, May 13th at 11:00 in the Calais High School Gym.