Story posted April 02, 2007
High school students from Maine’s Aroostook County got a chance to see what college life is like during a program called “Aspirations in Northern Maine: A Taste of the College Experience.”
Britanny Guiod was one of 44 juniors from six Aroostook County high schools who came to Bowdoin by bus for two days of information, conversation and inspiration. “I’ve heard a lot about the campus,” said Guiod. “I wanted to see what college was like.”
Guiod and her follow travelers got that up-close-and-personal perspective on life at Bowdoin from those who are living it. A key part of the Aspirations program entailed pairing each visitor with a Bowdoin student whom they shadowed through activities and classes.
Former Governor and current Bowdoin College Distinguished Lecturer Angus King delivered an inspirational welcome address to these students, who, as seventh-graders, were among the first to receive laptop computers in the inaugural year of Gov. King’s pioneering statewide initiative to bring technology into the lives of Maine’s youth.
“In the future, in order to be able to have a good income and a rich, full life, you’re going to have to have a college education,” said King.
King let them in on something typically not found in college brochures. “College is really fun. It’s a great time,” he allowed, but not before imparting the heavier bit of fatherly wisdom, “The decision you make in the next two years will pretty much control the rest of your life.”
Although Maine has one of the highest high school graduation rates in the country with an average of 86 percent, only 69 percent of graduates intend to enroll in college — and only about half of Maine students actually do so the following fall. This compares to a national average of 65 percent of students who enroll in a post-secondary institution.
Brandon Bouchard ’07, an Aroostook County native himself, organized the Aspirations event. “I know how difficult it can be to travel to expose yourself to this sort of thing,” says Bouchard.
“A program like this allows kids to just get on a bus so they can see what’s available. They get a chance to learn — and not just about Bowdoin — but about college in general,” Bouchard says.
Bouchard organized a college information panel to help students learn admission and student aid processes, a sample session to offer them the experience of a college course and many opportunities to interact with Bowdoin students, including a question-and-answer panel.
“Brandon has single-handedly led this program from its conception to successful execution,” says Susan Dorn, Community Resource Center director. “In doing so, he has coupled his passion for ideas learned through courses and faculty at Bowdoin with the talents and skills he has gained through campus jobs and co-curricular activities. Brandon's work is a wonderful testament to using one's education for the common good — and building a community for all in the process.”