More than 15 students boarded the Portland School bus in early April and traveled to Augusta to visit the legislature. Portland legislator Eric Jorgensen acted as host. The legislative bodies were busy so students witnessed votes, procedures, and debates. It was a great introduction to our democracy for many of them. The trip was supported by a FPAE grant.
Executive Director Anita St.Onge revealed that two PAE graduates will be speaking at the commencement ceremonies for both SMCC and USM this year. The Portland Press Herald reported on both ceremonies:
Student speaker Lucy Shulman, a linguistics major who is going to Japan to teach English later this year, talked about discovering her own worthiness at USM after entering the university at age 23 without a high school diploma and a nonexistent sense of self-esteem.
“We are significant, and we are worthy,” said Shulman. “And in the years I’ve been at USM, the world has finally seen us. We’re not invisible anymore.”
Shulman told her classmates that their college degrees matter “because we earned them. Everything we put into them, all the blood, sweat and tears, and more tears, and a bunch of energy drinks, are what give us our power.”
Shulman received thunderous applause.
The keynote speech was delivered by Ninette Irabaruta, an SMCC alumna who fled violence and political oppression in her native central African country of Burundi before earning a degree at SMCC. She’s working toward a master’s degree at Brandeis University.
When PAE moved to 14 Locust Street 4 years ago, the John T. Gorman Foundation funded a language learning lab to give wait-listed students the digital tools to start learning immediately. With thanks to support from the Sam L Cohen Foundation and the Harmon Foundation, the highly popular lab is moving to a more accessible, newly renovated space on the 1st floor. Talented students and alumni have designed the new space, provided tech expertise, and hauled equipment up the stairs. See the great progress achieved by Sara Staples and a super team of coordinators and volunteers this week. For more information on the Lab click here.