Sarah Smiley – author of the nationally syndicated newspaper column “Shore Duty,” which reaches more than 2 million readers weekly – will serve as guest speaker during the Houlton Higher Education Center’s “Graduation Celebration” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 20.
The nationally known writer is coming to northern Maine through the coordination of Bernadette Farrar, Assistant Director of the Houlton/Hodgdon SAD #29/70 Adult Education program, which is housed at the Houlton Center, and HHEC Director Chuck Ames. The center, which opened its doors for classes in August 2001, is administered by the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
“We are so excited to have Sarah Smiley come and speak to our students and community here at the Houlton Higher Education Center,” Farrar said. “I initially approached her about coming to visit Aroostook County for two main reasons – because she is a military wife like myself and because she has talked about what it’s like and how important it is to return to school for further education. I really feel she’ll have a lot to say to all our students here – especially the non-traditional students.”
Smiley will speak during a celebration that marks the achievements of students who are graduating from the many partner organizations at the Houlton Center. Center partners include SAD #29/70 Adult Education Program, the Carleton Project, Northern Maine Community College, and the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Students from the University of Maine System campuses affiliated with University College also take classes at the Houlton Center.
A small but dedicated staff at the Houlton Higher Education Center work to help students from all partner organizations achieves their educational goals. Students hail from southern Aroostook County, northern Penobscot County, western New Brunswick, Canada, and beyond. Because students are graduating from a variety of different programs and institutions, the end-of-the-school-year graduation event gives this close-knit community, their family and friends an opportunity to join together in celebration. About 200 people are expected to attend.
Smiley is the author of the memoir “Going Overboard: The Misadventures of a Military Wife” and a collection of essays titled “I’m Just Saying…” According to her website, Smiley’s writing “embodies the non-traditional aspects of military wives and brings to life an area long avoided by others in the military community: the pithy, humorous and sometimes politically incorrect side.”
She has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, as well as on news shows on ABC, CNN, CBS, Fox News, and MSNBC. Her life rights were optioned by Kelsey Grammer’s company, Grammnet, and Paramount Television.
Smiley has a B.S. in Education from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. She and her husband, Navy flight instructor Lt. Cmdr. Dustin Smiley, are the parents of three sons.