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UMPI, Aroostook Aspirations expand partnership

In an effort to provide area youth with even more wide-ranging higher education opportunities—from college success activities, to internships, to community service—Aroostook Aspirations and the University of Maine at Presque Isle have expanded and strengthened their partnership.

The two organizations have worked together since Aroostook Aspirations’ establishment in 2012. A year ago, in an effort to enrich its relationship with its scholars and better support their work, Aroostook Aspirations relocated its headquarters to UMPI, on the first floor of Normal Hall. As part of a newly signed memorandum of understanding, UMPI will operate the Gauvin Scholar Program, which includes promoting scholar selection, as well as running the College Success Program, the Internship Program, and the Community Service Program.

“We are so pleased to strengthen our partnership with the University of Maine at Presque Isle and to deliver on our promise to provide the very best experience for our scholars that we possibly can,” Sandy Gauvin, Aroostook Aspirations President, said. “The whole purpose of our program is to help more students not just begin, but complete, their college education. We want to get more students into college, but also to complete their training, and that translates into providing a larger and better workforce for Aroostook County.”

“Our partnership with Aroostook Aspirations has been focused around helping Aroostook County students to reach their potential while supporting regional workforce and economic development, and this new agreement will only serve to further strengthen that work,” UMPI President Ray Rice said.

A major component of the new agreement is UMPI’s oversight of the Aroostook Aspirations Scholar Weekend, which is open to all Gauvin Scholars, no matter which college they attend in northern Maine. The annual two-day event has been renamed the College Success Program and given a broader scope. UMPI will organize, host, and facilitate the two tracks of the College Success program—LAUNCH for first year Gauvin scholars and ADVANCE for second year scholars. The University may also expand the program to other students on a tuition basis to enhance the overall experience for all students.

Using Aroostook Aspirations’ success model action-plan, the LAUNCH program, which is geared toward academic success, will focus on connecting with peers and community leaders, career exploration, college readiness skills, financial literacy, and other topics from stress reduction to identifying individual learning styles. The ADVANCE program, which is geared to career success, will include a resume round robin with regional HR leaders, mock interviews, discussions on best practices in the workplace, and a forum to look at, and brainstorm solutions for, issues impacting Aroostook County. During both LAUNCH and ADVANCE programming, participants will be able to take advantage of many opportunities to network with business leaders from around Aroostook County.

During the College Success Program, Gauvin scholars will learn about the Community Service Program, which is centered around in-depth community service projects that they will initiate during their first year of college. UMPI staff will mentor scholars through the planning and implementation of their community service projects, which, in the past, have included efforts from cleaning up local highways to teaching local kids about baseball while making improvements to a local ball field.

Additionally, UMPI will leverage the services of its Career Readiness Office to help lead the Internship Program, providing internship opportunities to Gauvin scholars following their sophomore year of college. The University will work with County businesses to ensure that the positions are paid internships.

Aroostook Aspirations officials are excited to see how this support from UMPI impacts programming and the scholar experience.

“People think of us as a scholarship program, but we think of our scholarships as a gateway to our other programs,” Gauvin said. “Aroostook Aspirations and UMPI enjoy a great partnership already and we look forward to working with UMPI more closely to strengthen these programs and ultimately ensure a greater college completion rate.”


Aroostook Aspirations is a non-profit organization that works to reverse the outward migration of Aroostook County youth. It does this by providing scholarship funding and a strong support structure to graduates of Aroostook County high schools who enroll in the four institutions of higher education located in Aroostook County—UMPI, the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Northern Maine Community College, and Husson University. Aroostook Aspirations connects its student scholars to opportunities, internships, and community service efforts that show them career pathways available to them in Aroostook County that, when taken, have the added benefit of helping to stem the out-migration of youth from the County and giving a boost to the Northern Maine economy. There are currently 67 Gauvin scholars spanning three graduating classes. To learn more about Aroostook Aspirations, visit its website at www.aroostookaspirations.org.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle, one of seven universities within the University of Maine System, is an institution of opportunity where every student has the ability to thrive and succeed. Through its work to deliver exceptional experiences for learners of all ages, UMPI has provided affordable and accessible learning opportunities for students preparing for college. This includes a wide range of early college offerings that save Aroostook County high school students and their families time and money toward earning a college degree. The University also supports Gauvin scholars in particular by funding the second year of their Gauvin scholarships at UMPI.