By Ardeana Hamlin
Of the Weekly Staff
April Doughty, 36, of Milbridge has every intention of using the education she received at the University of Maine Augusta-Bangor campus to make changes in the world. “Advocacy is my goal,” she said.
Doughty graduated earlier this month with a bachelor’s degree in justice studies, with a minor in American studies.
Doughty began her education in 1995 at UMA, but just before she was due to earn an associate’s degree in legal technology, she left school to take a job with MBNA in Belfast. Even so, education was still very much on her mind, and she took courses in writing and social sciences at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast.
In 2010, Doughty, a single mother with a 7-year-old son at that time, decided it was time to go back to school.
A high point in Doughty’s academic career came in spring 2011 after she took part in a “cluster course” that combined three classes in one: digital art, memoir reading and writing, and culture, consciousness and theory. She was one of 20 students chosen to go on a trip to Nicaragua.”I was fortunate to be selected,” she said.
Of the trip, she said, “It was a huge accomplishment. I was a single mom and would be gone several weeks.
“I didn’t know at the time how important the experience would be. It showed me that the United States isn’t the perfect society it has been portrayed,” Doughty said.
“The culture in Nicaragua is so personal. Politics are not taken for granted. The people understand the power of themselves and the power of the government. Voting is valued as their right,” she said.
She also was impressed by Nicaraguan family culture. “They don’t have monetary privilege, but they take care of their elders and their young,” said Doughty, pointing out that Nicaraguan paper currency bears the faces of artists and poets.
The trip, she said, showed her that cultural systems can be deconstructed and reconstructed for the betterment of life. “I could not have theorized change had I not gone to Nicaragua,” she said.
A requirement of the trip was that she write and publish a 160-page book that included photographs. Her book is titled “Revolutionary Journey” and is housed in the Katz Library at the University of Maine Augusta.
One of Doughty’s interests is the politics of food, and it is in that arena that she began to implement some of her ideas on campus. Her teacher, assistant professor of American studies Sarah Herntges, offered her the position of food liaison. UMA Bangor has no food facilities other than vending machines on campus, and Doughty wanted to find a way to educate students about healthier food choices.
In November 2012, Doughty organized the Taste-Off event at the school in which students got to taste food they might never have tried, such as food from India and Thailand. Students were asked to vote on the food they liked best. Doughty also invited Isabel Wieck of Bangor, owner of Izzy’s Catering, to campus so students could taste-test Wieck’s offerings prepared with locally sourced food.
“I shared my personal experience of being a vegetarian for 17 years,” Doughty said of other things she did to inform students about eating healthful foods. She gave presentations on juicing and eating raw food, conducted a pineapple jam making class, and organized a campus community luncheon.
Last March she organized Soup and Substance to raise awareness “of our over-indulgent lives. I used it as a way to bring students together,” she said. The meal served consisted of basic ingredients.
Through those events, she said she discovered that she could pull people from all academic disciplines together using food as the common denominator.
“Food is very political in this country,” she said. “Food is much further reaching than providing three meals a day.” She pointed out that because of blueberries, one of Maine’s important foods, the school that her son attends in Milbridge is bilingual, the result of Spanish-speaking families who came to the area to rake blueberries and then settled in the area.
For Doughty, there are connections between food, human rights, social class, immigration and integration.
Another high point in Doughty’s academic career was last fall when she received the Rising Scholar award, which recognizes academic achievement.
“What makes April an outstanding student is her commitment, in terms of her work and her dedication to education itself. She works to do her best in everything she does, not only in classroom, but outside as well, to make connections from the classroom to the community,” said Hentges.
Doughty has high praise for the education she has received at UMA-Bangor. “As a single mom, I was allowed scheduling flexibility so I could come back to school,” she said.
Doughty took advantage of online, ITV, compressed video and hybrid courses, as well as internships and independent study. “I was allowed to work through any obstacle so I could finish,” she said.
What the future holds for Doughty is both known and unknown: She will soon give birth to her second son, Myreck, and she has a June wedding to plan with fiancee Randy Norton. She will enjoy being a mother and wife for a few months. Then she will look for a job that will allow her to advocate for change.
Looking back on her three years as a student of UMA, she said, “It was the best experience ever.”
Learn more about April Doughty and her educational experiences at UMA-Bangor by watching the video at http://bangordailynews.com/2013/05/23/uncategorized/flexible-schedule-at-uma-bangor-made-college-possible-for-april-doughty/ or log onto
bangordailynews.com/weekly and click on “The April Doughty story.”