BANGOR, Maine — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins told high school seniors Saturday to work hard to create opportunities and be confident as they follow their dreams.
Collins presented the keynote address at the Maine Principals’ Association annual luncheon to honor outstanding seniors at Maine’s 153 public and private high schools. Ten $1,000 scholarships also were awarded at the ceremony at the Spectacular Event Center.
“Because you have accomplished so much already, you may be somewhat apprehensive about whether you can continue to meet the high standards you set for yourselves,” Collins told the students. “You can take comfort in the fact that the last four years have prepared you to take on new challenges.
Collins told the students the inspirational stories of other Mainers, such as Vincent and Victor McKusick, Carlton Willey, Brian Butterfield and political leaders Edmund Muskie and Margaret Chase Smith.
Vincent McKusick, who became chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, also participated “in the Manhattan Project where American nuclear technology was developed during World War II,” Collins said. His brother Victor “became the pioneer of human gene mapping, and his work laid the foundation for the remarkable discoveries related to DNA.”
Willey spent eight seasons in the major leagues, five with the Braves and three with the New York Mets. In 1958 he was the rookie of the year in the National League, Collins told the students.
“Just this past week at a White House ceremony for the World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, I met Brian Butterfield who is the third base coach for the team. He’s from Orono and was an outstanding athlete at the University of Maine and now has his dream job, helping his beloved Red Sox be world champions.
“My inspiration and role model in public service is Senator Margaret Chase Smith, born in the town of Skowhegan. Like Ed Muskie, she came from a background that was modest economically, but rich in principles and integrity. She was the first woman elected to both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate and the first woman to have her name entered into nomination for president by a major party.
“During World War II, she saw the tremendous contributions women in uniform made, but only in auxiliary units. After the war, she wrote the law that paved the way for women to serve as full-fledged members of our armed forces. Our Maine traditions of fairness and hard work certainly shaped Senator Smith’s character.
“My lesson to you is that you have worked hard to open the door of opportunity – you should not be afraid to stride through that door with confidence, to take risks, to follow your dream.
“People from Maine have gone on to do just about everything – write best-selling novels, poems, and plays, make scientific breakthroughs, star in movies, become astronauts – even run for president. You should follow your dream, whatever it is.
“I am living proof that if you believe in yourself, work hard, and persevere, you can achieve your goal.
“Congratulations and good luck as you continue your own journey.”