Happy graduates stand just after turning their tassels during Northern Maine Community College's commencement ceremony in Presque Isle on May 14, 2022. Credit: Paula Brewer / The Star-Herald

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Northern Maine Community College graduates were urged to live with gratitude and a sense of adventure during the college’s 57th commencement on Saturday.

A total of 113 graduates received degrees and certificates at the event, which for COVID-19 safety was held outdoors at the Gehrig Johnson Athletic Complex next to Presque Isle Middle School.

College President Timothy Crowley addressed those gathered and later congratulated graduates with celebratory fist bumps after they received their diplomas. Student of the Year Ryan Ashby, a business administration graduate, and Dottie Martin, dean of development and college relations, encouraged the Class of 2022 to reach beyond what they think their boundaries are.

This year’s graduates have done things no students have done before, Crowley said, not the least of which is forging ahead through the pandemic. He advised students to pause at special moments like this to see what they’ve done and how they’ve grown.

“Block out the noise in your life. Take time to enjoy the moment,” Crowley said.

Clockwise, from top left: Northern Maine Community College President Timothy Crowley fist-bumps nursing program graduate Linus Tayong during Saturday’s commencement. For COVID-19 safety reasons the ceremony was held outdoors at the Gehrig Johnson Athletic Complex next to Presque Isle Middle School; One Northern Maine Community College student lets her cap tell everyone what she’ll do after earning her degree; Northern Maine Community College’s Student of the Year, Ryan Ashby of Mapleton, addresses the crowd during commencement exercises on May 14. Ashby earned his degree in business administration; Graduates process onto the field to the music of bagpipes during Saturday’s Northern Maine Community College commencement in Presque Isle. Credit: Paula Brewer / The Star-Herald

Ashby congratulated fellow graduates and thanked NMCC faculty and staff for continually going above and beyond to help him achieve his degree, for which he utilized online learning as he recovered from injuries following a car crash.

“Life threw some unexpected curveballs,” he said. “Our best opportunities come when they’re least expected. Our life story will continually be rewritten.”

Ashby told his classmates to reach outside their comfort zones, to explore beyond Aroostook County, spread joy and do what makes them happy.

“Scars are reminders of your past, but don’t let them define you,” Ashby said.  

The basic values she learned in childhood are what have brought her through life, Martin said. Among these are to have faith in God, tell the truth, work hard and do nothing against anyone in word or deed.

“Sometimes life’s potholes can be big,” she said with a humorous nod to the usual spring road conditions. “Remember your basic values.”

Risk-taking, though it doesn’t always work out, is what makes great adventures, Martin said, relating she was once considering heading overseas to teach within the Department of Defense. But then she got a call from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, and began what she called her greatest adventure by moving to Maine.

She asked graduates to consider four elements as they go through life: first, who their mentors have been and, within a week, thank one of them; second, encourage those around them; third, mentor someone themselves; and fourth, make their part of the world a better place.

From left: Dr. Dottie Martin, dean of development and college relations at Northern Maine Community College, delivers the keynote address at the May 14th commencement. Jessica Lahey, a 2014 NMCC graduate, offers sign language interpretation; Ian Howland of Baileyville helps Marisa Paul of Belmont with her tassel during Saturday’s Northern Maine Community College commencement in Presque Isle. Howland and Paul graduated from the auto collision repair program, with Paul also earning a certificate in major collision repair and refinishing; Amanda Lamoreau of Easton (left), Kelly Brown of Houlton (center) and Rebecca Book of Caribou gather just before Northern Maine Community College’s commencement on Saturday. The three, who graduated from the early childhood education program, wear the gold stoles of the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society; The four seniors in Northern Maine Community College’s plumbing and heating program gather just before commencement on Saturday. From left are Nicholas Stanhope of Fort Kent, Matthew Poitras of Van Buren, Deborah Bushey of Mapleton and Benjamin Abramson of Presque Isle. Credit: Paula Brewer / The Star-Herald

“Be kind to others, because you could make a positive difference in someone’s life,” she said.

Crowley led the class as they turned their tassels. Dean of Students Matthew Grillo introduced graduates as NMCC faculty presented diplomas.

Bagpipers Johnny Carpenter and Scott Heney led students in both the processional and recessional. Pianist Corinne Lovejoy provided instrumental music and sang the national anthem and a medley of “You Lift Me Up” and “Forever Young.” Rev. Bud Fancy led the invocation and benediction.