On June 18th, twelve students from four Maine islands, and their families, gathered at Thomas College in Waterville to celebrate the high school graduation and send-off of the MAP class of 2019 and welcome the newest MAP cohort. The event also kicked off the annual MAP Leadership Intensive.
MAP—Mentoring, Access, and Persistence—is an Island Institute education program that supports a cohort of students throughout the college application and transition process. The program tenets include leadership training, webinars, individualized support, peer mentoring, and post-secondary scholarship support.
The MAP Send-off and Induction event provided an opportunity for students and families of rising high school seniors to learn from those who have just completed the college access process. The eight graduates of MAP19 will launch out this fall to colleges and universities throughout Maine and New England. Island Institute staff facilitated conversations between families around the process of “letting go,” and parents learned about the ins and outs of FAFSA and college tuition bills from Mila Tappan of FAME (Finance Authority of Maine). Meanwhile, MAP19 graduates passed along their fresh college application advice to the rising cohort.
Students were all ears during a “celebrity interview” with Maine Island Scholar Charlotte Strong-Ames, a Matinicus native and Vinalhaven resident completing her nursing degree at Husson University. Charlotte has been an active peer mentor with the MAP program. She chose to be a mentor because having the chance to support another island student through the tough transition to college has allowed her, in her words, to “start giving back to the Maine island communities now” rather than waiting until she finishes her degree and finds her way to her “dream job” of working as a nurse on the Sunbeam.
The Induction and Send-Off event ended with the handing of certificates and gifting of college T-shirts to the MAP19 students, who departed at the end of the presentations. The seven MAP20 students, on the other hand, stayed on campus for the 2019 MAP Leadership Intensive.
This year’s Leadership Intensive event involved visits to college campuses, leadership skills trainings, and college application workshops. From exploring the high-tech medical simulation labs at Kennebec Valley Community College and touring Colby College’s state-of-the-art campus in its foliar prime to sleeping in the dorms at Thomas College, the students were exposed to concrete examples of worlds that might await them after high school. On the second day of the Leadership Intensive, staff from Destination Occupation worked with students to connect possible career pathways to their college search. Students practiced public speaking skills by researching and presenting on Maine companies that are increasingly desperate to recruit the next generation into the workforce.
A major goal of the three-day leadership intensive is to build community among the cohort. By the third morning, after hours spent exploring individual goals and leadership styles, sharing a table at meals, and enjoying Waterville’s best ice-cream, it was clear that these seven students from Islesboro, North Haven, and Vinalhaven had established solidarity as the MAP20 cohort.
At the start of the leadership intensive, students had expressed a unified goal of wanting to learn more about the college application process. They headed back to their respective ferries on Thursday with their “brag sheets” completed and their Common Application forms and essays started. As one parent put it, his daughter “enjoyed the program and seemed to come home more relaxed about the application process and even a little more excited about the whole college thing in general, which was nice to see.”
We are so excited to witness these students grow over the next year and to support their transitions to their post-secondary aspirations however we can.