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Gauvin to speak at UMFK commencement and receive honorary degree

April 24, 2006



Mademoiselle Marie-Anne Gauvin will address the 124th graduating class of the University of Maine at Fort Kent during commencement exercises on Saturday, May 13 at 1:00 p.m. in the University SportsCenter.

Gauvin, a relentless advocate for the preservation and use of the French language in the St. John Valley, will also be presented with an honorary degree during the ceremony.

"I observed that one rarely encounters such a strong thread consistently throughout a person?s lifetime," said President Cost. "In retirement she has participated in and founded organizations to preserve that valuable heritage. This heritage has been a true passion and life work for Mademoiselle Gauvin, and the lives of all of us in the Valley are richer because of her efforts."

Cost, who will confer the degree, recommended Gauvin to receive the honor before the University of Maine System Board of Trustees in January.

In summarizing his recommendation to the Chancellor of Higher Education and the System Board, President Cost stated; "Given the importance of our Franco Heritage as one of the mainstays of our mission, and the contributions Marie-Anne Gauvin continues to make to our community and that heritage, we are pleased to propose Marie-Anne Gauvin for an honorary degree."

Gauvin will address the 251 students that comprise UMFK's graduating class, their family members and friends, university faculty and staff, and invited guests attending the 2006 commencement exercises.

Mademoiselle Gauvin was born in New Canada and her family moved to Madawaska so she could attend school there. Marie-Anne read French fluently when she entered kindergarten and from then on she received honors in elementary school, and high school.

She attended Aroostook State Normal School in Presque Isle and received a three-year diploma in 1951.

In 1956, Gauvin earned her bachelor of science in education from Gorham State Teachers College.

She received her master of science degree from Central Connecticut State College in New Britain in 1965.

As part of her graduate work, Gauvin's master's thesis entitled "Linguistic and Cultural Heritage of the Acadians in Maine and New Brunswick," was truly a source of enlightenment and pride for many residents of the St. John Valley.

Gauvin taught school in the County and in Connecticut for a total of thirty-six years, lecturing throughout New England on the heritage of the Acadians in the St. John Valley.

In 1988, Gauvin returned to Madawaska, where she continued to speak proud about her favorite subject, Acadians.

She became involved in the Save Our French movement in the 1990?s.

Gauvin is a founding and active member of Le Club Français, she held positions such as a board of director, chair of the finance committee and editor of the club's monthly newsletter known as LE fanal. She has also served as a board of director for the Maine Acadian Heritage Council.

Gauvin is a gracious and intelligent woman, who is widely admired and respected though northern Maine and New Brunswick.

Gauvin has received many awards and featured in the Women, Work and Community Center for Aroostook County 2000 calendar, for preserving Acadian culture.

In 2004, she was inducted into the Maine's Franco-American Hall of Fame. In the same year, she received the Maine Acadian Heritage Council's Acadian Achievement Award for her outstanding contributions to the Acadian culture.

Gauvin is known as a gifted, talented and giving woman of Aroostook.

She is truly La Grande Dame of the St. John Valley and of our wonderful French community.