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UMFK Alumni Association to present honors at the Alumni and Friends Banquet

August 18, 2006


The University of Maine at Fort Kent Alumni Association will honor three individuals at its annual alumni and friends banquet to be held on Saturday, September 16 in the University?s Nowland Hall.

Claudette (Soucy) O?Connell (?67) will be presented with the 2006 Outstanding Alumni award; Raymond Phinney (?01) will be presented with the Outstanding Young award and Jason Gayne (?06) will be presented with the Outstanding Future award.

The Outstanding Alumni recipient, Claudette (Soucy) O?Connell, received a Bachelor of Science degree in education from UMFK, then known as Fort Kent State College, in 1967. That same year she was named the Fort Kent Business and Professional Women?s Young Career Woman.

O?Connell began her career as a French teacher in Houlton, Maine. She married and moved to Germany in 1968 where she was a substitute teacher at Kaiserslautern American High School. She was a stay-at-home mom until 1977 when she re-entered education as a long-term substitute teacher at Brewer High School teaching U.S. History and special education English and math. O?Connell has been a full-time French teacher at Brewer High School since 1979. While teaching, Claudette earned a Master of Arts degree in teaching French from the University of Maine in 1987.

Outside the classroom, O'Connell has served in many capacities including Modern Language Department Chair; French Club advisor; Recertification Team; and Accreditation Steering Committee. She was host of the Penobscot Collaborative of foreign language teachers for many years. She has provided enrichment opportunities as a group leader for EF Educational Tours for 25 years leading student groups on international trips to 12 foreign countries. She has been the treasurer of the Foreign Language Association of Maine and she has been active in the Brewer Education Association as president, vice-president, secretary and negotiator.

Claudette has been on the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) visiting accreditation team for high schools in Lewiston, Skowhegan, Wiscassett and Ellsworth. She was the Maine Education Association (MEA) special services committee chair and a MEA delegate to the National Education Association representative assemblies for many years. She has been an advocate for the advancement of the teaching profession and currently is serving on the MEA Board of Directors.

In 2004 she was honored with Brewer High School?s Distinguished Teacher Award.

She is on the advisory council of the University of Maine Master of Arts in Teaching French program, a trustee for MEA's Clyde Russell Scholarship Committee, and a cantor at St. John?s Catholic Church in Bangor where she has sung in the choir for more than 20 years and has most recently been parliamentarian for the church's Women?s Council.

O?Connell recently was awarded the 2006 Sister Solange Bernier Lifetime Achievement Award at the Foreign Language Association of Maine (FLAME) conference in Portland. The award recognizes the career-long accomplishments of those who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and leadership in the teaching profession. She has a passion for the French language and culture and she is respected as a knowledgeable teacher who brings a personal touch to her classroom. She maintains high academic standards and her students have been recognized for their success on the National French Exams and on the Advanced Placement exams.

O?Connell has been married 38 years to John, a graduate of Husson College. They have two sons, JJ, a graduate of the University of Southern Maine, and Brian, a graduate of Wentworth Institute of Technology. She is the daughter of Germaine Soucy and the late Roy Soucy of Fort Kent.

The Oustanding Young Alumni recipient is Raymond Phinney, current associate director of student activities and diversity at UMFK.

Phinney graduated from the University of Maine at Fort Kent with a Bachelor of Science in biology. As a student, Phinney was very active in the UMFK Student Senate as class representative, secretary and president.

While working on his degree, Phinney was hired by UMFK for the position of resident assistant supervisor. In 2001 he became head resident of Powell Hall. Phinney held the position as assistant director of residential life and diversity programming where he managed three residential halls to enhance the social, cultural, and educational development of students living in the dorm until 2005.

The UMFK Alumni Association honored Phinney with its Future Outstanding Alumni Award in 2000 and its Alumni Outstanding Senior Award in 2001. That same year he received also the Student Senate Outstanding Senior Award.

Currently, Phinney is working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Ray is active as a board member for the Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, as a board member on the UMFK Alumni Association, and as a member of Kappa Delta Phi. Phinney and his wife, Bethany, reside in Fort Kent and are expecting their first child in November. The Future Alumni award recipient is Jason Gayne, a 2006 graduate from UMFK. He graduated with an associate of arts degree in criminal justice. Gayne has actively been involved on campus and is someone who has made a positive impact on his fellow students attending UMFK. While a student at UMFK, Gayne worked for MBNA America as a customer service representative. During the summer he was employed by Morgan Lumber in Bingham Maine as an assistant green chain supervisor. He currently serves as intramural sports coordinator at UMFK. In 2004, Gayne attended the Presidential Classroom/National Security Conference held in Washington DC. Jason held officer positions on various campus organizations including the diversity club, dorm council, student senate and Kappa Delta Phi/Rho. Jason completed his certification in CPR for wilderness first aid and American Red Cross first aid while attending UMFK. He also completed an Inland Search and Rescue program and a diversity training program, both events which are hosted by the campus. Currently, Gayne is working on a Bachelor of Science degree in of public safety administration at UMFK.