December 12, 2003
The reality of a post-war U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan are hitting home on the small, close-knit University of Maine at Fort Kent campus, where three additional Aroostook County students have learned they will spend the coming months on active duty serving their country and not enrolled in the courses for which they had already registered.
Over the past couple of weeks, Brad Ouellette of St. Agatha, a senior in the public safety administration program, Michael Cyr of St. Agatha, a freshman in the public safety administration program, and Nicolas Quint of Hodgdon, a freshman in the environmental studies program, have each learned they are being deployed overseas in early January to assist with ongoing operations in either Afghanistan or the Middle East.
With the addition of these three latest deployed Army reservists, UMFK will have a total of six currently enrolled students engaged in active military duty as a result of global U.S. military commitments.
The three latest soldiers to receive notice learned the news within days after the spring semester course registration period on the Fort Kent campus, a time during which students select their classes for the upcoming semester.
"We have been working closely with the students and their professors to help them in any way possible. They have been off-campus for two weeks preparing for their impending deployment and are expected to return shortly before this semester ends. We will do everything possible to help them finish this semester and certainly take all the necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition back into the classroom when they return," said Donald Raymond, UMFK's registrar.
Beyond taking care of necessary details before the students depart, the family-like UMFK community is also dealing with saying farewell to three of its own.
For Allen Shoaff, assistant professor of rural public safety, the latest deployment orders have significant impact on the program comprised of 25 students. The absence of two of those students will be felt by both their fellow classmates and the faculty member.
"This is especially difficult for us. Brad and Michael are both involved students and their presence both in and out of the classroom will be missed on campus. The students and I are feeling the impact of this news and are anxious for both to return home and to the classroom," said Shoaff.
Similar comments are being echoed all over the campus, which prides itself on small class sizes and a unique personalized education experience.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with these students. We wish them fair winds and following seas and a safe return home. The UMFK campus looks forward to their return to our academic community," said President Richard Cost.
Cost himself is a retired captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He served five tours in command of reserve units and taught a command excellence seminar for five years.
The UMFK campus has a long tradition of students involved in military service. The university's location directly adjacent to the Fort Kent armory is an attractive draw to students serving in the National Guard.
Currently, the campus enrolls eleven students who are members of the National Guard, seven students who have been discharged from the military, and eight students who are dependents of disabled veterans.