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May 11, 2008


Two hundred ninety seven students received degrees at the 126th commencement exercises at the University of Maine at Fort Kent this past weekend.

In addition to students from the United States and Canada, there will be graduates from Spain, Vietnam, Lithuania and India. And among the graduates are three mother/child pairings from right here in the St. John Valley.

Paula Charette & Heather Hartman

For Paula Charette of Fort Kent, the opportunity to graduate together with her daughter, Heather Hartman, is the equivalent of a father walking his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.

“I am so proud to see that Heather has developed into the woman that I had hoped she would,” Charette says of her daughter, the 2008 senior class president.

“When she addresses the class, I know I’ll need a full box of tissues for the occasion,” she added. “I am so grateful to UMFK for all that it has done for our family.”

Paula Charette also is deservedly proud of her own accomplishment.

A high school dropout, Charette continues along her long educational comeback when she receives a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing today at UMFK. She previously received a GED (1975), a Licensed Practical Nurse degree (1980) and an Associate of Science (1994) degree.

Next week she will receive her high school diploma through SAD #27 Adult Education program, and embark on the next phase of her education path: pursing a degree as a family nurse practitioner at Husson College.

For Heather Hartman, who will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Science with a minor in English, graduating with her motheris something special, as well.

“My mother is my best friend and it gives me great pleasure to be able to march with her by my side. I am so proud of her and so thankful for all that she has done for me. This day is even more special because we get to share it together. It is something we will be able to reminisce about for years to come.”

Karen Horner & Will Horner

Karen Horner will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing today. Her son, Will Horner, will receive a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in Biology. The Horners reside in St. Agatha.

“I am very proud of my son,” Karen says, adding proudly that her son will attend medical school at the University of New England in Biddeford beginning this summer.

Karen will soon begin her nursing career at St. Joseph’s Nursing Home in Frenchville. This is her second career. Previously she was an attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, before moving to the St. John Valley.

“I have enjoyed the nursing program at UMFK immensely,” she says. Will’s wife, Stacey, also will receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at today’s commencement.

Natalie Cofske & Karen Boucher

“It’s exciting to be graduating with my Mom,” says Karen Boucher of Sinclair, who credits herself with getting her mother, Natalie Cofske, of Fort Kent to return to college.

In addition to being the impetus behind her mother obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Science, Karen has been a true classmate to her mother.

“We attended some classes together, we did homework together, and we proof-read each other’s papers. It was very enjoyable for us to attend school together,” she adds. Karen will receive a Bachelor of University Studies degree with a major in secondary education.

“It was a lot of fun,” says Natalie about going to school and now graduating with her daughter.

After witnessing her daughter go through her first semester at UMFK, Natalie decided to build upon the Associate of Social Science degree that she had received years before at the University of Maine at Augusta’s campus in Thomaston.

“She (Karen) looked so happy that I said to myself, ‘I think I’ll finish school, myself.’”

Natalie is nearly at a loss of words in describing her feelings about graduating with Karen.

“I don’t know how you explain just how you feel about graduating with one of your children,” she says. “I’m just so proud that I want to shout it to the world.”

You just did, Natalie. You just did.