WATERVILLE — Pamala Kimball learned about persistence from her mother.

Kimball carried her deceased mother’s high school graduation tassel when she accepted her bachelor of science degree in business administration, magna cum laude, at Saturday’s commencement at Thomas College.

Kimball, of Augusta, said her mother dropped out of high school in the 1940s to work in a cotton mill.

Then came marriage, eight children, Cub Scouts and cooking.

“But that high school diploma was always in the back of her mind,” Kimball.

When Kimball, the baby of the family, got to high school, her mother also went back to class.

Kimball said her mother proudly earned her high school diploma at age 50.

“Education doesn’t care if you’re 21 or 51,” Kimball said.

“Without her influence, I would not have gone on (to college).”

Kimball said she started college with the best of intentions, but circumstances prompted her to take “many years off.”
Like her mother, however, Kimball returned to school.

On Saturday, she told her peers assembled inside Harold Alfond Athletic Center that transferring to Thomas was the best decision she ever made.

Before accepting her degree, Kimball held up her mother’s high school graduation tassel and said, “She’s coming along for the ride.”

Kimball was one of three students speakers at Saturday’s ceremony, at which 194 undergraduate and graduate degrees were conferred.

She represented students who attended night classes.

Carlee Evans, of South Portland, spoke on behalf of those who had obtained master’s degrees.

Evans, who earned a master’s in business administration, advised her peers to remember that everyone has the opportunity to be successful.

“Life is like a movie; and you write the script, you star in it and you are director,” she said.

Keith G.A. Pike, speaking on behalf of day students, thanked friends, family, faculty members and God; and he joked that he also wanted to thank “Wikipedia, Google and the inventor of copy and paste.”

Pike, who earned a bachelor of science in sport management, said one quality that Thomas students had in common was that they were prepared.

Commencement speaker Gov. Paul LePage said Thomas College graduates prove they’re prepared, in that 94 percent secure a job in their field within 90 days of graduation.

LePage invited the members of the class of 2012 to make Maine their lifelong home and help Maine become as prosperous as Thomas College is.

“You’re on your way to a very successful career,” he said. “My hope is that you stay in Maine and use your business and law enforcement and technology skills to help us propel Maine forward. We need leaders.”

LePage spoke of his early upbringing in a large dysfunctional family and of his life on the streets.

He told the 2,000 attendees that his gift to the class of 2012 was 10 two-letter words that a wise man had shared with him decades ago: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

College President George Spann presented LePage with an honorary doctorate of business administration and said the governor “is living proof that anything is possible.”

LePage, Spann said, is a savvy businessman with passion and commitment who has parlayed his business acumen into an impressive political career.

Spann also presented Waterville native Robert Marden with an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

Spann said Marden, a veteran, ardent golfer, musician and philanthropist, represented the highest level of giving and has made the community a better place.

Saturday’s commencement was the college’s 188th; it was the last for Spann as president. He is retiring in June after leading the institution for 23 years.

Laurie Lachance was chosen to be his successor. She will be the first female president of the college, which was established in 1894.

Beth Staples — 861-9252
[email protected]


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