AUGUSTA — Andrew Breault had no plans to further his education after graduating from Waterville High School in 1980.

“I was bored with school,” Breault said last week, sitting in University of Maine at Augusta library. “I didn’t want to go to college. I just wanted to travel around the world, and the military was all adventure and gung-ho.”

After four years in the Marines, he changed his mind and enrolled at UMA, graduating in 1991 with an associate degree in criminal justice. But he missed the military and its comradeship, so he joined the Army the year after graduating.

For the next several years, until 2009, Breault served in the Army.

While in the Army, Breault, the first on his father’s side of the family to attend college, learned the importance of education. So four years ago, he returned to UMA.

On Saturday, Breault, 53, will deliver the student commencement address to his fellow graduates, their relatives and friends at the Augusta Civic Center Ceremony. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker.

Breault is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in public administration and plans to attend the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service for a certificate of graduate study and possibly a master’s degree in public policy. He hopes to find a job in the nonprofit field, where he has experience from years volunteering at the Augusta Food Bank.

He learned in the military that people with college degrees would get the better, more challenging jobs and end up with better jobs after leaving the military. Leaders in both the Marines and Army stressed to him the importance of a college education.

“My time in the military taught me the importance of a good education if you want to get ahead, whether you’re in the military or the civilian world,” Breault said.

Although Breault, who lives in South China, came from a family that had a history of military service, it was short on formal education.

Breault’s father grew up in Waterville and spoke only French until he went to school at age 5. He barely graduated from high school and never went to college. Breault is one of five children.

The first on his father’s side of the family to go to college, Breault said some people in his family probably wanted to go to school, but they probably didn’t have the money for it.

“I don’t take that lightly. I really don’t,” Breault said. “I feel the responsibility of my ancestry.”

Breault’s wife, Peggy, also attends UMA. They have five children.

He’s explored his ancestry while at UMA and minored in French. He completed an independent study on Acadian culture that culminated in a trip to the World Acadian Congress in Madawaska last August with the UMA French Club.

While in Madawaska, Breault and his family attended the Breault family reunion and met relatives from around the world.

Chelsea Ray, an associate professor of French and comparative literature at UMA, said Breault has “had an amazing journey at UMA.”

“I’m so proud of the work he’s done,” she said. “He has such a creative spirit, and he’s so dedicated. I’m always just amazed how passionate he is about serving and how much he wants to give back.”

Breault said he also feels fortunate this his education at UMA was funded by the new G.I. Bill, the federal law that covers the expenses of four-year undergraduate degrees for veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001.

“I realize there are millions of Americans that would love to have that and don’t,” he said. “I said, ‘I’m not going to waste that.’ I’m going to get the most out of it and do well.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @pdkoenig

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