WATERVILLE — The Mid-Maine Regional Adult Community Education program changed the course of Amanda Landry’s life.

After becoming pregnant in 2014 during her senior year at Messalonskee High School, the Smithfield native dropped out of school. In the wake of that decision, Landry said she felt stuck. Though she had enrolled in the Waterville-based adult education program while still pregnant, Landry said that when her daughter was born, she “put school on a back burner for a while.”

Amanda Landry delivers a speech Tuesday during an adult education commencement ceremony at Waterville Senior High School. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

“I didn’t have any goals,” she said. “I was working at Ruby Tuesday and I realized I had no education to go anywhere further in life. I didn’t have anything to start a career off with.”

Tuesday night she received her high school diploma after years of taking online courses in reading, writing, mathematics, social studies and science through the community education program. She marched proudly across the stage at Waterville Senior High School’s Trask Auditorium and delivered a speech to her 29 graduating peers.

“It’s relieving,” Landry said of the accomplishment. “I worked so hard for it, and to know that a huge obstacle in my life is over with, that I can finally breathe. Now I can think of my dreams. They’re actually becoming a reality, not something I dreamed of or thought about as ‘what ifs.’ Now they are happening. It feels really good to show my daughter that no matter what happens in life, you can pursue your dreams and be who you want to be.”

By the end of the calendar year, Landry said, she hopes to be enrolled at the University of Maine at Augusta, where she plans to get a Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene.

“I’ve always had a love for teeth, which is weird,” she said. “But a nice smile always brings something to the table. One thing people always noticed about me was that I’m constantly smiling and I had a nice set of teeth. I asked a lot of people, ‘Does it really make a difference when you smile when you’re being approached?’ And they said yes. I wanted to make that into something I could do for someone else.”

Landry said that being able to take courses online through Mid-Maine Regional Adult Community Education was essential to her earning her high school credentials. It was hard for her to attend school while also adjusting to a new lifestyle with her daughter, Adilynn, and her fiancé in Norridgewock.

Friends and family members of graduates capture the moment as the adult education commencement ceremony begins Tuesday at Waterville Senior High School. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

“Another reason I stopped going to high school, as well, was I didn’t do well in large classes — being around a lot of people and not feeling like I was getting attention from teachers,” she said. “Online, it was all on my own time. It worked well with my situation — having a 4-year-old and working a full-time job. … It’s a wonderful program. The people at adult ed are all wonderful. They’re supportive, caring, take time to learn who you are as a person and make you feel like you matter. They made me feel like I am someone in life and that I can pursue my dreams.”

Landry said that getting a new job as a general building specialist at Colby College’s new Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons — a job that requires a high school degree — last May also pushed her to stay in school. Next year, the school will help her family cover the expenses of higher education, through benefits associated with her father working at Colby for over 15 years.

“My dad busted his butt at Colby to make sure we had our college paid for,” Landry said. “Colby really stuck by my side and pushed me to my limits to help me get my diploma.”

Mid-Maine Regional Adult Community Education offers courses in five programs: business and skills training, college transitions, high school diplomas and preparation for the High School Equivalency Test, literacy and personal enrichment. It has existed for over 45 years and is funded through state subsidies, grants and tuition from enrichment classes, according to its website.


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