Miranda Prime, who is in MaineGeneral Health’s Earn to Learn program, smiles for a portrait Thursday in Gardiner. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Miranda Prime believes life has a way of scaring people into not doing things.

But fear, she said, can be your worst enemy.

“You have to keep pushing for more,” she said.

Prime, 28, of Waterville, has certainly done that, pursuing a career with passion — but long after starting a family.

Through a series of circumstances, she didn’t finish high school, instead becoming a wife and mother to three children and staying home for nine years to care for them.

Last summer, she began to reflect on her life and how she wanted to be a role model for her three daughters, ages 9, 5 and 3, about setting goals and working toward them.


She remembered being a Waterville Senior High School student 12 years ago and, for various reasons, transferring to the alternative school. She was a junior and things were difficult, as her father had been diagnosed with bladder cancer and she was helping to care for him while trying to stay in school. She ultimately missed too many school days and wasn’t allowed to stay enrolled.

She felt overwhelmed and disappointed, but the alternative school director at the time, Pamela Mattos, was encouraging.

“I remember her saying to me, ‘Family will always come first, and you will be able to finish.’ That stuck with me for a very, very long time. She was one of my biggest motivators.”

Fast forward to last September, when Prime walked into the Mid-Maine Regional Adult Community Education office in Waterville and enrolled in classes, determined to complete her education. Three weeks later, however, her father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

“That was hard,” she said. “I’ve kind of had to take care of my parents a long time and I’ve always kept track of all their medical stuff. I had to be mom, wife, daughter, caregiver, but I needed to keep going because I told my kids that no matter what life throws at you, you can do those hard things.”

On Jan. 17 this year, Prime’s father was rushed to the emergency room with sepsis, a life-threatening infection. The next day, Prime was scheduled to take her final test to get her HiSet, or high school equivalency diploma.


“It was very hard because it was a traumatic experience,” she recalled. “He was OK, and they got him to MaineGeneral. The next day, I took the test and I passed it. That was beautiful.”

She told adult education Director Hannah Bard then that she wanted to work in the health care field. Bard helped her get into MaineGeneral Health’s Earn to Learn program where she is at Thayer Center for Health, being paid in a hands-on setting, to be a medical assistant.

“Oh, I love it,” she said. “I get to help people, every, single day.”

In less than two weeks, Prime will receive her medical assistant certification.

She also attends Kennebec Valley Community College, from which she expects to receive a health science certificate next year and graduate from the respiratory therapy program in 2026 with the goal of being a respiratory therapist.

Sadly, on Feb. 28, Prime’s father died, leaving her bereft but also determined more than ever to continue a career in health care.


“My father was my biggest inspiration,” she said.

Bard, the adult education director, said she knew when Prime started classes last fall that she would speak at this coming Thursday’s adult education graduation, as she was so tenacious and determined.

“I could see it in her eyes, and nothing was going to stop her,” Bard recalled. “Miranda embodies the very essence of an adult education ambassador. Words cannot truly encompass how proud we are of her. And how proud we are that she is a MMRACE graduate. She is someone all of us can look up to. ”

As Prime walks to the stage in cap and gown Thursday night, her mother, husband and children will be there to cheer her on.

She is honored to have been chosen to speak, she said, and knows just what she will say.

“I want kids, people, students, adults, to know it’s never too late to go after your aspirations,” she said. “If you want something, go get it because the only person stopping you is yourself. The barriers are just life’s way of testing us and they are very hard to navigate sometimes, but no matter what, where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Prime tosses accolades right back at Bard, who she says is an inspiration herself.

“If it wasn’t for Hannah, I wouldn’t be where I am right now,” she said.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 35 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She is the author of the book, “Comfort is an Old Barn,” a collection of her curated columns, published in 2023 by Islandport Press. She may be reached at acalder@centralmaine.com. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com

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