Showing posts with label Windham/Raymond Adult Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Windham/Raymond Adult Education. Show all posts

Friday, March 8, 2024

Inspiring student travels path from dropout to nursing school

By Ed Pierce

When Rachel Doughty of Windham attends her first nursing class at Southern Maine Community College this fall, it will be the culmination of a journey of perseverance and determination.

Rachel Doughty speaks during the Maine Adult
Education Association Legislative Breakfast
in Augusts on Feb. 29. COURTESY PHOTO
Doughty, 22, shared her story at the annual Maine Adult Education Association Legislative Breakfast in Augusta on Feb. 29 and when she finished, there were few dry eyes in the room. She dropped out of high school, operates a small cleaning business called Dream Clean Maine, and is the mother of a young son, but decided that she wanted to become a nurse and would do whatever it takes to achieve her dream.

Not being comfortable as a high school dropout, Doughty pushed herself and adjusted her schedule to be able to earn her HiSET high school equivalency diploma with her family’s encouragement.

“I dropped out of Windham High School halfway through my junior year in 2018. At the time, I was in a sticky, tough spot in life. I was battling myself at such a young age and I made poor decisions and held onto bad relationships with the wrong crowd,” Doughty said. “Once I did drop out, I knew I made a mistake and would later regret it. I loved school, I loved my friends and teachers, and I actually missed school and even doing homework before I started going downhill with it. I was in a few honors classes, with English/Writing being one of my favorites. Once I dropped out, I regretted it all when I acknowledged how good I was doing before things got tough in my personal life.”


She was devastated when she noticed her classmates posting graduation pictures on social media only a year later in 2019.

“I was completely distraught and devastated. I cried for days and avoided opening Facebook or Instagram to see everyone’s photos,” Doughty said. “I wanted to be on that stage in my cap and gown with them all so bad. After the years went by and I had my son, Levi, I decided I needed to get my diploma to let go of that regret and push hard to make something better out of my regrets. I told myself that I needed to get my diploma and let it lead me to bigger and better opportunities in life.”

Enrolling with Windham/Raymond Adult Education, Doughty started by taking pretests in math, science, social studies, language and writing to determine what she already knew or remembered from high-school and to help give her teachers an idea as to how ready she was for the actual HiSET exams. She successfully passed all of her pretest exams and was then able to begin real testing for the HiSET.

"I passed every single real HiSET exam on my first try, except for math,” Doughty said. “I had to go back and do some tutoring in math with Jessica Conley before trying the math test again. On my second attempt at my math exam after all the tutoring, I passed.”

According to Doughty, every single one of her family members has supported her new-found interests with nursing and finishing school.

“On top of my own determination to get my HiSET, I had my mom and dad encouraging me the most,” she said. “My siblings and my friends were there to cheer me on. My dad, Dale Doughty, has been a firefighter for Windham nearly my entire life and he has his EMT credentials. I think his passion for helping others made him excited for me and my interest in the medical field. My mom has always been very supportive of me, and she always tells me that she believes I have a purpose that would surprise us both. I think I’ve pretty much nailed that by pursuing nursing.”

She says the decision to study nursing was easy because she already possesses a passion for helping others.

“I’ve always loved science and health, and when I begin to think about how incredible the human body is and how it functions, I am completely fascinated. The idea of being someone who plays a role, big or small, with helping someone to heal feels incredible,” Doughty said. “Becoming a nurse was never anything I imagined I could do without the help of Adult Education and the wonderful programs it has to offer. The free college program has proved to me that my life still has full potential, and I am capable of redeeming myself and creating a better future for my son and I.”


Her friends agree that Doughty has done the best that she can, and they are proud that she’s continuing to keep moving forward and upward in life, she said.

“Most of my friends also attended Windham High School and remember the time I dropped out. I know for a fact that they would all agree how I’ve come such a long way since dropping out. Back then, I never would’ve believed any of these great opportunities could happen to me. I never would’ve believed just how much I could grow and thrive out of the holes I had fallen into,” Doughty said. “I certainly never would have thought I would ever be in a position to pursue nursing and actually feel good about it. I hope I’ve surprised my friends as much as I have surprised myself with my accomplishments. I hope it inspires others who feel like they’re stuck or that they ‘can’t do that thing they’ve always wanted or dreamed of’ when I have truly discovered that you really can do anything you set your heart and mind to. I want to continue to prove to myself that I can be something incredible and I can do incredible things, all because I haven’t given up, and that’s all it takes. Just never give up and you will get exactly where you want to be.”

Her most endearing memory from her Windham/Raymond Adult Education journey is the satisfaction of receiving her diploma.

“That feeling I had when I passed all of my HiSET exams was exhilarating. It felt like a weight being lifted off my shoulders, coming from all of the regrets I had after dropping out and finally making it so many years later,” she said. “I will also never forget when Tom Nash invited me to publicly speak at the Legislative Breakfast event, and writing my own speech about my journey because he and Jessica Trimmer said I was an ‘outstanding, star student.’ I loved attending that event, it was at the Senator Inn in Augusta, the event started as early as 7 a.m. so Windham/Raymond Adult Education offered to pay for my own room within the Senator Inn so I wouldn’t have to drive the long commute so early in the morning. I will never forget any of the gratitude the people and program showered me with and the honor that I felt.” <

Friday, March 18, 2022

Raymond resident overcomes obstacles in becoming a United States citizen

Merary 'Mae' Plummer of Raymond
became a citizen of the United States
earlier this month in a Naturalization
Ceremony in South Portland. She
is grateful to the staff at the 
Windham/Raymond Adult Education
for helping her prepare for her
citizenship exam and to improve
her language and communication
By Lorraine Glowczak

Merary “Mae” Paredes Plummer, originally from Honduras and now living in Raymond, officially became a United States citizen on Thursday, March 1 in a quiet, low-key Naturalization Ceremony – an event that is normally attended by supportive family and friends. However, because of the pandemic, the ceremony that took place in South Portland was limited in attendance to the new citizens and officials.

That didn’t stop Mae, her husband Daniel of 17 years, and their 16-year-old son Joshua from celebrating her journey in becoming a citizen with hugs and kisses. Her story from Honduras to Maine is filled with love and support while overcoming language barriers.

In 2004 at the age of 24 while still living in her Central American country, Mae decided to take the week off from work to join her cousin who was attending one of the many colorful and well-known festivals in Copan - an ancient Mayan city located along the Guatemalan border. Little did she know by attending that big event - it would change her life in a big way.

“I met Dan at the festival, and it was love at first sight,” Mae said. “The only thing is, we could not speak each other’s languages. We had to communicate through my cousin who lived in the U.S. for many years and knew how to speak English and Spanish.”

They moved fast romantically, despite the fact that her future husband’s vacation was nearing an end and had to return to Raymond and his life in Maine.

“Before I knew it, I was in a long-distance relationship with a man who lived over 2300 miles away from me,” Mae said.

While keeping in touch through letters and phone calls, Daniel and Mae worked fast to file the required paperwork so she could get her visa and move to Raymond. In the winter of 2004, Mae arrived in Maine where she could be with the man she loved and start a family. She does admit that first winter was quite a shock.

“I moved here with sandals, skirts and shorts in the middle of a Maine winter,” she said. “When I saw that people actually went outside in the winter, I could not believe it. I wondered how people could go out in the cold weather and enjoy it at the same time.” 

Mae explained she never wore pants before her life in Maine, as it was against her religion. It was a good friend who took Mae under her wing – taking her shopping and showing her how to dress during the winter months.

“Now when I visit my family in Honduras, I melt,” she said. “My parents make sure I have two fans and an air conditioner in my bedroom.”

What may be shocking for some is the young couple didn’t speak each other’s languages when Mae first arrived.

“We communicated through an interpreter,” Mae laughed as she recalled the early years.

Fast forward to today. It was during the pandemic that Mae’s visa expired. Due to the temporary closure of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field offices, Mae wasn’t able to renew her visa. It was through that experience that Mae decided to become a U.S citizen so she would not have to keep renewing her visa to travel back home.

To prepare for the U.S. citizenship exam and to improve her English communication skills, Mae, who works at Chipotle, applied to take courses at Windham/Raymond Adult Education. Through hard work, Mae passed the Adult Ed courses – and the citizenship test - with flying colors.

“We are extremely proud of all our students because we are well aware of the sacrifices they have to make and the challenges they have to overcome to fulfill their dreams of education and/or obtaining citizenship,” Adult Basic Education Coordinator, Catherine Renaud said. “In particular, Mae experienced a delay of two years from the time she submitted her application for the test until the time of scheduling of said test because of the pandemic. Like many of our students, Mae needs the in-person education experience. Once she received the notification of the test date, she had to advocate for herself at her place of employment to carve out time to devote to studying. She also picked up an extra class to work on improving her English communication skills.”

Renaud said that there has been an increase in ELL's (English Language Learners) as a result of the pandemic because Adult Education instructors have mastered virtual education.

“But for students like Mae, we are fortunate to have our own location separate from the crowds of the high school, so we can offer intimate, in-person instruction, sometimes hybrid with students "zooming" in from home. Again, we are so fortunate with the skills of our instructors to help us offer flexible schedules and modes of instruction.”

Mae is very happy to become a U.S. Citizen and to call herself a Mainer.

“I have always loved Maine – it’s beauty and the friendly people,” Mae said. “Plus, it is safer here than Honduras. And the economy is better – it is not good in my country. The government doesn’t help – if the government helped the people, they would be less apt to migrate here.”

Mae misses some things about Honduras.

“I miss the birds. We have all kinds of birds of many beautiful colors,” Mae said. “I miss my family and my church family. I miss the big community experience – of people, chickens, vendors with their loud speakers in the street – it is beautiful chaos.”

She also said that she’s very grateful to Windham/Raymond Adult Ed and would encourage other English Language Learners and/or those who want to become a citizen to take their courses.

“They did a great job and helped me obtain my dream,” Mae said.

If there are others who are hoping to gain their U.S. citizenship, please contact the Windham and Raymond Adult Education by perusing classes in their virtual catalog and register online: or call their office at 207-892-1819, ext. 2191 to ask for Catherine Renaud. One can follow Windham/Raymond Adult Ed on Facebook and Instagram.<

Friday, June 23, 2017

Graduates of the Windham/Raymond Adult Ed Program to “write their own story” by Lorraine Glowczak

The auditorium at Windham High School was the setting of another pomp and circumstance on Thursday evening, June 15. Slightly different than the more traditional graduation, eleven of the eighteen students who participated in the Windham/Raymond Adult Education Program marched across the stage to receive their diplomas and thus move on to new and hopeful beginnings.
Most of the graduates believed they would never see this day or participate in their graduation ceremony. Many had to overcome significant obstacles, reaching deep for courage to take this non-traditional route to attain their educational goals. 

Windham/Raymond Adult Education provides the opportunity for students whose lives, for whatever reasons and challenges, make the traditional path to graduation unattainable. Through the Adult Ed Program, students have an opportunity to earn their high school diploma or equivalence certificate (referred to as HiSET) through classes offered at various times including evening courses.

The graduation ceremony began with Tom Nash, Director of Windham/Raymond Adult Ed, who welcomed and congratulated family and friends in the audience for their support and encouragement; noting that it made the difficult road to success less challenging for the students. most traditional graduation ceremonies, this one also came with inductions into the honor society and special awards. Graduates Charlana Hamilton, Kaitlyn McAllister, Ashley Patterson and Victoria Wormwood were inducted into the National Adult Education Honor Society, by Cathy Renaud, Adult Education Coordinator. Also inducted were Negin Ahadzadeh, Mako Bile, Kaylyn Lorrain, Osman Ahmed, Patience Deah and Marjorie Lougee.  A Courage to Grow Scholarship was awarded to Christopher Terron McCourt from Central Maine Community College as well.

Two graduates, Kaitlyn McAllister and Christopher Terron McCourt were the student speakers for the evening. Each spoke briefly about their personal journeys on the path to graduation. “It took me a very long thirteen years to get here and I’m so grateful for today,” McAllister shared in her speech.

Rachael O’Donnell, licensed clinical social worker and licensed alcohol-drug counselor from Gorham, was the guest speaker. O’Donnell began with sharing her own life story, which included the same path the 2017 graduates have taken, obtaining her equivalence certificate before going on to college to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Her inspiring talk included many words of encouragement. “Continue to write your own story and choose your destiny, despite the hardships you may face,” she stated.

Superintendent of Schools, Sanford Prince, provided the closing remarks. He honored the students for their tenacity and focus, both of which it took to complete their programs. Prince also reminded the audience that living life a little differently is an acceptable way to obtain personal goals. He ended his remarks and the ceremony with, “We all learn differently, we all travel at different paces . . . and that’s okay.” 

Best of luck to the 2017 Adult Ed Graduates as they begin their new lives and continue to “write their own story.”

The graduates are as follows:
Hudson Adams
Jessica Alexander
Alexander Armstrong
Hayley Cushing
Neal Gomes
Charlana Hamilton
Kaitlyn McAllister
Christopher Terron McCourt
Larissa Needham
Stephen Olsen
Ariezshania Ortega
Ashley L. Patterson
Jessica Remington
Jacob Smith
Aaron Spiller
Ryan Stuart
Francis G. Wall
Victoria Wormwood