The University of Southern Maine has announced the first recipients of a prestigious, new scholarship program that recognizes exceptional academic achievement and community leadership.

The Creating Maine’s Future Presidential Scholarship Program provides incoming freshmen with $5,000 in tuition assistance each year for four years. More than 100 graduating seniors of Maine high schools were nominated for the first year of scholarships.

The 2010 recipients are Alexandra Bishop, a graduate of Southern Aroostook High School in Dyer Brook; Kelsey Doiron, a graduate of Jay High School; Kim Lim, a graduate of South Portland High School; and Julia Richardson, a graduate of St. Dominic Regional High School in Auburn. Under terms of the scholarship, recipients must be enrolled as full-time students and maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or above.

This year’s scholarships were made possible through the financial support of Wright Express of South Portland; the USM Foundation Board of Directors, and individual members of that board.

A recent gift from Gorham Savings Bank, along with others soon to be announced, will allow additional Presidential Scholarships to be awarded next spring.

The Presidential Scholarships are part of USM’s campaign to help more Maine students afford higher education. More than $890,000 has been raised to date for a range of new scholarships.