PORTLAND – Gov. Paul LePage called on Kaplan University graduates Saturday to follow a piece of advice he once received.

“If it is to be, it is up to me,” LePage said.

The governor was the featured speaker at the commencement of 365 graduates who earned associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration, accounting, paralegal studies, early childhood development, criminal justice, medical assisting and nursing. The graduates and their families and friends packed Merrill Auditorium.

LePage told the graduates that their lives were starting over with their commencement and offered some other “little pieces of advice”: be honest, be humble, be respectful, be focused, be yourself and persevere.

“I hope you stay in Maine, because we need you to move the economy,” LePage said.

Kaplan University, headquartered in Chicago, has nearly 50,000 online and campus-based students. It has campuses and learning centers in Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, Maryland and Maine, including campuses in Lewiston and South Portland.

Kaplan University of Maine President Christopher Quinn announced Saturday that the university will open a third campus, in Augusta, this fall.

Carlene Harper, student commencement speaker, talked about her decision to return to school after her own children had graduated from college, and dispensed advice given to her by her grandmother: “Nothing beats a failure but a try.”

Several students said they were confident that their college degrees would lead them to success.

Brandy Adams of Yarmouth and her mother, Patti Libby of Windham, both received associate degrees in medical assisting.

Adams said she decided to head back to school after being laid off two years ago. Now she and her mother work together at the Maine Medical Partners call center.

“I want to be a doctor eventually,” Adams said.

Jose Alcazar said he decided to get his degree in medical assisting after caring for his mother after she had a stroke. He is now hoping to move from his job at a hotel into the medical field.

“I want to use what I learned,” Alcazar said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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