As a USM graduate school alumna, school superintendent in Maine and volunteer member of the USM Promise Scholarship Program Advisory Board, I was grateful for the Feb. 7 story “USM grows scholarship program for disadvantaged and first-generation students,” and wanted to add my perspective about this scholarship’s unique model for success.

Because of the generosity of hundreds of Maine donors, businesses and foundations who understand that education is the “great equalizer,” the Promise Scholarship will from now on be awarded each year to 25 eligible Maine students, most of whom are referred by local school departments, youth development organizations and community colleges.

There are currently 30 such partner organizations statewide working to identify, support and refer selected scholarship candidates who they believe have the tenacity and the commitment, despite insurmountable odds, to enthusiastically engage in all that the Promise Scholarship program offers from start to finish. The current 58 scholars across three classes come from 13 counties, 29 high schools and three community colleges. They represent a remarkably diverse population in Maine.

For many first-year college students, but especially low-income, or first in the family to attend, both enrollment and college completion is low. However, already Promise Scholars are bucking the trend and persisting toward debt-free degree completion because of the support they receive from the designated Promise Coordinator, their scholarship peers and mentors, their referral organizations and this generous southern Maine community.

Barbara Powers
Cape Elizabeth

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