Student recognized by Next Step Maine

Saint Joseph’s College Online student Emilie Douglass has been recognized by Next Step Maine and GWI as an “Employee of Promise.” Douglass’s recognition includes a scholarship to continue pursuing her associate degree in business administration online from Saint Joseph’s College.

Emilie Douglass group photo

A development support engineer at GWI—a phone and high-speed Internet service provider in Maine—Douglass has taken every opportunity to learn and study all available material as well as to immerse herself in difficult and complicated subjects in order to achieve mastery of them. “It has been this strong work ethic, dedication to improving herself, and the ability to take on tasks beyond her training that make her an invaluable employee within our organization,” says GWI.

Through proactively seeking out training in multiple areas of the company, Douglass was able to advance from an entry-level position to managing several different departments. Still eager to learn more, she began exploring formal education. In 2011, she began taking courses online at Saint Joseph’s College. “Taking courses online allowed me the time and flexibility I needed in order to maintain my job and busy family life,” says Douglass. After she completes her associate degree, she intends to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Next Step Maine is a program of the Maine Development Foundation. At their June 27 awards ceremony in Augusta, they recognized 21 winners (including Douglass) of the Next Step Maine Scholarship in a presentation at the Senator Inn. This is the second year of the Next Step Maine Scholarship, a fund designed to recognize “Employees of Promise” who are nominated by their employers. The goal of the fund is to support and recognize working adults who are pursuing college degrees or certificates while also juggling jobs, families, and other responsibilities. The scholarships include 17 $1,000 awards, two $1,500 awards, and two $500 awards.

“The future of Maine’s economy rests on the shoulders of people like those we are recognizing today: people pursuing college degrees and advanced training,” says Amertah Perman, program director for the Maine Development Foundation. “The jobs of the future, here and across the nation, will require greater levels of education, skills, and training than ever before. There are over 187,000 adults in Maine who started college but didn’t complete a degree, and with the Next Step Maine Scholarship we want to move some of these dedicated adults a little closer to that goal.”

Attendees at the awards reception included the scholarship winners, their employers, families, and friends as well as major donors to the scholarship fund.

Employers who nominated their employees for the scholarships are members of a statewide network of 219 employers who have committed to take one more step to support education and training by providing better opportunities for their employees. The Next Step Maine project is a website-based resource developed to better assist adult learners in their efforts to return to school and advance their education by providing informational resources on a variety of schools and programs throughout the state. There are 15 colleges and universities collaborating on the site, which lists over 700 “adult-friendly” degree programs.

“We know that employers are critical; when employers demonstrate support for skill development and higher education, employees are far more likely to take action to pursue a degree or career goal,” says Perman. “And when they reach those goals and milestones, the employer, the individual, and the whole state benefit.”

Donors to the Next Step Maine scholarship fund and awards event include the Maine Community Foundation, Acadia Insurance, Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, Bangor Savings Bank, Bancroft & Company, Cianbro, Doyle & Nelson, Pratt & Whitney, Renys, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Maine State Council, the University of Maine System, Unum, and WEX. A volunteer committee worked with staff at the Maine Development Foundation to read and review over 76 nominations received from employers.

“We are so happy to work with the Maine Development Foundation in the effort to recognize employees who are going the extra mile,” says Deb Whitworth, president of the SHRM Maine State Council. “As human resources professionals, we know how important it is to find and develop the very best talent for Maine’s employers, and ultimately for our economy as a whole.”

Source: Next Step Maine

July 7, 2014
Contact: David Svenson at 207-893-7723 ·