September 2016 Newsletter
“JMG has helped me to grow and gain confidence and develop into the leader I am today. JMG is like my home away from home - it’s the place where I feel most comfortable to be in; surrounded by others who support me. I’ve found my place in high school, and after I graduate it will be making memories with everyone in JMG that I will miss most.”

Sierra Proulx, Senior, Hall-Dale High School

THE JMG EFFECT: From High School
to Law School
By Abdi Abdirahman, JMG alumnus
My name is Abdi Abdirahman and I was born in Somalia. By 2001, the region had become incredibly dangerous, with fighting and kidnappings. My family and I fled to Kenya where we stayed in a refugee camp until my father got his visa, and we were able to come to the U.S. as refugees.

Left: Abdi with JMG Board member Steve Byrnes

Before I enrolled in JMG in high school, I had no real sense of direction. I went to school, played sports, went home to play video games, then back to school again. JMG gave me direction. My Specialist challenged me to think about what I wanted to do after graduation, and what it was going to take to get there. I put together my very first resume, researched careers, and started making a plan. While I knew I wanted a degree, neither of my parents had had any formal education, let alone college. My JMG Specialist filled that gap and supported me as I went through the application and admissions process. 

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself in my senior year at the University of Southern Maine, entertaining the idea of going on to law school. I was extremely nervous. Before I knew it, though, my JMG College Specialist introduced me to a JMG board member who introduced me to the Dean of USM’s law school. A few weeks later, I found myself sitting at a coffee shop being mentored by two seasoned lawyers – who also happen to be on JMG’s board. Each person helped me feel more confident about my goal. And here I am today, getting ready to take my Law School Admissions Test. Talk about the JMG effect!

Abdi with JMG Board members Jon Doyle, Esq. and Mike Mahoney, Esq.
  Again, my parents care a great deal about me and my future, but had no idea how to guide me through this process. Without the help of my College Specialist and JMG, I wouldn't have had that informed adult advocating for me, supporting me, and, most important, holding me accountable for my own future.
Through the Eyes of a Specialist
By Tara Houle
JMG Specialist at Sanford Jr. High School

Offering my students a variety of experiences has always been a priority for me. For example, last spring, the manager of a local restaurant and I organized a career exploration trip for students interested in learning about becoming a chef and running their own restaurant. The students had such a good time, and the manager was so smitten with the students (of course!), that he invited us to his restaurant at the end of the year for a celebratory dinner.

On the evening of the dinner, the students were all looking over the menu. As they placed their orders and the waitress walked away, I remember one student who turned to me and asked, “So….where do we get our food?” I paused for a second, then explained that it had to be cooked and would be served to us right there at the table. He responded, "Oh, cool!”  It never crossed my mind that for some of these kids, eating in a restaurant could be a first-time experience. 
That was a small example, but over the last four years, JMG students at Sanford Junior High have partnered with over 60 different businesses and nonprofits to create experiences for these young people. Because of this, the students have learned that our local businesses support them and are rooting for them. They have built connections and gained positive role models. Some have been hired, on the spot, within our classroom. They have begun volunteering, on their own, for local charities we have worked with as a class. They have been motivated and inspired.

For this, I want to thank every business that has ever volunteered at a student event; every business that helped us learn about a career path; every manager or business owner who has come in as a guest speaker to share a story, advice, or support. You have made the students feel important, like they matter, and like the community cares about them. You have given them hope and confidence in themselves that they CAN be successful. You were a part of, or the reason, a student changed the trajectory they were on. You are a huge part of why this program is so successful. Thank you!

We Do What We Do Because of You
This was the 5th year JMG partnered with Sea Dog Brewing Company to host our benefit golf tournament - held at Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland on September 16th - and once again, the state’s business community came through! Whether you sponsored a hole, a team, donated food or an item for the silent auction or raffle, we are grateful for your generosity and your commitment to helping JMG prepare Maine’s students for success in school and in the workforce. Thank you!