Gail Thibault completed one year of college right out of high school, but she left school to work in an optical lab and marry her husband. She told her teacher she would return to complete her associate degree at a later time, and he replied, “We’ll see!” A year later when Gail found out she was pregnant with her first child, she decided to be a stay at home mom. She had a second child, and many years of smiles and tears went by in the blink of an eye.
After Gail’s husband was laid off from work, she got a job working nights in a factory. Gail recalls, “I realized if I didn’t go back for my associate degree soon, I never would.” Thanks to Women, Work, and Community’s Financing Your Future class and the Family Development Account (FDA) matched savings program, Gail was able to go to school part-time while working full-time. The FDA matching funds doubled her savings to help pay for tuition and buy the carpentry tools she needed for her classes, and she graduated debt free.
In the spring of 2010, Gail received her associate degree from Northern Maine Community College in Residential Construction. She got an offer to work in the office at Lane Construction. Gail reports, “Now I work during the day, have supper with my family, and sleep at night. My dog misses me sleeping days, but I think my husband likes this arrangement better! I am thankful to have completed a goal and set an example for my family.” A wave is started one small ripple at a time: Gail’s husband just completed his Medical Assisting degree this spring, and her teenage sons have picked what they want to go to college for and are setting goals.
Gail describes how she is paying it forward: “I was honored last year when WWC asked me to be an Ambassador. A great experience this year was to help with the Totally Trades conference and help show the girls that schooling doesn’t have to mean just sitting and listening. Academic skills can be combined with hands-on skills to enhance learning and open doors they may not have realized existed.”