Future faces of transportation
The MBTA Educational Foundation awards $17,500 in scholarships to 14 Maine students who are already carving out impressive careers in transportation
In difficult economic times, a scholarship can make a big difference in the life of a young person. For the 14 students who have been awarded MBTA scholarships in 2011, the grants will bring each of them closer to achieving their dreams, whether it is opening their own heavy equipment service center or building the bridges of the future.
In fact, every one of this year’s scholarship winners already has demonstrated a strong commitment to not only their academic studies, but to understanding the role transportation plays in their local economies and in Maine’s quality of life. Case in point are the three Transportation Trailblazer scholarship winners – Joseph Birckhead, Ian Messier and Benjamin Myers. Through the application process, the MBTA Educational Foundation identifies students who have demonstrated a strong interest in the industry and show promise as future advocates for Maine’s transportation community. All three, despite their young age, already have considerable on-the-job/on-the-road experience working for construction firms and MaineDOT. This is the second year that Birckhead has received the sustaining scholarship, while Messier and Myers are first-time recipients.
“We established this scholarship in 2009 to foster the best and the brightest, and it was very gratifying to see the quality of applicants,” said Thomas L. Gorrill, chair of the MBTA Educational Foundation. “Joe, Ian and Ben are excellent examples of the talent that is out there.”
The 2011 crop of scholarship winners also includes several non-traditional students. Nicholas Hartley, who received the 2011 Kenneth W. Burrill Scholarship, is undertaking the daunting task of earning a double major – engineering and construction management – at UMaine while working full time. Nick is also a whiz at Spanish. The scholarship is given in memory of Ken Burrill, a former MBTA president and Transportation Achievement Award recipient (1999) who had a long and distinguished career in transportation and construction and a penchant for fundraising for transportation issues.
Edward James Fitzpatrick, a Marine Corps veteran who served a four-year tour of duty, returned home to Aroostook County where he has enrolled at Northern Maine Community College. He is studying diesel hydraulics and plans to use those skills to continue work in construction, as well as in agriculture, a business his family has been in for years.
The MBTA began offering scholarships decades ago, but the association took it up a notch in the early 1980s. In 2000, the MBTA formalized its commitment to education by forming a separate organization – the MBTA Educational Foundation. The foundation, which has a separate board, has enabled the organization to better focus on planning for and management of scholarship funds. It also provides the opportunity for MBTA members and friends to make tax-deductible donations to the foundation. The fund has grown from $4,500 in 1990 to more than $340,000 today, thanks to the generosity of MBTA members. The major fundraiser for the foundation is the annual Super Raffle, but members also make other donations.
Education and leadership have been closely entwined with the MBTA’s mission from its early days when the organization was known as the Maine Good Roads Association, according to Gorrill.
“In more than 70 years, the MBTA has seen its share of industry leaders rise through our ranks – people who have made a profound and positive impact on our state,” said Gorrill. “Our hope is to nurture the industry’s leaders of tomorrow by encouraging students to pursue transportation studies today.”
This is the second year that Joseph Birckhead of Ellsworth has been selected to receive one of MBTA’s most prestigious scholarships – the Transportation Trailblazer. He is only the second recipient of the sustaining scholarship since it was established in 2009. Before enrolling in the UMaine’s construction management technology program, Joseph earned an associate’s degree in civil engineering from Eastern Maine Community College. Currently he is a senior at UMaine and expects to graduate in 2012. He wrote in his application:
“I have always loved construction and working with the earth.” He has worked in construction for several years, as a laborer, a layout foreman, an equipment operator and a truck driver for R.F. Jordan and Sons in Ellsworth and K.J. Dugas Construction in Surry. Joseph has maintained an impressive grade point average of 3.821 since he began at UMaine. He hopes to work for a large construction company after graduation.
A junior in UMaine’s construction management technology program, Ian Messier first knew that he wanted to work in construction when he discovered his grandfather’s surveying tools in the basement of the family home. The Topsham resident wrote in his application: “The one thing I truly love about the construction industry is that no matter what position you may be working at, you need to be a problem solver.” During summers, he has worked as a site layout intern/laborer for Harry C. Crooker & Sons in Brunswick and A.H. Grover, Inc. in North Yarmouth. After five semesters at UMaine, his cumulative grade point average is 3.344, and he has been on the dean’s list for two semesters. He participated in the 2011 Associated Schools of Construction Region 1 Bid Competition and is president of Associated General Contractors, Student Chapter. He also volunteered to help build the Born Learning Trail at the Herbert Sargent Community Center in Old Town.
Benjamin Myers is a junior at UMaine where he is pursuing two degrees: one in construction management technology, and a second in civil engineering. Already, he has considerable experience working on highway and bridge projects for the MaineDOT during summer break. He has been a bridge maintenance worker and a transportation aide worker. He also worked on a paving project on Route 2 in Pittsfield and on Veteran’s Remembrance Bridge in Bangor. He wrote: “My goal is to work with the state when I graduate as an engineer for the bridge program, if possible. I have long taken an interest in bridges as they are a key part of Maine’s transportation system.” Benjamin is a member of the Black Bear Chapter of the Associated General Contractors where he has helped on several community construction projects. He is a 2007 graduate of Noble High School in North Berwick.
Kenneth W. Burrill Scholar
When it comes to academics, UMaine junior Nicholas Hartley has a knack for Spanish, science, technology and math that he has generously shared with his fellow UMaine students as a tutor. The 2005 Hermon High School graduate has worked hard to earn his way through school, and is now in his third year enrolled in the UMaine engineering school. He also is a born leader, and when he was just 17, he was singled out for management training at Bega, Inc., operator of six McDonald franchises in the greater Bangor region. In addition to working for Bega throughout his college career, Nicholas also has interned for two summers on a MaineDOT maintenance crew, testing soils and aggregate materials on several bridge and highway projects. Nicholas is proficient in Spanish and is APNA Nuclear Safety and HAZMAT certified.
Paris W. Snow Scholars
Edward James Fitzpatrick grew up around trucks and tractors, working in his family’s potato farming business. After he graduated high school, he served for four years in the Marine Corps, where one of his duties was driving a truck. In his application he wrote that trucks have been a consistent theme in his career: “Through my life time, I have held various jobs driving trucks and other equipment for construction jobs for companies like Lane Construction and Steelstone Industries.” He has driven trucks and operated a variety of equipment, including a five-ton crane for Louisiana Pacific. He currently is studying for a degree in diesel hydraulics from Northern Maine Community College and intends to stay in Maine working in the transportation and agriculture industries. “My goal is to specialize in rebuilding and repairing trucks and heavy equipment.”
Ryan Scott plans to own a business in northern Maine one day.
The 2010 graduate of Fort Kent High School is in his second year at Northern Maine Community College where he is working toward a degree in diesel hydraulics. He first became interested in trucks during his sophomore year in high school, and he has worked for a Fort Kent garage where he services and repairs logging trucks and trailers. In his application he wrote: “I thought it was important to learn the latest technology . . . if I wanted to pursue this as a career.”
After graduation, he hopes to gain more experience in the business, working for a dealership or repair shop and is considering purchasing his own truck and becoming an owner-operator. After two semesters, Ryan has a cumulative grade point average of 2.64.
Millard W. Pray Scholarships
Now, entering her sophomore year in college, Jacqueline has an appreciation for the importance of a “strong transportation infrastructure in Maine…for communicating, trading and business.” Jacqueline is attending Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, where she is pursuing a degree in business. This is the second year she has received the Millard W. Pray Scholarship. Upon graduation, she hopes to put her expertise to work toward improving transportation, whether it is working for a road construction company or supporting legislation to improve transportation infrastructure. She has worked several summers for CPM Constructors in Freeport and, in winters, as a ski instructor at Sugarloaf USA. She is a graduate of Falmouth High School in Falmouth where she earned a 95.3 grade point average.
Amber is a fourth-year civil engineering student at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont, and a graduate of Erskine Academy in South China. This is the third year she has received the Millard Pray W. Scholarship.
She sees transportation as an industry that is constantly changing and wants to be part of that change. She is particularly interested in exploring energy efficiency and structural engineering. Amber is active in the Norwich Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers. Last year she wrote, “With this experience and education I am receiving at Norwich University, I hope to be able to contribute to our nation’s infrastructure and the development of new technology.”
Lucius Barrows Scholars
Caleb Frederick graduated with high honors from Sanford High School. He is currently in his senior year at UMaine in the civil engineering program. His cumulative grade point average is 3.49. Now in his fourth year, he is focusing on transportation and this fall enrolled in the college’s Transportation Safety class. For the past two years, Caleb has worked summers at the AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Center and continued that work part-time while school has been in session. In his application, he wrote: My grades show I am a committed student who strives to complete my work. . . Any help that can be provided through scholarships will help me continue with my education and goals in the field of civil engineering.” In his free time, Caleb enjoys playing guitar, mountain biking and skiing. He is president of the school’s Maine Outing Club.
Katrina Martin, a junior enrolled in the UMaine civil engineering program, is an accomplished scholar who has won many high school and college academic honors. She was her high school class valedictorian and was inducted in the National Honor Society at Easton High School in Easton. At UMaine, she was named Top Scholar (2009-2010) and has earned several other awards. Her cumulative grade point average is 3.459. She took her first transportation course – Transportation Engineering – last year and liked it. She is continuing transportation-related studies. She also is an officer of the school’s American Society of Civil Engineers chapter and treasurer of the Society of Women Engineers student chapter. She has participated in UMaine Cheerleading and on the school’s ultimate Frisbee team. Katrina enjoys hiking, riding her bike and reading in her spare time.
A senior in UMaine’s civil engineering program, Christopher Parent is a Maine native who graduated from Hampden Academy in Hampden, Maine. He is an Eagle Scout, a National Collegiate Scholar and winner of the UMaine Presidential Scholars Award. He has a grade point average of 3.46. At UMaine, Christopher has focused on environmental, transportation and geotechnical engineering. This fall he took the Advanced Roadway Design course and plans on taking another transportation course during the spring semester. While he has worked throughout college to help pay for his education, the MBTA scholarship has been very important to him as his family has experienced financial hardships recently. He is a dean’s list student and a member of the Honors College. Last summer, he interned at the Old Town Water District, using GPS to map the district’s utilities. In his free time, Chris likes to play golf, work with computers and cheer on his favorite New England sports teams.
MBTA/ASCE Maine Transportation Conference Scholarships
When he was 13, Greg Dexter took a job working for his dad at the family hardware store near his hometown of Strong, Maine. “We were taught from a young age to be self-sufficient, hard workers, and I believe this was an important life lesson.” Through hard work, he was able to buy his first car, paying for it five dollars at a time, all the while saving money for college. In addition to working, Greg earned high honors throughout high school and was captain of his high school soccer and baseball teams. Currently in his junior year at UMaine in the construction management technology program, he describes himself as “passionate about things being designed well, done well and done efficiently.” He aspires to attaining a job as a field engineer and hopes one day to work building roads, airports and railways. He has a 3.4 grade point average, and hopes to secure a construction internship this coming summer. His hobbies and interests include paintballing, fishing and target shooting.
Peter Poor graduated from Telstar High School in 2004 and attended college for a short time before leaving school for work. That time off was well-spent, as Peter worked and made decisions about his future. He returned to school with a firm goal and has maintained a 4.0 grade point average since he enrolled as a non-traditional student in UMaine’s construction technology management program. Peter grew up around construction, tagging along with his dad to job sites as a young kid. “I started working in construction as soon as I legally could, beginning in high school. In the last decade, I have immersed myself in many different manners of construction: from landscaping and earthwork to carpentry and concrete.” He hopes to pursue a career in transportation construction because “with so much attention revolving around boosting the nation’s transportation infrastructure systems and the potential work this will generate, I could not imagine focusing my career in another area.”
Erik Bodwell likes to be out in the field. He also has an affinity for technology, and throughout high school he “took every opportunity available” to take technology education courses – drafting, architecture, woodwork and metal fabrication. That’s why, after exploring a career in engineering and surveying technology, he chose to major in construction management at UMaine. Now in his third year, the Brunswick native has made the dean’s list for three of the four semesters he has been enrolled in the program and has an impressive cumulative grade point average of 3.44. Even though he has one more year to complete, he already has amassed considerable experience in the field, working the past two summers for a residential contractor building houses, landscaping, installing septic systems and on road construction projects. He is hoping to land an internship with a large construction firm that will focus on road building. Erik writes: “After school, I plan to continue working in the transportation industry.” In his free time, he likes to be outside working on his vehicles.
A gift to the MBTA Educational Foundation helps ensure the transportation field will continue to grow, innovate and flourish in the decades to come. The scholarships the MBTA awards fulfill a vital part of our mission. By encouraging students to pursue careers in transportation, we are promoting safe, efficient transportation now – and for future generations.
There are many ways to give. Gifts of cash and securities are welcome. Members and friends may also designate contributions through a will or trust.
An individual, group or business may elect to honor an associate’s professional contributions through a named scholarship. Examples of named scholarships include the Millard W. Pray Scholarship and the Kenneth W. Burrill Scholarship.
Create a legacy
The MBTA Educational Foundation provides MBTA members and friends the opportunity to create a lasting legacy by promoting education and providing financial support for talented students choosing careers in transportation.
The foundation is a non-profit, charitable organization, and donations are tax-exempt. Members support scholarships by participating in the MBTA’s annual Super Raffle, the foundation’s primary fundraiser, and at the annual Fall Raffle, though individual donations are gratefully accepted at any time.
For more information about making a gift to the MBTA Educational Foundation, please contact Maria Fuentes, 207-622-0526.