The 3rd annual Night With the Stars Gala, hosted by Aroostook Aspirations Initiative, took place Saturday, September 17th at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.

Terry Sandusky
Terry Sandusky

The event celebrated the nineteen incoming Gauvin Scholars, highlighting 2014-2015 Scholars as well.  The Night with the Stars gala provided the Gauvin Scholars with the opportunity to meet business and community leaders and make connections that will help them both in college and when they begin to enter the workforce.

The evening began with opening remarks from the University of Maine at Presque Isle Interim President Ray Rice, who highlighted many of the great opportunities at UMPI and each of the other three higher education institutions in Aroostook County.  Rice also congratulated each of the Gauvin Scholars in attendance.

Dana Connors, Maine State Chamber of Commerce President, was the keynote speaker for the event. “Aroostook Aspirations Initiative sets the standard for bringing together Aroostook County’s youth with educational aspirations, setting them on a course for contributing to the economic success of this very important region of our state” said Connors.

The evening also celebrated leaders in business, community, and education.  Four awards were presented at the event: Mentor of the Year Award, sponsored by Cary Medical Center, was presented to James Smith of Fort Fairfield High School; Ellyn Whitten-Smith was named the 2016 Innovative Educator, an award sponsored by MMG; and MMG Insurance was named Aroostook Business of the Year, an award selected by the AAI Board of Directors. The 1st annual Road Back Home award was also presented to Dana Connors.  This award was created to recognize a person from The County who is still connected to the area in some way, who continues to make The County proud no matter where they live, who continues to give back to The County, and whose actions demonstrate continuing support for Aroostook and a desire to ensure a bright future.  The purpose of the award is to honor loyalty, instill pride, and promote the Aroostook County way of life.

Next year's Night With the Stars Gala will be held on September 16, 2017. For more information about Aroostook Aspirations Initiative, go to or call (207) 760-0558.