KVCC names 2014 Student of the Year
Fairfield, ME – Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) has named Timothy McDonald of Madison Student of the Year for 2014.
McDonald, better known by his nickname, “Tug,” is 41 and completing his final semester in the Precision Machining Technology program. He will graduate in May of this year with a two-year Associate in Applied Science Degree.
McDonald was honored April 23 at a ceremony at the Senator Inn in Augusta along with recipients of the honor from Maine’s six other community colleges.
“Tug sets an example for adults who are uncertain about their capacity to excel in college after many years away from the classroom, or who question the relevance of higher education in their lives,” KVCC President Dr. Richard Hopper, said. “He shows us that it's possible to overcome hardships and achieve at the highest levels. Tug also has personal qualities that make the college experience a whole lot of fun for himself and for everyone around him."
Seven students, one from each of Maine's Community Colleges, are honored each year as their institution’s Student of the Year. Nominated by faculty, staff and administration, the students are selected for their academic success, campus and community involvement, and their ability to achieve in the face of adversity. Each student is awarded a John H. Lapoint, Jr. Leadership Award in the amount of $1,000.
Thirteen KVCC students were nominated for the honor. McDonald was selected based on his academic excellence, service, leadership, and ability to be a role model for other students.
McDonald has a grade point average of 3.975.
Jeff Godin, instructor for KVCC’s Precision Machining Technology program, said McDonald enrolled in the fall of 2012 with the attitude that KVCC offered a second chance at college; he had attended the University of Maine many years earlier and was not successful there.
“From day one he took on the role as the class mentor - he formed study groups that forged a bond among the class members. Tug has an aptitude for practical problems, especially in math,” Godin said.
In the course of his time at KVCC McDonald has shown rare determination to succeed. Diagnosed with diabetes last year, he overcame time he missed in class from the illness to complete his first year, Godin said.
Math Instructor Jared Harvey said McDonald is a great student and a pleasure to have in his trigonometry class.
“Tug is someone who always has a positive attitude and a desire to learn. In my Trig class, he took it upon himself to set up a study group with other people in his program who were struggling,” Harvey said. “Tug is a great role model and a pleasure to work with, and he also has a great sense of humor.”
KVCC Dean of Students Karen Normandin said McDonald was raised by parents who taught him the virtue of service to others. He has served as a Boy Scout leader, a volunteer firefighter, a youth sports coach, and a member of his local Parent-Teacher Association (PTA).
McDonald has also been involved in the “Bikes for Books” reading incentive program providing bicycles and helmets each year to young readers in local schools, scholarship fundraisers that provide $500 scholarships to two Madison Area Memorial High School seniors each year, and uses his love of cooking to raise funds for local residents needing help with unplanned medical expenses, Normandin said.
A father of six facing the same financial, medical, and employment challenges familiar to many of his fellow KVCC students, McDonald has persevered through each obstacle that might have ended his college plans, Normandin said.
“Each time, he has reached deep to find a way to maintain his grades, complete his degree, and to continue to give of himself to others,” Normandin said. “He has quietly lived his life in service to others, making a difference one kind act after another.”
This year McDonald has taken on a part-time work study job at KVCC assisting Safety Director Bruce Davis with safety compliance work on the campus, and has quickly established himself as a diligent and loyal worker who goes the extra mile.
Davis cited as a recent example an evening when McDonald knew Davis was busy at a charity event for children when a situation arose where that required immediate attention. Not wanting Davis to be pulled away from the charity event and the children, McDonald stayed on several hours past his normal work schedule to take care of the situation.
“He didn’t even let me know until later so I could do my important work there,” Davis said. “He is the best work study student I have ever had. I have the utmost respect for Timothy McDonald.”
McDonald will deliver the student address for the Class of 2014 at KVCC’s 44 Commencement Exercises May 17 at the Augusta Civic Center.
Upon graduation, McDonald plans to pursue work as a machinist, following in the footsteps of both his father and grandfather.
John Lapoint was founder and president of a highly successful business, U.F. Strainrite – now Lapoint Industries – in Auburn. Lapoint started his education at a two-year college and went on to become a respected business leader. Never forgetting his roots, he was committed to supporting philanthropic causes and giving back to the community. Mr. Lapoint's widow, Jana Lapoint, helped establish the fund for the annual Student of the Year awards.