Six students just finished their first year of Northern Maine Community College’s nursing program. They take classes off campus at the Houlton Higher Education Center. And on Tuesday they got a letter from NMCC saying that due to budget cuts, classes would no longer be available there.
“I was flabbergasted – I really had no words other than…I was just so upset,” said NMCC student Cara Brinkerhoff.
“I know that schools can close programs at any time due to funding but this just felt really- it hit home really hard,” said Kate Michaud.
Michaud says the full time instructor in Houlton will be replacing one on the Presque Isle campus that was let go. The letter states that students will need to be relocated to NMCC’s Presque Isle campus — which these students say would be very difficult.
“For us to get up to campus in time for classes will be an incredible hardship we’re going to have to find child care between 5:30 and 6 every morning to bring our kids to which is just about impossible,” said Michaud.
Michaud calculated that commuting for the semester would cost her more than 700 dollars in gas. On Friday the students met with NMCC President Tim Crowley and Academic Dean Dottie Martin to voice their concerns — Crowley says the school will work hard to meet their needs. They’re going to try to make as many components of this program available in Houlton as they can.
“It’s very hard to do. It’s a tough thing to do, but you kinda have to look at what’s the future of the institution and if we don’t make these changes now, it becomes more difficult next year,” he said.
Crowley says they’re going to take a look at the schedule and the projected impact and let these students know what the next semester will look like no later than the end of July.
“Definitely going to be a big stress just sitting and waiting.. Waiting for an answer of how my future’s going to be,” said Brinkerhoff.
Michaud says the spots in other schools nursing programs are filled.
“Just fixing it for this year is a band-aid.. The nursing program here is the only full degree program somebody can get in this community and in order to see this community thrive we need things like this we need to keep young people here receiving educations,” said Michaud.