Meet the Scholars

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2015 Mainely Character Scholarship Recipients

Silas Zechman, South Portland High School

$5,000 Mainely Character scholarship, sponsored by R.M. Davis, Inc.

An avid participant in community service endeavors, Zechman formed and runs a three-on-three basketball league, created to as an opportunity for players who didn’t make their school teams. The league, now in its sixth year, also raises money for the local Boys and Girls Club. Zechman, who will attend Hobart and Williams College, serves as a referee, maintains a comprehensive game and individual records, and oversees the league’s website.

A captain of the soccer team and member of the basketball team, Zechman led by example, serving as a mentor to younger players. He raised funds to help New Mainers participate in an indoor soccer league, and asked his basketball coach to take him out of a game so that other seniors could play.

“Silas is determine to make a difference in his community,” says Peter Richardson, Vice President of R. M. Davis, Inc. “In addition to his leadership in sports, he’s participated in two mission trips in the South, serves as a youth book reviewer, and participated in a school video promoting respect and integrity.  R. M. Davis, Inc. is proud to help Silas peruse his aspirations with this scholarship award.”

Jasmine Waite, Maine School of Science and Mathematics

$2,500 Mainely Character  Scholarship, sponsored by Market Decisions.

Despite a difficult childhood, including a health issue that forced a year-long leave of absence as a freshman, Waite maintains a positive focus, supports others, and exhibits a passion for learning.

A DAR Good Citizen, Waite volunteers at a food pantry, serves as an Admission Ambassador for prospective students, and arranges for “random acts of kindness” at her school. Her health issues have brought her to a mission of helping others experience wellness, and will enter the University of Maine as a Biology- Chemistry major.

“Jasmine’s maturity really impressed our selection team,” says Curt Mildner, President of Market Decisions and President of the Mainely Character Board. “She spoke of finding time to help others, as well as the importance of working hard in order to achieve your goals in life.”

Kristina Hill, Belfast Area High School

$2,500 Mainely Character Scholarship.

Despite battling a health issue, Kristina is positive and upbeat, believing that hard work helps overcome personal difficulties. She has been active in the community: a long-time Girl Scout, Hill has been a Big Sister to a 4th grader, helped make blankets for animals at a shelter, and attended a 4-H leadership camp.

A hard-working student, Hill  excels as a leader and an artist. In addition to her work at school and in the community, Hill plays a very active role in the life of her one-year old nephew. She plans to attend New Hampshire School of Art.


Meet the 2013 Mainely Character Scholars

$5000, Amber Hanson, RM Davis, Mainely Character Scholarship

Amber Hanson is a determined senior at Oceanside High School in Rockport Maine who has both overcome emotional losses and poor choices to make the most of her opportunities and to help others. She has demonstrated responsibility integrity, courage and concern for others.

Both Amber’s parents died under tragic circumstances when she was in elementary school and she moved to Maine to live with her Uncle and Aunt. In her freshman year in High School she flunked out, had substance abuse problems, lived in and out of foster homes and had had her last chance in a group home. She was in her own words, “ a troubled teen”. Then she took responsibility for her life, committed to help for substance abuse, began working hard at school, and associated with different friends. She became “driven”, checking in her grades each day, earning honor roll status and enjoying hearing her name announced with this group. She also began to give back, helping other troubled children as part of a mentoring program called Trek.

Amber plans to enter the University of Maine at Farmington in the fall to pursue a degree in sociology and ultimately a career as a social worker.

$2500 Madeline Gears, Arnie Bushner Memorial Scholarship sponsored by Northeast Bank

Madeline (Maddy) Gears is a remarkable senior at Cape Elizabeth High School. Modest yet confident, she has a passion for what is right and a deep commitment to making her community a better place.

She actively demonstrates integrity and courage by intervening to protect others. Once she intervened to protect an autistic child from bullying and in another instance stood up to and reported a senior football player making racist remarks on the bus. Risking a friendship, she reported and sought help for a fellow student who confided that she was cutting herself and thinking about suicide.

Maddy demonstrates concern for others through her active volunteering and her mentoring of younger 4H members. She volunteers at Ronald MacDonald House and Preble Street Resource Center, gathers gifts to donate at Christmas and she fundraises for cancer research.

Maddy has been active in 4H for six years, not only winning competitions, but relishing her role mentoring younger members. “I believe I have helped my community, my club and my peers in a positive way by working hard to accomplish goals and giving back by emulating those that have mentored me.”

$2500, Karina Harriman, Mainely Character Scholarship sponsored by Market Decisions

$1000 Jacob Douglas, Mainely Character Scholarship

Meet the 2012 Mainely Character Scholars

2012, Michelle Kus of Windham High School, $5,000 Mainely Character Scholarship, sponsored by R.M. Davis, Inc., of Portland.

Michelle was recognized for helping a neighbor, a troubled student seen as a lost cause by most others. She demonstrated extraordinary persistence and caring that encouraged and supported the young man through high school. She called to wake him in the morning, drove him to school, helped with homework and provided financial support for clothing, food, and even rent. She provided crucial faith and support that the young man was not getting from anyone else. As a direct result of her compassion this young man got back on his feet, graduated from high school, and began college. In her application she said, “I am his crutches so to speak. I brought life and light to the situation and as simple as it is all I really did was care … I took interest in helping a person realize there is more to life, and that one can be happy and live a good life after a rough start.” Kus plans to attend St. Joseph’s College to study nursing.

2012, Alexandrea Cartier of South Portland High School, $2500 Mainely Character Scholarship sponsored by Market Decisions of Portland Maine..

Cartier overcame challenging circumstances to create her own future.  Much of her life Cartier was forced to be independent and self sufficient, and while on her own, she made some bad choices.  A thoughtful adult encouraged Cartier to take responsibility for her life and change directions. Cartier did just that. To provide for her living expenses she began working a full time job and two part-time jobs that often totaled 70-80 hours a week.  Despite this workload she found time for schoolwork, studying hard enough to graduate with “high honors”. In her application, she says, “I have had a very hard life, but I have stayed determined to keep myself together and to overcome the difficulties that life has thrown my way.” Cartier plans to major in Law Enforcement at Southern Maine Community College.

2012, Hannah Potter of Yarmouth High School, $2,500 Arnold Bushner – Mainely Character Scholarship, sponsored by Northeast Bank..

After meetings students from Iraq at a summer peace-building program, Potter created NewView (, a non-profit, web-based forum designed to promote cultural awareness between high school students in the United States and the Middle East. NewView started in 2010 with 30 students from Yarmouth and 30 from Iraq, and has grown to over 150 participants. In her application, Potter says her passion is “peace building with the goal of breaking down stereotypes and promoting tolerance and acceptance of cultural diversity through communication, understanding and friendship.”

Potter plans to study Global Health at Stanford University.

Meet the 2011 Mainely Character Scholars

Michelle Clark, Yarmouth High School, $5,000 Mainely Character – R.M. Davis Scholarship.

Michele’s grandmother from a modest farm in Aroostook County wanted “all her grandchildren to do works of charity”.  Grandmother can certainly be proud of Michelle!

Concerned about the relief of Haiti long after it was in the news, Michelle demonstrated responsibility by spending her own savings and convincing her brother to invest his savings to buy 1000 “Help Haiti Heal” bracelets.  She sold these in her community to turn $200 into $1400, which she then donated to Haitian relief.

Michelle demonstrated courage, responsibility and concern in her own community.   Overhearing a conversation in a grocery store about an older woman taking in two very young children of other family members, she tracked down the woman and offered free baby-sitting. She soon became a routine and influential part of the children’s lives.

Michelle will attend Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva New York, study pre-medicine and hopes to one day participate in a program such as “Doctors without Borders”.

Emilee Parker, Lee Academy, $5,000 Mainely Character – R.M. Davis Scholarship.

When Emilee was five, her family moved from a big city to a 70-acre farm in rural Maine.  This shaped her commitment to be active and to improve the community around her.  “My family believes in giving back”, she stated.

Emilee demonstrated concern, responsibility and courage by volunteering to babysit for low-income families.  She entered homes of families she didn’t know, donated service that families could not afford and became a positive influence for the children she cared for.  Also passionate about animals, Emilee  donated her time to the Penobscot Valley Humane Society cleaning cages and caring for unwanted or abused pets.

Emilee will attend Wake Forest University and study pre-medicine.

Lynsey Vigue, Winslow High School, $2,500 Arnold Bushner – Mainely Character Scholarship, sponsored by Northeast Bank.

Lynsey derives great satisfaction from her work with people who have disabilities “The ecstasy you get from the simple smile of an athlete is like no other”, she says.
Lynsey acted on her concern by making their assistance her passion.  She took responsibility by serving as a therapeutic riding instructor, assisting with the Special Equestrian Olympics and assisting the disabled in adult education programs.

Lynsey will attend Husson University and study occupational therapy to continue assisting disabled individuals.

Meet the 2010 Mainely Character Scholars

Christopher Stout, Freyburg Academy, $5,000 Mainely Character – Time Warner Scholarship

Christopher was just eight years old when he went to live with his elderly and infirmed grandparents. His mother was an alcoholic and as Chris put it, his father showed no interest in him.  His mom would eventually die from her alcoholism.

Even as a young child Chris was helping his grandparents as they helped him. Chris’s  Grandfather fell while working  and lived with the pain of a broken back.  He provided important guidance to Christopher but Chris took over the  role of caregiver for his grandparents by making  sure they made their doctors appointments and took their medications.  Chris even paid their bills and took care of their finances. Chris is proud of the parenting provided by his grandparents, especially his grandfather who died in the past year.

Chris had to watch the affects of alcohol abuse by his mother and sister and is quietly but proudly drug and alcohol free. He not only resists the pressure from peers but stands as an example of a drug and alcohol free life.
At Fryeburg Academy, Christopher was a leader in Project Graduation, raising funds for the class trip to New York City. He helped organize and participate in every one of the thirty fundraising events, working every shift.

Chris plans to attend Southern Maine Community College to study heavy equipment operations. Consistently practical, he recognizes that he likes to drive and that there will always be a need for equipment operators.

Samirutu Abdul Karim, Windham High School,  $2,500 Mainely Character – Northeast Bank Scholarship

In 2006, Samaru was living with her grandmother in Ghana with 20 some other relatives and friends in a small home her grandfather built. Her grandmother was a guiding force in her life, stressing the importance of an education despite having little or none herself. At a time when other young women were getting married and having children, Samaru was determined to go to America to join her father and get an education.

As a freshman at Windham High School Samara was faced  with the challenges of adapting to a new culture, including learning English.  She became a top student through hard work, while overcoming obstacles with ease. For example, to complete the final English course required for graduation, she selected an online Advanced Placement course despite having no computer at home. Samaru completed all classes after hours: at school or in the library.

While Samara has assimilated to American culture, she has retained important customs of her native country.  Her father was worried she would lose her respect for elders – he needn’t have. While Samara has developed friendships, she has refused to bow to peer pressure.

When Samara arrived she met and became close friends with a neighbor. That neighbor eventually developed MS and Samara now fundraises for MS events.

Samara is also a volunteer at Mercy Hospital.  Her bright and electric personality has made her a favorite among patients.  Some remind her how important an education is – they needn’t worry, Samara’s goal is to be a doctor and meld traditional and nontraditional therapies.

Meet the 2009 Mainely Character Scholars

Kennebunk High Grad Awarded Mainely Character-Time Warner Cable Scholarship

Curt Mildner, a member of the Mainely Character Board of Directors, presents the 2009 Mainely Character-Time Warner Cable Scholarship to Conner Drigotas of Kennebunk. Drigotas, a 2009 graduate of Kennebunk High, recently began his studies at Lafayette College in Easton, PA.Conner Drigotas of Kennebunk has been awarded the 2009 Mainely Character-Time Warner Cable Scholarship. The $5,000 scholarship was presented to the Kennebunk High graduate earlier this summer. Drigotas, the son of Frank and Vickie Drigotas of Kennebunk, has begun his studies as a freshman psychology major at Lafayette College in Easton, PA.

Drigotas was selected from more than 200 applicants from across the state to receive this highly competitive scholarship. He participated in a rigorous process that included an application, essay and personal interview. Award recipients are selected based on their leadership, community involvement and most importantly, character.

“Time Warner Cable is proud of its partnership with Mainely Character and their efforts to recognize outstanding Maine students who are making important contributions to their local communities,” said Time Warner Cable’s Community and Public Affairs Director Peter DeWitt. “Thanks to the support of Time Warner Cable, we can reward and recognize students for the skills that truly count in life,” said Bob Caswell, president of the Mainely Character Board of Directors.

Drigotas demonstrated a longstanding and effective commitment to drug and alcohol abuse prevention through leadership positions in the Truth Day Development Committee, Peer Helpers and the Captains Club. He also found the time to become involved in a wide range of co-curricular activities, among them sports, theater and Poetry Out Loud, a national oration competition.

Mainely Character is a volunteer organization established in 2000 to provide scholarships to Maine high school seniors who have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the principles of courage, integrity, responsibility and concern for others. The organization’s founder, Arnie Bushner, believed that a student’s character should count equally with academics and athletics.

Mainely Character is accepting new sponsors and donations to continue providing Maine scholarships to Maine students. For more information visit

Belfast Area High School Grad Awarded Arnold Bushner-Mainely Character Scholarship – Northeast Bank Scholarship

Ouillette was selected from more than 200 applicants from across the state to receive this highly competitive scholarship. She participated in a rigorous process that included an application, essay and personal interview. Award recipients are selected based on their leadership, community involvement and most importantly, character.

“Character is developing a sense of doing the right thing, even when it is hard or unpopular. Today’s students need our help more than ever, and we are proud to provide the financial support to make this scholarship possible through Mainely Character,” says Jim Delamater, President of Northeast Bank.

Ouillette founded the Liberian Education Fund, which raises scholarship money to help students who do not have the financial means to attend high school in Liberia. Today, the program supports 12 students from five different counties of Liberia. Under her leadership, nearly 50 Belfast students have become involved in the program and a number have pledged to sustain it even after Ouillette graduates.

The daughter of Christine Kramer and Steve Ouillette of Belfast, Ouillette will attend George Washington University in the fall, where she will major in international relations.

Mainely Character was established in 2000 to provide scholarships to Maine high school seniors who have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the principles of courage, integrity, responsibility and concern for others. In 2009, the organization awarded $7,500 in scholarships, including this $2,500 scholarship named in memory of Mainely Character’s founder Arnie Bushner, who believed that a student’s character should count equally with academics and athletics.

Bob Caswell, President of the Mainely Character board explained, “We are grateful to our donors and sponsors. They allow us to recognize and showcase Maine students like Kimberly who through exceptional volunteer efforts have proven they have the skills that truly count in life.”

Mainely Character is accepting new sponsors and donations to continue providing Maine scholarships to Maine students.

2008 Mainely Character

Time Warner Cable Scholarship Recipient ($5,000)

 Lauren Grotton, Topsham
Mt. Ararat High School
“Being truthful is a way of life for me, and as a result, others trust in me. Without this, I could never have accomplished so much towards my goals.”

Lauren Grotton found her personal connection to the principles of character in the Girl Scouts—especially during a series of educational outreach efforts to help children feel safe around water, and to help them become stewards of the marine environment.

She coordinated a water safety poster contest for all elementary schoolchildren in Lincoln County; wrote and illustrated a children’s book on the marine environment, “Oya and Her Ocean Friends;” and created an accompanying “Ocean Adventure” game. She presented the book and game to school groups through the Maine-based Cornerstones of Science program. “One of the greatest learning experiences,” she noted, “was having the courage to overcome my shyness about calling strangers on the phone to solicit support.”

Grotton is enrolled at the Maine Maritime Academy, majoring in marine biology.

Arnold Bushner-Mainely Character Scholarship Recipient ($2,500)
Sponsored by Northeast Bank

Alexandria Neher, Cary Plantation
Hodgdon High School

“I have concern for others because of the life I went through. I care more about others than myself.”

Alexandria Neher overcame long odds to win a Mainely Character Scholarship. Before her adoption by John and Gail Nehrer of Cary Plantation, she was in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services for 10 years. Yet she always made an exceptional effort to care for her siblings and even her parents. For example, starting at age 10, she cared for her older sister’s child.

Neher is in the class of 2012 at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, where she plans to major in biology with a minor in criminology in hopes of pursuing a career as a forensic biologist.

Neher has traveled to Washington to advocate for legislation to help adoptive parents with the costs of adoption. Her outside interests range from cheerleading to writing poems, one of which inspired a teacher to thank her for helping to deal with the death of a parent. She has also found the time to volunteer for community events, such as the Linneus Haunted Hayride and the Veterans Day Breakfast.


2007 Mainely Scholar


Rebekah L. Wakefield of Burlington has been named the 2007 recipient of the Mainely Character – Time Warner Cable Scholarship.

The $5,000 scholarship was presented at the Mattanawcook Academy commencement exercises held recently in Lincoln.

Wakefield, the daughter of Tim and Sheila Wakefield of Burlington, will attend North Carolina State University in the fall, where she plans to major in the animal sciences/pre-veterinary program.

A group of business and community leaders founded Mainely Character as a non-profit organization to recognize and reward Maine high school seniors who have demonstrated a commitment to character and self-development. Mainely Character, with the support of Time Warner Cable of Maine, currently awards one, $5,000 scholarship each year to a graduating senior.

Wakefield demonstrated the Mainely Character principles of courage, integrity, responsibility and concern for others when she established a successful 4-H Club in her hometown of Burlington.

She then proposed and led a community-wide effort to finance and build a 4-H livestock barn. The building serves as the site for programming where young and old alike can enjoy their shared agricultural heritage.


2006 Mainely Scholar


Elisabeth Poling – Maranacook Community High School Attending: University of Maine 

“I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank you for awarding me the 2006 Mainely Character Scholarship. I am honored to have been selected for an award with such unique criteria. There are a lot of scholarships based on need and merit, but I would be hard pressed to find another based on courage, integrity, responsibility, and concern. Thank you for recognizing those qualities in not just myself, but youth all over Maine. It means a lot to know that there are people out there who care about what kind of people we are, not just what grades we have earned.

Thanks to you, my unmet financial need for next year has been cut in half. I will be attending the University of Maine, majoring in Premedical Biology. I have also been accepted into the Honors College there. I am very excited about this and can not wait to meet new people and experience new things. Once again, thank you for giving me the chance to represent your organization and to start working on my dreams for the future.


2005 Mainely Scholar


Kyle Poulin – Cony High School Attending: Idaho State University 

“I am honored to have received the Mainely Character Scholarship. It is such a great honor to be noticed for things I truly believe in. To be noticed for acting in the way one thinks is right, to be noticed for one’s continual hard work in school and the community, to be noticed for being a leader are things that make one feel extremely honored in their life. Recognition for developing into a person that this world needs lets one know that they are truly on the right track. Future recipients should be honored that they are individuals being recognized for their ability, not to change the world but to change the worlds of people’s lives around them.”


2004 Mainely Scholar


Dennis Rogeski – Fort Fairfield High School Attending: Husson College 

“I hope you know how much it means to me to get the Mainely Character Scholarship. I worked very hard in high school to do the best I could in all of my academic courses, and I have not always come out on top, but I have tried. And I have also tried to make sure I had time to work with my friend, Chad, and with the other community service projects that I have promised to help. I really appreciate the chance I had to tell you in person about the things that are important to me.

In terms of my college planning, your scholarship is a major help; I would say it is really my ticket to Husson College. We had been waiting to make sure the finances were going to come together before we sent in my tuition deposit. Thanks to Mainely Character, my Mom was able to write my deposit check and send it in, so, Dennis F. Rogeski IS going to Husson. Thank you so much. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this scholarship.

I hope that someday, when I graduate and get a business of my own, that I can help you with this scholarship – or better yet – maybe start a new one for kids with special needs. My Nana thinks I should start a college for special needs kids! Wouldn’t that be something.”


2003 Mainely Scholar


Kristen Underwood – Perry High School

2002 Mainely Scholar

Rory Doyle – St. Thomas Aquinas High School Attending: St. Michael’s College 

“Coming from a family of six with an older brother already in college, it is almost impossible to describe how much this scholarship means to the future of my education. Because it will help limit the amount of money my parents have to borrow, it will also be extremely beneficial in assisting with the future of my siblings’ education.

Growing up in a rural Maine town, my parents have always taught me that it’s not the material things that are the most important in life. My mother has always chosen part-time jobs that have allowed her to raise her children without day care. Making the most money has never been a goal for either of my parents. They have always emphasized the importance of education. This is why the Mainely Character scholarship is so crucial for my future.

I can honestly say that I don’t know how I ever would have been able to pay back debts for my first year of college were it not for the help of the Mainely Character program. Even though I will be employed at a camp this summer and also working as a waiter in a nearby restaurant, I would never be able to meet all the costs for college without this extremely generous scholarship.

Furthermore, it is a great honor to be recognized for the characteristics that have shaped my personality. I would like all of those involved with the Mainely Character scholarship organization to know that I feel my words could never fully express the level of gratitude that I have for your help and generosity. Thank you.”


2001 Mainely Scholar

Nicole Lane – Deering High School Attending: West Virginia Wesleyan College 

“As a recipient of the Mainely Character Scholarship, I would like to share how much this scholarship has impacted my ability to attend the college of my choice and to further my education. The costs associated with a college education, especially with a career goal of obtaining a doctorate, seemed impossible given my family’s financial circumstances. Although I has always worked hard during school, I was discouraged when I calculated the staggering costs involved. I realized that I would have to borrow large sums of money every year for eight years.

From the time we were young my mother instilled in both my brother and me that college was a natural continuation following high school. There was no question in her mind that I would further my education and that is would be in the field of my choice.

Words cannot describe the elation that I felt upon hearing that I had been chosen as the first recipient of the Mainely Character Scholarship. When the college that I will be attending learned of the scholarship award, the financial aid officer told me that he had only known of one other private scholarship issued in such a generous amount. To date, I am the student on record with the most outside scholarship support in the history of West Virginia Wesleyan College and I will be able to complete my freshman year with minimal debt. During a time of significant transition and change, this scholarship eased the stresses related to entering college. I hope you consider making this possible for another student.”