Presque Isle – After nearly 40 years teaching music, with 32 years locally at RSU 39 in Caribou, Vicki King knew exactly what to do when she retired in 2022, and it didn’t involve music. At least not at first.
Nine years ago Vicki’s father Dick Callison passed away, leaving her his collection of tools – chop saws, a drill press, and a collection of hand tools. She’d spent 20 years helping her dad work summer construction jobs, “being his gopher” as she describes it. Once she inherited her own set of tools, Vicki wanted to learn how to use them.
In the spring of 2022, Vicki applied for NMCC’s building construction technology program. One year later, as Vicki prepares to graduate with her certificate in Building Construction Technology this May, she finds herself with a familiar responsibility: conducting the commencement chorus to perform for a crowd of thousands.
“We didn’t know if we would be able to have a chorus at commencement this year, but somebody on the committee introduced Vicki’s name,” said NMCC Dean of Development Griffin Goins. “Vicki had taught several employees’ children, and even some employees themselves. It became clear that we had a rare talent on campus – graduating this year no less – and so we reached out and asked if she wanted to lead the chorus.”
Vicki accepted with a smile. On May 13th at the Forum she will lead a campus chorus to perform Jason Mraz’s “Have It All,” and also perform this year’s National Anthem.
Vicki began at NMCC in the fall of 2022. “I have learned so many things about proper usage of tools,” she says proudly. “From choosing the correct tool for the job, to working with other people who have completely different backgrounds and personalities. It’s different being the student instead of teacher.” Vicki still balances both roles at times. “I try to take care of the other students in my cohort,” she says.
“She’s been the best student here,” said Building Construction Technology faculty Matt Cole. “Vicki is frustrated if she doesn’t get a 100%. She has by far gotten the most out of this class. You’d think it would be somebody young, but she wants every bit of information.”
Recalling one of her favorite and most challenging courses, Vicki said, “I loved blueprint reading, but when I first started, the instructor Pam Buck terrified me. Although she’s not big in stature, she’s big in personality. I came to discover she’s one of the kindest people you could possibly meet, and will help with anything.”
When asked why she chose to perform Jason Mraz’s Have It All, she said, “I think the lyrics are exactly what I want to say. For all of the graduates, and anybody who aspires to be a student, you want them to achieve their ultimate goals, and you can do more than one thing. I think that speaks to what I’ve done here.”
NMCC’s 58th Commencement Ceremony will take place at 10 am on May 13th at The Forum in Presque Isle. Vicki King will walk across the stage alongside her classmates to receive her credential, but will step away from the procession to lead the chorus.
“It’s an honor to be attending in both capacities,” she said.
The event will also be livestreamed via the College’s website and Facebook page. To learn more, please visit nmcc.edu or contact 207-768-2785.
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