When Shelbe Lane graduates with honors from the University of Maine in May, she’ll be equipped with a bachelor’s degree in business management, a minor in legal studies and experience as the intern to chief legal counsel in the Governor’s Office.
All of which should serve her well this fall when she enters the University of Maine School of Law in Portland.
Lane’s philosophy helps explain how she accomplished so much in her three years at UMaine: “If you see something you want to accomplish you should go after it,” she says.
Lane, who turns 21 in April, credits UMaine’s Honors College with providing her with unique cultural opportunities, interesting, varied courses and encouraging her to be analytical and search for solutions.
The Patten native, who regularly commutes to campus, is also a proud alumna of Maine NEW Leadership, a university program that seeks to educate and engage college-age women and to empower them to be leaders.
Civic service is a priority for Lane, who in the summer of 2012 participated in Maine NEW Leadership — a free, six-day, nonpartisan training program for college women focusing on such areas as public speaking, coalition building, networking, advocacy and running for public office.
The program strives to provide attendees with “a greater awareness of their leadership potential, skills, and opportunities in civic life and public office” and to prepare them to “emerge as political leaders.”
Lane says the program and its presenters inspired her. She says she wants to enact positive change in ways other than running for elected office, including perhaps someday working in an attorney general’s office.
Mary Cathcart, co-director of Maine NEW Leadership and a senior policy associate at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine, knows about public service. The former four-term state senator and three-time representative believes in the importance of women motivating and supporting each other.
In 1988, Cathcart attended a Winning With Women speech given by Shirley Chisholm, a teacher, activist and congressperson who ran for president in 1972. When Chisholm asked those in the audience to rise if they planned to run for office, Cathcart’s friends encouraged her to stand. Not long after, Cathcart launched her distinguished career in public service.
“Women do make a difference,” Cathcart says. And, she says, women are buoyed when they can identify with successful role models.
Cathcart says Lane is a bright young woman from a small town “who is growing up to be a very strong leader.”
Lane says she strives to be courageous, create opportunities and do her best. In the fall of 2011, she became the first Governor’s Office intern in Gov. LePage’s administration.
Honors College members are encouraged in their junior tutorials to study abroad or take part in an alternate learning experience. As Lane was carrying a 21-credit course load, studying abroad wasn’t feasible.
So she pursued the opportunity for an experience in the Governor’s Office and landed an internship with Michael Cianchette, Gov. LePage’s chief legal counsel.
Lane recounts a number of highlights, including Pardons Board hearings. She relished the internship so much she extended it for a month and wrote a handbook guide for future interns.
In order to graduate in three years with 120 credits, the commuter has taken as many as 21 credits a semester and enrolled in summer classes. She also earned 10 college credits when she was a student at Katahdin Middle/High School, where she was valedictorian of the Class of 2010.
Throughout her college career, Lane has also worked six to 10 hours a week at her father’s logging business in Patten.
During the routine 1.5-hour drive to Patten, which is home to about 1,000 people, Lane says she listens to music and frequently composes papers in her head.
A calendar and sticky notes helps Lane keep everything on track.
“If it needs to get done, then it is written down on a list somewhere,” she says. “Sometimes, when things get crazy, that includes a note reminding me to take a little time off. I am a planner, I have an end goal and I like to challenge myself.”
Entering her final semester, Lane’s grade-point average was 3.89.
She says her friends and supporters also occasionally remind her to relax, which entails cooking, reading magazines, gardening and watching movies with her fiancé.
After law school, Lane is considering specializing in employment law or mediation.