When Brenda Boucher LaFrance returned to Orono in August to move her youngest daughter, Grace, into a residence hall at the University of Maine, it was deja vu.
Not just because she is an alumna, but because she has done this two other times, with three of her older children.
Brenda and Jim LaFrance of Alfred, Maine have four children — Grace, Sophia, Joanna and Garrett — all attending UMaine and thriving. Brenda graduated from UMaine in 1987 with a degree in education, and is an elementary school gifted and talented teacher, and intervention specialist. Jim LaFrance is a kitchen and bathroom designer.
“Being in school with your siblings is really nice because whenever you are feeling homesick, you always have pieces of home with you,” says Sophia, a third-year student who enrolled with her fraternal twin sister Joanna; both are biology majors, with concentrations in pre-med, and are in the Honors College.
Garrett, a fifth-year biology major, says having his sisters at UMaine has kept him grounded “and it holds us all accountable for staying on track and keeping each other focused on our goals.”
And their goals are big.
All four plan to pursue careers in health care. They say their inspiration stems from their compassion and desire to help and heal others.
Sophia and Joanna plan to pursue careers in pediatric medicine. Garrett, who graduates in December, is headed to graduate school for a career as a physician’s assistant or dentist. Grace, who was the most excited of the four to be joining her siblings, plans to be a surgeon.
“Being in school with your siblings is really nice because whenever you are feeling homesick, you always have pieces of home with you.” Sophia LaFrance
“I have been left by myself with my parents for the last two (years) while they came here,” says Grace, a biochemistry major with a pre-med concentration. “So I am definitely happy to get to hang out with them more than I usually do during the school year.”
Having family on campus has had other benefits, Sophia says.
“My twin sister and I have all the same classes, and we study together for every exam. And my brother studies with us for the classes that we have together,” she says.
The LaFrance siblings have fully embraced the breadth and depth of the state’s only public research university.
Garrett says he loves UMaine’s atmosphere.
“There are so many clubs, groups and events to choose from, and everywhere you go there are opportunities to meet good people,” he says. “I’m looking forward to seeing Grace make new friends and have a great start to her college career like I did.”
Sophia says working with faculty has made her UMaine experience particularly satisfying.
“I love that most of the professors you have are there to help you whenever you need it,” she says. “I’ve visited so many professors’ office hours and most of them are always available to give you extra help because they also want you to succeed.”
“It is such a beautiful place, and it’s hard not to call UMaine home (during) the eight months I’m in school,” says Joanna.