Hard Work Pays Off

Carl Michaud has always understood the value of hard work. As director of administration services at Central Aroostook Association, Michaud devotes much of his time to his job. The organization, started in 1959, aims to provide the best care and service for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Michaud is in charge of daily business operations. These include finance, human resources, maintenance and accounting.

Growing up in Fort Fairfield, Michaud spent his time hanging out with friends and playing sports. “Fort Fairfield in the ‘70s and ‘80s was a great place to be a kid. I felt safe riding my bike to all parts of the town and walked to school every day. Sports were a big part of my life as my brothers and friends constantly played sports depending on which season it was,” Michaud said. He also worked at the local convenience store, C&W Enterprises.

In high school, Michaud developed an interest in math. He was voted treasurer of his class. “As I went on in school, I thought having a working career in math would be great, so I decided to take the college program in high school and concentrate in accounting,” Michaud said. This interest in budgeting numbers would influence Michaud to pursue a career in accounting later in his life.

After graduating from high school, Michaud followed in his older brother’s footsteps and began working full time. He had little interest in college and received little advice from counselors or family on the subject. Eventually he decided to go back to school. “I was determined to attend college at some level. My family could not support me financially through college, so tuition costs were a major player in my decision to first attend Northern Maine Vocational Technical Institute,” Michaud said. Michaud attended NMVTI from 1985-1987, earning his associate degree in accounting.

Despite earning his associate degree, Michaud struggled as a student. After earning his degree, Michaud struggled to find a job. He realized that a bachelor’s degree was the step. “With my degree, I thought I was all set and employers were going to be fighting over me to make me their employee. I was obviously wrong and after working a year and a half in a grocery store, I decided it was time to go back to school,” Michaud said.

UMPI was Michaud’s first choice. Paying his way through college, it was important for Michaud to stay at his job while attending school. “I wanted to stay in the area as I did have a good job that was flexible and allowed me to attend school. I also asked some local business people about the business and accounting program at UMPI and received information that it was a great school. Being able to attend a college locally allowed me to work and as I graduated, all my school costs were paid for. I did not have to take out any loans,” Michaud recounts.

While attending UMPI, Michaud developed lifelong friendships. “Since I lived in the next town over, I would commute to school. It’s hard getting to know your peers when you don’t live on campus. I soon developed a close circle with other commuting students. We would all hang out at the old Owl’s Nest in Wieden Hall,” Michaud recalls.

Michaud earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1991. His first job after college was as a plant manager at Northeast Packaging. After three years, he was hired as a finance manager at Job Corps. He credits his accounting professor, Steve Merrill, for giving him the tools to succeed after UMPI. “Steve was a huge influence on me. He taught me to see the bigger picture,” Michaud said. “Any accountant can figure the numbers in a budget. But a good accountant can tell you what the numbers actually mean.”

After working at Job Corps for 12 years, Michaud decided to pursue his master’s degree. He enrolled at Husson University in 2007 and in 2010, earned his degree in business administration. “I was just really

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looking for job advancement. It is a tough job market, so I figured getting my master’s would help me in the future.

In July 2008, Michaud was hired as director of administrative services at Central Aroostook Association. It had always been his dream to work for a nonprofit program, and CAA was the perfect fit. “It became very evident that soon after Carl was hired he was the right person for the job,” Steve Richard, executive director of CAA, said. “As a dad he understood what family was all about and we consider the association a family. Carl was able to combine this quality with the quality of being a great finance person. This was a combination that we did not think that we could find.”

For the last six years, Michaud has volunteered on the area management team for the Special Olympics. He finds this experience to be extremely rewarding. “All the people involved put in so much hard work. You can see the enthusiasm and appreciation in every athlete. It is an amazing feeling.”

Michaud is also the chairman for the board of visitors at UMPI. He has been part of the board for four years. The main goal of the board is to create a link between UMPI and the community. Michaud volunteers his time to the college because he believes that it’s important to maintain a connection with his alma mater. He credits UMPI with giving him the tools to succeed later in his life. “The instructors I had helped me to realize that learning is a lifelong activity and that being a good student makes a big difference. The instructors gave me confidence that I was a good student and made a great choice when I returned to school to obtain my bachelor’s degree,” Michaud said.

Managing time between work and volunteering is a skill Michaud is good at. Working with a full schedule most weeks, Michaud always finds time to spend with his family. “I have two kids in college and I always tell them to appreciate the time they have. Four years may seem like a long time, but it goes by fast,” Michaud said. “It’s important to have patience.”