BANGOR, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage on Friday told a group of Penobscot Job Corps graduates that one of them could one day lead the state if they take advantage of their opportunities.

LePage delivered the commencement address during a Job Corps ceremony attended by 80 students who graduated at some point during the past year, as well as around 300 family members and instructors.

“There’s probably a governor sitting right in this audience,” LePage said.

He told the students that reaching graduation was the first major step in transitioning to adulthood “so they can become producers and contributors to our society.”

Tracey Cooley, the center’s director, told students their work is only just beginning.

“Be proud, because you are just now beginning your pathway to your future,” Cooley said. “Graduation is not the end, it’s the beginning.”

About 270 students are enrolled at Penobscot Job Corps at any given time, according to the school. Students graduate from their two- or three-year programs at different times throughout the year and are welcomed to graduate together during August ceremonies.

Job Corps is the nation’s largest career and technical training and education program. The institution works with low-income and at-risk students age 16-24 at no cost. Programs range from welding and nursing to culinary arts and baking.

“Graduation is a day for celebrations and speeches, it’s a day for relief and gratitude, it’s a day when one way of life ends and another begins,” Cooley said.

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