First Year Student Blog: Maurice Paquette

Friday, March 23, 2018

Maurice Paquette, PA-S

It takes a village to raise a child.

Growing up in a small town in northern Vermont, I was lucky enough to be the beneficiary of this proverb. Going to high school less than two miles from home, my early years were predominated by a caring community that supported each of my endeavors, including school, sports and travel. College further echoed this. Saint Michael’s College, just two miles from my family’s restaurant, was a community which cared for the individual needs of each and every student. From small classes and philosophical discussions to international travel, and a group of biology professors who shaped me more than they could ever know, SMC was a wonderful place to grow and flourish, as not only a student, but also as a person.

My acceptance into the Duke Physician Assistant Program was without a doubt an incredible personal honor, but more so it was a testament to the village that raised me: my high school teachers and coaches, my professors at Saint Michael’s, the staff of the UVM ED where I worked for two years, and most importantly, my family. Without them, the distant thought of attending Duke would have remained just that, a dream.

My first four months at Duke flew by, and in no time I was able to make great friends whom just months before shared the same awkward first day as me. One of the highlights of first semester was the Duke Graduate Student Campout. “Campout,” is a 38-hour whirlwind experience, where any graduate student is able to pitch a tent in the parking lots surrounding the athletic campus for a chance to win Duke men’s basketball season tickets. The rules are simple: miss multiple “check-ins” over the 38 hours and lose your chance at tickets. As 15 of my classmates and I sweated it out on the Durham pavement on a sunny Saturday afternoon, we were able to share with each other the ups and downs of the weekend, while also getting to know each other better. Although not all of us left with basketball tickets (14 out of 16 is a great campout weekend though!), we did all leave with a new group of friends whom we would turn to throughout the remainder of the first semester.

As I filed into Cameroon Indoor Stadium in January, three months after campout, to watch the Blue Devils take on Notre Dame, I was surrounded by graduate students from the medical school, the business school, and the physical therapy program; the camaraderie is amazing and I highly recommend everyone attend as many Duke basketball games as possible.

But most importantly, standing next to me and becoming an honorary Cameroon Crazy dressed in Duke Blue, was my dad. I had the honor of bringing him to see Coach K and one of the most storied men’s college basketball programs take on Notre Dame. As we counted down and cheered Duke’s 88-66 win over the Fighting Irish, I was able to celebrate with my dad not only the big win for the Blue Devils, but also the unbelievable achievement of completing my first semester at Duke. For as much of a personal accomplishment as it was to get into this amazing program and finish my first semester, all of the credit goes to my parents. Without them and their unwavering support and love, my dream of being a Cameron Crazy with my dad would never have become the reality that I got to live that one awesome day in January.

Maurice Paquette is a second-year PA student with the Duke Physician Assistant Program. Email with questions.
Editor’s note: Duke Physician Assistant Program students blog every month. Blogs represent the opinion of the author, not the Duke Physician Assistant Program, the Department of Community and Family Medicine or Duke University