Tyler LeClair grew up in the quiet Maine country town of Litchfield, playing in the woods with his twin brother Greg.
Tyler was not interested in attending college and planned to enlist in the Army, but his mom was insistent he go.
“Both of my parents grew up in Waterville and knew about Thomas, so they brought me for a tour. The rest was history. From RA to President of the CJ Club to student judicial board and intramurals, I found my home.”
Tyler said he chose to attend Thomas because it was growing.
“A lot of the newness was going on when I first toured campus, and I wanted to be a part of this forward-thinking and modern community. I liked the tight-knit feel, and I felt like I could excel here.”
Tyler said he decided to stay at Thomas because the faculty, staff, and people at Thomas really cared about him. There was one time he had been sick for a few days and hadn’t been to the Dining Center. A staff member at the Dining Center named Mary saw he wasn’t doing well, so she made him tea and gave him extra supplies to get better. One of the chefs, Bruce, asked him where he had been lately.
“Aside from greeting these two individuals every day while I ate my food, I didn’t think they would know me from a hole in the wall,” said Tyler. “Where else would you find that? I know if I went to a different school, I wouldn’t find a community like this. These same type of interactions happen across all departments – Public Safety, Maintenance, Student Affairs, Academics; it’s part of the charm that Thomas has.”
Tyler found that he is a natural leader and has a talent and passion for helping others.
First, he was a resident assistant, which taught him how to develop and maintain a community. Then, Tyler began an internship at Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office as a corrections officer. Next, he worked at the jail as a CARA (Criminogenic Addiction Recovery Academy) Officer, where he helped facilitate a therapeutic environment for inmates to complete an intensive program to assist with maintaining sobriety. Through that job, he got an opportunity to work at Crisis and Counseling as a stabilization worker.
“My college experience hasn’t been typical. I was backing up my fellow officers or helping a child or adult through difficult times on my weekends,” said Tyler.
“During my college career, I’ve seen and dealt with some very challenging situations, but I’ve also changed and saved lives. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
After graduation, Tyler is participating in a management training program at Hannaford. He’s excited for the opportunities it will provide, but it wasn’t his original plan.
“My plan was to continue in law enforcement; but, due to a heart condition I was diagnosed with, I’ve had to make some changes in my goals,” he said.
After working at Hannaford, he plans to earn his Master’s in Social Work and work with a police department serving officers and the people they encounter.
Tyler said high school students should consider attending Thomas because it is a special place where you are a name with a story and not just a face or a number.
“The Criminal Justice program, in particular, has some of the most dedicated professors I’ve seen,” he said.
“They’ll come to your sports games, make sure you’re prepared for your career, and go above and beyond to make sure your education is worth it. Don’t get me wrong — it’s not a cakewalk. They will challenge you, but that’s what makes your education worth it.”
*This story was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2018 Thomas Magazine.