Deering senior plans to trade skates, cleats for scalpel

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PORTLAND — In sports, Elicia Fortier is accustomed to putting a hurt on her opponents.

But come next fall, the Deering High School senior will be attending college to learn how to fix them.

On Thursday, June 3, at 10:30 a.m., the 17-year-old will be one of about 320 students marching down the isle during the DHS commencement ceremony at the Portland Expo.

Next year, Fortier will be attending Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, where she will study emergency medicine or cardiac surgery. She will be the first in her family to go to college. 

“My mom is so excited,” said Fortier, whose mom works for Shaw’s supermarkets. “We’ve been teasing her. We’ve been going to all of these ceremonies and she’s been crying at all of them.”

Fortier has played on the girls’ ice hockey team since she was a freshman. Later, she began playing rubgy on Maine’s only under-19 Women’s Rugby team, which finished first this year in New England and the Northeast.

In May, the team traveled to Utah for the national championships and finished seventh.

“I’m right there at front of the line in the scrum,” Fortier said.

She said her mother was shocked when she learned about her daughter’s interest in hockey and rugby, but did not discourage her. And over the last four years, Fortier has gained more from sports than goals.

“We’re like sisters,” she said of her hockey teammates. “It’s a mental game and it’s a physical game. You have to work together as a team, or you won’t go anywhere.”

Meanwhile, the softer side of Fortier has led her to volunteer at Preble Street Soup Kitchen, Jewish Community Alliance’s day-care center and shoveling driveways for the elderly with the National Honor Society.

She has received the Youth Service Award from the Portland Rotary Club and the Stephen Brent Jacobson Memorial Award from the JCA.

“I’m all over the place – the same with my taste in music,” said Fortier, who enjoys drawing and making jewelry in her spare time.

Fortier has also been involved in Maine Medical Center’s Medical Explorers program. DHS Principal Ken Kunin said she has helped solidify the organization of the student-run blood drive, which which consistently meets or exceeds collection goals.

Fortier said she knew for certain she wanted to be a doctor after spending 10 days the summer of her junior year at the National Youth Leaders Forum in Boston, where students were able to witness open-heart surgery and an autopsy, as well as holding human organs. 

During the surgery, Fortier said, her decision was sealed when the surgeon held a beating heart in his hands.

“Nothing bothered me, but everyone else was freaking out,” she said. “I was like, this is for me. I love it.” 

Fortier, however, does not plan to go soft when she goes to college. She plans on playing intramural ice hockey and trying to convince the school to start an intramural rugby team.

Looking back on her time at Deering, Fortier, who also served on the Student Senate, said she wouldn’t do anything differently. Her advice to incoming freshmen would be to make the most of the their time and to get involved.

“Use your time, because it goes by really fast,” she said. “And really challenge yourself, because you’re never going to know what you’re capable of until you so something.”

And she added, “definitely don’t be afraid to step out of the box.”

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings[email protected]

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Next year, Elicia Fortier of Portland will become the first person in her family to attend college, where she will study medicine.