NORTHPORT — Erica Papkee, like many of her generation, looked to Google for help.

A resident of Long Island in Casco Bay who will be a junior at Boston College in the fall, Papkee was awarded the $10,000 S. Parkman Shaw Scholarship in a ceremony at Point Lookout on Saturday, May 31. She joined 59 other island students in receiving scholarships through the Island Institute (publisher of The Working Waterfront).

As she prepared to speak to the other scholarship recipients and their parents, Papkee wanted to see what a web search on the phrase “college is about”¦” would turn up. The phrase was often completed with the words “finding yourself,” she found.

But for Papkee, college has meant “redefining yourself,” she said.

“I wanted to get out of Maine. I wanted to get to the city,” she said, and she certainly achieved that. “My dorm had more people living in it than my entire island community.”

But instead of being overwhelmed, she made it her goal to get involved. “Getting involved in the island is second nature for many of us,” she said, so it wasn’t that much of a leap.

She realized she would “have to create or find smaller communities within my university. I soon found myself part of many clubs and organizations that introduced me to a wonderful group of individuals.”

As further motivation, Papkee posted a sign over the bed in her dorm suite that read: “When was the last time you tried something for the first time?”

Each time she and the eight other young women with whom she shared housing tried something—swing dance lessons, a political action group—they would stick a colored Post-It note on the wall, listing the activity.

“After nine months, a colorful mosaic” adorned the wall, attesting to 58 new “firsts.”

That courage extended to her academic work as well.

Papkee began college with a plan to become a teacher and so majored in elementary education.

“I had a ten-year plan to build my own school,” she said, and confessed to being “obsessed with being the best” in her field.

But after a semester student teaching with a fifth-grade teacher in Brookline, a suburb of Boston, she had a change of heart and a different understanding about herself and her interests.

Rather than continue on that path, she reflected and decided to change her major to applied psychology and human development.

“What I learned from this experience is the power of throwing yourself into something,” she said. “There is no way I could have known without putting myself out there whether or not this would be something I was ready for.”

Papkee encouraged the other scholars, many of whom are about to graduate high school, to bring that same quest for new experiences to their college years.

And after leaving the island for the big city, her appreciation for Maine has only grown.

“I realize now just how much Maine, and my island community, mean to me,” she said. “I realize the love I have for the outdoors and for nature’s beauty has been magnified by my time in Boston.”

Karen Burns, the Island Institute’s community development director, opened the luncheon by reminding students that if they worry about making it, they should know they “have people, some of whom you never met, who believe in you.”

In his comments, Rob Snyder, Island Institute president, highlighted the island scholarship program, which since 1990 has made 930 awards totaling $1.3 million.