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May 2009

Congratulations to the Class of 2009



It's graduation season, and this year, over 2,400 students are scheduled to graduate from one of Maine's seven community colleges. Congratulations to them, their families, and to the faculty and staff who helped them achieve their goals!



MCCS to cover tuition and fees for students whose parents are laid off


In his bi-annual address to the Maine legislature, MCCS President John Fitzsimmons called for a major focus on the state's unemployed and announced several initiatives aimed at getting more Maine people back to work.

Among the initiatives: the Graduation Protection Assistance (GPA) program, which will cover the cost of tuition and fees for full-time dependent students whose parents experience a job loss.

Saying "we are in this together," Fitzsimmons also announced a series of regional forums to be held this summer around the state to examine how state and local agencies can combine resources to support, re-train, and re-employ laid-off workers.

And he introduced Graduation: Can Due, an effort by the student senates at all seven colleges to


match $75,000 in private funds with cash or canned goods to be donated to food banks across the state. The project is designed as a thank you gift from members of the MCCS Class of 2009 to the people of Maine for supporting their community college education. 

For more details on all these efforts and to listen to the speech.


MCCS graduate joins President Obama at press conference
Her story highlighted as success story for displaced workers 

maureen with the prez cropped

After being laid off from her job, Maureen Pike of Baileyville received her nursing degree from NMCC through a partnership with WCCC. Thanks to Pell Grants and unemployment benefits, Maureen was able to afford to return to school to upgrade her skills and is now a registered nurse at Calais Regional Hospital. On Friday, May 8, she flew to Washington, DC, to tell her story to the national media at a Presidential press conference highlighting a plan to increase access to community colleges for unemployed workers.



MCCS honors Students of the Year

The seven students chosen as the MCCS 2009 Students of the Year have excelled both in the classroom and the community. One is a persuasive advocate for victims of domestic violence, another -- a machine trades student -- recently invented a tool to improve the quality of life of a friend who is a quadriplegic, and another went back to school to earn her GED in order to support a son who was working to earn his own. Having successfully earned her GED, she kept going, completing an associate degree at KVCC and then enrolling at the University of Maine Augusta to study for a baccalaureate degree in accounting. For more on the student honorees go here.

Community Colleges offer assistance to laid-off workers

As the number of unemployed in Maine continues to rise, the state's community colleges have responded with free courses, flexible class schedules, and targeted support services. Among specific initiatives: NMCC created a new semester, one that began in early March, to enroll individuals who lost their job after the traditional start of the spring semester. YCCC has offered one free course to workers who lost their job when R. R. Donnelly and Prime Tanning closed their doors. The college has also hosted a resource fair to help those in York County who have been laid off or are worried about their jobs. In Washington County, WCCC has geared up to offer assistance to hundreds of laid-off mill workers. In addition to support services, the college is looking at programs it can offer dislocated workers beyond its current offerings. For information on what is available in your area contact your local community college. 


SMCC students build high tech devices for ocean researchers

Students deploying 500 pixelsStudents enrolled in SMCC's applied marine biology and oceanography program have been helping marine scientists working in the Gulf of Maine to capture data on ocean currents that could help improve our understanding of red tide, invasive species, and ocean pollution. 

Every year since 2004, the students have built 20-30 high-tech current tracking monitors. Released in the Gulf of Maine, the monitors, or drifters, collect data used in studies funded and/or conducted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

SMCC students also use the data in their oceanography and geographic information systems classes. And they are invited each year to Woods Hole to live aboard a ship for a few days helping to deploy the drifters.

The devices the students build have contributed to a number of scientific discoveries. According to Tom Long, laboratory manager of SMCC's applied marine biology and oceanography program, one such "a-ha" moment occurred a couple of years ago when data from the drifters helped researchers confirm a long-held, but never proven, theory about ocean currents at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. The discovery helped researchers understand the migrating and feeding patterns of right whales. 

"You've never seen more excited oceanographers in their lives," says Long. "Here was hard data on something people had only theorized in the past." 

For more info on SMCC's applied marine biology and oceanography program go here.

[Photo: L to R, SMCC students David Moore, Erin VanDine, Erin Beth Goldman, and Kara Lalomia get ready to launch their drifters.]

For Katie McDonough, the road to Cornell starts at YCCC

When Katie McDonough of Wells received a deferred acceptance to Cornell University, it was something of a blessing in disguise. "I wasn't ready to go to a large school and sit in a lecture hall of 400 kids," she says now. She found she was ready for York County Community College.

Although she had been accepted at a number of other colleges and universities and could have completed her freshman year at any one of them before transferring to Cornell, she decided YCCC had what she wanted: small classes, personal attention, and affordability.  After a tour of the college, she says she realized that YCCC "would be a great step in my transition to the Ivy League."

Cornell would accept her credits from YCCC allowing her to complete her freshman year close to home at a much lower cost and to start at Cornell as a sophomore, where she plans to major in Industrial and Labor Relations.

Katie is not alone. Increasing numbers of students are starting at a Maine community college and transferring on to four-year colleges and universities, both in and out of state. The majority move on to one of Maine's public universities. Last year alone, 2,485 MCCS transfer students were enrolled at the University of Maine System, an increase of nearly 50% since 2002.

Katie shared her story this spring with WCSH-TV. To hear more about her experiences at YCCC, go to:


Tip of the Month
Who would think the words "low-fat" and "custard" could be part of the same recipe? Leave it to a student chef at Washington County Community College. His Lowfat Blueberry Custard Brulee is this year's award winning recipe from the 3-A-Day Dairy People's Choice Award and Scholarship, hosted by Governor John Baldacci and First Lady Karen Baldacci. Taking home the $500 prize was WCCC student Josh Long. To make this and other tasty treats devised by MCCS student and faculty chefs, go to:

 All Maine Academic Team students honored for their achievements -- They are as diverse as their ages (ranging from 20 to 54) and come from across Maine (from Wells to Presque Isle), but all 14 members of the 2009 All Maine Academic Team share impressive leadership qualities and a track record of strong performance in the classroom. To read more about this talented group of students go here.

EMCC, NMCC students featured on Discovery Channel -- EMCC student Aaron Pelletier and his cousin NMCC student Tyler Pelletier have created quite a buzz on their respective college campuses this spring. The two, along with other family members, have been featured on American Logger, a Discovery Channel show that follows the family's logging business. Aaron is a student in EMCC's civil engineering and business management programs. His cousin Dustin studied machine tool technology at EMCC. And Tyler is studying diesel hydraulics technology at NMCC. You can read more about these reluctant stars of reality TV by going to

President Fitzsimmons honored for outstanding leadership -- MCCS President John Fitzsimmons has been named Mainebiz's 2009 nonprofit Business Leader of the Year. He was chosen for his leadership in guiding Maine's community colleges into an era of unprecedented growth and was featured in the publication's March issue. Read the entire article and view a short video about President Fitzsimmons' leadership at:

Community college faculty among published authors -- A poem by Nancy Henry, a CMCC adjunct instructor in psychology, will be included in "Literature and the Writing Process," 9th Ed., to be published by Pearson Longman this coming October. In addition, Dennis Leaver, chair of the SMCC radiation therapy department, has co-authored the third edition of "Principles and Practice of Radiation Therapy" (Mosby, 2010). The textbook, which is used by radiation therapy students in the United States, Canada, and other English-speaking countries, is the only book of its kind written for radiation therapy students by radiation therapists. The Purple Book, as it is known, is used by more than 95 percent of radiation therapy programs in the U.S.

AAA awards scholarships to CMCC automotive students -- Three students enrolled in CMCC's automotive program are the recipients of the 2009 AAA Northern New England scholarship. Cassidy Oullette, William Livingston, and Zachary Denmen each received a $1,000 check from AAA Northern New England, which has given $245,000 since 1999 toward the scholarship fund.

Student named winner of NMCC energy challenge -- For her proposal on more energy efficient windows in residential areas of campus, Amber Libby of Hollis has been named the winner of NMCC's Go! Green! Energy Challenge, which encouraged students to come up with ideas to maximize energy efficiency and create a more environmentally-friendly campus. Her prize was the equivalent of one year's tuition at the college.

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