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Getting Inspired

Students come to Maine's community colleges for many different reasons. And they come at all ages. Some enroll right out of high school. Others are returning to school for the first time in many years, seeking to learn new skills or to start a new career. What they share is a desire to build an interesting, rewarding life. Our colleges are here to help them achieve that goal.

Meet two student scholars at NMCC.

Some people have known since they were young what they wanted to be. Like SMCC students Tommy Gallant and Michael Benecke.

Meet students who have earned their degrees with help from MCCS's Early College for ME program.

Read how SMCC student Tommy Stirling got his start as a student, and a golfer at SMCC.

Read about two students, Rachel Champoux, 16, and Robert Witham, 83, who prove that there is no age limit on learning.

A group of students from accross the system spent the summer of 2011 exploring transfer at Vassar College. Read all about SMCC student BobieLynn Fisher's experience at Vassar here. And learn more about the program here. [Photo above.]

Meet Sheena Farmer, a student at KVCC from Detroit, ME whose work on a prototype vehicle to roam mars won her a visit to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL.

Meet some of our recent graduates and see for yourself just what's possible at a Maine community college. And if you’re interested in reading about a group of current MCCS students who are making a difference in the classroom and in the community, visit our All-Maine Academic Team page.

Student Profiles

Maxx Coombs

Southern Maine Community College
Local sports fans may not know Maxx Coombs but have likely seen his work. A 2011 graduate of SMCC with an associate degree in communications and new media, Maxx is a full-time camera operator for the company that owns Boston's TD Garden. Maxx grew up in the Brunswick area, was homeschooled until the seventh grade, and graduated from Mt. Ararat High School. This past winter and spring, when he wasn't filming the Celtics, he and his camera were following the action on the ice as the Bruins made a run for the Stanley Cup. Maxx credits SMCC, with its small class sizes and supportive instructors, with helping him land a job that he loves. SMCC was a good fit for me. It is such a great program for a small college. Teachers put time in to each student.

To be where I am in my career today, at my age, I count my blessings.

Maxx Coombs

Fahmo Ahmed

Central Maine Community College
Fahmo Ahmed dreams of becoming a social worker in Lewiston, and she is well on her way to making that dream a reality. A native of Somalia, Fahmo moved to the United States over seven years ago with the goal of continuing her education. Although she could speak seven languages, English was not one of them. Through hard work on her part and the support of her teachers, she graduated from Edward Little High School and enrolled in CMCC's general studies program. Along the way, she became an involved member of the college community. After she graduates from CMCC, Fahmo plans to enroll in the social and behavioral sciences program at USM's Lewiston-Auburn College. She will bring to her chosen career a global perspective and a deep understanding of the challenges so many face in their quest for a college education and a better life. Ever since I was little I knew what I wanted to do. I worked hard and believed in myself. CMCC made everything possible.

I would tell others you can fulfill any dream if you try your hardest, never look back, and see how far you can come.

Fahmo Ahmed

Beth Walker

York County Community College
Beth Walker had been out of school for more than a decade when she lost her job and decided it was time to make a career change. Passionate about cooking and farming, she enrolled in YCCC's culinary arts program and took full advantage of what the program had to offer. During her two years at YCCC, she won awards for her culinary and academic accomplishments and was named the college's 2013 Student of the Year. Beth and her husband have a small farm in Casco and hope someday soon to open a dairy and commercial kitchen that would, among other things, offer family-style dining, built around the bounty of local farms. But that will have to wait until she gets back from a semester in Ireland where she will study culinary arts at Cork Institute of Technology. Beth and Kori Kinney —a recent graduate of EMCC— have been chosen George J. Mitchell Peace Scholars for 2013, joining 28 other Maine community college students who have received this prestigious honor over the past 15 years.

Beth Walker

Kyle Forsythe

Central Maine Community College
Kyle Forsythe grew up in western Maine and enjoyed a childhood spent largely out of doors: helping out in his family's garden and woodlot and working on a nearby farm. He had many diverse interests, but when he graduated from Oxford Hills High School in 2009 he had no idea what he might do next. He thought about a four year degree, but liked the idea of doing something hands on and tangible. So he enrolled in CMCC's automotive technology program. Midway through the program, he started taking additional courses in precision machining. By the spring of 2012, three years after he first enrolled at CMCC, he had earned two associate degrees. He had also figured out his long-term goal. He's now enrolled in the engineering program at the University of Maine and adding a third degree to his tool belt.

CMCC made it possible for me to develop practical skills and motivated me to pursue a degree in engineering.

Kyle Forsythe

Morgan Talty

Eastern Maine Community College
Morgan Talty was afraid to apply to college when he graduated from high school. His grades were not great; he'd spent more time taking care of family members than studying; and he had little confidence in his abilities. But he got up the courage to apply to EMCC, "a small school where I could get help more easily," and then he never looked back. In the two years Morgan spent at EMCC, he discovered a passion for learning that lead him to study for a semester in Ireland as a George Mitchell Peace Scholar; to Costa Rica, where he studied Spanish; and to a summer at Vassar College's Exploring Transfer Program. Along the way he gained confidence and a strong desire to build a better future for himself and his people, the Wabanaki. After graduating from EMCC in the spring of 2012, Morgan transferred to Dartmouth College. He plans to earn a bachelor's degree and then a doctorate and wants to teach creative writing or contemporary Native American studies at the university level.

The journey that started at EMCC isn't over. It started there, and I am forever connected to the college, the place that taught me to succeed and gave me a passon to learn.

Morgan Talty

Kristie Harris

Kennebec Valley Community College
Kristie Harris enrolled in the nursing program at KVCC to try to put her life back together. In the months leading up to her enrollment, she lost her job and her husband was critically injured. "I was eight months pregnant with no job, no degree, and a four-year-old son to care for. I had faced obstacles in my life, but this seemed insurmountable." She spent months in the hospital helping to care for her husband. As he recovered, she began to dream of becoming a nurse. Not only did she overcome her deep seated fear of algebra, she excelled in the classroom and contributed in important ways to the KVCC community. In 2012 she was named KVCC's Student of the Year for all that she had overcome and all that she achieved.

I came to the nursing program at KVCC because I had heard excellent things about it and it was close to home. After working as a new registered nurse for the last couple of months, I am more sure than ever that I made the right choice.

Kristi Harris

Mark Castonguay

Central Maine Community College
Mark Graduated fifth in his class at Livermore Falls High School and became the first member of his family to attend college when he enrolled at Central Maine Community College in the fall of 2004. He graduated from CMCC in 2007 with a degree in business administration and management. He then transferred to the University of Maine to earn his bachelor's degree in business. Today, at 25, Mark is assistant store manager at the Hannaford in Rockland, having quickly worked his way up from a manager in a variety of departments.

"People skills and analytical skills are critical to my job, and CMCC was instrumental in helping me build both."

Mark Castonguay

Shauna Strattonmeier

Eastern Maine Community College
At 37, Shauna Strattonmeier earned her associate's degree from EMCC. In the fall of 2011 she transferred to Mt. Holyoke College to begin studying for a bachelor's degree.

"Education is the equalizer that brings everyone together as part of community that is moving forward, changing the environment in which we live in a positive way. I wanted to be a part of that. It's because I came to EMCC that I have these opportunities."

Shauna shares her inspiring story in this video clip.

Shauna Strattonmeier

Crystal Stack

Southern Maine Community College
Having graduated seventh in her high school class of 300, Crystal Stack's options for college were wide open. She decided SMCC was the place for her. It was close to her home in Buxton and offered both majors she was interested in studying: paramedicine and nursing. While earning her associate degree in paramedicine at SMCC, Crystal, 23, participated in a unique live-in program for two-years at the Buxton Fire Department. When she wasn’t in class she was on-call as an emergency medical technician and occasional firefighter. The living quarters were modest, but the learning experience invaluable. She earned her degree in paramedicine in spring 2010 and is now enrolled in the nursing program at SMCC, class of 2012.

"When you go out on a call you take what you are learning in the classroom and apply it to what you are experiencing. You gain a tremendous amount of practical experience and a new level of maturity."

Crystal Stack

Greg Williams

Central Maine Community College
Greg Williams' degree from CMCC earned him a promotion at work. After graduating from high school he worked driving a fork lift at the Poland Spring bottling facility. Aided by the company's tuition reinbursement program, he got his degree in electromechanical technology while working full time. Today, he helps maintain the plant's highly technical equipment.

Greg Willilams

Mary Potter

York County Community College
Mary Potter has a lot of experience cooking for a crowd. For years she was a stay-at-home mom cooking for a full house. A graduate of YCCC's culinary program, she's now the Food Service Manager at the University of New England in Biddeford, managing a kitchen that serves up to 900 college students at every meal.

Mary Potter

Sean Murphy

Northern Maine Community College
Sean Murphy knew he wanted a career change when he began taking night classes at NMCC. When the catering business where he worked was forced to close, he enrolled full time in NMCC’s new wind power technology program. The 42-year-old grew up in Caribou and recently returned to his roots in northern Maine, specifically Presque Isle, after 17 years on the West Coast. He graduated in the spring of 2011 and is optimistic about career opportunities in the wind power industry. Optimistic, too, about finding a good job in Maine that will allow him to provide a more secure future for himself and his 11-year-old daughter.

"I was pleased to be able to go to college full time. I want to provide for my daughter. She will go to college someday, and I want to save up to send her."

Sean Murphy

Ater Ater

Southern Maine Community College
Ater Ater was born in Egypt after his family fled the civil war in Sudan. He and his family came to Portland in 2003, and Ater graduated from Portland High in 2009.  Now 19, he is enrolled in the criminal justice program at SMCC. He worked last summer as a cadet with the Portland Police Department and serves as chief of Portland's Police Explorers Post, a group affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America. Ater is committed to ensuring public safety. His goal: to serve his community as a patrol officer and to continue his education.

"I chose SMCC because of its criminal justice program. It has given me many opportunities and helped me decide what I want to do with my life."

Ater Ater

Emily Morris

Central Maine Community College
When Emily Morris of Jefferson graduated from Lincoln Academy and enrolled at CMCC, her vision of the future didn't initially include earning her bachelor's degree. But in May of this year she graduated from CMCC's academically rigorous architectural and civil engineering technology program with a 3.2 GPA and is now enrolled in the University of Southern Maine's construction management program. As a 19-year-old "traditional" student, Morris took on many non-traditional challenges at CMCC. She enrolled in a male-dominated field of study and was the college's only female resident assistant. Her campus and community involvement and academic success lead to her being named CMCC's 2010 Student of the Year. Her advice for other students: get involved, join clubs, ask questions in class, if it's an option live on-campus, become an RA, and cheer for your college's sports teams! "The opportunities are endless and your hard work is truly rewarded in the end," said Morris.

"CMCC has opened so many doors for me. It's a place to find opportunity, and they help set you up for the future," said Morris."Community college is a great place to start."

Emily Morris, CMCC

Branden Densmore

Kennebec Valley Community College
Branden Densmore dropped out of high school in the 9th grade, tripped up by a bad attitude and chronic disease. He spent the next few years working hard at a variety of jobs, but, at 19, realized he wanted more. He turned to Adult Education, earned his GED, and enrolled at KVCC, where he majored in liberal studies. Along the way, he discovered a deep love of learning that led him to a summer program at Vassar College designed to introduce community college students to the challenges and rewards of a four-year liberal arts education. He studied hard that summer—taking courses in ethics and science—and did extremely well. The experience led to a full scholarship to Vassar where he is majoring in philosophy and pre-med.

“KVCC gave me a really good foundation. I have discovered a new confidence.  I honestly feel like I can accomplish anything.”

Branden Densmore

 

Elizabeth Boomer

WCCC and EMCC
Elizabeth Boomer of Baileyville went to work at the local paper mill after graduating from high school, following in the footsteps of her father and her grandparents. She worked in the mill for 20 years, until it closed and she and many others were laid off.  Because she had often encouraged her children to go to college, she decided it was time for her to "stand up and do it," although, as she says, the prospect was "scary as heck." She enrolled in WCCC's liberal studies program, completed a number of required courses, and then transferred to EMCC's nursing program. Today, as Elizabeth prepares to be a nurse, she says with real conviction: "I know this is what I'm supposed to be doing with my life."

"Everyone cares about your success and wants to see you do well, which helped me settle into my role as a student.” 

Elizabeth Boomer

Devin Provencal

Southern Maine Community College
Devin Provencal didn't intend to go to college.  He thought he'd join his father and grandfather in the family's plumbing business. While he was a student at Skowhegan Area High School, he participated in the community colleges' Early College for ME program to explore his options. Thanks in part to a scholarship he received through the program, he decided to enroll in the plumbing and heating program at SMCC. He made the Dean's List, served as a resident assistant in one of the college's dorms, and represented Maine at the National SkillsUSA championships, where he won the top prize in plumbing.  After graduation, Devin returned home to Skowhegan, where he's expanded the family business to include heating as well as plumbing.

"Going to a community college helped me advance my career and provided a whole new opportunity for our family business as well."

Devin Provencal