Campus Connections – July 20

Virtual “Scholarship Lemonade” gatherings recognize SMCC Foundation donors

The SMCC Foundation held a series of online “Scholarship Lemonade” get-togethers to recognize scholarship donors and connect them with Foundation board members and SMCC staff and faculty.

The SMCC Foundation usually holds coffee receptions each year to recognize and spotlight scholarship donors and recipients. Due to COVID-19, the Foundation this year held three meetings via Zoom in late June.

During the gatherings, people introduced themselves and talked about what SMCC means to them. Some of the most moving moments came when staff and faculty shared students’ personal stories and letters on how much the scholarships mean in helping them continue their education while pursuing bright futures.

“Overall, there was such a great sense of support and recognition that we have so many people who support our students and the education we offer. That was really powerful,” said Julie Chase, who oversees the Foundation as SMCC’s Dean of Business & Community Partnerships.

The SMCC Foundation this year awarded $231,232 in scholarships to 237 students, up from $171,528 awarded to 213 students during 2018-19 academic year.

SMCC student working in wilds of Alaska

Becky Scott wanted to explore culinary opportunities far removed from her native Portland this summer. Now she’s working in a kitchen in a former mining town in the remote wilds of Alaska.

Becky is spending the summer learning the day-to-day kitchen operations at the Golden Saloon, a restaurant-bar in the small town of McCarthy.

Once a rowdy pioneer town, McCarthy now serves as a kind of basecamp for adventures into American’s largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The area features spectacular scenery, with skeletons of old copper mines that operated a century ago.

Becky’s quest for a summer learning adventure began last fall, when she searched online for opportunities far from Maine. She ended up 4,500 miles from home in a tiny town with a colorful history and a taste of old Alaska.

“I wanted to challenge myself not only with my career, but also going somewhere I’ve never been before, out of my comfort zone,” she said. “So I found myself searching online for resorts and lodges that were hiring for the summer and one of the first places to come up was McCarthy Lodge (and Golden Saloon) in Alaska.”

Becky talked to the owner and then the executive chef before taking the offer to work at the Golden Saloon during the peak summer season. She was worried this spring that COVID-19 would disrupt her plans, but the lodge and restaurant opened for the summer, but only to Alaska residents.

Becky attended the University of Maine after high school, but left after a year, feeling a little lost on what her future would look like. She was drawn to SMCC for its affordability, and ended up in the Culinary Arts program after discovering her passion for cooking.

“Working in restaurants and being in culinary showed me that cooking can be easy with the right tools, and culinary school has provided that for me,” she said. “Now I want to learn as much as I can in all aspects of the culinary world.”