Fire safety has been in Steve Willis’ blood since he was young. As a junior firefighter in high school, he rode his bike when responding to fire calls; now he heads SMCC’s Fire Science program.
After high school, Willis graduated from SMCC’s Fire Science program before working as a full-time firefighter in South Portland and Portland for seven years. He later went to work for Maine Fire Service Training, which was part of state government. MFST then became part of SMCC in 1988, and he’s been here ever since — the last five years as chairman of the Fire Science program.
Willis has seen SMCC’s Fire Science program grow through the years. When he was a student, he was one of just six full-time Fire Science students; today there are 120.
When Fire Science’s live-in training program (where students live and work in fire stations while going to school) began in 1988, it had six students. It now has 92 students in 31 stations in 17 Southern Maine communities.
The live-in program helps students both in the classroom and in the field when they graduate and become professional firefighters, Willis says.
“I think the academic experience needs to be closely blended with the in-the-field experience to benefit both sides of the equation. We help students practice habits of success.”
After earning a Liberal Studies degree last spring, Dani Olsen is now going after a second degree.
This time around, she’s studying Computer Science with plans to transfer to a baccalaureate university in her home state of Connecticut after Spring Semester.
Dani started her college education at the University of Hartford and then the University of Southern Maine before transferring to SMCC, where she felt right at home.
Outside of class, she’s vice president (and former president) of the Student Senate, the founder and president of the Cosplay club and vice president of the Gaming Club. She also oversees the Anime Club. Her advice to students?
“Get involved. SMCC offers a lot of student organizations, a lot of community things. When students become involved, they have a sense of belonging and do better.”