Kera Pingree found themself homeless after graduating from high school. Now they’re preparing to transfer from SMCC to Mount Holyoke College on a full scholarship.
Kera’s plans to enroll at SMCC straight from high school in 2014 were derailed when they and their 2 ½-year-old daughter didn’t have a place to call home. Rather than attending college, Kera lived with friends and then in shelters for nine months.
But Kera’s journey got back on track and they came to SMCC in 2016, majoring in Liberal Studies with a focus in Political Science. Through faculty support and challenging classes, Kera came to realize how much they love school and learning.
Kera is now preparing to join Mount Holyoke’s Frances Perkins Program for women and trans people of nontraditional college age who have experienced an interruption in their education. Kera plans to major in Critical Social Thought.
Inspired by their classes at SMCC and their work with national organizations devoted to helping young people in vulnerable situations, Kera is interested in working in public policy, or perhaps as a public defender, in the future.
For now, Kera is looking forward to being at Mount Holyoke with other like-minded women and trans people seeking the intellectual challenge of completing their 4-year degree at a top liberal arts institution.
“I’m very excited because it’s like stepping into a new world, with people who are equally invested in the depth of specific theories I want to learn about.”
Lilit Danielyan, Kazakhstan to Maine
Lilit Danielyan was on her own when she moved from Kazakhstan to the U.S. at the age of 19. Now she’s been named to the prestigious All-Maine Academic Team.
In search of opportunity, Lilit moved from her homeland in central Asia to Portsmouth, N.H., in 2012. English was her fourth language behind Russian, Armenian and Kazakh. When she was ready to continue her education, she came to Maine and enrolled at SMCC for the 2018 Spring Semester.
Lilit transferred college credits that she previously earned in Kazakhstan and then maintained a perfect GPA while majoring in Liberal Studies at SMCC. For her academic success, she was among the community college students named this month to the All-Maine Academic Team by the national Phi Theta Kappa honor society.
Lilit, now 26, likes the academic variety and flexibility in America. The higher education system in Kazakhstan ― which was part of the Soviet Union until 1991 ― was much more rigid with fewer options than what she’s experienced here.
Lilit graduated from SMCC in December. She expects to continue her studies this fall at the University of Southern Maine, where she hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
But her interests are far and wide, and her dream is to become a documentary photographer. Four of her photos are now on display as part of an exhibit at the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce offices in Portland.
“I had a dream to get an American education. I love learning new things. It can even be a problem at times because I want to learn everything at once.”