SMCC celebrates successful year with Spring Ahead students

Southern Maine Community College’s (SMCC) Spring Ahead program students celebrated the successful end of the school year with a luncheon on campus on Thursday, May 4. Over forty of the nearly fifty Spring Ahead students were unquestionably excited to visit the College for a great meal while sharing stories of their year taking SMCC courses while completing their high school classes.

The Spring Ahead program is a unique opportunity for high school students who want to get a jump start preparing for the educational opportunities available after high school. Students complete their high school education while at SMCC, where they are enrolled in college-level courses and earn college credit. A dedicated college coach and peer mentor guide students throughout the year, providing them with the support and resources they need to succeed.

At the celebration luncheon, students were greeted with smiles and congratulations from the faculty and staff who had helped them throughout the program, especially Early College Office and 

Spring Ahead Coach Patrick Haviland. “It’s so incredible to watch these students develop over the school year, knowing how hard they are working on our course work and finishing their high school careers simultaneously,” Haviland said. “It’s so rewarding to know that the SMCC community helps pave the way for an amazing educational journey.”  

One of those on the journey has a very unique story. Alexia Sage Kuenzel, a senior at Kennebunk High School, will end her Spring Ahead time with a Business Administration degree from SMCC. Technically, she will graduate from SMCC before she graduates at Kennebunk. 

“When I went to high school in Florida, I learned of opportunities to get a jump start on college courses, so I took advantage starting my sophomore year,” Kuenzel said. “When I moved to Maine, a few people recommended SMCC as a place to continue that process. After I visited the campus, I knew it was the right choice.” 

Kuenzel said Coach Haviland was a terrific mentor. “I had a great Spring Ahead experience with Mr. Haviland,” Kuenzel said. “He assisted and supported me every step of the way. He helped me with my transcripts, updated me on my Spring Ahead requirements and guided me through the monthly progress meetings. Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I am so grateful for his support.” 

Kuenzel is excited about the next step in her educational journey. “I’m transferring my credits from my SMCC degree to Florida Gulf Coast University to finish a bachelor’s degree in business,” Kuenzel said. “I want to become a multi-state entrepreneur in Maine and Florida to take advantage of the gorgeous seasons of both areas.”

Some students will continue their education at SMCC, while others will use the credits earned at SMCC to move on to other colleges. Haviland said one of this year’s Spring Ahead students received a full scholarship to the University of Notre Dame.  

SMCC’s Spring Ahead program is part of numerous early college efforts that allow students to earn college credit while in high school. Information about these programs can be found at

High schools or students interested in learning more about the Spring Ahead program or other early college offerings at SMCC should contact Matthew Goodman, Dean of Academic Excellence and Strategic Initiatives, at