SMCC student Ali Edwards named 2023 Maine Educational Opportunity Association Lifelong Learner

Ali Edwards

Ali Edwards

Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) proudly announces Ali Edwards as the recipient of the prestigious Maine Educational Opportunity Association (MEEOA) Lifelong Learner Award. This esteemed accolade recognizes individuals, both current participants and alums, who exhibit a lifelong commitment to learning, both inside and outside the classroom.

Ali Edwards, a Health and Human Services major at SMCC set to graduate in May 2024, stood out among the nominees, earning the award for her outstanding dedication to education and her impact on the SMCC community. Ali truly rises to SMCC’s mission of transforming lives.

Katharine Rose Gergosian, Assistant Director, TRIO Student Support Services (TRIO SSS) at SMCC, nominated Ali for the award. “Ali truly embodies the spirit of TRIO and what can happen when motivated students connect with dedicated professionals,” Gergosian said. “(She) is a shining example of someone dedicated to using all forms of education to grow and further their success. She is well-deserving of this award, and we are so thrilled to see her recognized.”

Ali calls the award an honor. “The Lifelong Learner Award is a representation of not shying away from new experiences, stepping out of my comfort zone, and being open to learning from the people, experiences, and environment around me,” Edwards said. “Being a part of TRIO is being a part of a larger community that values students and our individual backgrounds in a way that helps us confidently navigate higher education.”

TRIO SSS is a diverse community of motivated students empowered to use their core values and strengths to reach graduation, transfer and career goals. Eligible students are paired with a professional college Success Coach who will collaborate to inspire academic and individual growth with personalized advising from the first day of college through graduation. TRIO SSS supports student success and engagement through peer connections, workshops, and events that cultivate the skills needed to stay on track, overcome challenges and thrive in college.

As part of Ali’s degree requirements at SMCC, she completed two internships, each contributing significantly to her growth as a professional in the field of human services. Her first internship at the Living Room Crisis Center in Portland saw her providing invaluable support to individuals facing various challenging life situations.

For her final internship, Ali chose to be placed in TRIO at SMCC, where she showcased her dedication to helping fellow students. She offered personalized one-on-one meetings, assisted in coursework navigation, connected students to local resources, and represented TRIO at various events. Ali went above and beyond, creating and facilitating an 8-week group focused on wellness exploration and goal-setting for students.

Gergosian said Ali’s journey reflects resilience. Despite facing challenges, she radiates positivity, kindness, and compassion. Ali’s innate sense of integrity and leadership shines through, promising success in her chosen field.

Outside the classroom, Ali, a single mom, actively engages in lobbying and activism, advocating for guaranteed income and meaningful changes to social services. Her unwavering commitment to community building and social support demonstrates her passion for creating positive change.

“My next step after graduating in May is to transfer to a four-year college to complete my bachelor’s degree in Mental Health and Human Services alongside my Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Technician Certificate,” Edwards said. “Ultimately, I’d like to complete my master’s degree and become certified to practice equine-assisted psychotherapy, helping people heal with the help of horses.”

Visit to learn more about TRIO Student Support Services.

SMCC congratulates Ali Edwards, recognizing her as a truly inspiring lifelong learner.