Top Stories: April 8 Campus Connections

Experiencing Difference

Scores of students, staff and faculty turned out for an exhibit and discussion aimed at exploring and celebrating differences and similarities among diverse populations in communities.

The March 27 “Experiencing Difference” event in Jewett Hall aimed to provide an experience “that leads to and enables honest interaction, true understanding, and mutual respect and camaraderie.”

Ninette Irabaruta, an SMCC alumna and a native of Burundi, was among the five panelists who spoke about being in new cultures or among people different than we’re accustomed to.

Although everybody’s different, it’s important to not lose sight that people are also alike, she said. People may have different skin colors, come from different places and have different levels of education or income, but everybody has hopes, aspirations, goals and stories to tell.

“We are all different, but we are also all similar,” she said before the panel discussion.

SMCC’s Diversion & Inclusion Committee and the Kindred Colors organization organized the event, which included an exhibit, a panel presentation and audience discussion.

The exhibit in the Jewett Hall lobby featured seashells, rocks, stones, woods, nuts, seedpods and grains surrounded by mirrors to illustrate that human skins are not black or white or yellow or red, but instead are varying shades of brown, gold and pinks that can be found in nature.

Other panelists were Kifa Abdullah, an SMCC Arabic instructor; SMCC student Sierra Firley; Margaret Brownlee, SMCC director of Career Services; and SMCC student Juan Gonzalez.

Firley, who is from Bar Harbor, spent a month over spring break visiting Turkey with a fellow SMCC student originally from Iraq and her two brothers. Being in a new place ― with foods, customs and language that were all new to her ― was an eye-opening experience, she said. It also made her realize how much people can learn from others from different cultures and backgrounds.

“It’s important to include and appreciate the incredible diversity we have here at this college,” she said.


Calling all gardeners!

Got a green thumb? You can put it to good use by becoming the seasonal owner of a plot in the SMCC Community Garden.

Applications are now being taken for garden plots. If you’re interested, apply for a plot now (click here for an application) because the deadline is Wednesday, April 17.

SMCC each year makes 40 garden beds on the South Portland Campus available to students, faculty and staff. The College provides the garden beds, soil and access to water. Applicants will be notified in the first week of May if they will receive a plot.

People who are selected must:

  • Be able to plant their bed by June 1 or it will be reassigned to somebody else
  • Be on campus at least twice a week through the summer to take care of the plot
  • Commit to using only organic gardening methods
  • And be respectful of and help take care of the community garden area

Sodexo dining services is organizing a garden cleanup from 12-2 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, to get the garden beds in shape for the coming growing season. If you’re willing to help, please note it on the application or contact Samantha Carter of Sodexo at

If you don’t get a garden bed in the first round, there will be a second round of assignments after June 1 to make sure all the plots are put to good use.


Criminal Justice job fair to feature 20 agencies

SMCC’s Criminal Justice program is holding a job fair to give students a taste of the wide range of career opportunities available to them in the criminal justice field.

Twenty local, county, state and federal law enforcement and security agencies will be on hand for the job fair, which is open to everybody. It will be held from 9 a.m.-noon on Thursday, April 11, in the Campus Center.

The agencies scheduled to attend are:

  • Biddeford Police Department
  • Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ellsworth Police Department
  • Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office
  • Lewiston Police Department
  • Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office
  • Maine Army National Guard
  • Maine Department of Corrections
  • Marine Marine Patrol
  • Maine Medical Center Security
  • Maine State Police
  • Maine Warden Service
  • Old Orchard Beach Police Department
  • Portland Police Department
  • Saco Police Department
  • Scarborough Police Department
  • South Portland Police Department
  • S. Customs and Border Protection
  • S. Navy Police
  • Windham Police Department