Top Stories: Nov 21 Campus Connections

SMCC’s veterans gaining new skills

SMCC’s veterans gaining new skills

More than 250 veterans are taking courses at SMCC, learning new skills that will provide them bright futures after the military.

A special Veterans Breakfast on Nov. 10 paid tribute to veterans at SMCC and elsewhere, including students (in photo) Dallas Peare (Army), Nate Russell (Navy), Tyrone Skinner (Army) and Lulu Palacios (Marines).

About 160 veterans attend SMCC through the GI Bill, which provides educational assistance to veterans, said Amy Lainoff, who serves as an advisor for SMCC’s veterans’ community. An estimated 100 or more other veterans attend SMCC but not through the GI Bill, she said.

Although the students have varying backgrounds and are enrolled in a variety of programs, they all have the same bond of having served in the military.

Many of those veterans, along with staff, faculty and guests, took part in the Veterans Breakfast Nov. 10 in the Campus Center, followed by a flag-raising ceremony.

Among those at the breakfast was Lulu Palacios, who served in the Marine Corps for five years, including a tour in Afghanistan. Now 26, she came to SMCC in the spring of 2015 and is enrolled in the Automotive Technology program.

“I didn’t know what to expect coming to college, because I enlisted straight out of high school,” she said. “It was a new experience, and it felt very rewarding. I think I was more nervous enrolling in college than going overseas in the Marines.”

Dallas Peare was in the Army for seven years, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s studying HVAC and plans to put his new skills to work on the industrial coolers at the lobster and bait company where he now works on the Portland waterfront.

The HVAC program is giving him more skills that are needed in the marketplace, he said.
“It gives me more stuff that I can do,” he said.

Midcoast Campus expands Human Services courses

Earning a Human Services degree just got easier for Midcoast Campus students.

Beginning in the Spring Semester, students will be able to earn their associate degree in Human Services without having to travel to the South Portland Campus. All the classes required for graduation will now be offered on the Midcoast Campus in Brunswick.

Expanding the number of Human Services courses offered in Brunswick benefits not only SMCC students, but also the businesses and organizations in the human services industry who are in need of SMCC graduates and their skills, said SMCC Academic Dean Chuck Gregory.

“There’s great demand for social workers and other human services professional in the midcoast area,” he said.


100-year-old D-Day veteran offers living history

100-year-old D-Day veteran offers living history

1st Sgt. Espen Christensen flew a glider behind enemy lines in Normandy, France, while under attack from German soldiers during the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944. Now 100, he provided a first-hand account to SMCC students about his participation in D-Day and other battles in Europe during World War II.

Christensen spoke to a Maine History class on Nov. 15 at the invitation of History Instructor Herb Adams. Wearing his World War II Army jacket, Christensen spoke about his upbringing in Portland, his military training and his experiences during the war.

Besides the D-Day invasion, he spearheaded an airborne assault on German troops in Holland and was in battles in North Africa, Sicily, the Battle of the Bulge and a sweep across central Germany.
D-Day was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. It was also deadly, with thousands of troop casualties and thousands more wounded.

The night before D-Day, Christensen and other soldiers in the invasion were served a big supper in England, he told the class.

“They thought it might be our last one,” he said.

By the time Christensen left the military after 4½ years of service, he had earned numerous military citations, including six combat stars, the bronze arrowhead, a presidential citation, the Purple Heart and the Good Conduct Medal. He was also bestowed the French Legion of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded in France.



Learning Commons posters offer tips, expertise

The Learning Commons is offering its expertise and advice to students through a set of 10 posters that adorn its walls.

The posters, which are in the Learning Commons lounge, offer a wealth of tips and information — about everything from study skills to tutoring to resource materials and more — aimed at helping students succeed.

The posters were installed on Nov. 4 and will remain in the Learning Commons until early December, when a student exhibit will take their place. At that time, the posters will move to another area of the Learning Commons.

Meghan Hardison, the Learning Commons’ Outreach and Instructional Librarian, says the posters are a fun way to reach students.

“It allows us to further our messaging on how we can help students,” she says.



Students protest Trump presidency

A group of SMCC students held a protest against the election of Donald Trump as president in a peaceful demonstration in front of the Campus Center.

About a dozen students gathered Nov. 15, holding signs, speaking out and chanting about immigration, clean water, women’s and LGBTQ rights, and other issues. The event, organized by the Student Action student organization, was one of many demonstrations that have place at college campuses nationwide in the aftermath of Trump’s electoral victory over Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Trump supporters across the country have said protesters need to accept the results of the election and work together to give Trump a chance when he assumes office.

At SMCC, the demonstrators said they are taking a stand against some of Trump’s statements during the campaign, including his vow to deport millions of immigrants.

“No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here,” the group chanted.

Student Nicholas Moll said many students are worried and scared about what is to come, and that it’s important to stand united to keep SMCC a safe and inclusive campus.

“Together we are stronger than any of us individually,” he said during the demonstration.