SMCC Faculty Provide Aid Following Irma Devastation

By Troy Hudson

On Sept. 10, as Hurricane Irma made landfall in Cudjoe Key, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, much of the country was anxiously awaiting news of its impacts. In a state of over 20 million, it seemed almost everyone knew someone in Florida, and no place in the state appeared totally safe from the storm’s destruction. The ultimate path may have been uncertain, but one sobering fact was sinking in: The Florida Keys were going to receive a direct hit from a Category 4 hurricane, and words like “leveled” and “decimated” were being used to describe the expected aftermath.


While most of us probably felt thankful to be so far from the storm’s path, three SMCC faculty members were awaiting a call to action. Brian Dougher is the SeaWolves’ men’s soccer coach as well as the Emergency Management Coordinator for Maine Medical Center. Nate Contreras and Clif Whitten are adjunct faculty in the Paramedicine program. Contreras is also a captain with the Scarborough Fire Department as well as a registered nurse, while Whitten is a lieutenant and EMS coordinator with the Saco Fire Department. They all belong to an organization called the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) that responds to major medical emergencies whenever states request aid from the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).


When a major medical disaster requires support from HHS, teams like the one Dougher belongs to, known as Disaster Medical Assistance Teams, or DMATs, are activated and deployed. The DMAT that serves Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, known as NH-1, is no stranger to the destruction hurricanes leave behind: they were deployed to New York in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast, causing $75 billion in damages and killing 174 people. This time, they were in Marathon Key and running an improvised tent hospital within two days of landfall.


The unique thing about the DMAT teams is that when they’re sent out, they’re basically self-sufficient for 72 hours,” Dougher explained. “We’re sent to locations where we know we may not get backup for a couple of days, so we’ve got to carry all the equipment we need.” Dougher’s team set up a tent hospital in the parking lot of Fishermen’s Community Hospital in Marathon Key. The hospital itself sustained major damage and will be out of service for months.


During their three-week stay, the team helped serve over 700 people. According to Contreras, injuries included “lacerations, strokes, cardiac issues, pediatric illnesses and even medication refills. Many people lost their medications during the evacuation phase of the hurricane.” The temporary clinic served as an emergency department, determining whether patients could be tended to on-site and sent home with medications or driven two hours north for further treatment in Homestead. In some severe cases, patients were airlifted to the nearest hospital in Miami.


It was “a very humbling experience,” Dougher said. “It was interesting to see houses that were completely flattened right next to a house that survived. Boats where you didn’t think boats would really belong, but somehow storm surge pushed them across roads and on top of buildings.”


Dougher is the safety officer of his DMAT, which makes him responsible for maintaining safe conditions for those providing aid. In the tropical climate of the Keys, where summer temperatures can climb toward 110 degrees Fahrenheit, staying safe was not without its challenges. “A lot of things you have back home we didn’t have access to,” he said. “We didn’t have drinking water. We had running water but it wasn’t drinkable. Lots of bottled water and MREs for meals.” One of Dougher’s responsibilities was to keep the generators running so that portable air-conditioners, critical for preventing injuries related to heat exhaustion, could continue to function.


Reflecting on his experience, Dougher said, “The team I work with is an incredible group of people. It doesn’t matter what type of environment we’re in; we’re down there to do a job and we do it well.” In fact, while the work done by DMATs is seldom publicized, they stand ready for deployment at any time. Some members of NH-1 had only just returned from Texas following Hurricane Harvey when they received the call for help from Florida, and six DMATs are in Puerto Rico as of the writing of this article.


After spending weeks serving others in challenging conditions, you might think a much-needed break was in order, but Dougher says it was back to life as usual: “I literally got off the plane and went straight to soccer practice.” That attitude perfectly reflects the spirit of NH-1, a team comprised of community-minded people like Dougher, Contreras and Whitten, remarkable individuals who stand ready to lend their expertise to relief efforts whenever disaster strikes.


NAMI Annual 5k

By Cassie-Briana Marceau


If you were on campus on Sunday, Sept. 24, you would have noticed a lot of people running around. It was the 15th Annual NAMI Maine Walk that was going on at the lighthouse and around campus. Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG) is a class that is part of a FIG class. They had the opportunity to choose an organization to give a $1,000 check to for their Jumpstart Our Youth project,  and they chose NAMI. Jumpstart Our Youth — JOY — is a statewide youth philanthropy program that lets more than 3,000 Maine students annually make grants in their local communities.

NAMI is an organization that provides social/emotional support for people who have been affected by mental illness; educates and provides resources for and about mental illness; and also raises public awareness about it. It was formed in 1977 when two mothers, each with a son with a mental illness, met to talk about their experiences and challenges. At a second meeting, the women decided to assemble people with similar concerns. From then on, the meetings kept getting larger and larger, until they went from local to nationwide.

The walk’s purpose was to raise money for NAMI and awareness for mental illnesses and suicide. All the money raised stays in Maine to provide education and support. There were about a few hundred people participating in the walk, and it had a lot of different activities, such as face painting, balloon twisting, art, a kickboxing warm-up, and music. So far NAMI has raised more than $80,000 this year, with $100,000 being its overall goal.

Short-Lived Luminary Installations pop up around campus

By the Beacon Staff


Last Thursday evening members of the Art Club: Amwag Kahleel, Eman Enan, Jen Jang, and Brain Radel took to the campus placing luminaries in strategic places around the South Portland campus.

The club started out on the Spring Point Light House jetty, then moved to the Green Belt Pathway near Hildreth Hall and finished the evenings adventure in front of the Campus Center. The short-lived installations were the first activity the club did as it’s “Random Acts of Artness” series.

The club which meets on Thursdays from 12:15- 1:15 in the Captain’s House is currently working on a coffee cup project. Eman Enan started the project when a friend gave her a sleeve of large white paper coffee cups. She asked a friend to write something on the cup. The idea grew into a project with other club members asking their friends and SMCC students to write, or draw on the cups. The club is planning on displaying the cups, as well as illustrations, drawings and photographs that have “morning coffee,” as it’s theme in the Learning Commons in the near future.


SMCC Hosts Journalism Conference

By Ben Riggleman

On Saturday, Oct. 7, SMCC’s picturesque McKernan Hospitality Center hosted a journalism conference. The conference was organized by Beacon faculty advisors Rachel Guthrie (Communications & New Media) and Chuck Ott (Studio Art, English), and Lucille Siegler, business manager of the USM Free Press.

The lineup of speakers included Dieter Bradbury, deputy managing editor of news at the Portland Press Herald; Jake Bleiberg, Portland-beat reporter for the Bangor Daily News; multimedia artist and graphic designer Ed Materson; and several professors from SMCC and USM.

Mr. Bradbury spoke on the process of creating “Lost,” the Press Herald’s multi-part expose of opioid addiction in Maine. Mr. Bleiberg gave an educational presentation on story construction for newspaper writing. Editorial staff members of the USM Free Press and The Beacon were in attendance.

What Is Alpha Omega?

By Koma Ogak


The Alpha Omega (Real Talk) club’s purpose is to create an environment where students can discuss real-world problems and personal struggles, if they feel comfortable doing so, and grow spiritually. Alpha Omega means first and last; it is a title of God from the Book of Revelations. We choose this name because we all have a beginning and ending chapter to our lives. “Real talk” is the nickname for the club. It simply means deep conversation; there is no correlation with “Real Talks” held by the SMCC administration last year.

They talk about scriptures in the Bible and relate them to our discussion. Part of their goal is to see, know and experience what people think about Jesus Christ from the knowledge of the word. It’s an open dialogue where all students are welcome to express their thoughts, backgrounds and ideas as we grow in friendship and community on campus.

The club do an open-mic night once a semester. This event is open to anyone. Poetry, music, art and comedy performers are welcome. Starting this semester, they will also go on a retreat to Hartford, Connecticut, and listen to speakers talk about what the Bible says about leadership, faith and perseverance. This retreat is from October 13th through 15th.

Alpha Omega is connected to other christian groups at USM, UNE, BU, New York University, and UCONN. They are a non-denominational ministry. Non-Christians are welcome. They gather every Thursday from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m. in the third-floor seminar room at Howe Hall.

Backpacking South Asia: The Monkey Temple

By Jen Jang

Since my friends back home in Taiwan were huge worriers, I told them I was still travelling in Japan. In actuality, I had already booked my flight to Nepal, and gotten my visa for India.

Not having a plan was an anomaly for me, as I usually have 15 items on my daily to-do list, and a schedule too packed for vacations. But soon I found myself on the plane to Kathmandu, the capital, with 10 kilograms on my back and no plan other than bargaining for a taxi.

The woman sitting next to me took care of the bargaining. “Call me if you have any questions!” she whispered as we parted.

Caught in the midst of peak traffic, I could see the claw-marks of the devastating 2015 earthquake, raked deeply across the capital. Dirt and saturated plastic littered the streets, while mud form along the unearthed pipes in flooded areas. I spotted old and beaten trees, buildings – people alike. Here, I suppose the charm of the city lies in its antiquity and chaos.

The next day I meandered through Kathmandu’s alleys, in search of Swayambhunath, “the monkey temple.” It was early morning, but the city had already risen. Patient goats, tied to a pole, waiting for their turn for slaughter. A man shearing the fur off one such body, almost meditative in his movements. A mother, arms crossed, smiling in satisfaction at her playing toddlers. Avril Lavigne blasting from a nearby home. Dogs at the side of the road, ears flicking lazily as they bathe in the sun. Nonchalant cows, free to perambulate.

“Namaste!” an old lady beamed to her old acquaintance; he grinned back and parroted her greeting.

The strap on my left sandal broke, and I had to fix it with a green-hooded safety pin.

I soon reached the Buddhist temple. True to its name, I found monkeys racing around, picking at nibble through the littered floor. The small hill was also the local gym; men ran laps up and down the steep stairs, kids played jump rope to blasting pop music, and young men gathered at the bars, doing chin-ups.

After conquering the stairs, the heavy metal prayer wheels came into view. Parents lifted their children so that the tiny hand could turn the wheels in their spits. To my left was a congregation of song and drums and various traditional instruments. Pigeons dived over scattered seeds, then flocked back to the temple roof when intimidated by their giggling pursuers.

Vendors were everywhere, selling arranged plates of offerings — flowers of orange, hot pink, purple and yellow — along with manufactured antiques and gaudy souvenirs. Some probed me with “Ni hao,” which means “hello” in Mandarin. I ignored them, and they proceeded to impress me with various East Asian greetings that perhaps matched my face.

A woman was breastfeeding nonchalantly on the side, but all the attention was on the pushing and shoving of offerings into the temple’s mouth; people were touching the gold, the Buddhas, the inscriptions, the sacred painted stones, and wiping the holiness all over their own skin. The central holy man turned distractedly to slap a man on the forehead with a bundle of greens — as some form of apparent blessing — then pocketed the money that was offered.

I left the temple profoundly bewildered yet enthralled at the bizarre world I had landed in. This world functions within its own logic and traditions, and I am open to all interpretations offered. As I would learn later, letting go of my meticulous schedules is what opened me to all the possibilities of travel.

And I certainly did not expect to find myself in the Himalayas mere days later.


Tech Talk: Configuring SSID and Password for Your Home Wireless Network

By Joseph Zhang


So your grandma came to visit — “What’s the Wi-Fi password?” “I don’t know, that Time Warner guy wrote it down somewhere, let me see if I can find it.” “Well, hurry up! Grandma needs to get on Instagram!” After 10 minutes of digging through that stack of paper that hasn’t been touched for God knows how many years, you find a coffee-stained piece of paper that says “linksys” and a bunch of gibberish under it.

Well, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Remember how every time you go to a coffee shop or Best Buy, pull out your phone and search for a Wi-Fi connection, it shows a list of wireless networks with names that actually make sense? This guide will show you how to do just that, customizing your home Wi-Fi’s SSID (broadcast name) and password. The whole process should take less than five minutes.

First, you need to go to your router’s control panel. If you don’t know what a router is, that’s okay; you won’t need to physically access your router in order to do this. So, grab your laptop and go to COMMAND PROMPT. If you have Windows 10, search “cmd” in that circle thing next to your start menu. If you have previous versions of Windows, either search or run “cmd” inside your start menu. If you have a Mac, best of luck to you… Jokes aside, you should be looking for something called “Terminal” on a Mac, but this guide is dedicated to Windows operating systems.

Now that you have opened up command prompt, type in “ipconfig /all” and hit Enter. You should see a list of info; feel free to pretend you are Hackerman for a second. What “ipconfig /all” does is display current TCP/IP network configurations. You need to find a section labeled as “Wireless LAN adapter Wi-Fi,” or something similar. Inside that section, find “Default Gateway.” Your default gateway should be something like “192.168.x.x”; copy that number or write it down, because you’ll need it for the next step.

Open up your browser (the thing you use to go to Google). In the address bar, up top where the url is, copy and paste your default gateway and hit Enter. Now you should be looking at an authentication page. The username and password are often factory defaults, depending on your router’s manufacturer. The most common ones are “admin” for both the username and password, and “admin” for username and “password” for password. Try these first, and if they don’t work, do a simple Google search. The last resort would be resetting your router or calling tech support.

After you have logged in, you should be looking at your wireless router’s control panel. Most modern routers have a control panel; even the lower-end ones should have one for basic configurations. If you are on this step, you are almost finished.

Inside the control panel, things are pretty straightforward. You can look through different tabs and change certain settings if you want to — just don’t mess with anything you aren’t sure about. Every manufacturer has its own control-panel interfaces; different models of routers from the same brand might have different interfaces, but they should be very similar.

What you are looking for are the wireless settings. For instance, since I have a Netgear router; the settings are under the “Wireless” tab. Once you go in, you should be able to simply change the SSID (name) and password by typing in a new one. More complex passwords are recommended, with upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Changing the default router login is also a good idea — you don’t have to, but you should if you know how. After you are done changing the settings, remember to click “Apply” or “Save.” The router will want to restart after that.

After the restart, you will lose internet connection on all of your wirelessly connected devices. Reconnect to your Wi-Fi as you normally would, except this time you are searching for the network you just named, with the password you just set up.

Customizing your wireless network’s SSID and password allows easier access for visitors, makes it easier for you to add a new device and enhances security. If you have a wireless network with no password and suspect your neighbor is leeching your network resources, follow this guide and set up a password ASAP.


Joseph Zhang is a member of the Information Technology Senior Seminar course and is planning on a career in the IT field. You can find an online version of this article at