Who Are We at SMCC?

By Troy Hudson

At a small community college like SMCC where only about 6,000 students attend class, it might seem like we see the same faces every day, and we probably do. Walking to class, standing in line at the Seawolves Café, or even relaxing on Willard Beach in summer, we’re all likely to cross paths sooner or later. But despite all this proximity, how well do we really know our fellow students?

Unlike the more homogenous populations at an Ivy League school or a dedicated art or technical school, there’s not much we can take for granted about our fellow students, because the reasons for attending a community college are so diverse. You could be sitting next to a first-generation American here on scholarship to acquire a nursing degree, or that same person might just be locking in some cheap general-education credits before heading off to finish her education at Yale. She might be a single mother who’s been working toward a degree for years, or she might be new to college and debt-averse, just dipping a toe in the academic waters.

In its 71-year history, SMCC has always provided a practical approach to education, initially offering vocational training before expanding its scope to include an Associate in Applied Science in the 1960s, and finally an Associate in Arts degree by 1998. While Liberal Studies now account for the majority of majors at SMCC, the trades are still going strong, with the share of students majoring in a trade rising from 35 to 38 percent between 2009 and 2013. Low tuition and an emphasis on the trades have always been hallmarks of the College, attracting students from many backgrounds seeking an inexpensive way to begin (or finish) an education.

Unsurprisingly, SMCC students are overwhelmingly from Maine: Only 6 percent come from other states or foreign countries. The sheer accessibility and attainability of SMCC have attracted a large number of part-time commuters, who currently represent 58 percent of the student body. Most of these students live in Cumberland County, although the College does serve students from every county in Maine.

But just because most of us call Maine home doesn’t mean we’re typical of the state. SMCC, like the greater Portland area, is quite a bit more diverse than the rest of the region. Minority students currently make up about 17 percent of the student body, whereas Maine as a whole is 95 percent white. And the minority population at SMCC is growing rapidly. The number has already grown by more than half since 2011, and national trends suggest that will continue to be the case well into the future.

In 2014, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that, for the first time, the total percentage of minority students was larger than the percentage of whites in public grade-school classrooms. The shift is already underway, and our student body is living proof of that. Although Maine is behind the curve in terms of ethnic diversity, SMCC is about the most diverse place in the state.

It is usually easy to see ethnic diversity when it is present, but one thing that can’t be appreciated at a glance is family background. SMCC students are largely first-generation students (61 percent), meaning that their parents do not have a college degree and that they may be the first members of their family to attend college. This number is much higher than the national average of 30 percent.

While attending college, especially as a freshman, is a challenging time for all students, being a first-generation degree-seeker carries with it a unique set of difficulties. When a first-generation student feels overwhelmed or has concerns about a professor or class, they typically can’t draw on the experience of parents or other family members. These students may also face an unhealthy amount of pressure to succeed, which can actually be detrimental to academic success. It can be scary and stressful to be the first of your family to embark on such a huge journey, but it is also an admirable and courageous decision. Knowing that over half of the students around us are in that position should inspire appreciation for the remarkable courage of our student body.

And the student population is indeed achieving remarkable success. Between 2009 and 2013, transfer-out rates for first-time, full-time students increased from 17 to 21 percent. And in a very heartening statistic, more than 94 percent of SMCC students enter the workforce or transfer to another school within nine months of graduation.

College represents many things to each of us. It can be a place to build friendships, discover hidden talents and interests, or even shine a little light on the mysteries of the universe. Ultimately, it’s about preparing ourselves for what comes next. We all bring something different to our time at SMCC, and our school is stronger for that spectrum of experience. As different as our backgrounds and goals might be, we have at least this in common: We believe the future can be better than today, so we work toward making that vision a reality. Each of us can take pride in being a member of such a vibrant community.


Motivational Interviewing

By Cheryl Perry

A group of SMCC nursing students from all four semesters of the program hosted Stephen Andrew from the Health Education & Training Institute of Portland, Maine. Stephen is world-recognized for his exceptional teaching of Motivational Interviewing, a counseling technique.

The definition Stephen provided to us is as follows: “Motivational Interviewing is a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It is designed to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s own reason for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.”

In healthcare today, 60 to 80 percent of all healthcare needs are lifestyle-related, so being able to communicate effectively without judgment is a required but overlooked skill.
During this session, Stephen provided information about various forms of communication skills. Then we tried them out; every 10 minutes or so he had an exercise where we would practice skills like fully listening, being present, and not asking questions. The basic method he wanted us to practice is OARS, which stands for Open-ended questions, Affirmations, Reflections, Summary.

He asked us to keep a sheet of paper to jot down our big takeaways from the four-hour workshop. These were a few of mine: “being kind is not enough”; The “No. 1 de-motivator is unsolicited advice”; “judgment is a form of violence”; “people aren’t broken — they suffer, but they’re not broken”; “the receiver is always correct”; “compassion with direction”; “ask permission or offer advice & and wait for the answer, then ask what they think of it”; and “definition of compassion: ability to sit with suffering.”
It was a great session and the SMCC Nursing Club hopes to be able to continue to have Stephen come to work with nursing students each semester.

Preble Hall’s Namesake

By Cassie Marceau and Ben Riggleman

Edward_PrebleYou look at all the buildings here at SMCC, and you can tell that they are old. So then you know they have some history to them. For example, Preble Hall was built in 1905. It was built to be an artillery barracks, and was designed to hold 109 men.

The building is named after Edward Preble, a United States naval commander who was born Aug. 15, 1761, and died Aug. 25, 1807. He served in the First Barbary War (1801-1805), during which he led American attacks on the Arab city-state of Tripoli, which was a base for pirates at the time (and is now the capital of Libya). He helped shape the early U.S. Navy and its officer corps.

Preble was the son of a military officer, merchant and political leader, Jedidiah Preble. As a boy, his home was destroyed when the city of Falmouth (present-day Portland) was burned by the British navy on the orders of Captain Henry Mowat during the Revolutionary War. This impelled the young Preble to serve his country at sea, and he joined the crew of a privateer vessel at age 16. In 1779, two years later, he joined the Massachusetts State Navy. He became a prisoner of the British in 1781 when his ship, the Protector, was captured.

After his release, he was promoted to First Lieutenant. Serving on the cruiser Winthrop, he led a daring mission to capture a British ship anchored off Castine, Maine, and braved heavy fire from shore as he led it out to sea. He quickly gained “a reputation for undaunted courage and presence of mind,” according to his biography on a U.S. Navy website. He also became feared by subordinates for his harsh discipline and what we would now call anger-management problems.

He is most famous for his conduct during the Barbary War. He acted as both military commander and diplomat, but did not excel in the latter capacity; his Encyclopedia Britannica entry notes that he was “insensitive to Islamic culture.” He did, however, sign a peace treaty with the Sultan of Morocco in 1803. His lack of diplomatic progress with the Tripolitanians on behalf of captured American sailors led him to attack Tripoli full-on in 1804. It was defended by 25,000 soldiers, and he had only a small seabound force under his command. Although Preble was not personally able to win a decisive victory, his bravery brought him national renown, and many junior officers who served under him became famous in their own right in the War of 1812.

Preble became President Thomas Jefferson’s senior naval advisor in the last years of his life. He died at the age of 46 from a painful gastrointestinal illness. Six U.S. Navy ships are named after him; the latest was commissioned in 2002.

‘Star Wars’ in the Dining Hall

By Cassie Marceau

Start.Wars.Night.Photo.Walking into Oceanview Dining Hall on Nov. 30 was definitely something out of this world — because it was Star Wars Night! There were decorations around the dining hall that were all “Star Wars.” There was a big R2D2, Darth Vader balloons, and even food that resembled “Star Wars,” like little Yoda cookies. After you grabbed your food, you could sit with your friends and watch “Spaceballs.” Some people who showed up to the dinner also dressed up as characters, and brought lightsabers with them.

Yoda cookies given out at the ‘Star Wars’ night. Photo by Cassie-Brianna Marceau

Cookie Decorating Provides Holiday Stress Relief

By Troy Hudson

CookieDecoratingStudents who enjoyed lunch at Oceanview Dining Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 5 were treated to a seasonal tradition many might not have expected to find at SMCC: decorating holiday cookies. Students and faculty were invited to add colorful frosting, candy, sprinkles and more to a variety of handmade cookies baked here on campus. The free activity was provided to inspire good cheer during a stressful finals-filled week, and was one of several holiday events hosted by Dining Services at the end of the semester, along with a hot-cocoa bar and a holiday meal.

Riley Cassidy, a New Media major, holds a decorated cookie at lunch. Photo by Troy Hudson

How to Fix a Slow PC, in 7 Steps

By Joel Kabambi

Many of us think that when a computer starts performing slowly, it’s time to buy a new computer. Does your desktop or laptop often hang on the hourglass for several minutes at a time? Is it slow to load files or applications, and does it take a long time to boot? Even if you’re extremely careful about how you use your computer and never download questionable material, over time it is inevitable that your system will accumulate unwanted registry entries, errors, clutter and debris. It’s important to clean your computer up and get it running faster again.

Below are steps that can help speed up a Windows OS computer or determine why it is running slowly.

If your computer has not been rebooted for a long time, make sure to restart it before following any of the steps below. This is the first step of all troubleshooting.

Disable background programs
Background-running programs can also be the cause of a slow-working computer. Remove or disable any program that automatically starts each time the computer boots — programs that are not needed. How to do it? The followed link provides details: https://tinyurl.com/y9lsjrhe.

Delete temp files
As a computer runs programs, temporary files are stored on the hard drive. Deleting these temp files can help improve computer performance. Programs like Disk Cleanup can be used to delete temp file, but there is also a way to do it manually. The following link provides details on how to do it manually https://tinyurl.com/ycd4e38h.

Free hard-drive space
Verify that there is a lot of space in your driver hard disk, at least 200 to 500MB of free hard-drive space. This available space allows the computer to have room for the swap file to increase in size, as well as room for temporary files.

Remove viruses
If a computer is infected, this can cause your computer to run slowly. Make sure you have antivirus software, and ensure that it’s up to date. Scan for viruses to remove. If you don’t have an antivirus program installed, you can run the free Microsoft antivirus Microsoft Security Essentials to scan for viruses on your computer and remove them. Microsoft Security Essentials can be downloaded from this Microsoft page: https://tinyurl.com/juupxbx.

Update Windows
Make sure you have all the latest Windows updates installed on the computer. If you are on the internet when your computer is slow, make sure all browser plugins are up to date. You can also try disabling browser plugins to see if one of them is causing the slowness.

Check for hardware issues
Finally, if your computer is still slow after trying all of the above recommendations, there may have a more serious hardware-related issue, such as a failing component in the computer. Examples of failing hardware could include a failing or bad hard drive, CPU, RAM or another component. This may require you to replace hardware that is causing slowness. If replacing hardware will cost too much, then it’s time to make the big decision of buying a new computer.