A Mile in Our Shoes, Part 5

By Dana Abdhulay


Photo by Priscila.

What are the most significant factors that contributed to where you are today as a person?

When I was five, my dad decided to come to the U.S. to work and to have a better life too. And my mom, she wanted to move too, but she couldn’t because she was with us. And then after that she got some money that made her able to come to the U.S. and left us, just like that. My dad wasn’t aware that she had left Mexico to the U.S.; he came back to Mexico after a year to take care of us.
All of that had changed me to be more reserved, more like to myself. I like to think things through before I do it — being independent kind of thing.

What kind of experiences have you had in relating with people whose backgrounds are different than yours?

I have a lot of friends who are from different cultures, and even though we came from different backgrounds, we still share and went through similar experiences. And we think that because we are from different cultures that we’re different, but actually Continue reading “A Mile in Our Shoes, Part 5”


A Mile in Our Shoes, Part 4

By Dana Abdulhay



Photo by Sreyneang.

What are the most significant factors that contributed to where you are today as a person?


I grew with separated parents, they were actually separated before I was born. My mom moved to the U.S. and I lived away from her in Cambodia. I wasn’t sure who I am. I was a reckless child. When I got to the U.S., I was 13 years old. I saw my mom, how is she working hard and raising a family, so I had to change my attitude and become more responsible.

What kind of experiences have you had in relating with people whose backgrounds are different than yours?

I learned friendship is really [more] important than anything. I guess it doesn’t matter what background you’re from; friendship gets us closer together, it’s more about person to person than different backgrounds.

Have you ever faced difficult challenges that have prevented you from being who you are?

Yes, a lot — even now, in fact. I want to talk, I want to give my opinion, but because of my English language barrier is preventing me from being how I want to be. It makes me feel like I’m stuck in the corner just listening instead of talking. Even though sometimes I would have my own ideas, but I won’t share it out loud because I don’t know how to say my thoughts correctly, or else I have to keep explaining to the listener what I mean. Continue reading “A Mile in Our Shoes, Part 4”

Student Leaders Honored at CeSIL Awards

By Celina Simmons

CeSIL Awards2
President Cantor addresses the award recipients. Photo by Clarke Canfield.

On Monday, April 30, the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership held their fifth annual CeSIL Awards. This program helps students become more involved in and out of the classroom by connecting them with campus activities, community service and other leadership opportunities. They hold these awards to recognize the well-deserving students who go above and beyond to step up as a leader on campus.

The night began with an inspiring speech by SMCC’s president, Ronald Cantor. He briefly introduced the event and described some characteristics of the awarded students. One thing he noted was that the more successful students he has come across throughout his career were the most involved. The experience acquired from taking a leadership role inevitably enhances a person’s future experiences, no matter what they may be, and “the more you put in, the more you get out.”

After President Cantor’s introduction, the awards began. The first was the most prestigious award, known as the President’s Award or Student of the Year. This was presented to Spring Point Resident Assistant Claudia Johnson. Claudia maintained a GPA above 3.5 throughout her time at SMCC and made a positive impact on the student body. Since her first year, she has been an active member of the Activities Committee and a dedicated RA.

The next awards, presented by Chuck Ott, were the Beacon Honors Awards. The first two were Beacon Alumni Garrick Hoffman and Erik Squire. These individuals were a major part of the legacy of The Beacon. Following were current Beacon members who continue to improve the paper today. Those awarded were Oguzhan Ozkan, Vanessa Poirier, Paul Moosmann, Troy Hudson, Lloyd Metcalf, Cassie-Briana Marceau, Jacob Clowes and Ben Riggleman. The last awards Chuck presented were the Beacon Scholarships, given to Rebecca Dow and Daniele Amandolini.

CeSIL Awards Emerging Leaders Program
Emerging Leaders graduates display their certificates. Photo by Clarke Canfield.

The Leader of the Pack Award was presented to 12 students who will soon be leaving SMCC. To achieve this, these individuals have had to demonstrate leadership and role-model-like behaviors in and out of the classroom. Those students were Claudia Johnson, Troy Hudson, Nicole Wickstrom, Tammy Creamer, Taylor Gerrish, Celetta Richard, Rachel Merrill, Madaleine Baker, Brandon Buck, Isaac McIntire, Jason Smith and Jean Medard Zulu.

After the Leader of the Pack came the Rising Star awards. Another 12 students were awarded with this because of how they began to step up and shine over the past year. Those given this award were Omid Rohani, Eric Dodge, Ashley Holmes, Dale Wilbur, Megan Waters, Taylor Miller, Rebecca Dow, Taylor Markee, Leah Parrish, Rachel Lanzikas, Shannon Chisholm and Nkana Dorcus Ngaliema.

CeSIL Awards1
The winners of the “Leader of the Pack” award pose for a photo. Photo by Clarke Canfield.

Following was the Organization of the Year Award presented to the Activities Committee. Over the past year, the Activities Committee has shown a lot of growth with student involvement and begun to take on much more initiative. Next was the Organizational Program of the Year, awarded to the SPLC Real Talk for sparking conversations among students, such as gun control and freedom of speech.

Afterwards, RA Jean Medard Zulu was awarded with RA Program of the year for organizing Cultural Night here on campus. He considered how so many students are from all over the world and wanted to put together an event where everybody could share pieces of their home culture. Zulu also shared the interesting point that “a leader is a leader everywhere”.

The next award was Advisor of the Year, presented to Kelly Levine. Kelly is the Resident Director of Surfsite, and well deserving of this award for her extensive time and effort put into the student body and Activities Committee.

The final awards were the Emerging Leaders Program graduation certificates, presented to 14 individuals who will continue to bring their leadership abilities to their careers after SMCC. Those students were Peggy Goodfield, Merrick Banks, Madison Holbrook, Mary Jo Smith, Ashley Holmes, Nkana Dorcas Ngaliema, Brandon Buck, Loreal Legare, Zainab Miguel, Matthew Cleary, Cameron Wheelock, William Chabot, Abigail Myatt and Maegan Perrault.

Congratulations to all those honored at the CeSIL Awards, and best of luck to the graduates leaving SMCC this spring! You continue to inspire students to become future leaders and to get involved in the student body.

SMCC Mourns Loss of Beloved Physics Professor Jesse Mase

By The Beacon Editorial Staff

Jesse MaseOn April 20, news circulated across the Southern Maine Community College’s all-employees email informing the community that Jesse Mase, a beloved Mathematics & Physics faculty member had passed away on Wednesday, April 19.

Within minutes after the email hit the computers of faculty, staff and administration, SMCC community members started to share their remembrances of Jesse and the role he played in their lives. Many of those who responded spoke of creating a memorial in Jesse’s name. Some spoke of creating a rose garden, others thought naming a room in his honor would serve his memory well, and some thought a bench in his honor would carry his spirit into the future.

The Beacon reached out to some of the staff and faculty who responded to the email, asking for permission to share their thoughts regarding the impact Jesse made here at SMCC and on them. Here are a few.

“I’ll keep this short and sweet. Jesse had the rare talent of spotting potential in individuals who would otherwise be passed over. I am one of those individuals. He believed in me, hired me, and I owe my career to Jesse. I would not be here had it not been for Jesse.
Fair winds and following seas to a beautiful soul.”
Kevin Kimball, USN – retired
Physics, Astronomy and Cosmology

Jesse Mase 1
Photo by Makala Thibodeau.

“Jesse was also part of the group that in 1995 received an NEH humanities grant (thanks to Bill Sutton and Judy Sullivan). We convened daily for three weeks in the CA dining room. In one session Jesse explained a bit of Einstein to us. I remember being captivated by his presentation. That was why when years later he invited anyone who felt like it to drop by his physics class and hear him discuss relativity, I grabbed a seat in the Hildreth auditorium. I think Walter Chop appeared for that class too. Of course, Walter and I were both undergraduate English majors, and as Odilia and Amy both noted, Jesse was not an intimidating teacher for non-physicists despite his exceptional credentials and intellectual prowess.

Jesse was a great guy. It’s hard to believe he’s gone.”
Kevin Sweeney
English Department

“A wonderful person! And I also had him on FB — I would always love the photos he posted of his own roses. I shared many a meal with him​ from back in the day of the “cafeteria,” as well as the Culinary Arts Friday buffets. He invited me to join with several members of the math department for those culinary meals – I always joked with him that I was an honorary member of the math department and I didn’t have to teach math! This morning a Veteran came in and spoke with me about his messaging back and forth with Jesse just this week on Physics. A huge loss for us…..”

Amy Lainoff, MA
Veterans Affairs

“That’s so sad. Jesse was a wonderful teacher. He had a special way of teaching that made students feel safe. Safe to ask questions, safe to admit not knowing or understanding something without feeling unintelligent. He would always say, ‘you can learn math/Algebra’. He was the professor of choice for any student who was apprehensive about math or physics. Students would drive in at off hours or completely rearrange their schedules to take a class with him.
“He posted the most beautiful photos on FB. I will really miss that. Rest in Peace my friend; with the knowledge that you made a huge difference in a lot of students’ lives and life at SMCC.”

Odilia Silveira-Harmon
TRIO Success Coach

SMCC Filmmakers Discuss Maine Mayhem Ahead of Premiere

By Daniele Amandolini

For the past nine years, students in the Communications & New Media department have had the chance to write and direct their own movies — and show them in sold-out theaters throughout the state.

This very unique senior project is known as Maine Mayhem, a creation of CNMS department chair Corey Norman along with former student James Crocco. I had a chance to sit down with this year’s directors, ahead of the May 9 premiere at Nickelodeon Cinemas in Portland.

Director Brendan Kellogg and producers Alex Goodwin and Mitchell Kleege guided me through “Crystal Clear,” a movie starring a non-binary protagonist dealing with a wish-granting magical crystal. Heavily influenced by the work of Terry Pratchett, Brendan relied on the Captain’s House when locations proved to be difficult.

Jack Gentempo wrote and directed “Off the Tracks,” a Portlandia-inspired sketch comedy with a very unusual casting process: Jack created a Tinder profile, specifying that he wasn’t looking for a date but for extras for his short film. That’s right: When in doubt, swipe right! You might end up on the big screen.

With “Washed Away,” Madison Holbrook tells a story about friendship and guilt. A car crash is a pivotal moment for her characters, and it was also a huge challenge for Madison as a director. Shot under torrential rains and on the very first day of production, she was able to pull it off brilliantly and cap her intense two years at SMCC that saw her pick up her first camera, dive head-first into film, and have her own movie screened all around Maine.

In describing how her “42 Atwood Lane” came to be, Breanna Penney repeatedly referenced how past experiences have already started shaping her still-young career. Serving as a producer for one of last year’s Mayhem films, she learned the importance of team-building on a film set. Creating a positive environment on set was her main priority, and one that she brings into every project she takes in. As for her movie, the idea came to her in the form of a dream, and follows a teenager who, in Breanna’s words, “attempts to escape the uncertainty of her fragmenting family.”

On a very different note, Justin Taylor’s “Parasite Night” stars a group of actors who fall victim to an intergalactic plot to use their body as vessels for parasites. Justin’s aesthetic is carefully crafted around VHS-era horror flicks, from Vincent Price’s features, to David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome” — a taste developed during his middle-school days, when he first discovered the magical world of movies. When asked how he lightened the mood on his fake-blood-filled set, Justin recalled sneakily recording his actors’ histrionics and attaching clothespins on fellow crew members.

Jason Smith’s “Champ” is a the story of a boxer spiraling into drinking and self-loathing after losing his career match. Inspired by Scorsese’s masterpiece “Raging Bull,” Jason tried his hand a crafting a story around boxing, a sport he knew nothing about. On the opposite, his lead actors are professional boxing trainers who had never stepped on a set before, making “Champ” a learning experience for all of them. The process of guiding them while listening to their input was Jason’s favorite Mayhem experience.

While superhero movies are very common these days, Bodhi Ouellette approached his film “Phoenix” as a more intimate story, focused on the human aspect rather than the visual spectacle. Phoenix is a former superhero, facing demons of the past and a familiar foe. Mayhem represented a great opportunity for Bodhi to grow as a director, and he already has eyes on future projects and developing new ideas.

Closing this list is Ben Rooker’s “The Wile.” While Ben was not available for this interview, his Kickstarter campaign describes the project as “a film about anxiety, isolation, and extraterrestrials.”

All the directors I talked to were clearly touched by the opportunity that Maine Mayhem provided. Seeing their creations on the big screen is something many aspiring filmmakers will never be able to accomplish, and their lives will be forever changed by this experience.

The Maine Mayhem shorts will screen Wednesday, May 9 at 5:30 and 8:30 at Nickelodeon Cinemas in Portland. Tickets are available at patriotcinemas.com


A Mile in Our Shoes, Part 3 [updated]

The post has been updated to include Xuux’s interview.

By Dana Abdhulay


Photo by Dee.

What are the most significant factors that contributed to where you are today as a person?

My family. They always encouraged me and my sisters for our education, and they gave us full support even if they did not have financial resources — they still cheered and supported us.

What kind of experiences have you had in relating with people whose backgrounds are different than yours?

Here in U.S. — when I came, it’s totally different than my previous lifestyle and experiences, because the U.S. is different than any other country. It’s a parallel world; for example, here your degree is not recognized and your education and experiences mean nothing if you’re coming from a different country. Here when I applied to some jobs, nobody even called for an interview. It’s kind of challenging, because you are learning something and then you decide to start from zero, and [are] having new experiences and trying totally new things.

Have you ever faced difficult challenges, that have prevented you from being who you are?

Free speech. Even if I’m here in America, I’m not a citizen so I feel my free speech is limited, it’s not easy. I think the most important thing for me is freedom.

Have you ever witnessed prejudice? And whom is the prejudice aimed towards? Have you been a victim of prejudice?

When I apply for jobs, and when they see my name … they don’t even call me because of the stigma. “Sounds like a Muslim or Middle Eastern” — that’s why they don’t even call. Discrimination against ethnicity and religion — as I said earlier, since I’m not a U.S citizen I don’t have the right to fight back. All these rights, amendments, etc., apply just for the citizens.

Who is the most influential person in your life? Continue reading “A Mile in Our Shoes, Part 3 [updated]”