Category: Cover Stories

The latest News from students at Southern Maine Community College

Student Leaders Honored at CeSIL Awards

By Celina Simmons

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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.

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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

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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

Community Garden Clean-Up

By Celina Simmons

To kick off WasteLESS Week, an initiative of Sodexo Food Services as part of their Stop Hunger program, Sodexo Marketing Coordinator Rachel Fisk helped organize the third annual Community Garden Cleanup this past Saturday. The weather was great, but the community effort was even better. I was able to talk with a few of the volunteers and Rachel about the event and more ways to get involved with the environment, community and a healthy lifestyle.

Volunteers kick off WasteLESS Week with the third annual Community Garden Cleanup. Photo by Rachel Fisk. 

For many of the volunteers, this was their first time helping with the cleanup, and they gave nothing but positive feedback. Many of them said that they plan to bring this experience home with them and hope to return next year. Some of them had applied for a plot in the garden to grow their own vegetation and plants this season.

For others, this was not their first time. David Beseda, psychology and sociology professor, said that this was his sixth year helping clean up the community garden on campus. Every year he tries to motivate his students to take part and volunteer in the event. He shared that one of the best parts is the collaboration of all the volunteers and sharing tricks of the trade. For example, I learned that seaweed has numerous benefits for gardens, from enriching the soil to repelling slugs and other pests.

I received many different comments from the volunteers, but I noticed a consistent theme in all of their responses was how great it felt to give back to the community. After asking Rachel what she thought was the most important message, she responded with “Just getting involved!” There are many different ways someone can get involved, and that’s why she is helping organize WasteLESS Week at the Dining Hall.

From April 23 to 26, she will be hosting different events and guests at Oceanview Dining Hall to show students what they can do to take part. On Wednesday, We Compost It will be coming in to talk about food waste and how composting benefits the environment and community. Before Sodexo began to compost trash in the dining hall, they found out that in just five days SMCC produced nearly two tons of food waste!

Rachel will be posting a picture of the volunteers to the Sodexo social media pages in an effort to win $3,000 from Stop Hunger. Stop Hunger ( is a nonprofit organization run by Sodexo since 1996, with a stated goal of “working for a hunger-free world.” Rachel plans on donating the money to the Captain’s Cupboard, a food assistance program on campus. Two years ago, SMCC won second place and received $2,000. You can help us win by sharing and liking the image on Facebook. The picture with the most likes wins!

If you are looking to get more involved in your community but don’t know where to start, Wayside Food Programs ( offers an extensive list of ways that you can help and volunteer. In a fast-paced world like our own, it’s hard to find time to help out in the community. But when you do stop and take the time to give back, nature, society and yourself will benefit.

HUB Gymnasium Closed Due to Water Damage

By Troy Hudson

The HUB Gymnasium patiently awaits an assesment of the extent of the water damage. Photo by Troy Hudson.

The HUB gymnasium, home court of SMCC’s SeaWolves and Lady SeaWolves, has been closed indefinitely due to water damage following heavy rain in South Portland on Monday, April 16. According to Facilities and Project Manager Jay Reny, the seams of the 25-year-old rubber membrane covering the upper portion of the roof had become compromised by high winds in fall of 2017. Although that initial damage was swiftly repaired, more extensive repair work was needed but was awaiting warmer weather to complete.

Unfortunately, Monday’s storm resulted in leakage around the stressed seams, spilling water onto the floor below. “Unfortunately, when you’re talking about wood being wet and then drying, you have to be concerned with areas that curl up,” said Reny. The flooring of the gymnasium dates from 1969 and employs a clip-rail system, wherein the wooden floor panels are clipped into rails connected to the subfloor. This results in a space between the wood and the subfloor, which Reny is concerned may now be compromised by trapped water.

“It may not look like much, but we want to take a very careful, precautious approach for putting that back into place,” he said. “Safety is foremost on our minds and we don’t want anyone to get hurt by tripping on one of those or landing on one of the edges.”
At the time of writing, a flooring expert was expected to evaluate the potential damage to the floor on Monday, April 23, by taking moisture readings at various points along the floor. Estimates for repair costs are pending that assessment, but the damage has already begun to exact a cost on the College. Although basketball season is over until the fall, the gym continues to be used by some student athletes, and is ordinarily rented out to third parties for functions in the off-season.

“We’ve had to cancel use of the gym for some of our athletic teams,” said Athletic Director Matt Richards. These include the men’s and women’s basketball and soccer teams, which use the gym for off-season conditioning. “Where can some of our athletic teams go?” asked Richards. “You know, that’s hard. The spaces in the local area are being used up a lot. I’ve already spoken to some places about finding locations for some of the [events] that were scheduled in the facility. I’ve been able to find homes for some of them; others are just going to be flat-out cancelled.”

Some events that were scheduled to take place in the HUB include youth basketball practices and hosting of the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) Maine State Championships. Although the Athletics Department isn’t funded directly by facilities rentals, they do provide welcome funding for expansion and renovation. “If we had earmarked some [other] things to do, bigger purchases, any type of renovation work in other areas, certainly those will have to be adjusted.”

The long-term impacts of the damage will be clearer after Monday’s assessment. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed on the impacts,” said Richards. “Certainly I would like to get the facility back to its intended use, which was providing athletic and recreational opportunities to the campus community and to the greater community. We will certainly take the advice of the industry experts in terms of our next steps in getting the facility back into its intended use.”

Automotive Fire Destroys Vehicle, Damages Building

By Troy Hudson

IMG_20180328_132930A fire in the Johnson Automotive Technology Center that occurred in the early morning hours of March 27 has destroyed one vehicle and caused extensive damage to nearby equipment, as well as the upper level of the building itself. No one was injured as a result.

The blaze was caused by a battery charger left running overnight, which overheated and set fire to a Nissan Altima. The car was totally destroyed in the fire. Before the flames could be extinguished, they melted nearby equipment including a mobile computer station, and caused extensive smoke damage.

IMG_20180328_132918IMG_20180328_132638The fire appears to have started overnight while the building was unoccupied, though it is not clear who was responsible for leaving the charger running.
When we visited the scene of the fire on March 28, the acrid smell of melted rubber and plastic hung heavy in the air. Cleanup efforts are underway, but it may be several more weeks before the space is cleared for use. Additional repairs may be necessary this summer. In the meantime, classes are proceeding in the lower level of the building, and automotive instructors are continuing to review safety protocols with students. The total cost of cleanup and repair is not yet known, but Dean of Students Tiffanie Bentley says it is estimated to be around $400,000. The fire is still under investigation.

Pictured: The charred remains of the Nissan Altima sit in the Automotive Technology Center awaiting a post mortem analysis to find the cause of the destruction. Photos by Troy Hudson.


A Mile in Our Shoes, Part 1

By Dana Abdulhay

These interviews are the collaborative work of Dana Abdulhay (vice president of Phi Theta Kappa) and Daniel Gatchell (president of Phi Theta Kappa).
First, let me introduce Phi Theta Kappa to you. It’s an international honor-society club for two-year colleges. We are working on a PTK project called “Mile in Our Shoes,” which also satisfies a requirement for our “Philosophy in Action” class. The project is about giving the under- or misrepresented a chance for their voice to be heard, or anyone else that has something to say and share.
We had about five to eight questions, which we asked face-to-face or sent to the interviewees so they could send back their responses. Also, we took photos of the interviewees’ shoes to symbolically reference the name of the project.
‘Pho Pho’
I am Pansexual.

PTK- A Mile in Our Shoes interviews #1-2
Photo By Dana Abdulhay

Q. What are the most significant factors that contributed to where you are today as a person?
A. I think the friends/people I’ve grown up with and been around have been the biggest influences on who I am today as a person. Also, being able to connect with others through the internet/media/books have shaped the way I view the world and interact in it.
Q. What kind of experiences have you had in relating with people whose backgrounds are different than yours?
A. I learned to listen to people with different experiences than me, and found that my love for reading from a young age allowed me to be more open to differences and actually have a desire to understand it, and not just tolerate it!


Q. Have you ever faced difficult challenges, that have prevented you from being who you are?
A. I’ve been lucky and privileged enough to be able to be myself in most aspects of my life. My biggest controversies have been within my family for my struggle with mental health since I was a child.

Q. Have you ever witnessed prejudice? And whom is the prejudice aimed towards? Have you been a victim of prejudice?
A. I’ve faced prejudice more as a woman than I have as a member of the lgbtq community personally. I have witnessed prejudice, both subtle and outright prejudice towards various groups. The most prejudice I’ve seen is sexist, racial, and/or against the lgbtq community.
I am Transgender.
Q. What are the most significant factors that contributed to where you are today as a person?
A. It’s kind of hard to say this early on in my life, but definitely a lot of the people around me, Portland’s accepting environment, and exposure to LGBT friendly people and media.
Q. What kind of experiences have you had in relating with people whose backgrounds are different than yours?
A. I usually have good experiences with people with different backgrounds. I like to ask polite questions, with their permission, to learn more about their background and how it contributed to the person they are today.
Q. Have you ever faced difficult challenges, that have prevented you from being who you are?
A. I’ll always be myself, but sometimes it’s hard to present how I want to. In some environments it just isn’t worth it to engage in the conversation of explaining my identity and my pronouns to someone if they use the wrong ones unknowingly. It can be hard to speak up when you don’t want any unwanted attention being drawn to an identity that isn’t really yours, even if it’s associated with you.

Q. Have you ever witnessed prejudice? And whom is the prejudice aimed towards? Have you been a victim of prejudice?
A. Yes, I have witnessed prejudice, through others’ accounts, but also in person and on

PTK- A Mile in Our Shoes interviews #1-1

my own. The prejudice, when harmful, is usually towards people of minority groups. I have been a victim of prejudice, mainly by way of strangers unknowingly misgendering me, based on what I’m wearing or my general appearance.

Q. Have you ever witnessed prejudice? And whom is the prejudice aimed towards? Have you been a victim of prejudice?
A. Yes, I have witnessed prejudice, through others’ accounts, but also in person and on my own. The prejudice, when harmful, is usually towards people of minority groups. I have been a victim of prejudice, mainly by way of strangers unknowingly misgendering me, based on what I’m wearing or my general appearance.

Additional interviews will be published in the next two issues of The Beacon.



On the Diamonds With the SeaWolves; Squads Open Spring Season in Florida

By the Beacon Sports Staff

While the softball and baseball diamonds were covered in snow and the Southern Maine region was suffering through a few winter “bomb cyclones” over spring break, the SMCC softball and baseball teams where in Florida taking to the diamonds.

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Emma Burns and
Madison Eastman. Photo Courtesy of Jodi Kenna.

The SeaWolves softball team returned to Florida after a three-year hiatus from traveling during spring break, while the baseball squad made it to Florida after making it to South Carolina two seasons.

The teams would combine winning five games and dropping 12 (the Lady Seawolves would post a 2-6 record, as the men would go 3-6); regardless, both head coaches Magnant and Yanni agreed that the trip was well worth the time and energy making it happen.

Head Softball Coach Magnant reflected upon the trip as, “a great opportunity to expose our players/ladies and compete against some very talented teams. Our trip was a bonding experience and we are ready and confident to take on the rest of our Spring Season.” Baseball Head Coach Yanni stated that the trip was, “a learning experience that I feel will go a long way when we get into our games here in the Northeast and in the YSCC.”

When asked what made this trip special, Meranda Martin shared, “I think what made this trip so special was being able to play softball outside in warm weather instead of being in a gym,” as Sara Ring added, “There were a lot of laughs on and off the field.”

The baseball squad started their spring-break games with a double header against Waubonsee from Illinois, splitting a double header. They would lose the opener 4-2 and win the second game 5-0. The win would come courtesy of the arm of junior pitcher Amos Herrin, who opened his spring season by pitching a complete game, having to throw 90 pitches while striking out 11.   

A day later, the Lady SeaWolves started their spring-break games, also splitting a double header. The Ladies’ double header was a non-traditional one, as they would beat Northland Community & Technical College from Minnesota in the opener, 11-0, and drop the second game against Spoon River College from Illinois, 0-9.

Planning for the trip started last summer for the softball team and last fall season for the baseball team. The goal for both teams was to do as much fundraising as possible in order to keep the out-of-pocket cost for the student athletes as low as possible.

According to Coach Magnant, “The team did a great job fundraising,” as the main goal Magnat had was to make sure all of his players had a chance to go “without breaking the bank.”

Fundraising events included “fall/spring softball clinics, selling DD Booklets, a Fundraiser Night at Buffalo Wild Wings and sending out sponsor letters to their families and friends.” “The team did such a great job fundraising,” Magnant said, “not only did they pay for the spring pre-season in Cocoa Beach and tickets to Universal Studios Park. They only had to pay $100 out of pocket for whole trip. They did a super job!”

While the planning part of the process for the baseball team started a little bit later than the softball, the details that needed to be taken care of were highlighted when Coach Yanni shared that, “Securing flights, lodging, transportation for 21 people (16 players, 3 coaches, and 2 helping hands) for 5 days is a task in itself.”

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Caleb Chambers. Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Smith.

Coach Yanni also shared the same sentiments that Coach Magnant had with keeping the trip as cost effective as possible for the student athletes, stating that, “The biggest obstacle was trying to do this trip and keep it affordable for the players but at the same time allowing them to get the work in and the experience. We held a bowling fundraiser that raised a few bucks and the kids also sent out sponsor me letters to help, in the end it only cost each kid $400 for the trip.”

In terms of play, both teams maintained a schedule that didn’t leave them with much down time. The baseball team played nine games in five days, four days on which they played double headers. The softball team played eight games over the course of five days, as the first two days and last two days of play saw the Lady SeaWolves playing double headers.

Both squads faced teams that are well outside of the New England region, as they took to the diamonds against teams from Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey and New York.

When asked how he felt his squad did against the teams they played, Coach Yanni stated, “In general, I guess the athleticism may have been better but in the game of baseball I believe it is more about your mental fortitude. Being able to make adjustments and turn the tide when a game is not going your way is what we struggle with. We could of beat every team we played down there, we have the skill to do it, what we lacked was a little bit of mental toughness. I am not saying we aren’t mentally tough because we battled all week and ended up 3-6 but we should of been 4-5 and some of the games that got out of hand I don’t think the score reflected the team we are.”

Meranda Martin spoke of how the level of competition affected her and her teammates: “…the most challenging part of the trip was staying up when we were down. I think a lot of people got down on themselves when they were not playing their best game. Which then carried over to the entire team, then after we were losing by a few runs it was harder for us to refocus. I will say I think everyone learned that even if we are down we still need to stay up and be focused.”

Sara Ring reflected on how the team responded when they found themselves not playing well. “I really thought we did a good job of laughing things off when we did something that seemed silly,” she said. “I was also extremely proud of how everyone gave it their all when they went in. No one went into the games giving only 70%.”

Considering that the Yankee Small Conference softball and baseball spring seasons are quite short, having a spring-break trip scheduled is quite the marketing component for recruiting. Softball coach Magnant stated, “The Florida Trip is a great recruiting tool! Not only will recruits save a lot of money at SMCC, but it also shows recruits that we are serious about our softball program and we run our program like a Division 3 program with trips to Florida to compete and face talented teams to get ready for the spring season. It also shows Recruits we’re willing to play a tough/busy schedule like Division 3 colleges.”   

Baseball coach Yanni reflected upon the trip as a recruiting aspect with these thoughts, “going to Florida is a commitment to the program and hopefully showing kids we are serious about our program thus pulling some recruits and growing our team. We will undoubtedly need to grow the team especially in the pitching staff department. Currently a lot of my position players are also my pitchers, this puts a lot of stress on arms and the players when we are playing in so many games. Every team except one that we played had a full bullpen, fatigue for them was not in play as much as it was for us.”

The Beacon would like to thank Jody Kenna and Mackenzie Smith for sharing the photos they took of the SeaWolves softball and baseball teams in action with the paper. If you are interested in viewing the softball and baseball portfolios you can find the photos in the Photo Galleries under the dropdown menu in the Fan Zone on the homepage of the SMCC Athletics website. Hit the 2017-18 season prompts for either team. For the softball team you’ll find the softball album labeled as March 11-16, 2018 Cocoa Beach Spring Training (Titusville, Fl).

You should also find the baseball photos under the baseball 2017-18 season prompt with March 10-16, 2018 Russmatt Central Florida Invitational.

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Amos Herrin. Photo Courtesy of Jody Kenna.
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Meranda Martin. Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Smith.
SMCC Softball in Florida 04
Kristen Mackenzie. Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Smith.
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Amos Herrin. Photo Courtesy of Jody Kenna.