I began taking part-time classes at SMCC the fall semester of 2005, taking World History I and Introduction to Algebra at the now-defunct Bath satellite campus; the Midcoast Campus that exists today was instead part of the Naval Air Station that has since closed. After the spring semester of 2008, I left my hometown, my friends and my family behind to sort out my personal affairs.
I traveled across Maine for the next few years until in 2011 I moved to Florida. After 4 years of too much sunlight and humidity I moved to Delaware, where I became entangled in family issues, causing me to return once again, in boomerang-like fashion, to Maine and to SMCC to finally finish my degree in 2015.
I had been a poor student during grade school, mostly achieving a grade average of C or D. Seldom was the cause of celebration when I brought home the stray B, exclusively occurring in a history or English class. In my defense, class life by the time I had arrived in high school bred an atmosphere of apathy or indifference.
My studies did not encourage personal and scholastic growth, and my teachers did not care whether I passed or failed their classes. It was simply an automatic line to spurt out students who may or may not possess talents or skills which might be applicable to the society around them.
My time at SMCC has been the diametric opposite. Every opportunity that has been afforded to me, I have seized upon and utilized to its fullest potential. My time at The Beacon has been everything I have wanted and more: I have produced around fifty separate gag comics over the span of four semesters, in addition to representing the Midcoast Campus in prior semesters as its section editor.
This year I have seen a more robust topic pool to write about, running the gamut from interviewing adjunct instructor Mike Branca to researching information regarding the transit systems of the greater Portland area.
I am also a lifelong member of the Alpha Chi Nu chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honors society, a distinction that represents the summation of the work I have done at SMCC. Although I was never able to make it to any of the chapter meetings due to other commitments, I’ve considered the privilege of being a member in high regard, as its members consist of some of the hardest-working and committed students currently and formerly enrolled at the college.
This, my final year, has extended me the opportunity to work alongside my fellow students as a writing tutor within the Academic Achievement Center, an experience which, while relatively short compared to the rest of my time here, has irrefutably changed me. Never in a thousand lifetimes would I have ever pictured myself doing the things I had achieved while a writing tutor, doing my legitimate best to help any and all students coming in with fine-tuning their argumentative essays, assisting in explaining sentence structure, and even (I will admit) learning alongside students the difference between transitive and intransitive states.
I have met a wide threshold of students, from a myriad of backgrounds and pursuing different goals, that I would not have otherwise interacted with had I been left to my own devices. I am a rather selfish person, introverted and lacking the motivation to help my fellow humans. This past semester has changed that, making me look internally to question who I was before, and more importantly who I will become in the time left for me on this Earth.
If I am sounding a tad on the egotistical side in this article, it is for a very important reason. My intended purpose in writing this article is not to necessarily relish in my achievements at SMCC, but to provide but a small example of what you, an ordinary student like myself, is capable of accomplishing here at college.
I came from nothing and after I graduate this year I will fade back into the same obscurity from which I spawned, so you could substitute me with any other person and the achievable results will remain the same. All of us possess the intangible human tools that allow us to persist, overcome and excel in whatever we do.
Any student at SMCC has the option to participate as a writer, photographer, or artist on the college newspaper—all that is required is a small bit of effort and commitment. All that is needed to become a member of the honors society is maintaining a GPA of at least 3.5 while having completed at least twelve credit hours of coursework towards an associate or bachelor’s degree. And while an instructor’s recommendation is generally needed to become a tutor, more importantly than being extremely proficient in a subject is the desire to help others learn.
I am by far no expert in writing (I am an art major), but I tried to counteract my lack of expertise with an exuberance for helping. Even if writing is not your point of strength, there are ample other subjects taught here in which you could provide assistance with for a struggling fellow student.
I genuinely hope that if you read this, you are able to see a little of myself in you—struggling to balance work, school, and home life responsibilities simultaneously and never truly feeling that you are doing particularly well at it; having to pull an all-nighter the night before the due date of an assignment to ensure its completion; pulling up your account balance on the mobile app to see more red than green numbers.
Know that you’re not alone in your struggle to graduate. You have the capacity to commit yourself to being a hard-working student, to take your responsibilities seriously and endure through onto greater and more challenging things. Your experience at SMCC is what you make of it, and what you are able to gain from it is entirely within your control. I know this to be true, because I was you, and I did it. And so, too, can you.