Ronald G. Cantor

Ronald G. Cantor

Hundreds of Southern Maine Community College students registered to vote this fall on our campuses here in Brunswick and in South Portland.

Nearly 200 signed up at a voter registration table at a Welcome BBQ early this semester. A student-organized project in September registered another 141 students. Many more students registered on their own.

By registering to vote and going to the polls this Election Day, the students are becoming engaged in their college, their community and their state.

Voting makes second- year business student Ben Bussiere feel empowered.

“When you vote, it makes you feel like you have a voice, a say in who represents you,” Ben says. “When those people are elected and represent your values and what you believe in, then the state will be transformed into having the same values.”

Bussiere was among a group of students who set up a table in September to encourage other students to register to vote. Ben, who is 20, first voted in the 2012 election. But he says he wasn’t as informed two years ago as he is now; this time around, he’s devoted more time researching the candidates and the issues.

Voting (and helping other students register to vote) is one of many ways Ben gets involved in the world around him. On campus, he is a member of the Student Senate, the Business Club and Phi Theta Kappa honors society. In the community, he will soon be a Big Brother through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Instilling the importance of student engagement has long been a goal at SMCC. When students engage, students succeed. SMCC is committed to building a strong sense of campus community, helping students enhance their leadership skills and explore the opportunities available to them.

“I love being engaged,” Ben says. “If you’re involved in college life, you’ll probably be engaged in the classroom. Engaging students on campus is important for our persistence rates and it’s important for our college.”

Students at our Midcoast Campus in Brunswick and our South Portland Campus become involved in many ways. They join campus groups and volunteer for community organizations. They participate in fundraising activities. They sign petitions. They display buttons, stickers and signs on political and social issues. They cheer for their college sports teams.

And they vote.

Ben Bussiere plans to transfer to a four-year university and study finance after he graduates from SMCC next spring. He is confident his involvement in college life at SMCC will stay with him at his next school — and for the rest of his life.

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Ronald Cantor is president of Southern Maine Community College.


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