Southern Maine Community College awarded a record number of degrees Sunday at the college’s 69th commencement at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

A total of 1,091 students from across Maine, 13 other states and 20 foreign countries received 1,123 degrees.

Those numbers represent the largest graduating class and degrees awarded in the college’s 70-year history. In 2015, a total of 1,090 students received 1,109 degrees.

“Graduation is a time for us to celebrate the many successes of our students,” said Dr. Ron Cantor, president of SMCC. “The Class of 2016 has distinguished itself, and our graduates are destined for success as they advance their careers or continue their education.”

More than 94 percent of SMCC students enter the workforce or transfer to another school within nine months of graduation, according to a news release issued Sunday by the college.

Graduates have already landed jobs at the Lewiston Fire Department, Pratt & Whitney, Maine Medical Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, IDEXX Laboratories, WEX, the Windham Police Department, IBec Creative, and the VIA Agency.


Among this year’s graduates were three brothers from Old Orchard Beach. Connor and Chandler Leask are twins and were enrolled in SMCC’s Business Administration program. Their brother, Spencer, was enrolled in Liberal Studies.

“It’s pretty cool to all graduate at the same time,” Connor Leask said. “I didn’t see this happening, but I’m glad that we got to experience college together.”

Connor was a member of SMCC’s Path to Graduation Program, which provides scholarship funds and coaches who guide students through their education. He plans to attend Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts next year.

Yellow Light Breen, president and chief executive officer of the Maine Development Foundation, gave the keynote speech.

SMCC is Maine’s largest and oldest community college. Founded in 1946, SMCC offers courses at its South Portland and Brunswick campuses as well as 10 community satellite locations and online. The college offers 45 degree programs.


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