The start of the new school year can’t come soon enough for Jake Gerrish. Three years after graduating high school, he’s ready for college to start rolling so he can get the education and training he needs for a career as an electrician.

The 2019-20 academic year begins Monday. With it, incoming and returning students will feel a plethora of emotions as the semester gets underway.

Whether they’re coming to SMCC straight out of high school, a few years removed or making the leap many years ― or even decades ― after high school, starting a new school year is a giant step.

In Jake Gerrish’s case, he’s been working as a countertop installer for the past 2 ½ years since graduating from Fryeburg Academy in 2016. But he’s now decided that being an electrician is in his future. He likes working with his hands, and his father always pushed him to go into a trade. Now he’s ready to take the challenge.

He chose to come to SMCC’s Midcoast Campus at Brunswick Landing because he likes the tight-knit community, the residence hall has spacious suites, and he has friends who live there. In the year ahead, he’ll take his elective classes at our Midcoast Campus and commute to SMCC’s South Portland Campus to take the Electrical Engineering classes that he needs to become an electrician.

“I’m feeling a whole bunch of emotions,” he says. “If anything, the one I feel the most is I feel very focused. I’m ready to take on a new chapter. I’m very excited.”

KellyAnn Remedis, another first-year student, plans to study Liberal Studies with a focus in English. She will be one of three Remedis siblings at SMCC; her brothers, Patrick and Tommy, are also students on the Midcoast Campus.

KellyAnn was attracted to our Brunswick campus because her brothers are there, she likes the residence hall, and she knows the low tuition will save her thousands of dollars during her college career. She hopes to become a novelist one day, and plans to continue her education at a baccalaureate institution after she earns her associate degree at SMCC.

Like Jake, KellyAnn is feeling plenty of emotions as the Fall Semester approaches. Because she completed high school at home while taking courses through an online charter school, she’s anxious to meet new friends and be in a social setting.

Being a writer (search Amazon and you’ll find two novellas that KellyAnn has written), she wants to write for our student newspaper, The Beacon. At the same time, she’ll miss her pets ― two bearded dragons, two aquatic turtles, a guinea pig, four cats and two dogs ― she has at home in Fryeburg.

“I’m definitely excited,” KellyAnn says. “After being home-school for so long, it’ll be nice to get out there, but it’s also nerve-wracking.”

SMCC students come from all walks of life. They have different backgrounds, different academic and career goals, different responsibilities in their lives.

But what they have in common is the realization that it’s time for an education that leads to a satisfying career or that saves thousands of dollars before continuing to a four-year college. For students like Jake and KellyAnn, it’s time to get started at SMCC.

To all our first-time and returning students I say: Welcome to the Fall Semester. 

Joe Cassidy is president of Southern Maine Community College. 

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