Hundreds of students filed into the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Sunday for Southern Maine Community College’s 72nd commencement.

This year, 1,096 students, ranging in age from 18 to 69, received 1,126 degrees and certificates, making it the second-largest graduating class in SMCC’s history, the college said in a statement. Last year, 1,120 students earned 1,156 degrees.

Sabrina Hahn of Germany celebrates after receiving her degree in Early Childhood Education during the Southern Maine Community College commencement Sunday at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

The Class of 2019 comes from across Maine, as well as 17 other states and 28 foreign countries.

The commencement address was delivered by Alyssa Turnbull, an SMCC alumna who now works as a research and development technician at Jotul North America, a wood and gas stove manufacturer.

“Graduation is a time to celebrate the success and the hard work of our graduates,” SMCC President Joe Cassidy said in a statement. “The Class of 2019 has distinguished itself and our graduates are prepared for future success as they continue their education or advance their careers. Commencement may mark the end of their time at SMCC, but it also serves as a launch pad to opportunities that lie ahead.”

The college said some students have already landed jobs in hospitals, law enforcement agencies, restaurants, fire departments and creative agencies, among others. Other graduates will continue their education at the University of Southern Maine, University of New England and other in- and out-of-state schools.

Banah Alhanfy earned a liberal studies degree with a concentration in political science and plans to continue her studies at Smith College in Massachusetts. Alhanfy, who emigrated from Iraq two years ago, has twice interned for U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and was the 2nd District Democratic representative’s guest at the 2017 State of the Union Address.

“SMCC has been a beginning for me,” Alhanfy said in a statement. “It’s a place that’s given me the opportunity to do all these great things while I’ve been in school.”

Zach Cashman plans to continue working for the Scarborough Public Works Department after earning his degree in automotive technology. Cashman landed an internship with Scarborough through SMCC and transitioned to part-time work while earning his degree.

“SMCC teaches you pretty much all the basic skills you need in the workforce,” Cashman said. “The program also gave me the connections that allowed me to land a job.”

SMCC is Maine’s largest and oldest community college. Founded in 1946, it offers courses at its South Portland and Brunswick campuses, at 10 community satellite locations and online.


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