AUGUSTA – The Maine Community College System recognized the achievements of the seven students selected as the 2022 Students of the Year in a hybrid Zoom/in-person event that brought together the students, college staff, and family and friends of the colleges and students. The students were selected for their academic success and campus and community involvement.

The students honored are:

Ryan Ashby, Northern Maine Community College

Ryan, of Mapleton, is enrolled in NMCC’s business administration program. When a serious motor vehicle accident nearly sidelined his education, he says the faculty and staff at NMCC worked with him to make sure he could finish his course work as he recovered, earning his degree online. Ryan is a volunteer at his local church and uses his wellness journey to motivate others. His commitment has paid off and he plans to graduate this spring. Ryan plans to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree, with the goal of eventually earning his MBA, and work in the area of employee development or operations and management. 

Suzanne Hanvey, Southern Maine Community College

Suzanne, of Saco, is enrolled in SMCC’s liberal studies program with a concentration in science. She is president of both the Community Service Club and the Hiking and Foraging Club; serves on the Student Senate and SMCC’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society while maintaining a near-perfect GPA. Suzanne is also a certified behavioral health professional and spends 20-40 hours a week working with children who have behavioral health challenges. She plans to graduate from SMCC in spring 2023 and continue her education with the goal of embarking on a career preserving natural habitats for animals that live in threatened areas.

Graca Muzela, Washington County Community College 

Graca, of Auburn, is enrolled in WCCC’s residential and commercial electricity program. Graca, originally from Angola, is a very active volunteer, providing public agencies with guidance on culturally and linguistically appropriate messaging around COVID-19 for immigrants, refugees and BIPOC communities, and delivering food and providing transportation to school-aged children. At WCCC, he is an excellent student and works as a resident assistant. He plans to obtain his journeyman electrician license and eventually transfer to the University of Maine to pursue a degree in electrical engineering.

Julia Noel, Central Maine Community College

Julia, of Sabattus, is enrolled in CMCC’s early childhood education program. She is a member of the college’s women’s soccer team and volunteers with Andro United, an indoor youth soccer program in Lewiston. When not playing soccer, Julia is a resident assistant and committed to improving the residential experience for students at CMCC. A good student, she is an academic mentor to younger players on the soccer team and helps organize team involvement in the community. She plans to graduate in May and have a career in education with Pre-K children.

Rebecca Peters, Eastern Maine Community College

Rebecca, of Lincoln, is enrolled in EMCC’s criminal justice program. In addition to her studies, she and her husband have four sons ranging in age from 12-20. She completed the Maine Criminal Justice Academy Phase I and II programs, while taking courses at EMCC. She became certified to be a police officer in Maine two months before graduating from EMCC, and was sworn in as a full-time police officer with the Lincoln Police Department in February. She is currently completing her field training officer training and will eventually complete her Basic Law Enforcement Training at MCJA.

Tyler Sar, York County Community College

Tyler, of Sanford, is enrolled in YCCC’s criminal justice program. A first-generation college student, he was named top of his class in the Maine Criminal Justice Corrections Academy. With his degree in criminal justice in YCCC, and successful completion of academy training, Tyler has been hired as a corrections officer at the York County Sheriff’s Department.  He wants to make a difference in peoples’ lives and hopes to work with offenders to reduce recidivism and the negative impact that incarceration can have on a person’s life.

Kristin Wallaker, Kennebec Valley Community College

Kristin, of New Portland, is enrolled in KVCC’s electrical technology program. Wallaker is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and last year was on the All–Maine Academic Team and honored as Maine’s New Century Scholar. A single mother, Kristin said she’s learning the skills to pursue many possibilities in a high-demand, good-paying field, from opening her own business or joining a company. Kristin is currently employed at RLC Engineering as a protection and control designer and plans to return to KVCC part time to pursue her business degree.

The students were selected by faculty and staff at their college for their academic success and their campus and community involvement. In addition to being named Student of the Year, each student received a John and Jana Lapoint Leadership Award in the amount of $1,000. The Lapoints both served as trustees of the Maine Community College System. After John’s death in 1995, Jana Lapoint helped establish the fund for the annual awards.