2023 “A Light on the Point” award winners, from left, Heather Perry, Jon Smith, Ray Steen representing General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Kristen Baker, and Wendy Laverdiere. (Courtesy photo)

SOUTH PORTLAND – Southern Maine Community College held the 2023 A Light on the Point celebration on Thursday, Nov. 2, recognizing those who have positively impacted the greater SMCC community. 

This year, the SMCC Foundation celebrated Alum of the Year, Jon Smith of Great Falls Construction, Co-Staff Members of the Year Wendy Laverdiere and Kristen Baker, Business Partner of the Year, Gorham School Department Superintendent Heather Perry, and the President’s Award winner, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works.

“SMCC is more committed than ever to our mission of transforming lives and communities through education and job skills training,” SMCC Interim President Tiffanie Bentley said. “It’s a joy to recognize and celebrate with so many people and organizations vital to helping SMCC build brighter futures for all.” 

Smith, founder and owner of Great Falls Construction, graduated from SMCC in 1988. He is recognized as Alumnus of the Year for his tireless work to make his community more vital every day through leadership, hard work and perseverance. 

This year, the SMCC Foundation awarded two staff members with the award. Laverdiere is SMCC’s financial aid associate director. She has been with the College for over 33 years as a student and employee. Her tireless work advocating for students while helping guide the College through Maine’s Free College Scholarship was high on the list of reasons for the award. 

Baker, co-awardee, began her SMCC in 2007 as a part-time in Enrollment Services. In 2019, she became a full-time team member in the Admissions Office. Baker currently serves as an administrative specialist in the Admissions Office. She has been instrumental in assisting and training new colleagues in the office during a leadership change while processing hundreds of applications due to Free College. 

Business Partner of the Year, Gorham School Department Superintendent Heather Perry, has been a driving force behind helping those interested in the teaching field get the needed skills for success. Perry is the catalyst for building the partnership with SMCC that led to the Educator Apprenticeship Program, a program to help people interested in a career in education earn a living as they learn, eventually becoming certified Education Technicians II. 

Finally, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works was named the President’s Award winner. GDBIW has been a longstanding economic engine in Maine, playing a vital role in the Department of Defense’s strategy to keep men and women in the US safe from harm. Southern Maine Community College has had a close working relationship with BIW for many years, and we have been privileged to see our partnership continue to grow and develop. BIW has been a true partner in many of our workforce training projects, and our collaboration has offered the citizens of Maine a chance to have a long, meaningful, and rewarding career. 

“The mission of the SMCC Foundation Board is to provide students the scholarships and support that allow them to access the resources they need to continue their education, achieve their goals, and ultimately enter the workforce and give back to their communities, opportunity to achieve their academic and workforce goals through scholarships,” Dean of The SMCC Foundation Julie Chase said. “Through the A Light on the Point campaign, donors can support students and help them succeed. This year, The Foundation will award nearly $500,000 to almost 500 students. We couldn’t do that without the incredible generosity of our SMCC community.” 

As an added feature this year, GDBIW brought their Shipbuilder 1 Training Trailer. Shipbuilder 1 is a 53-foot mobile trailer that can travel to locations like SMCC to support students, training, and other Bath Iron Works programs. Fully equipped with power, wi-fi and heat and air conditioning, job candidates can complete hiring applications and learn and practice trades-based skills classes using advanced technology, including virtual reality.

“Our new training trailer, Shipbuilder I, enables us to travel across the state, reaching prospective employees who might not have considered a shipbuilding career,” Ray Steen, BIW’s vice president of human resources, said. “Using the trailer’s virtual and augmented reality training tools, we can show Mainers from Machias to Millinocket what a well-paying and secure future in Maine’s shipbuilding industry entails.”

To see photos from the 2023 A Light on the Point Celebration, visit SMCC’s Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/smcccommunications/. To learn more about the SMCC Foundation, visit www.smccME.edu/foundation.