Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

SMC seeing third straight summer of growth

06/20/2019 - 9am

Southwestern Michigan College is seeing its third straight summer of growth, including a 2.3-percent gain in contact hours. Credit hours also increased for the semester, which began May 13.

Of 25 community colleges reporting to MACRAO, the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, SMC was one of just seven institutions posting credit-hour gains, while seven other colleges suffered double-digit declines.

SMC, which enrolled 544 students for 3,254 credit hours, has more than 100 students living on campus this summer and participating in enhanced leadership activities, a number significantly up over the last two years.

“Summer session is so important for keeping students engaged in college life and on track to graduate with their degree,” said Mike O’Brien, SMC’s Vice President of Marketing and Enrollment. “It’s an opportunity to keep making academic progress and earn some money, but in a more relaxed atmosphere that lets them try new activities and, of course, have some fun. It’s striking that year-round life balance between recreation and responsibility that all adults have to learn.”

SMC’s campus will also be enlivened by the two-week Summer Institute Musical Theatre Camp preparing “Catch Me If You Can” for three public performances July 26-27 at 7 p.m. and July 28 at 2 p.m. and the July 22-23 Michigan State Police Youth Leadership Academy camp for about 20 high school girls.

Director Marcus Roll’s “Catch Me” cast, which first met June 13, includes P.J. Dye, Cody Adkins, Josh Dixon, Emily Potter, Ellie Stankiewicz, Hannah Weaver, SMC student Craig Wells, Skylar Scott, Jay Henry, Nick Headley and Chase Ehlert, with Hannah Bogner, Abigail Kalin and Juliana Stanger as dance captains, plus an ensemble.

MiYLA lets students develop leadership skills and build positive relationships with law-enforcement mentors. These 15- and 16-year olds spent five days in 2018 at the Michigan State Police Training Academy in Lansing.
Niles Assistant Post Commander Melinda Logan recruited the students from Berrien and Cass schools.

“Girls selected had to be eligible for reduced or free lunches,” she said. Participants came from River Valley, Benton Harbor, Lakeshore, Coloma, Watervliet, Eau Claire, Brandywine, Benton Harbor Girls Academy, Dowagiac, Cassopolis, Marcellus and home schools.

Students experienced physical activity, military drill, water safety, interviewing skills, alcohol and drug awareness, gang awareness, domestic violence awareness, first aid, leadership, public speaking and other team- and character-building exercises. They also toured Michigan State University and the State Capitol.

During their overnight stay on the Dowagiac campus, SMC’s staff will help prepare them for college, such as how to complete an application, how to write a scholarship essay, scholarship opportunities and filling out Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for Pell Grants.