Washington County Community College [WCCC] is pleased to welcome one of its newest staff members, Melvin D. Adams III, Ed.D. Adams comes to the college from a distinguished background of working with students from all backgrounds who are seeking personal visions of success – a background which made him a perfect fit to serve as WCCC’s Dean of Enrollment Management and Student Services.
Originally from Arkansas, Adams was told by a high school teacher that he should not attend college because of his inability to complete basic mathematics. He was inspired by a community college mathematics faculty member who encouraged him to take a developmental course at night to improve his math scores sufficiently to where he could follow a career in education. Adams noted that “without the support and help of the community college faculty member, I would not be able to pursue my dream of being a teacher and now, I have the opportunity to give back to the students of Washington County Community College and tell them that yes you can do it and WCCC is here to help.”
After completing his bachelor’s in social sciences with a goal of becoming a high school educator, a mentor encouraged Adams to take his belief in supporting student’s one step further. He moved on to a master’s degree in higher education with a focus on student affairs at Ball State University in Indiana and a doctorate degree in higher education at Northeastern University in Massachusetts with a focus on religion and spirituality in student success.
Adams subsequently worked at Notre Dame and Southeast Missouri State University before jumping on a plane to fly to Maine in the winter 2004. He was coming to interview at the University of Maine at Farmington because, “I’d always heard of the beauty of Maine and the welcoming people,” Adams shared.
A few transitions after Farmington, Adams found himself in Washington County at the University of Maine at Machias where he served for three and a half years – enough time to “really fall in love with Washington County and the people of the County,” he recalls. Adams felt a strong resonance with the approach toward life that many residents of the area embody. “The people of Washington County are very resilient and hardworking, dedicated to this County, and they really want what’s best for their children and themselves.”
Now, as WCCC’s Dean of Enrollment Management and Student Services, Adams has found the perfect area to embrace his passion of “working with students and families, all the way from high schoolers to adults, to provide access to education and to help them find their career path, or if they want a career change as an adult,” he expresses. He works with students during the enrollment process, and, once they’re enrolled, he works with them to try to break down any barriers they have to their success.
Speaking overall, Adams said that he agrees with the philosophy of community colleges. “The wonderful part about being at a community college is the way that it focuses on the student, no matter where they are at that point in their life.” At WCCC in particular, he sees how the needs of the students of Washington County are being met. “We have a faculty and staff that is immensely dedicated to our students’ success. Everyone learns differently, and our faculty and staff are really focused on meeting each student’s needs. This is the value of WCCC—a small, rural community college committed to students and to the communities of Washington County.”
In his new position, Adams doesn’t hold back from offering students perspective on how they can attain both success and personal satisfaction. “I always talk with students about finding what they are passionate about, and to do that work, because everyone thinks differently and has difference passions,” he explained. “Whether a student wants to be an educator or a plumber or a forklift operator, they’re all intelligent. We need each of us to have a skill in life to support and build our communities and to support each other.” Adams impresses that it’s important to be passionate about a career choice because the student may be following that path for 10-30 years – and then decide that it’s time for something new. “And that’s okay, because then it’s time to find the second thing you’re passionate about and WCCC is here to help students succeed.”