Students Tour SMC ESports Arena

Students from around southwest Michigan took a tour of Southwestern Michigan College’s Esports program recently. SMC tells us more:

Berrien Springs, Covert and Hartford students toured Southwestern Michigan College’s Esports Arena in the Barbara Wood Building on Nov. 19, hearing from former student Gavin Latham, current student Adam Frye and Assistant Professor Eric Clayborn, SMC and Ferris State University graduate.

“We have help desk, networking and system administration tracks at SMC,” Clayborn said. “Information technology (IT) touches a lot of things — health care, business, education. You can go anywhere based on your skill set within IT. Right now, there’s a lot of potential within the cybersecurity realm. We’re adding cybersecurity to our IT certification track.”

“Median annual income for a security analyst is as much as $90,000 a year,” according to Andrew Churchill, who teaches IT in the SMC School of Business and coordinates outreach for Ferris State. The second of his two master’s degrees is in security and intelligence.

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Latham, 2017 SMC graduate, works for Aunalytics. “We’re a service provider to companies in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana. We have offices in South Bend, Kalamazoo and Ohio. Our clients are all over the globe. We do everything from IT to data analytics. What I learned here definitely helped my career. I was able to do my internship here.”

“We are in an Esports league linked to a bunch of colleges across the country that play against each other,” said Frye, who attended Jimtown High School in Elkhart and ran cross country this fall.

Accounting Professor Chip Weeks has been teaching for 17 years. “Accounting is not math, it’s communication, the language of business. I started off with a management degree. I went to Western and got my MBA. Accounting can take you anywhere. I ended up in Hawaii and worked for a surf clothing company because I love surfing.”

Business Professor James Benak began teaching 11 years ago, coming from hotel management. “When you get a business degree, you’re going to learn how to give presentations. As much as you hate to stand up and talk in front of people, it’s a valuable skill. You’re going to learn how to analyze information — financial statements, business plans and marketing campaigns. No matter what industry you go into, you can apply these transferable skills to virtually any career. My wife is a veterinarian, and they need an accountant and an office manager to run that business. You can combine your passions. I loved to cook. In fourth grade, I took a cake-decorating class. I was able to combine my love of food with managing a business.”

In his welcome, President Dr. Joe Odenwald said, “Business and IT are the two fields I interact with most as the person charged with moving this institution in the right direction. They touch everything. If I could go back and do life over, I would take even more business classes.”

SMC “is a comprehensive community college,” Odenwald said. “You can get an associate degree and transfer to a four-year university,” particularly partnerships with Ferris State, Michigan State University and Indiana University South Bend (IUSB).

“Our campus life experience is comprehensive,” the president said. “It’s residential, with 384 beds on campus” in three halls. “We have a strong arts program, both visual and performing. Next fall we’ll be playing men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, and men’s wrestling, plus a pep band, dance team and bass fishing team — seven additional opportunities. Our gym is being renovated right now. It’s going to be an excellent environment, whether you’re participating or a fan.”

Students interested in SMC’s business programs for Spring or Fall 2022 can apply to the college for free at https://swmich.edu/admissions/apply.