We’re Here to Support Your Education

Objectives of The Academic Center for Excellence (ACE)

While the first semester of freshman year of college can represent fulfillment of long-held dreams, it can also lead to anxious students struggling to adjust to their new campus life. Statistics show that the largest numbers of students who leave College do so at the end of the first-year, and that is also true at Saint Joseph’s College.

The Academic Center for Excellence, located on the third floor in Alfond Hall, enables the College to consolidate and more effectively utilize academic services – such as study skills workshops offered by the Career Studio, writing tutors offered by the Writing Center, academic tutoring within various departments, and accommodations for students with disabilities. The purpose of the center is to connect students, particularly those in the first and second years, more easily with support services.

The Academic Center for Excellence was initially and partially funded through a generous six-year grant from the Melmac Education Foundation in Augusta, Maine, to forward their “Early Success in College” initiative. A primary goal of MELMAC is to increase student retention in College, specifically in the first and second years.


ReadSpeaker is text-to-speech software that is integrated into the BrightSpace course site that provides the ability for all students to listen to course material and beyond. There are three platforms available: ReadSpeaker, docReader, and TextAid.

Not only does ReadSpeaker text-to-speech open the online world – and beyond – for people with learning disabilities, visual impairments, and literacy challenges, it also provides opportunities for any student who may benefit from the audio presentation of material or may enjoy listening to written material from an MP3 file in the car or another venue.

ADA Accommodations

The College is committed to providing equal education opportunity and full participation for persons with disabilities. It is the College’s policy that no qualified person be excluded from participating in any College program or activity, be denied the benefits of any College program or activity, or otherwise be subject to discrimination with regard to any college program or activity. Learn more about ADA Accommodations.   Learn about our Service Animal Accommodation Guidelines.

English Language Learner (ELL)

The Academic Center for Excellence is in full support of any academic modifications required to assist English Language Learners (ELL) in achieving the highest level of academic success during their time at the College.

Any modifications made will be based on individual students, their needs to be successful, and will include conversations between the ELL Coordinator and any course faculty or department chairs.

Services available include:

  • Time and a half on exams, tests, or quizzes
  • Quiet space to take exams, tests, or quizzes
  • Individualized peer-to-peer support mentoring

Holly Sanborn, Manager, ADA Accommodations and ELL Coordinator
Office #328, Alfond Hall
(207) 893-7562

First-Year Experience

As part of the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE), the First-Year Experience (FYE) Seminar, which is taught by faculty members, runs during the fall semester and addresses the challenges first-year students face. It highlights resources that support student success in areas of critical thinking and effective reading and writing skills that can be applied across each student’s curriculum. By actively supporting students as they transition to college, the FYE Seminar helps students grow and prosper as productive members of the Saint Joseph’s College campus community and the wider community as well. The program has proven to be a valuable tool for our first-year students and the College as a whole. In fact, we recently added a FYE section, specifically designed for undeclared students.

For our new students, the FYE Seminar is a one-credit, semester-long course that emphasizes self-development through areas such as:

  • Academic enrichment
  • Applied knowledge
  • Higher-level thinking
  • Socio-economic perspectives

For questions regarding FYE please contact:

Shanna Webster, Assistant Dean and Director of Academic Center for Excellence
Office 325, Alfond Hall

group photo of the 2018-19 Peer Mentors

Peer Mentoring

How will your decisions today affect where you are tomorrow? What will your legacy be? How do you want your time at Saint Joseph’s to be remembered?

Make your mark by becoming a Peer Mentor.

Peer Mentors are certified student leaders that serve as a resource to the first-year student population as they embark on their new college experience. Peer Mentors engage in leadership and professional development training allowing them to co-instruct the First-Year Experience Seminar (FY 101) course, required for all first-year students, with an on-campus faculty or staff member.

Each first-year student is assigned a Peer Mentor, who is available to them inside and outside of the classroom.

Peer Mentors

  • aid students in their transition to college life
  • direct students to college resources, activities, opportunities
  • share their personal experiences with students
MaryClaire Attisano holds up a "high five," which is the symbol of Peer Mentors

“I’m excited to inspire new students. In the first few days of moving to campus, everything is new. I’m someone they can turn to.” – Mary Claire Attisano ’20, peer mentor


The Peer Mentor Program is certified as a Level II/Advanced Mentoring Program by the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA), an international organization of learning-assistance professionals. CRLA certifies programs based on established training components and the level of peer mentor interactions with first-year students.

Why become a Peer Mentor?

Current sophomore, junior, and senior students are eligible to apply to the Peer Mentor Program.

  • Transferrable leadership, professional, and communication skills (valuable for real-world experience)
  • Paid position
  • Opportunity to collaborate and develop working relationships with faculty and staff
  • Résumé builder
  • Enhanced knowledge of academic and student life resources and services
  • Work with fellow peers and develop team building skills
  • Serve as a resource for first-year students

How do I apply? 

  • Regularly check your SJC e-mail for campus e-mails from the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) with application details
  • Applications are also available in ACE, Room 326, Alfond Hall anytime

Do you have questions pertaining to Peer Mentor requirements and/or responsibilities, basic program component, or the application materials and/or requirements? If so, please contact one of our committee members, or email askACE@sjcme.edu:

Shanna Webster, Assistant Dean and Director, ACE | 207-893-7563 | swebster@sjcme.edu

Peer Academic Leaders (PALs)

PALs focus on peer-to-peer support for students in need of academic recovery and/or peer engagement.

Working closely with ACE professional staff, these PALs student interns:

  • provide academic support in the form of one-on-one mentoring;
  • support transfer students during their transition;
  • plan and promote academic programming centered around the needs of all SJC students.


PALs undergo extensive training with ACE staff to prepare and develop their skills to support SJC students. The intent for PALs, Peer Mentor, and Peer Tutor Programs will be to receive Level III certification through the College Reading & Learning Association (CRLA). These certifications will provide the tools, experiences, and skill sets required for their roles, for their professional development, as well as providing the highest level of support and professionalism to students.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center at Saint Joseph’s College provides a free consulting service on any type of writing project for students, faculty, and staff. Our trained staff provides one-on-one and small-group tutoring during all stages of the writing process, including but not limited to: understanding an assignment; developing and supporting arguments; drafting and revising; and proofreading and editing.

What we do:

During sessions in the Writing Center, you can expect your tutor to:

  • Support your growth as a writer through all stages of the writing process
  • Advance your individual writing goals
  • Focus tutoring sessions on concrete and specific writing concerns
  • Suggest self-assessment strategies
  • Provide strategies and resources for writing, revising, and editing paper


Email: askACE@sjcme.edu
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ACEitSJC/
Instagram: @ACEitSJC


Alfond Hall, rooms 326 & 327

Shanna Webster
Assistant Dean and Director, Academic Center for Excellence (ACE)
Office #325

Staff Spotlight: Shanna Webster advocates for student success

Holly Sanborn
Manager, ADA Accommodations
Office #328

June Irvine
Program Manager, ACE
Academic Support Initiatives
Office #305

Victoria Robbins
Academic Center for Excellence (ACE)
Program Manager, Student Success Initiatives
Office #307