Marpheen Chann is a popular name at USM lately. This fall he became the first ever student vice president at USM, and on top of that, he’s been hard at work on a number of other projects.
Chann first came to USM in 2010 after a year at Valley Forge College in Pennsylvania. He is now a senior political science major with concentrations in economics and philosophy. During the his first spring at USM, Chann became the president for the Queer Straight Alliance. “I had a lot of fun when I worked with the QSA. I got to plan events and meetings and helped set up the group as a whole,” Chann said.
The following year, Chann took a break to focus solely on school, and in the summer of 2012, Chann got back to work, helping state Rep. Christine Powers, D-Naples, on her campaign. Shortly after, Chann began an internship for the Maine Democratic Party in which he fundraised for the party and worked closely with its finance director.
Because of his involvement in state politics, school politics came easily to Chann. “I worked with former student body President Ashley Phaneuf on fundraising. In October of 2012 I got appointed to the Student Senate where I was able to help develop this year’s budget. I got to see where the money was going for student activities,” Chann explained.
The semester after working with Phaneuf, current student body President Kelsea Dunham approached Chann about becoming vice president. “We kept the idea of a vice president a secret for about a month and announced it at a Student Senate meeting. I was unanimously appointed,” Chann said. Chann explained that the idea of having a vice president had been on the minds of SGA members for awhile as a measure that would help lighten the load of the student body president and make things at USM run smoother and more effectively.
This semester, Chann has stepped up as the Student Government Association’s election commissioner, the student charged with organizing the SGA elections, recruiting candidates, establishing and enforcing election rules and marketing for the elections.
Chann stayed active outside of the Student Senate as chair of public relations for the fraternity Phi Mu Delta in the fall. He played a key role in re-establishing the fraternity’s chapter at USM in spring 2012. Since that time, the fraternity has added more than 20 members and has been involved in various public services and events for students and in the fall acted as security guards for the annual Royal Majesty Drag show in Portland.
Chann explained that despite the end of his term as chair in December of 2013, he is still active in the fraternity during his last semester. “It is a brotherhood and is for life,” Chann said.
After USM, Chann plans to go into law. he is currently looking at Maine Law, a few schools in Boston and Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Now in his final semester as a USM undergraduate, Chann sees how being involved at USM and in the community at large has helped him grow an individual and as a leader. “I’ve tested my strengths and weaknesses as a leader,” he said. “[I’ve learned] what is effective and what is not, what works and what doesn’t.”
As an involved student, Chann said that he’s had the benefit of establishing relationships with many people who have different backgrounds and different beliefs. The most important thing, he said, is learning how to get things done with so many interests involved.
“You come into contact with all sorts of people with a wide-range of personalities and the key is to learn to appreciate each person for who they are,” he said.