Shawn’s “Best” Semester

Portland native Shawn McCann thought swimming was his ticket to earning a college degree. Though he was a standout in the sport during high school, Shawn says he didn’t consider himself a great student.

After graduating from Xavier in 1990, Shawn was accepted at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire but ended up on the swim team at Rider College in New Jersey. During the first year, he became injured and lost his focus to study.

“I was not prepared for college,” Shawn reflected. “I was immature and didn’t understand the process.”

Even though he began his sophomore year at Rider, he left in October of that year and came back to Connecticut. Shawn then began working part-time at Powder Ridge and performed odd jobs like painting.

As he kept working, Shawn enrolled in several courses at Middlesex the following spring.

“That’s when something clicked,” Shawn declared.

He specifically credits his political science and history professor, Richard Patrick—who was also from Portland—for sparking Shawn’s interest in learning.

“Professor Patrick cared about the people in his class. He taught the importance of building relationships on a personal and professional level,” Shawn said.

Though he was only at Middlesex for a semester, Shawn said he enjoyed his classes and felt comfortable at Middlesex. He earned good grades and matured as a person.

“I met people there I still keep in touch with to this day,” he added.

Shawn transferred his credits and majored in political science and history at Johnson State College in Vermont, graduating in 1995.

“Without my experience at Middlesex, I don’t think I would’ve been able to transfer and understand college,” he added.

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Shawn worked in sales and marketing. His family owns an established dry cleaning business, but instead of going right to work there, he first took a job for another dry cleaner in Boston.

“I felt it was important to get another perspective,” Shawn said.

Today, Shawn is the third-generation president of Best Cleaners, the family’s business based in Middletown. The company has been in operation for more than 60 years and has expanded to 12 locations in Connecticut.

“Don’t let any misperceptions of community college deter you,” Shawn said. “I had incredible engagement and learned a lot about myself while at Middlesex.”

“Middlesex is a great part of the community, and it’s nice knowing it is still functioning at the highest level,” he added.

February 2022
By Thea Moritz