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SMC Alumni

In Spotlight

We're proud to feature some of the good works our SMC alumni are performing across the country and around the globe.


When we think of success, we tend to think of rewards: cash-filled coffers, trophies, star treatment, luxury. But maybe the greatest successes don't result in honors, bonuses, or perks. Maybe the greatest successes wear plain clothes, do the heavy lifting, and – in the case of Anita Sarkeesian – advance the fight for equality.

The SMC alumna earned a bachelor's degree in communication studies from California State University, Northridge in 2007 and a master's degree in social and political thought from York University in 2010. Her master's thesis was titled I’ll Make a Man Out of You: Strong Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy Television. The title alone drops clues to the work she would set out to do in the two years that follow. Read more...


 

Michelle Goldstein is a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines where she teaches English at an elementary school. "I am extremely passionate about human rights and since International Women’s Month is just around the corner I am going to teach my children about Women’s Rights and Women’s Empowerment."

Throughout her service, Michelle has encountered extremely negative conceptions of American Women due to how women are portrayed in the media. The local men and women have commented that she is not like a typical 'American' because she holds conservative values when it comes to dating, where a typical 'American' is very 'liberal' and 'easy going' with her body. "This astonished me, especially because women thought this as well." Read more...

 


 

Santa Monica College alum Michael McCutcheon (’08) began taking classes part-time after spending many years traveling and working upon graduating high school in Ohio. He had always been interested in the field of Psychology, but after being out of school for such a long time, he did not think that his dream of becoming a therapist was still possible. He was accepted to SMC’s Scholars Program with the hope of merely succeeding in pre-requisite classes and hopefully one day transferring to a four-year university. His experience ended up being far richer than he could have ever imagined. During his time at SMC, Michael won awards in regional Speech and Debate competitions, studied abroad in The Republic of South Africa, and cultivated lifelong friendships with people from all over the globe. In the end, Michael went from thinking that he might never attend a four-year school, to receiving multiple acceptances to universities including UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Columbia University. Read more...

 


 

"In addition to graduating from SMC, my father, Jack Mackson, was the assistant track Coach in the 1960s and 1970s. I was one of the "water boys" for the 1964 Corsair championship football team. Corsair Field is where I grew up and the gym – now the 'Pavilion' – was my studio as a budding sports photographer."

Richard Mackson is a long time Santa Monica resident, Sports Illustrated contributing photographer, innovator, entrepreneur, Santa Monica College "Corsair" graduate and Santa Monica High School Hall of Fame member. His photos have appeared on dozens of covers of Sports Illustrated magazines, and he has photographed World Cup Soccer, America’s Cup Yachting, fourteen Olympic Games, Rose Bowls, the Oscars, Kentucky Derbies, NCAA Final Fours, BCS Championships, NBA Championships, Super Bowls, Stanley Cups, World Championship Boxing, and countless other national and international sporting events. Read more...


 

Santa Monica College alumni Thomas Chilton Meseroll enrolled at Santa Monica City College after spending eight years bartending at Verdi Ristorante Di Musica on Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica and an even longer stint performing magic on the Venice Boardwalk and in New York City. Tom signed up at SMC in order to pursue a career as a Forest Ranger because he and his wife Jill loved camping.

Tom was nearly 30 years old when he began at SMC and decided to take a class in Geology and Astronomy on his road towards forestry. The Astronomy instructor was Gary Fouts, who ended up changing Tom’s life and career choice forever. After taking Mr. Fouts' class (and obtaining the highest grade Mr. Fouts ever gave to this day), Tom had a sit-down consultation with Fouts to talk about pursuing a career in Astrophysics. At first Fouts was reluctant to recommend such a drastic career switch from magician/bartender to Astrophysicist, but Tom was relentless in his quest. Read more...

 


 

Santa Monica College alumni Andrew Hem is a great example of a Santa Monica College Alumnus who went on to accomplish many impressive achievements. Coming to SMC from Santa Monica High School class of ‘99, Andrew earned an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts after realizing that focusing on his passions would help him attain the success he’s always dreamed of. This summer, Andrew was one of five chosen artists out of the whole country to be honored by The White House Historical Society for his captivating paintings.

Andrew first came to SMC without a clear intention of what he wanted to pursue. With a background in street art, he decided to take his very first art class, which was figure drawing. After receiving direction and support from numerous SMC professors, including Professor Marc Trujillo, Andrew explains why he decided to focus his education on fine art. Read more...


 

Policy Advisor in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the U.S. Department of State, and SMC Alumna, Dr. Annie Bird has recognized Santa Monica College as a key building block for her academic choices and career. She writes: “The SMC community, especially people like Patricia Brown, then Dean of Student Life, nurtured my potential and taught me leadership skills that are still with me. The passion that teachers like Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein and Alan Buckley brought to the classroom was inspiring. SMC is a gem among community colleges.” Read more...

 

 


 

As a thriving poet, social commentator and author, we are proud that Michele Serros is an alumna of Santa Monica College. She is a former writer for the TV series George Lopez, and her published works have landed on recommended reading lists in many Southern California schools. Her books have also received attention from bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against the Machine. While studying at SMC, Serros began to make big moves in her writing career. She recalls the faculty who were influential during this exciting time in her life.

Michele Serros first entered academia by attending public school in her hometown of Oxnard. After public school, she went to Ventura College for a few years. She then moved 60 miles to the south where she started at Santa Monica College in 1985. While she lived in Los Angeles, Serros was too embarrassed to admit that she was from Oxnard. Instead, she would give the name of her city a fancy spin, “I would often tell people, as casually as I could, ‘Oh, I live between Malibu and Santa Barbara.’ It sounded so much more glamorous.” Read more…

 


Dr. Nathan Myhrvold is most recently recognized as the principal author of Modernist Cuisine, a culinary text on the application of scientific research principles and new techniques and technology to cooking. After his 14-year tenure as chief strategist and chief technology officer of Microsoft Corporation—where he helped spearhead many of the company’s most successful products and founded Microsoft Research—Myhrvold founded Intellectual Ventures (IV) in 2000.

Dr. Myhrvold, a visionary technology and business leader, is also a proud alumnus of Santa Monica College. He attended SMC up to the spring of 1979 before he transferred to the University of California at Los Angeles where he would earn a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in geophysics and space physics. Read more...

 


A steadfast fan of community colleges, Laura Huober insists that more money doesn’t equate to more quality.

“It all comes back to SMC for me. The professors are just as good as other colleges – on par or better than Amherst or Yale. University professors are required to research and publish, a preference for some. At SMC, we had small class sizes, and the professors are genuinely passionate about teaching. I was really fortunate to be surrounded by very intelligent people.”

Laura was excited to learn about President Obama’s proposal to offer community college free to the public. “Community college is already inexpensive, but cost is still a factor. With this bill, more people will take that first class. It lowers the barriers that people only think they have. Community college changes that perception and deepens our appreciation for higher education. Community colleges offer incredible opportunities for students.” Read More...


What are you doing now? I work as a journalist with American Lawyer Media in New York. I write for Corporate Counsel magazine as a staff reporter where I cover corporate litigation and consumer protection laws. I love my job, and it's allowed me for the first time to truly focus on enterprise stories and look for opportunities for impact. My colleague from the San Fernando Valley Business Journal, Rosie Downey, and I completed our debut book, In Other News: Reporters on Reporting this spring. The book profiles 12 journalists from reputable outlets like the Los Angeles Times, NPR, the Chicago Tribune, BuzzFeed, The Washington Post and others. Each chapter takes a look inside the reporter's career, and is intended to educate and motivate aspiring journalists. The book is available on Amazon.com, which is of course amazing. But my real dream come true is having it available from Barnes & Noble. I am such a fan of all of the incredible journalists we interviewed, and I learned something from each of them. I've been in journalism for six years, and it motivated me and taught me a lot, so I'm hopeful that folks just starting out in the field will find many helpful takeaways. Read More...


SMC alumna Linnea Bengston studied at Santa Monica College in 2005 for one semester and recalls below, "My experience at SMC influenced my life at large." 

Can you describe what you are doing now?

I serve as an International Business Developer for the City of Lidköping and the County of Skaraborg (Sweden), assisting organizations and companies with navigating the U.S. Market. I help identify joint venture partners, customer and market introductions, student exchanges, job shadowing opportunities and exchange of best practices, as well as providing cross cultural support. We work with the idea of grow locally by working globally. I alternate my time between my hometown Lidköping and Rockford, Illinois, where I have an office at City Hall. Read More...

 


Nicole received her bachelors in urban planning and master’s in public policy from California State University Northridge. She has spent the better part of her adult life honing her craft in the art of the storytelling. Initially starting out as an author of short stories and novels, Nicole has broadened her specialty to include novel adaptations for film and television, screenwriting for all mediums as well as documentaries, reality based television shows and web series.

Nicole is also actively invovled in civic engagement having been a delegate at-large at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. We recently had the chance to catch up with Nicole! Read More...


 Jasmine received her bachelors in psychology from UCLA, where she played Quidditch, chaired the Student Health Advisory Committee, and taught her own psychology class last spring. She has devoted her life to service and advocacy, having volunteered with the American Red Cross since she was in 8th grade and serving on their board for 5 years, as well as serving on healthcare and insurance boards throughout the UC system.

She has since devoted her public policy skills and passion for humanitarianism towards medicine, intending to serve both as a physician and patient health advocate. She credits her journey's start to SMC, where she was Inter-Club Council Chair and a President's Ambassador. Read More...


I am currently at the University of Southern California finishing my bachelors of science in neuroscience and a minor in consumer behavior. I am actively involved in research: running lab studies and collaborating with graduate students on answering questions such as the meaning of life, moral hypocrisy, morality and anthropomorphism. Outside of the lab I investigate how virtual reality technology can be used for medical therapy. There is more to VR than gaming and entertainment, and my colleagues and I are excited to first explore means of improving mental health. I consult and analyze for TAMID at USC, a national multi-phased organization connecting over 1,500 American entrepreneurial-minded students with the Israeli economic landscape. I also teach and lead experimental sessions at local elementary schools through Science Outreach by employing science experiments and exposing a core science curriculum prior to the normal science educational route.  Read More...


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