Alumni News

Six Degrees of... George Lopez

SMC Alumna Ariane Friedman used her current professional connections and her alumni status to make something great happen for current students. Communication Studies Professor Nate Brown talks about the experience.

An exciting thing happened to me last week. A student remembered me. That sounds silly, but I often wonder if my students ever think of me. They come and go. We work hard together for 16 weeks. Often the experience is rewarding, and short-term, interpersonal relationships are established. Maybe a student says hi the next semester when he sees me buying coffee, or a student emails me a couple of years later to say that she has graduated from college. Connections like that are a meaningful part of the college experience, for both student and teacher.

Last week a former student of mine (currently working in a film production company) thought of me in a production meeting and mentioned my name to the team. That led to a phone call to me from the executive assistant to a film producer. That led to George Lopez visiting my Argumentation class to talk to students and take questions.

Ariane Friedman was my student in the Argumentation class about two years ago. She liked the class, remembered that it was dynamic and engaging, and referred the film production team to me when they needed that kind of class. Thanks, Ariane. Thanks for being a good student when you were here, and thanks for being a great alumna of SMC.

Often, being an alumni means being asked for money, or being invited back to the college for some fun event at which you will be asked for money. There is nothing wrong with that, but there are free opportunities to be a great alumnus. Ariane used her current professional connections and her alumni status to make something great happen. It likely was very easy for her, but the impact on me, my students, my department, and likely on George Lopez, was profound.

Lopez walked into my class with the intention of researching a teaching role for a TV project. The students recognized Lopez immediately. As the fanfare subsided, a student asked Mr. Lopez "What do you think makes a good teacher?" Surprisingly, Lopez turned the question onto the classroom. The experience shifted from what may have started as a simple research project and a visit by a celebrity to an exchange of ideas around a part of life that matters deeply to those students, Professor Brown, and even George Lopez.

Ariene did a great thing – several great things in fact. First, she was a student at SMC. That is great. Second, she went out into the world and starting doing exciting things (like attending film production meetings). That is great. Third, she found a way to be a powerful alumna without writing a check. She made SMC better just by helping to make a connection – an alumni connection – between her current life and her alma mater, SMC.

Nate Brown

Professor of Communication Studies

Santa Monica College

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