Alumni News

Michael McCutcheon and SMC Alumna Nia Dawson talking with New York's City Clerk, Michael McSweeney at the SMC Alumni reception in New York.


Michael McCutcheon

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.

Currently, as a Counseling Psychology PhD student at New York University, Michael co-facilitates a nationally-funded, longitudinal study of more than 1,100 LGBT-identified adolescents. Michael's research focuses primarily on suicidal ideation risk and resilience factors in the lives LGBT adolescents. Additionally, he has presented papers at national adolescent research conventions regarding the intersectionality of LGBT stress and racial stress in the 15-21 year old sexual minority population. Michael co-authored a book chapter for The Handbook of Psychology and Sexual Orientation, published by Oxford University Press in January 2013. He has also been a contributing writer for Out Magazine.

Michael first fell in love with the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) adolescent mental health during his time as an undergraduate at Berkeley, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. His honors thesis was titled: "They're here, they're queer, they're vulnerable: The American adolescent coming-out process."

As a therapist, Michael's work centers around serving the unique mental health needs of LGBT patients. Michael has worked at university counseling centers in Manhattan treating patients struggling with depression, coming out issues, substance abuse, and making the transition from adolescence into adulthood. In February 2012, Michael was named the winner of NYU's Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical Award for his public speaking on contemporary civil rights issues pertaining to the LGBT Movement.

For his research, clinical work, publishing, and public speaking contributions, Michael has been awarded the Berkeley Alumni Pride Scholarship, multiple public service awards from the California State Legislature, and he is a two-time winner of NYU's Social Justice Change Agent Award. Michael is also a 2013 Point Foundation Finalist, a national scholarship awarded 20 scholars dedicated to LGBT causes. Michael enthusiastically credits Santa Monica College for providing him with the first-rate education and support he needed to fulfill his lifelong ambition of earning a doctorate in Psychology and working as a therapist specializing in at risk adolescents. His story serves as an example of how Santa Monica College provides access to world-class education and the inspiration to achieve academic excellence.

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