Graphic Arts

Catalina Cuellar “The head of our department, Zeny Baduel, is a great, great teacher. She taught me Illustrator last semester, and now that’s what I want to do.”

Just who is your ‘typical’ SMC student? How about one who has five classes and works a full-time job? “Today I’m in school at 8 o’clock in the morning,and I’ll finish up tonight at 9:30!” says Catalina Cuellar, laughing at the stresses of her demanding life. “I guess I can manage it all because I’ve supported myself since I was 16. And I’m able to do this now because my boss is an amazing woman who gives me the time off that I need to study. She’s actually paying for me to go to SMC, and I’m loving it!” But college wasn’t always a ‘love affair’ for Catalina.

“I went to SMC a long time ago, but I messed up in a lot of classes, and I just didn’t really want to learn. Then I went to another community college, and that was a disaster!” says Catalina. “But now I’m actually getting my certificate this June, and I’m feeling very serious and motivated about my education. I should have my AA by the Fall, and then I’ll transfer to get my BA.” Over the course of long days and night classes, Catalina keeps in mind the amazing voyage that’s been her life thus far.

“I’m from El Salvador, and I went to elementary school in the Palisades without knowing a word of English. And though I learned the language in a year, I was always very shy and never asked any questions. But in these past two years at SMC, I’ve learned to ask my teachers tons of questions, and they’re always ready to jump right in and help.” Determination, hard work, overcoming huge obstacles, and learning to love learning: That’s Catalina. And that’s your typical SMC student.

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.