Dan Nannini “I sometimes act as someone who gives students permission to dream a little bit.”

Dan Nannini’s 5-month-old daughter is squealing delightedly in the background. “It’s pretty busy around here just now,” he says, “I’m a dad-in-training.” And as he ponders what advice he’ll offer his daughter in the coming years, he prepares for another counseling session with a student asking the big questions about their academic future.

“One of my favorite aspects of being in counseling,” says Dan, “is that you’re an advocate for students. Going through any college system can be a little scary,” he continues. “I say to kids, ‘let’s maximize your opportunities,’ because I don’t want you to look back 10 years from now and say ‘Why didn’t I apply to Berkeley when I had the chance?’”

Providing motivation, for Dan Nannini, is the number one job in his work as men’s soccer coach and as scholar’s program counselor. He was a community college transfer himself and so has the empathy and insight to keep SMC students looking forward. “Professors can only get marginally involved with requirements for graduation,” explains Dan, “because it’s all become so technical. So I’m often a bridge between academic interests and students’ needs.”

Dan is invariably asked by students “What do you think I should do?” As he explains it, “Students would love to give us the power to make their choices. But we have to give that power back to them. In this way,” says Dan, “I’m a conduit for people to make their own choices.”

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