Efrain Cuevas “The best thing I can recommend to people is to come to SMC with an open mind. And expect the unexpected because, man, you’re really gonna find it here.”

One of the great novels of American literature is The Catcher in the Rye. It’s about a young man who often dreams that he’s standing in an endless field of grain at the edge of a cliff, catching little kids in his arms before they hurtle to their deaths. And it’s because Efrain Cuevas met a ‘Catcher’ of his own that he’s decided on the course his life will take.

“I just changed my major from Dance to Psychology” says Efrain, now in his second year at SMC. “I’ve always been drawn to psych, and the dancing I did was more for the entertainment, I guess. But now I’ve settled down and become more realistic. And that’s because I once had a counselor in high school who had an amazing influence on my life. In a lot of ways, he made me the person I am today,” says Efrain. “I grew up in a neighborhood that was filled with the V13 gang, which was really bad at that time. So I was always just watching my back, hoping that I wouldn’t get beat up, and being afraid for my life. And I started becoming a rebel myself: Nothing seemed to matter. But whenever I needed someone to talk with, my counselor was there for me. He kept me out of trouble and let me know that I could graduate from high school when nobody else believed in me. And I really think,” adds Efrain, “that because of his example, I know that what I want to do is to make that same kind of difference in the lives of other kids who might find themselves in the same situation I was in.”

It’s Efrain’s plan to transfer to either UCSB or UCSD for studies that he hopes will make him the same kind of ‘Catcher’ that caught him before he went over the cliff. And Efrain—who grew up with español as his first language—reports, “My family is completely supportive of what I’m doing now. They see that what I’m heading towards is a place I want to get to with all my heart.” And please remember, Efrain. SMC can always use another gifted counselor….

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