Hector Suarez

“In the Photography department, everyone there is supporting each other. It’s never a game of one-upmanship. People just want to see you achieve and improve.”

Work so you can eat, pay bills because you have to. But into these two givens, Hector Suarez injects another element. “College is priority #1, and it was never like I was not going to college. SMC is my steppingstone to the future, and the Photography department here is one of the best in the country. I mean, I could have gone to Art Center to study,” says Hector. “But where am I gonna come up with something like 30 grand a year? So, 36 bucks a unit seems like a pretty good deal to me, especially because of the people that I learn from.” [Ed. note: Enrollment fees recently rose to $46 per unit.]

Hector singles out his department head, Robert Jones, as being singularly ‘cool.’ “He’s been in the business for something like 50 years—including shooting for the Army in Vietnam—and he’s full of crazy and wonderful stories about what he’s done. He’s had so much experience as a shooter that it’s just insane! But he always emphasizes the basic need to keep honing your skills, stay ahead of the game, and avoid contact with all the ‘bottom-feeders’ in this profession. His message is always this: Quality!” Hector plans on transferring “because I love studying, but it’s always an issue of money. But I’m really making the best use of my time here at SMC, because I do whatever it takes. Night school, online classes. And those have both been excellent for me.”

Hector states, “Counseling here can be an incredibly important part of how well you do, because then you’ve got a wise person sort of double-checking your plans and making sure you’re heading off in the right direction. And for me, photography is that direction. You get to create an image in time that reflects how you see the world. Personally.”

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