AS Vice President/Dale Ride International

Jafet Santiago “I want to be a lawyer in the LA District Attorney’s office, and do my best to protect the city that I love. LA will always be my home.”

When Barack Obama was inaugurated, no one was more surprised to be there for that moment than Jafet Santiago. “I was an intern—through SMC—for Senator Dianne Feinstein, so I got to go. I’d never been to the East Coast, and it was amazing to be surrounded by the vibe of ‘The Hill’ over the course of the summer. I just wanted that experience all over again. So I’m incredibly excited about my Dale Ride Internship, and I expect they’ll be finding a place for me in the Justice Department.”

From SMC to the corridors of power in DC. That’s been a voyage that Jafet admits he once would never have thought possible. “I started at SMC when I was 16, but I hit a rough patch in there when I thought I’d lost everything. Emotional struggles, internal family conflicts. But I got a second chance to get my life back together,” says Jafet. “When I first got here, I was only interested in money and power. But then I had a political science class with Professor Schultz, and she taught me that true happiness doesn’t come from material wealth. Rather, it comes from being of service to others.”

Jafet laments the fact that so many other Latinos never get—or are willing to grasp—their shot at higher education. “Okay, I come from a poor background, but I went to high school in an affluent area. I got to see the very stark distinctions between rich and poor, and I asked myself, ‘Why is that?’ Latinos have historically performed at lower levels, and that disturbs me. I want to inspire those people. And I want them to know that, when they come to SMC, they will have absolutely no excuse not to excel.”

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