Lydia Casillas “This is it! SMC is my family.”

She’s been ‘incarnated’ at SMC—one way of the other—since 1980: student, office worker, and now full-time counselor for the legions of international students at SMC. But the long climb through ‘the ranks’ at the College wasn’t an easy one, to say the least. “I’m the youngest and the only one of 10 people in my family to go the college route,” says Lydia Casillas. “I didn’t have anyone in my family to look to as a role model, so I want to be that person for other students who come from a similar background. But I work with the international students now, who are incredibly focused. Still,” continues Lydia, “it feels awfully nice to help them toward their goals.”

Lydia states that “working with our international students is a complete joy because they bring a traditional sense of respect for authority and act with incredible politeness. And I think our International Education Center is very well organized for them and thoroughly prepares them for transfer. We have good leadership, committed counselors, and a great reputation. That’s what makes us strong. And it’s the reason students come here from around the world.”

Her ‘payback,’ Lydia says, is to see students move on toward their goals. “I love being a part of the process that does that,” she says. “All of us here teach a course in Human Development that really teaches you the ‘business’ of being a student. Sometimes our students don’t understand the need for this when they arrive. But it’s a wonderful feeling,” she continues, “when they’re ready for transfer—two years later—and come back to say, ‘Thank you! Thank you! I’m so grateful that you were my teacher and helped me so much to get ready for the rest of my journey!’”

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