Rodrigo Almeida “I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters, 18 uncles and aunts and about 40 cousins. And on Christmas the whole family always gets together.”

Rodrigo Almeida misses his family and friends. “In Brazil it’s different from here. We’re very close,” he explains. As the oldest of five children, he was given a lot of responsibility for his siblings until he came to study in the United States. Now he lives with one of his brothers and a friend. That experience, plus studying for a year at Beverly Hills High School, has made adapting to America easier for him, Rodrigo feels.

An electrical engineering major at SMC, he plans to transfer to USC this fall and ultimately to return to Brazil with a bachelor’s degree. He enjoys his stay at SMC and his favorite class is mathematics. The analytical and logic skills Rodrigo develops in calculus classes aid him with both of his hobbies: karate and—his current passion—race car driving.

“I’ve always liked driving cars and it’s exciting and fun,” says Rodrigo, who recently participated in two professional races. “I never think about it being dangerous. It’s just challenging. You have to be very focused and calm and you need a lot of concentration,” he explains of his hours spend on the ‘fast track’.

“Focus” and “calm” are qualities that Rodrigo also finds useful in karate. He holds a green belt, which leaves him only one step from the coveted black belt. “I can’t stop now,” says Rodrigo. “If you’re that far along, you never want to give up. You go all the way until the black belt is yours.”

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