College Friend

Terry Levine “SMC was like starting life all over again. Going back to school was something I had to do just for myself.”

To paraphrase the old saying, the journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single class. That’s how it started for Terry Levine who, in 1971, went along with her daughter to study at SMC. And the “journey” she started then found for her a new professional life, a Ph.D. and the jungle temples of Peru.

“That was a time when women, after raising children, began to build second careers,” says Terry. “My oldest daughter had a lot of good things to say about SMC. And I found them all to be true.”

Terry began her “re-entry” into education with a night class in anthropology. “I was working as a docent at the La Brea tar pits,” she remembers, “and I wanted to be able to answer all the questions people were asking me.” And it wasn’t long before her curiosity about the world—coupled with good counseling—found Terry enrolled as a full-time student at SMC.

In quick succession, Terry graduated and went on to take her masters and doctorate degrees. Her work on the ancient Inca civilization in Peru was rewarded with a Fulbright scholarship. “And I was really surprised about that,” says Terry. “I had always thought that the young ones get all the grants. But in education,” she adds, vequal opportunity really applies.”

Terry is now employed by the archeology department of UCLA and specializes in museum work. But she still professes a fondness for the campus where she took her first steps back into study. “The best thing about SMC is something you can sum up in one word: acceptance,” she says. “You get it from the faculty, the students. And when I was there, I felt I’d found validation and a home.”

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