College Friend

Wendell Lister “At some point, comedy turns into an art form—where you’re making people laugh—but you’ve also talking about deep feelings.”

Wendell Lister looks back on the road—a lot of road—with few regrets, save one. “I didn’t get my high school diploma because I was performing,” he says. And for Wendell, a gifted comedian who has played major club dates all over the U.S., one of his most important gigs was the one he had at the Santa Monica High School commencement.

“It wasn’t exactly typical for a graduation speech,” he says. “It was all about the ‘Death Sentence’ you get if you don’t finish assignments on time.” Though the senior class had some chuckles on that special day, they doubtlessly also understood a lot of the underlying message of Wendell’s comedy: life is a serious business.

“Comedy gave me pride and it taught me about myself,” says Wendell. “I’d made a lot of money on the road. But I needed to find out who I really was.” And his return to learning at SMC provided him with a different set of insights, curiosity about the world, and success. He graduated this past June, an honors society student, and transferred to UCLA to major in English.

“I may go on to law school,” says Wendell. “I don’t know what I’ll do with an English degree. But I’m so pleased that I found my way to SMC because that’s where I got over my confusion about learning; the value of true understanding. Don’t just look at the end of the whole process,” says Wendell. “Look at the every stage along the way, every week, every semester. And get something of value as you go, because that’s what you’re going to look back on and feel fulfilled with.”

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