A Dark Night’s Swim, Comic Fiction, Mercy on a Ship and More!

• Communication instructor Michele Mega spent five weeks this summer volunteering with an organization called “Mercy Ships” in Durban, South Africa, and will be taking a leave of absence in 2016 to serve again in Madagascar, Durban, and Benin. Mercy Ships is a floating hospital that offers free life-saving medical, dental, and vision procedures to many who have often never been to a doctor before.

• Cosmetology professor Helen LeDonne received the Ultimate Teachers Award from Supercuts. Winners are nominated by students, who write about how their lives have been changed by a teacher.

Dr. John Fredrick of the English department published his third work of comic fiction, The King of Good Intentions II this September (Rare Bird Lit/Publishers Group West). Another book by Fredrick The Early Films of Wes Anderson is also forthcoming, from Rare Bird Lit. in early 2016.

• Kinesiology instructor Tara Shima took part in a relay swim from Catalina Island to Palos Verdes. The swim itself was challenging, says Tara, but the most meaningful part was the conquering of fear: jumping into the water in the middle of the night in the darkest water she could ever imagine. She encountered phosphorescent plankton, jellyfish stings in the armpits, and a suit filled with brine shrimp on her first swim, and then was surrounded by hundreds of dolphins. Tara plans on swimming the English Channel in 2016.

• If you’re at the Metro station at Crenshaw/Slauson, check out art professor Carlson Hatton’s art! He was one of 14 artists selected out of 1,200 to create site-specific art on the Crenshaw/LAX corridor. Carlson will also be taking part in a group exhibition called "Material Wealth" at Redlands University that runs through March, and in early 2016, he will have a second solo show at Patrick Painter Gallery at Bergamot station.

• Communication professor Dr. Lauren Movius published a research article, “The Influence of Global Civil Society on Internet Governance Negotiations”, in the fall 2015 edition of the Florida Communication Journal, a peer-reviewed academic journal. She previously presented this research at the International Communication Association convention; and the paper won a Top Paper Award from the Communication Law and Policy Division.

• Senior graphic designer Jonathan Ng designed a program book cover for the Ovation Awards by LA Stage Alliance, and it is on display at the Architecture and Design Museum in downtown LA.

• Pscyhology professor David Shirinyan is pleased to report the birth of his son: Max Arshak Shirinyan.

• English instructor Joelle Adams wrote a chapter in a book called Working With Academic Literacies: Case Studies Towards Transformative Practice outlining a practical teaching strategy she used to help undergraduate students understand and apply a pedagogical theory.

Jere and Martha Romano were recognized for their service to veterans along with American Legion Post 283 Pacific Palisades, and were two of the 2015 awardees for the 5th Annual Chef Basil Giving Back Thanksgiving Homeless and Veterans Church Award, given by the First United Methodist Church in Pasadena. They received these individual honors and on behalf of Post 283 from several state senators, legislators and others.

Mario Padilla is pleased to announce that his poem Mallarmé’s Faune (which was published in the summer 2015 issue of the Tulip Tree Review) was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the editor of the journal. Mario is also thrilled that his musical Venice Beach was a success, and music and photos from the workshop production is available at venicebeachthemusical.com.

• HR Specialist Alan Kuykendall graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business and was accepted into their Professional Studies, Human Resources & Employee Relations graduate program.

Kathleen Motoike of the English department had an essay called "Writing in the Company of Strangers" published in the winter edition of Out of Anonymity.

• Communication professor Lyndon Stambler wrote the cover story for the fall issue of U Magazine, UCLA's medical magazine. The story is called "The End of Darkness" and it's about UCLA's Depression Grand Challenge, which aims to cut the burden of depression by 2050 and eliminate it by 2099. Lyndon’s articles have previously appeared in The New York Times, Smithsonian, Reader's Digest, Los Angeles Times, AARP: The Magazine, and People, where he worked from 1990-2005.

• Adjunct art professor Natasha Wheat is in an exhibition called “If You Leave Me Can I Come Too?” with 11 other international contemporary artists at Hunter College Gallery in New York, through January 9th. The group exhibition showcases artwork that reveals the power and beauty that arises from the acknowledgement of death.

• Film instructor Roxanne Captor has been asked to serve on the Advisory Board for the LA County Arts Commission. The LA County Board of Supervisors asked the Commission to establish this board to develop recommendations for ways to enhance the participation and leadership of individuals from underrepresented communities in L.A. within the arts.

• Modern Languages professor Aned Muñiz published an article on the Yucatán/Riviera Maya in the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia – this follows an article she wrote on the Baja in late spring. It might give the impression that I really know Mexico well, says Aned, when in fact I am just beginning to discover this fascinating country!

• History professor Daniele Bolelli published a book Not Afraid: On Fear, Heartbreak, Raising a Baby Girl, and Cage Fighting and started a podcast History on Fire which climbed to the top 5 History podcasts on iTunes.

• SMC’s Workforce department and the Center for Teaching Excellence is pleased to report a “super successful” professional development event in November attended by 40 instructors. The theme was work-based learning, and dual enrollment teaching opportunities through the LA HI-TECH consortium that SMC is a part of.

SMC in Focus asked readers why they were grateful to be working at the nation’s best community college. And, without further ado and a loud drum roll, their responses:

"…the students here are so incredible. As faculty advisor for the UNICEF Club and as a faculty member in the ESL Department, I feel so lucky to be surrounded by inspiring students who come from all over the world hoping to make their lives and the lives of others better." – Lee Anne McIlroy, ESL

“…because I get to do something I love, every day. Dance has the power to transform lives. I work with a dedicated faculty who truly believe in the transformational power of dance and I am privileged to witness that transformation in myself and my students on a daily basis.” – Mark Tomasic, Dance

“…because the staff and faculty are friendly and very enjoyable to work with. Everyone is always willing to provide you with a helping hand, care and warmth. SMC is a generous and wonderful community that I am glad to be a part of.” – Kimberly Moreno, Career Services

“I love working at SMC because the college FSI pays part-time professors to learn innovative teaching techniques to appeal to students from diverse backgrounds and varying learning styles. Also love the health insurance!” – Sharyn Obsatz, Journalism/Media Studies

“…because I am surrounded by wonderful and talented people. I love working and make a difference in our student’s life. When I come to SMC, I don’t feel that I am going to work, I feel that I am going to visit my other family.” – Leyla Arenas, International Education

“I am grateful to be associated with the top ranking school to send transfer students on to the UC system. SMC attracts some of the brightest minds and it is incredible to be affiliated with such a great institution.” – Rosalyn Kahn, Communications

“I am thankful that I had a Winter Wonderland experience in the Snow Globe at the Quad. Amber Winter, the Director of Activities, and the A.S. Board worked hard to bring the holiday spirit to SMC. The snow machine blow bubbles, the bouncing castle, Snow Globe and holiday treats was a great segue to start the holiday season. Thanks A.S. Board.” – Michele Harrison, Student Life

“…I have the opportunity to make connections and build wonderful relationships; learn from my colleagues and all the amazing resources available, plus health benefits! Most importantly, if you are as blessed as I am, you have the privilege of working with the most loving, caring and fun group of people.” – Cindy Ordaz, Purchasing

“…because I am surrounded by students and colleagues that inspire me to strive to become a better teacher. Students always ask questions in class that lend a new perspective to lecture material, and colleagues continually share innovative ways to present difficult concepts to the students!” – Sandra Hutchinson, Life Science

“....I also consider myself fortunate and blessed because I have had the great opportunity to help to direct the path of future leaders by providing them with first class advising where we have created a supportive environment for students to accomplish their educational goals.” – Cassandra Patillo, Counseling

"… because I have made some of my very best, lifelong friends here. SMC is my second family and my home away from home.” – Robin Ramsdell, Counseling.

“…in the 18 years that I have been here I have added so much to my expertise in the field of early childhood education. Through ongoing professional development, I am now on the other side of the page sharing with students, and community members. Because of SMC's wonderful reputation, my teachings go beyond the classroom and into the community. Together, we make life better for the children and families we share experiences with and add positive energy to our communities.” – Adrienne Gunn, ECE

“I am grateful to be working at Santa Monica College because of the value it places on lifelong learning. Many schools do not offer adjuncts the opportunity to take such an active role in ongoing education. I have been able to participate in a wide variety of programs such as the Faculty Summer Institute, OnCourse workshops and renewal sessions, and Reading Apprenticeship. I am grateful for Edna Chavarry who is interested not only in faculty-wide programs but in individual goals. I am grateful for Jason Beardsley and before him Susan Sterr, who have fostered thoughtful department discussions on equity that make us think how we can continuously refine our teaching. I am grateful for colleagues such as Natalie Hansen, who continues the work in the Organic Garden, and who taught me with patience that I do not have a black thumb.” – Kathleen Motoike, English


(Congratulations to the first five who responded – Leyla Arenas, Sharyn Obsatz, Adrienne Gunn, Robin Ramsdell and Cassandra Patillo – and thank you to the SMC Foundation and Associates for their presents!)

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