They Did It: The 2022 Graduation Issue
Volume VIII, Issue 3, June 20, 2022
SMC in Focus is proud to present another graduation-themed issue. The third cohort to graduate despite a global pandemic had hundreds of examples of that most inspiring thing in action: an individual who persists, no matter what crushing obstacle life throws in their way. The five graduates featured in this issue all have something in common: at Santa Monica College, they found purpose, a path, and the wherewithal to forge a way forward and define the future as only they can.
Sixth Time’s the Charm
Khadija Backrien embodies perseverance and resilience in person. She graduated this year after overcoming heartbreak, including losing a son to gun violence.
Mark LeDent’s transferring to UC Berkeley is a small miracle, after beginning his life in foster care and suffering physical and emotional abuse. A friend helped him, leading him to SMC.
Galvanized by Geography
Laphatrada Richards, a 30-y-o Thai immigrant, grew up poor in Bangkok, the child of a single mom. A fresh start brought her to the U.S., and at SMC she would find her calling—a fourth career, in GIS.
When astronauts finally reach distant planets, Victor Teran might be among those who helped them get there. SMC would help Victor realize his passion for science, and he’d even intern through a NASA program.
An SMC student club helps deliver lifesaving sexual and reproductive care to women & girls in Ukraine. A professor turns an organizing passion into a lucrative venture. A Ukrainian refugee family receives refurbished bicycles, thanks to an SMC prof. and his students.
Business of Helping Others
Shawn Spoon earned multiple Associate degrees. In the meantime, he also earned real estate, mortgage, and insurance licenses, a passion that came from wanting others to have a sense of security, something he himself didn’t have once.