Volume IX, Issue 1 | February 13, 2023

Bragging Rights: February 2023

SMC Dance instructor Kealiʻi Ceballos and his hālau hula ensemble nominated for a Grammy. Political Science prof. Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein reelected to the SMMUSD board. Emeritus instructor Matthew Hetz’s “Sarajevo Cellist” performed at Carnegie Hall.

SMC In Focus


  • Sociology and Women's Studies professor Melanie Klein delivered her TEDx talk, "Conscious Empowerment and Collective Liberation." She reflects on her journey of self-discovery and empowerment. Melanie recounts her exposure to cultural scripts in the 1980s and how a professor taught her how to challenge these expectations and think critically about her power and agency, and emphasizes that we can all make conscious choices that positively impact the collective.

  • Dance department chair Mark Tomasic is proud to share that dance instructor Kealiʻi Ceballos and his hālau hula ensemble were nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Regional Roots Music Album category for the 65th Grammy Awards! The album, recorded last year, is entitled" Hālau Hula Kealiʻi o Nālani - Live at the Getty Center." The Grammy Awards took place in Los Angeles on February 5, 2023, and Keali'I was in attendance. Learn more about the album. Proud to be SMC!

  • Emeritus instructor Matthew Hetz had his work for cello and piano, “Sarajevo Cellist,” performed at Carnegie Hall, New York, on February 6, 2023, by Trio Casals: Ovidiu Marinescu, cello; Alexandr Kislitsyn, violin; Anna Kislitsyna, piano. They recorded the piece for PARMA Recordings/Navona Records. Guy Rickards in Gramophone wrote, “Its driving momentum is gripping, making it all the more maddening that only the first movement is recorded here.” The album is available on Amazon. Learn more about Matthew’s work.

  • Emeritus/CSIS instructor Antoinette Simmonds published her second book about an African American family and how children can see differences and demonstrate understanding imaginatively. The book, “Lizzy Has Fantastic Feet,” explains how the youngest son, Caius, grows, learns, and experiences these differences. Lizzy Has Fantastic Feet is a book written for children 4+ and older.

  • Music instructor Megumi Smith, as a solo percussionist, premiered Yalil Guerra's Clave para Cuerdas y Percusón with the St. Matthew's Chamber Orchestra in November 2022 with Dwayne S. Milburn as music director and conductor. Latin Grammy Award winner Yalil Guerra’s Clave para Cuerdas y Percusión is an effervescent work that evokes the rhythms and harmonies of his native Cuba.

  • Political Science professor Dr. Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein is pleased to share that he was re-elected to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Board of Education and subsequently, was re-elected as the school board’s vice president. “I was first elected in 2014 and reelected in 2018,” Richard wrote. “I am thrilled to have had the support of so many of my SMC colleagues and I look forward to the shared work of SMMUSD and SMC.”

  • Professor of Spanish Alejandro Lee is proud to report that along with Sarah Harmon (Professor of Spanish, Cañada College), he was invited to present “Los recursos educativos abiertos (REA)” at the College of Southern Nevada on January 12, 2023.

    And in alum news, Prof. Lee is delighted to share that his former student, Carlos Rouzaud, has been accepted to the UCLA Law Fellows Program! The program provides mentoring and career development activities to prepare participants to enter and succeed in legal careers. Congratulations, Carlos! 

  • Psychology professor Dorothy Chin was invited by Psychology Today to write a blog, the emphasis of which is "A Different Lens: Psychology from a Multicultural, Working-Class, Woman-Centered Perspective."  Her posts appear about once a month.  Read her latest post: Better than a Resolution? Try a New Year’s Intention”.

  • Kevin McKeown, SMC Wind Ensemble Conductor (since 2002), was honored as a 2023 Award Recipient at the Southern California School Band & Orchestra Association (SCSBOA) Conference Awards Gala Dinner on Jan. 21, at the Hyatt Regency Orange County.  

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