Courageous. Bold. Resilient.
Volume IX, Issue 3, June 20, 2023
SMC in Focus’s 2023 graduation issue proudly and with great gratitude presents the extraordinary stories of four Santa Monica College graduates: Monique Johnson, Ahmad Rizwan, Vershaun “Shawnni” Evans, and Jose Rosales, who celebrate the accomplishment of this milestone with tremendous obstacles overcome, with their personal dreams and that of their families’ in the balance. Plus, a faculty member who also began dancing his way towards his destiny at a community college and an impressive line-up of SMC colleagues’ (and students’) brags. Enjoy!
Reclaiming Her Story
The trauma of a violent assault forced Monique Johnson to drop out of her university, but the support of Santa Monica College enabled her to love being a student again.
Red House Finches & Green Buildings on His Mind
First-gen student Ahmad Rizwan, an immigrant from Lahore, Pakistan, is transferring this fall to UC Irvine as a mechanical engineering major. He turned down offers from four-year colleges to attend SMC.
On Her Way Upward
Vershaun “Shawnni” Evans can’t wait to be a social worker. Life put many difficulties in her way, but Shawnni is “on fire” today, a freshman at Cal State LA and graduating from SMC with a second AA. Being a role model to her two daughters is her top priority.
Back on Track
Personal tragedy and an encounter with the justice system sent Jose Rosales’ life into turmoil, but SMC has helped him make a fresh start.
Academic Senate names 2023 Faculty Excellence awards. The Math Department helps every student succeed. An Art prof. wins a 2023 Equity & Social Justice Award from NCORE. SMC students rake in honors.
Without Dance, What’s the Pointe?
Mark Tomasic knows all about playing artistic catch-up. He grew up “in the boondocks outside Cleveland.” He took his first ballet class at the age of 18—at a community college. Which makes him especially well-suited to lead SMC’s dance department.