Volume IX, Issue 6 | December 12, 2023

Bragging Rights: December 2023

A Business prof’s film about Merchant Ivory to be distributed worldwide. SMC Athletics brings home several wins this fall. LAist features sustainability at SMC.  A Comm & Media Studies instructor receives a presidential volunteer service award from Joe Biden.

SMC in Focus
  • Associate Business professor Stephen Soucy has secured a worldwide distribution deal with Cohen Media Group for his feature documentary film, “Merchant Ivory.” The film had its world premiere at the DOC NYC Film Festival on Nov. 11. The film will continue its festival trajectory and will be released theatrically by Cohen in 14 markets in the U.S. via their Landmark Cinemas chain of theaters. Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director James Ivory is executive producer on the project. The acquisition announcement on Merchant Ivory came out in November and it quickly became a top-10 pick at the DOC NYC fest. To learn more, visit the film website, watch a trailer, or read reviews of the film in The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.

  • SMC Athletics and its director Reggie Ellis reported that the Athletics Department enjoyed a remarkable fall season marked by success across multiple sports. The Men's and Women's Soccer teams clinched conference championships, displaying dominance. The Women's Soccer team elevated their performance to secure a coveted spot in the state's top 8, beating the ranked #1 in the nation, Saddleback College. In addition, the Women's Volleyball team dominated their conference to claim the championship title. Another improvement after last year, when the program was rebuilt. Plus, the Women's Track and Field team added to the success, earning a spot in the state competition, underscoring the depth of talent within the department. Athletics' success this fall reflects not only individual and team achievements but also the institution's commitment to fostering excellence and a winning culture across diverse sporting disciplines. Go Corsairs!

  • 3D Design and Computer Graphics Professor Domi Piturro has been busy in 2023 with green technology! This year he was accepted to two very competitive, prestigious fellowships. Domi began the year with Business Development at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and went on to GRID Alternatives for a one-year Solar Design Fellowship where he is using his 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) skills. Both are the biggest and leading organizations of green technology in the USA. Vice President Kamala Harris recently visited LACI to celebrate and promote the Inflation Reduction Act and the organizations’ central mission to lead the USA to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2050. Domi is tasked with leading regional green community initiatives in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, and Southern California. He is working to bring more green technology activity to SMC in 2024! Way to go!

  • The Photo/Fashion Department had a busy October, with the return of renowned photographer Matthew Rolston, who presented a lecture on “Seeing Through Style” to a packed auditorium of students, faculty, and guests from the fashion, photography, journalism, and art worlds. Also, SMC’s Drescher Gallery held the exhibition opening of “Fabulous! The Fashion illustrations of Brenda Cooper, Emmy-winning Costume Designer of ‘The Nanny.” Her new illustrations celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the 90s hit show were created after taking Jemi Armstrong’s illustration classes. Lorrie Ivas organized the event, which brought the TV, fashion, and costume community together for an inspiring evening on October 28.

  • Career counselor Gohar Srapyan brought to our attention the accomplishment of an amazing student: over this past summer, SMC Business major Emily Andrade worked with a team of undergrad and graduate students from across the U.S. and won 1st place in the L’SPACE NASA Proposal Writing and Evaluation Experience (NPWEE). The team has been awarded $10k in seed funding from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center to continue development on their innovative system, designed to capture orbital debris in space. Congrats, Emily! You make us #ProudToBeSMC.

  • Department Chair Dr. Nancy Grass was proud to report that Kevin Coleman, part-time faculty in the Communication & Media Studies Department, recently received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award from President Joe Biden. Kevin also recently received an honorary doctorate in Arts Management & Entrepreneurship from Harvest Christian University. Congrats, Kevin!

  • Earth Science Department professor Victoria Charles was recently interviewed for an LAist feature “At Santa Monica College, Students Rethink Trash — And Their Careers” by journalist Julia Barajas.

  • Kathy Cass, Emeritus faculty member recently received her certification in Aqua Yoga. Kathy now teaches the first Aqua Yoga class at SMC and first aquatics based class at Emeritus in over 15 years!

  • English instructor John Lynch’s short film "The Perfect Day" has just been entered into the Paris Film Festival after winning at the 2023 Paris International Short Festival.

  • In Fall 2023, former NASA scientist and Answers Unleashed author Olympia LePoint taught a Political Science and Technology class at SMC Emeritus. In the class, Olympia breaks down artificial intelligence, other emerging technologies, the current news surrounding technologies, and how people can stay safe using technology. To enroll in Political Science E10 classes, during any time of the year, visit this link. Olympia also recently appeared on Scripps TV News to speak about the White House’s new Executive Order for Safe Artificial Intelligence. Olympia spoke about a new research study that found that cyber security threats exist between smart devices, smart homes, and internet providers. She also explained the new Biden administration Artificial Intelligence Executive Order that outlines the AI Bill of Rights for emerging technology.

  • Psychology professor Dorothy Chin was invited to be a member of the editorial board of “Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology,” the official journal of the American Psychological Association's Division 45, the Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity, and Race. Her term as a consulting editor begins in Jan. 2024.

  • Communication and Media Studies faculty member Luis M. Andrade’s study, “Food, Academic Counseling, Faculty Support, Financial Aid, Technology, Therapy, and Legal Assistance: Immediate Validation for Community College Undocumented Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic” was recently published by Taylor & Francis Online. The purpose of the study was to investigate if a California community college validated undocumented students by providing localized assistance to the students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Luis interviewed 20 undocumented students to gain insight into their perceptions of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic provided by their institution. Based on student responses, the study reveals that institutions can positively validate undocumented students by providing immediate validation via different types of assistance, such as food, counseling, faculty support, financial aid, and other forms of assistance. Luis reports that the article took almost a year-and-a-half to publish—talk about persistence! Congrats!

  • SMC Emeritus jewelry teacher Susan Ryza is having a show of her handmade jewelry at the Emeritus online gallery, beginning November 2 and continuing indefinitely. To view the show, click on this link or you can also see Susan’s Jewelry at this website.

  • Susan Aminoff, trustee, is pleased to share that she facilitates autobiography groups along with her colleague, Marlene Wagner. Their third book “Thematic Autobiography” was recently published by Dorrance Publishers. Thematic autobiography is a unique approach to writing one’s life story. By using universal themes, this method guides those who wish to connect the seemingly random events of their lives into a meaningful pattern. Participants use the prompts contained in each theme to write and read their responses in small groups. The authors began facilitating thematic autobiography groups at USC’s Emeriti College in 2007. Since that time, they have facilitated these workshops at public libraries, private homes, and online. They have guided hundreds of participants to write and share their stories.

  • Sheila Laffey's short film, “The Last Stand: Heroes at Ballona Wetlands” was a finalist in the recent Ethos Film Festival. The 2004 film is the third in Sheila's series with the previous two as features. The film was re-released to a sold-out, full house at Laemmle Monica on Nov. 13. A huge frog puppet greeted smiling attendees and brought uplift to the panel with Sheila and others that followed. Sheila taught cinema studies at SMC for 21 years and continues teaching at Emeritus.

  • Psychological counselor Dr. Kenji Jones Lane is currently writing her third self-published book, “Aspire to Inspire: An Inspirational Devotional for a Peaceful Life.” Dr. Jones is also celebrating the first anniversary of her non-profit program, Aspire to Inspire Motivational Services, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to bring mental health awareness to underserved and underprivileged communities through innovative outreach and engagement activities. Way to bring about meaningful change, Dr. Jones!

  • English professor Mario René Padilla's short story "Ripe Tomatoes" was published in the new “Stories That Need to Be Told 2023” anthology, an annual fiction contest of TulipTree Publishing. It is currently available on Amazon. Also, Mario’s new creative non-fiction book “Young Ultraista: the early writing of Jorge Luis Borges” has been published by ATOPON Books and will be released to the public on December 5. The book is a critical reading of Borges vanguard juvenilia, both poetry and essays, which he wrote from 19 to 23 years of age. It is a book for creative writers, as well as those who write poetry and fiction and the nature of the crossover.

  • Spanish professor Alejandro Lee is pleased to report that alongside his colleague professor Eric Kean (Western Washington University), he presented “Formative Writing Feedback Using AI” at the California Community College Foreign Language Council (CCCFLC) annual conference, at Los Angeles Valley College, 21 Oct. 2023,. Professor Lee also presented “Tarea Libre: A First-year Spanish OER Homework Ancillary”.

  • Music production instructor and SMC alum Nick Norton's debut album, “Music for Sunsets,” was released on People Places Records in September. It's been receiving great press since, with Foxy Digitalis calling the record an "expansive sonic treat" and electronica.org.uk naming him "a composer and sound artist to be reckoned with." Links to stream the album are at notnicknorton.com.

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