Justin's SMC story began in the Fall of 2020, at the beginning of the first pandemic Winter. After a very intense and chaotic Spring and Summer, filled with protests and social unrest, Justin decided to leave a 15-year career in marketing to earn an education to better serve his community. Every semester at SMC, he learned history, science, writing, and so much more. For Justin, though, it wasn’t just about what he learned from his classes. "As time went on, taking my education seriously, and being taken seriously by each and every one of my professors, the way I saw myself began to evolve. Being challenged, and meeting those challenges made me eager to learn more." Even though Justin completed 100% of my degree online and never met any of his teachers in person, he felt supported and seen in a way that impacted his own vision for his future. Now, as a UCLA student majoring in sociology, "I truly want to see how far I can go. But I will always remember my time spent as an SMC student dearly, and no matter how far that is, I will always be #ProudToBeSMC!"
Justin worked for 15 years in marketing and advertising before returning to higher education. He says, "This was not a decision made lightly, but the faculty and staff at SMC truly made it possible for me to feel great about that choice. I would make it again in a heartbeat. In my future career as a Human Rights Advocate, I know that SMC gave me the opportunity to change my life, so that I may change the lives of others for the better. I also got to hang my first public pieces of art in the SMC library!"
"One of the greatest things I could say about my SMC experience was that I got my degree 100% online. I never set foot on campus until it was time to pick up my cap and gown." Justin said. When he began, there was no COVID vaccine, and he was terrified of the possibility of becoming infected. "SMC provided such incredible levels of accessibility, and did it well! Between Canvas, Zoom, and the tremendous work of the educators at SMC, I felt like my education was of an excellent caliber. I must also thank the counselors and administrators, for being accessible while working from a central location was not possible. In my experience, SMC’s commitment to accessibility is worthy of great acclaim and should be noted across the country as a model of inclusive and effective remote education."
"I would like to thank the entire Faculty, Staff, and Student Body of SMC for the honor of sharing community with me. I would also like to thank my wonderful partner Andrea, who has always been my greatest champion and supporter in my education and more, and without her, none of this would have been possible. I would also like to thank my sweet dachshund friend Pacino, whose effortless charm and sense of humor kept my heart light during very dark times. Pacino says hello to all of you as well."
His words of wisdom for current or future SMC students would be, "Get as much out of your education as you possibly can. It’s important to ask for help when you need it. Don’t give up. Go to office hours! Always do the extra credit. Start your papers early. Make friends with the librarians. Take selfies at the beginning and end of every quarter, you’ll be amazed to see yourself evolve. Take what you’ve learned and share it with your community. Find people you can talk with about what you’ve learned. It’s okay to know when to let go of a past that no longer matches who you’re becoming. Lastly, give yourself credit for investing in your personal growth as a human being! Great work! You deserve it!"