Future Alumni Network

2017-2018 President's Ambassadors


Mark Denver Formacion Banawa

Mark Denver Formacion BanawaI was born in Manila, Philippines. I came to America when I was eleven years old. Growing up was difficult because it was a big change for me. I didn’t know how to speak English, which made it hard for me to communicate and make friends. During high school, I met a lot of cool and different people. Since my high school was diverse, I got to experience and learn about my classmates stories, opinions, and cultures. Although I made a lot of connections with everyone, I ended up surrounding myself with a group of people who had unhealthy habits -- party, drugs, and alcohol. My actions greatly affected my decision-making in life, school and my relationship with my family. I graduated high school with a 1.7 GPA. I decided to go to Santa Monica College to accomplish my short-term and long-term goals. To be honest, I am still exploring and trying to figure out what career is best fit for me. But my goal right now is to transfer to a university and get a degree in accounting. I intend to transfer to either USC, UCSB, and CSULB. As a President’s Ambassador, I want to share my knowledge and experience at SMC, encourage all my fellow future alumni to be involved, and most importantly send a message to everyone that your past doesn’t define you.  What defines you is what you do now. Here at Santa Monica College, your presence matters! Now is the time to find your definition.

Martin Berggren

Martin BerggrenI was born in Germany, but raised in Sweden and Philadelphia, and started SMC last year in the spring. Currently I am studying at SMC to transfer to UC Berkeley, UCLA, or UPENN to receive my Bachelor's degree in Economics. Next spring marks my last semester at SMC. When I first arrived at SMC I knew absolutely nobody. I had no friends, no relatives, nobody that could help me. I was lost. But I made it my goal to make new friends, to get to know new people and to really try to open up at SMC, I knew that in a place like Los Angeles, being 6,000 miles away from your family, you definitely need friends. SMC has been an amazing place for not only meeting new people, but also learning about clubs, getting involved in school, and achieving more than you initially thought was possible. SMC has helped me in all areas of life, not only in school, but also opening up to people, being accepting of other cultures and learning so much more than just what is taught in the classroom. I became a President's Ambassador so I could help other students learn and grown in the same way I did, by realizing that this school has so much more to offer than just classes. SMC has helped me grow not only as a student but also as a person and I felt it was only fair to give back.

Elisa Borgsdorf

Elisa Borgsdorf"I’m entering my second year at SMC, and I’m majoring in Biology as well as taking prerequisite classes for UC Berkeley’s Social Welfare major. I hope to transfer to either Berkeley or UCLA and continue on to medical school and earn a Master’s degree in Public Health in the future. I’m interested in not only being a practicing physician, but also working in some kind of leadership or policy position where I can help make good healthcare more accessible to people of all backgrounds. I see the President’s Ambassadors program as a great and unique way for me to gain some of the leadership and social experiences that I’m sure I’ll put to use no matter what I do. It also connects me to so many different people with so many interesting stories to tell, and builds a really great network of support and excitement. It definitely makes me look forward to my own future, the future of everyone around me, and the future of SMC as a place of learning and work. Outside of classes and the PA program, I’m an officer for SMC’s Pre-Health club, a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts, and a big fan of almost every type of music. If you’re just starting out at SMC, whether you’re in college for the first time, coming back after years off, or even if you had always planned on attending a 4-year school and were a bit disappointed in the community college option like I was myself, just jump right into the things that interest you, and take the time to meet people along the way. They’ll help you more than you can imagine, and that’s one of the things I love most about the SMC community."

Luis Gutierrez Castillo

Luis Gutierrez CastilloI am an international student born and raised in Mexico City. I joined Santa Monica College in summer 2016 and seek to transfer either to a UC or USC with business or economics major. I would like to build a career in finance. My family was separated at the end of 2014 because my father was kidnapped in Mexico City. He is okay now and back with us. As a result, we had some of the hardest moments of our lives and decided to change our whole lifestyle. All the consequences and decisions we made during that time somehow brought me to study at SMC. I believe 2015 was one of the hardest years because we felt like we lost everything, not only as a family but as individuals; however, none of us were willing to give up on life. We tried to take as many positive things as possible from that whole situation. I would say that during these past two years, I’ve acquired a different perspective not only of what family stands for, but of how we should confront and enjoy life. I deeply believe in positivity, gratefulness and hard work. In my opinion, holding these values allows us to overcome any type of difficult situation, but even more, it allows us to enjoy all the little and big projects we set out to accomplish. Obviously SMC provides the opportunity to transfer to major schools around the country and provides us the opportunity to be part of one of the most diverse and richest cultures I’ve ever seen. I never thought I would to so enjoy all the atmosphere that this colleges creates for its students who come here not only because they “need to go to school”, but because they ultimately seek to succeed and be part of something bigger. I love playing sports (I’ve tried many of them), going to the beach, cooking, and trying new things all the time. I am an adrenaline addict who loves riding motorcycles and “extreme” activities. However, it is also nice to have some quiet and calm time to enjoy a book or have a nice dinner. I am happy to serve this community as a President’s Ambassador and am here to support everyone as much as possible.

Ian Erksine

Ian ErksineHi! I am an English major and this is my final year at Santa Monica College. The reason I’m studying English is because I want to transfer to UCLA, finish my education, and then become a professor. The educational system is extremely important and has had a profound impact on my life in that many of the role models that have had a positive influence on me have been teachers. As students in America, we tend to spend the majority of our time at school, especially during our youth. Sometimes this allows professors and teachers to have even more of an opportunity to positively impact students than even family members. By becoming an English professor (or even teaching high school English), I want to have the opportunity to give back and empower students in the same way my teachers did for me. This desire to give back to my community is one of the reasons why I became a President’s Ambassador and also why I currently serve as the President of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at Santa Monica College. As student leaders it is our duty to make sure that our campus environment is a positive and enriching one and these positions allow me the opportunity to fulfill that obligation.

Garrison Finley

Garrison FinleyI am currently a second year computer science major born and raised in Santa Monica with the goal of transferring to UC Irvine, USC, or UC San Diego. I came to SMC uncertain of both my major and my academic future, however during my time here I have found the college to be an excellent place to experiment with various fields of study. I hope to go on to combine my interests in business, technology, and art within the entertainment industry. My best advice to both new and returning students would be to take advantage of opportunities like clubs, organizations, and programs on campus. If there aren't any that suit your needs I encourage you to make your own. For many college is a brand new experience, it can be scary and at times overwhelming but you don't have to work through it alone. Find your community, build your network of resources, friends, and faculty, and most importantly, keep moving forward.

Justin Franz

Justin FranzI'm going into my second year here at SMC. I will be applying to Columbia University and NYU as a philosophy major. Additionally, I am considering UCLA and UC Berkeley. Although I now call LA my home, I am originally from the Bay Area and moved here two years ago by myself at the age of 18. As for career aspirations, I plan to be an international lawyer or diplomat after attending law school—Yale being my top choice. Growing up, I cycled through just about every career option there is from being an author to being a neurosurgeon to even being a spy for the CIA (albeit when I was much younger). However, being at SMC has made me committed to pre-law and confident in the success I will achieve. Besides being a President’s Ambassador, I am also involved in other ways around campus as well as off-campus. On campus, I hold the position of Director of Student Advocacy in Phi Theta Kappa and am a student aide in astronomy for Professor Fouts, whose class I highly recommend. Off campus, I am a barista at a local coffee shop and constantly have 2 to 3 business or writing projects ongoing. In my spare time, I enjoy movies and fitness. You can find me in the gym 6 days per week.

Valeria Gomez Gamboa

Valeria Gomez GamboaGreetings Everyone! My name is Valeria [Vah-Leh-Rrri-ahh], and my major is Geography/Environmental Studies. I love Geography because it studies the way our planet works. It covers everything about Earth from all four spheres: atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water), biosphere (all living things), and lithosphere (land). And the more we know about our planet, the more solutions we can come up with to save it! As a President’s Ambassador, I’m excited for the campus tours where I can discuss some of the ways SMC has gone green! The most important thing for me is to give back to Santa Monica College because this school has provided me with many resources. Because of SMC, I’ve participated in programs such as the LMU Undergraduate Research Scholars Academy and the UCLA CCCP STEM Summer Intensive Transfer Experience. I’m proud to represent a school like SMC where we have the Center for Environmental and Urban Studies. As a volunteer, I’ve been a Sustainability Workshop Leader where fellow students learn about our global, ecological crisis and ways of how to help conserve our natural resources. I was also the Director of Fundraising for Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. That was an amazing experience as I got to attend a regional Leadership Conference. From that conference, I was inspired to develop my leadership skills. So, this year besides a President’s Ambassador, I am also a commissioner for the SMC Associated Students Vice President. Thank you, SMC! It’s an honor to be a future alumni and a President’s Ambassador.

George (Oliver) Hale III

George (Oliver) Hale IIILike many others, I am a psych major here at SMC. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. My second home has always been the ocean. I love to be active and outdoors. Some of my favorite activities are surfing, playing water polo and swimming that isn't laps in the pool. I love to pick up new things and tinker with opportunities thrown on my plate. I came from Notre Dame High School thinking I was going to just go to classes for two years and disappear. Once I actually opened my eyes to the campus around me, I realized how much more I could do. I no longer wanted to just get out of here because it was a community college but instead use it to grow as a person and a student of life. I want students here to realize that being a lone wolf isn't worth it and seeking out programs and a family of people to support you will take you to a new level. Trust me when I say you can learn something from everyone on this campus. Don't be shy, allow yourself to blossom.

Jessica Hall

Jessica HallI was born and raised in Los Angeles, and came to Santa Monica College less than two years ago to restart pursuing my education after my health declined and my father passed away. Returning to school was not an immediate or easy process, and in the beginning I had many doubts, lots of anxiety, and constantly changed my major. However, the community and the people I met at SMC helped me renew my self-confidence, and assisted me in discovering my passion: Computer Science and Anthropology.  Although my journey at SMC has not been long, the impact it’s made in my life is immeasurable. The primary reason I became a President’s Ambassador is because ultimately I would like to assist in making that same impact for someone else.

Karlyn Hayes

Karlyn HayesHi! I was born and raised in Santa Monica, California so SMC has always been the college in my backyard. I began attending in 2015 and got involved with the Black Collegians Club. I was recently elected as the Vice-President of Black Collegians and am eager to start my position. I am currently working on campus in the Adelante/Black Collegians office and have had an amazing time meeting, working, and collaborating with the students and faculty in these programs. I have also been a tutor/mentor for the John Adams Middle School students. I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the Undergraduate Research Scholar's Program at LMU in the summer of 2016 and had the chance to go back in the summer of 2017 to mentor the new cohort. I was a Writing Assistant for the English Academy here at SMC and had the best time working with incoming freshman and supporting them through their first journey of a college level course while helping them develop their writing skills. My major is Accounting (and/or Business Finance) because I want to gain a wealth of knowledge about financing, budgeting money, and growing wealth and pass that knowledge to people in lower income communities. I am also minoring in Ethnic Studies because I have a great love for different cultures. I hope to travel to Africa, Spain, and Jamaica in the near future. Giving back and helping others is a very important value of mine; along with activism, progressiveness, and positivity. That is why I decided to become a President's Ambassador. I want to help the 30,000+ students at SMC as much as I possibly can. I love SMC and all that it stands for and I am proud to represent the college in my role as an Ambassador.

Aljzana Hobdy-Clayton

Aljzana Hobdy-ClaytonThis is my third year at Santa Monica College majoring in Communications and Media. I was born in Panorama City but raised in Los Angeles. I chose to go to SMC in order to take control of my academic life after overcoming many obstacles I faced while in high school, even though I had a 3.97 GPA. I enrolled at SMC for the 2015 Fall semester and met so many amazing students, faculty, and staff who helped me transition into the mindset of what it means to be a student who goes above and beyond to improve the lives of others. I became very involved with everything that Santa Monica College has to offer in the form of opportunities to better myself and others. As an incoming freshman, I was part of the FYE program and had an amazing opportunity to mentor young girls who attended John Adams Middle School in the SMC Sister to Sister Mentorship Program. This program helped inspire them to go to college and be successful young women in the future. I became part of EOPS and the Black Collegians and actively participate in Phi Theta Kappa on campus. I am extremely honored to be the current Director of PR for PTK for the 2017-2018 school year. I am so proud to be a President’s Ambassador because it allows me to continue to be a positive role model for other students and young people. As a President’s Ambassador, my goal is to inspire even more SMC students to take advantage of all the possibilities that are within their reach so they too can make a difference as the leaders of our tomorrow.

Donia Javidi

Donia JavidiHello! I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I had the opportunity to attend an International British high school in Tehran and complete my IGCSEs (O-Levels) and A-Levels (Yes, just like Harry Potter). While living in Iran, I travelled around the Middle East, Europe and Southeast Asia. After graduating high school, I wanted to continue my education somewhere that feels like home. That is why I chose Santa Monica College. SMC is known for its variety of opportunities and wonderful programs. I am a Biology major with a strong passion to specialize in surgery after medical school. I joined FYE, the Scholar's Program, and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society which all support my goal of becoming a surgeon. I chose to become a President's Ambassador because I want to give back to the community and help students on their unique journeys. As a President's Ambassador, I will motivate, inspire and support everybody at SMC to continue their extraordinary journey to success. Your presence matters! I am proud to be SMC!

David Kapanga

David KapanagaI was born and raised in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At age of 20, I left my country to pursue my studies in India. After almost 4 years, I graduated in the Information and Technology field. In 2016, I worked for a well-known company for six months until my obsession for an American degree took precedent over all my needs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into any Master's Program since I hold a 3 years degree instead of a 4 years degree as required in the USA. That's why I applied at Sherbrook University (Canada) to a Master's Program, and I got accepted. But despite my acceptance in the master's program at the University of Sherbrook in Canada, I decided to leave everything and move to the United States, and start over with the only mission; get my second Bachelor's degree in Computer Science. After my first year at Santa Monica College, I learned much more than I expected. Santa Monica College gave me what any other institution couldn’t give me, it taught me how to say “I WILL DO IT” instead of “I WISH I COULD DO IT.” In other words, I learned how to improve my self-confidence and believe in myself. I could not have found a better way to be grateful than becoming a President's Ambassador, share my story and make others understand how useful and beneficial it is to be part of this lovely community. I am having a great experience at SMC and I encourage every student to get involved on campus.

Samira Khabbazzadeh-Rashti

Samira Khabbazzadeh-RashtiHi there! This is my third year at Santa Monica College and I am an ever curious student of Anthropology, striving to understand different people and different cultures in an attempt to bring people together. My goal in life is to aim for a higher global consciousness that I can share with those around me. By doing so, I believe we can all greatly benefit because it will be an opportunity to practice love for one another and for ourselves. I’d like to someday study Human Rights and International Law, in order to put that love into practical use. My interest in becoming a President's Ambassador was mainly to help as many students as possible understand the great opportunities and resources available to them at SMC. My role as the Vice President of Leadership for Phi Theta Kappa also allows me an opportunity to get close with many students and help them reach their goals. Connecting with students is a true passion of mine and being a President’s Ambassador is a great avenue for that. Feel free to strike up a conversation with me. I promise you, I am friendly. Some of my passions include reading, adventures involving nature, and anything pertaining to the realm of nerds.

Ethan Lauren

Ethan LaurenThis is my third and final year here at Santa Monica College. I am majoring in Journalism because there is nothing I enjoy more than taking in all points of views and learning and discussing with others about events and topics in the world with emphasis on the facts. I am very passionate about different cultures and countries. I am the current president of a club called International Student Forum where we value making sure everybody at this school can feel welcomed and have a place to make friends, try new things and get comfortable being a student. I believe these values are also important in the work of a President's Ambassador and so I will do my best to help any student with any problem they might have. I also enjoy the beach, coffee and bicycling. If you are ever bored, come and ask me anything about the Beach Boys.

Hunter Mee-Lee

Hunter Mee-LeeI am a psychology major in my third year at Santa Monica College hoping to transfer to UCLA or UC Santa Barbara next fall. I currently serve or have served various leadership roles on campus, such as serving as a commissioner for Phi Theta Kappa and leading a Sustainable Works workshop at the Center for Urban and Environmental Studies (CEUS). I am very much looking forward to being involved with a new leadership experience as one of your wonderful President’s Ambassadors. I also have a great passion for music. I play piano in the Santa Monica College Jazz Band as well as perform professionally at various venues in and around Los Angeles. In addition to school, I enjoy playing and listening to music, working on cars, cooking, fashion, architectural design, and a good cup of coffee. I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. At age 14, my family and I moved to Mid-City, Los Angeles, and I attended Uni High School in West LA. In my junior year, I had become gravely unmotivated to come to school and was failing almost every class out of sheer laziness and contempt; at one point coming to school only at last period for music class. At 16, I then decided to take the California Proficiency Program (CPP), formerly known as the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE), to earn my diploma equivalency. After passing and effectively graduating high school early, I then took almost two years off, and worked mainly as a musician performing at hotels, restaurants, and clubs in Los Angeles. After quite a bit of soul searching, I decided to pursue higher education at Santa Monica College. This meant a grueling 405 commute daily as I had recently relocated to Northridge. Despite this, I opted for SMC above other local community colleges mainly due to recommendations from friends who were students, and the school’s prestigious #1 transfer school status. In my second year at SMC, via events and word of mouth, I became aware of the many programs, clubs, resources, and opportunities that this college has to offer, including the Scholar's Program, Phi Theta Kappa, Sustainable Works, the Applied Music Program, and of course, President's Ambassadors. Since taking advantage of these opportunities, my life has taken a turn for the better in terms of my own personal growth both academically and socially, my present and future success, and the positive reflection I have on others. I am greatly honored to have the privilege to give back to SMC as a President’s Ambassador in my final year. I implore new and current students alike to take advantage of all the opportunities available to you here sooner rather than later, and make the most out of your college experience!

Maggie Guadalupe Mumar

Maggie Guadalupe MumarHello! I was born and raised in one of the islands of the Philippines and moved in the U.S. eight years ago. In the end of my senior year of high school, I decided to go to SMC instead of a university because I did not know what I wanted to do. I am entering my third year at SMC as a Child Development major. Since I’ve been here, I’ve experience tremendous growth through countless opportunities. My first year at SMC, I was set on becoming a Fashion Designer. At the same time, I was finding more ways to be involved on campus. Being part of the FYE program gave me an opportunity to explore and carry out an independent study about teacher-student interaction, which sparked an interest in me. I then joined an honor society on campus, Phi Theta Kappa, where I met many amazing people and where I found an opportunity to exercise leadership as a commissioner and later as a board member. In Phi Theta Kappa, I was involved in a project that focused on children advocacy. I was intrigued and enjoyed learning a lot about children and education. It made such a significant impact that a year later I decided that I wanted to study child development. My transfer goals are to be accepted at SFSU, CSULB or SDSU, in hopes to be a teacher and to advocate for children and their rights. The best part about SMC are the people you meet! As a President’s Ambassador, I hope to help students find what intrigues them, help them find what they enjoy and keep them aware of the many opportunities SMC has to offer!

Salena Nguyen

Salena NguyenHi! I was born and raised in the Hayes Valley and Sunset districts of San Francisco. This is my second year at Santa Monica College. As a Political Science major, I plan to transfer to either UC Berkeley or UCLA. Heavily shaping my experience was student government, mock trials, field trips to city hall, the Student Advisory Council, my AP Government and Politics class and an Ethnics/LGBTQ+ Studies class. These were just a few of the many things that sparked my career interests in constitutional and criminal law. Santa Monica College has given me so many amazing opportunities. The FYE and Scholar's Program guided me through my first year at SMC and continue to do so. Having the chance to be an ICC Delegate for the Vietnamese Student Association, an A.S./ICC and PTK Commissioner, and a Sustainable Works Workshop Leader has introduced me to student leadership and led me to the President's Ambassadors program. I am also currently the Director of Membership for Phi Theta Kappa, an Honor Society that has given me so much. SMC also rekindled my love for competitive swimming. I never had intentions to swim competitively ever since I quit early on in high school. However, the SMC Women's swim team has become one of the biggest parts of my life at the moment. Outside of school, I enjoy creating art, hiking, cooking, music, DJing and bike riding. I have a background in Theatre Arts from the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts and I love to do things out of simple interest. As an animal enthusiast, I worked with many different amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals at the San Francisco Zoo and taught the public about wildlife conservation. I have also worked as a Facilitator for an outreach program at the Exploratorium physics museum, teaching students how to utilize their creativity in conjunction with Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, in a woodshop environment. With all the support and resources that SMC has to offer, I want to continue exploring, experiencing and learning. I am extremely grateful for all the support SMC has given me. I cannot wait to give back, represent and serve the students and community at SMC as a President's Ambassador!

Przemyslaw Papiernik

Przemyslaw PapiernikI am an international student from Poland. I have loved traveling and reading about other cultures since I was a little boy. My beloved parents instilled in me a love for traveling and a respect for diversity. I have always had a burning desire to be an ambitious student. In the last few years, I have realized that my passion for business is a natural calling that I am destined to follow. I grew up in an environment where business was the topic at dinner. I would like to be able to call my own shots, to be in charge of my own destiny, and have the ability to set my own life as an entrepreneur. This goal has been my reason for studying management and leadership at Santa Monica College. This academic institution has met all my expectations and so far it has helped me gain new life experiences. It has taught me responsibility, independence, the ability to organize work, and resistance to stress. It also has provided me with the tools, tasks and people to work at a high-speed level, confronting me with diversified challenges that always push my knowledge and capabilities. As a President's Ambassador, vice-president of International Student Forum and peer mentor at International Education Counseling Center, I can give this energy back. I believe that all students have great potential and many of them just need a small push of confidence. I want to help other students make their dreams come true and use all the possibilities that Santa Monica College provides.

Stevan Perea

Stevan PereaI was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. After high school, I worked in our family business until returning to college in 2015. My love for American government has led me to a double major in Political Science and Public Policy. I am a Scholar's student, as well as a member of Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Additionally, I am a youth education advocate at the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center where I mentor and tutor at-risk youth. I am passionate about providing support and encouragement to those with limited options and I am driven to assist at-risk and homeless youth build a better and brighter future through education and academic achievement. I am also a 2017 Point Foundation Scholarship recipient. I plan to attend graduate school for a dual JD/MBA, focusing on non-profit management, and corporate/non-profit law. I am honored to serve as a 2017-2018 Santa Monica College President's Ambassador. SMC provides invaluable resources to their students and their community. Every effort is made to support students throughout their education, emphasizing a sense of community and mindful academia. The 2016-2017 SMC Annual Report conclusion eloquently stated that SMC “is poised to maintain its place of distinction and remain dedicated, above all, to the mission of transforming lives through accessible education.” This sentiment perfectly exemplifies why I am SO PROUD to be SMC.

Kathy Pho

Kathy PhoI am currently starting my second year at SMC studying Business Administration. I wish to continue my college career at either USC, UCI or UCB. When I came to SMC, I really hit the ground running. In the Fall, I became the Primary Commissioner to the Vice President of the Associated Students. Then in Spring, I was elected to serve as the Director of Activities for the rest of the year. Throughout my first year, I have also been a part of FYE and Scholars. I also plan on continuing my duties as a student representative on multiple campus committees such as Honor Council, Grades Appeal, and Conduct Appeal. I was also lucky enough to participate in many DPAC Facilities meetings. Additionally, I have just been appointed as the Marketing Chair for a business club called Rotaract and as a Commissioner to the Director of Membership for an Honor Society called PTK. When I look closely at what I want to achieve at SMC, I realize that I want to share knowledge of self-worth and motivation to the struggling individuals who feel lost in our rapidly changing society. I want to empower them. I want to guide them. I want them to enjoy the life they were given to the best of their abilities and dreams. To be able to achieve all that, I must be dependable to others around me. I believe that attribute is one that all President’s Ambassadors embody. I also believe that the purpose of any educational and professional career is to understand one’s self and one’s self in a community of others. This is why I became a President’s Ambassador. I love to read and one day I hope to write a book of my own about leadership, communication, and self-care.

Roman Riley

Roman RileyI grew-up on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, but I have lived in Los Angeles for the past 13 years. I am a first-generation student here at Santa Monica College. It is my third year and I am majoring in Psychology. I intend to further my education after completing my undergrad by enrolling in a Doctor of Physical Therapy program. I enjoy physical therapy because I am fascinated with the human body and its ability to recover through therapy and mental determination. In addition to this, I have a passion for coaching and helping others. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, reading, traveling, going to the beach and listening to good music. I have been involved on campus in many ways. I am the Director of Fundraising for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and am in the Scholar’s Program. I am an older student here at SMC. When I first came here, I felt a little out of place. I had been out of high school for several years and did not know what to expect. I did not do well in high school because I allowed outside circumstances to distract me from studying, the repercussions of coming from a bad neighborhood. However, as I got older, I began to realize the power and the value of education. It is never too late to make changes. Because of this realization, this school has essentially become my second home. I now recognize that there is no such thing as being too old to learn or go back to school. SMC is such a diverse campus, filled with passionate and inspiring students and faculty. I have grown tremendously over the past three years, and I look forward to serving as a President’s Ambassador. I want every student to know that their presence matters and they can succeed and achieve their goals, no matter what struggles may arise.

Isabel Rodriguez

Isabel RodriguezHey everyone! I am an international student from Spain. I am currently starting my second year at Santa Monica College as a business administration major. In the short term, I plan to spend one more year at SMC, transfer and earn a Bachelor’s degree, hopefully at USC, Haas School of Business or Loyola Marymount University. Back in Valladolid, my hometown in Spain, I did my secondary education at a Jesuits’ school, where I had a wonderful academic experience. Throughout those four years I found myself interested in many different professional paths that I wanted to pursue. By the time I graduated, I was completely undecided on how to continue. I then realized that I needed to first get to know myself in order to find the answers I was looking for. As a firm believer of Neale Donald Walsch’s quote “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and seeking a change that would bring me experiences and personal growth, I decided to follow in my older’s sister footsteps and study in the United States. It is then when I found SMC. It's international community, as well as the rate of transfer students to four-year universities, were critical factors that determined my decision to attend this institution. Surprisingly and fortunately, I found the place where I really belonged almost 6,000 miles away from home. Not only has this institution given me the opportunities that I needed to find my professional and personal goals, but to work towards them. I am proud and thankful to Santa Monica College, and that is why I feel honored and excited to serve as a President’s Ambassador. Through this student leader role, I will try my best to motivate and help fellow students make their time at SMC a memorable and successful experience.

Jasper Rowan

Jasper RowanI was born in North Carolina and raised in Los Angeles. I graduated from Santa Monica High School in 2016 and was the only person I knew in any of my AP classes to turn down acceptances from multiple UC schools to come to SMC. During my senior year in high school, I discovered I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I was afraid that the financial pressure of the UC school system would hinder my ability to properly explore my interests. During my first year at SMC I joined the Scholar's Program, and finished the General Ed classes that my AP's did not cover. I also had the opportunity to intern for an IP lawyer and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, work part time, join three clubs, and start my own business. By the end of my first year, I was so happy I had made the choice to come to SMC that I decided I wanted to give back to the school. I wanted to be a representative for SMC and help fight the negative stigma connected with Community College in high schools. That's why I joined the President's Ambassadors.

Francisco Rubio Hernandez

Francisco Rubio HernandezI am a Sociology major. I am originally from Tijuana, Mexico. When I was seven years old, my family moved to the United States. We have resided in Los Angeles for the past twelve years. In the future, I will pursue a career as an attorney working for a public interest law firm or a non-profit organization that defends and advocates for human rights. I became interested in non-profits and law after interning at the Coaltion for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), my sophomore year of high school. At CHIRLA I learned about the immigrant rights movement. I became immersed in work involving activism, advocacy, policy, lobbying, and grassroots community organization. I also learned about my immigration status and what it means to be an undocumented immigrant. I enjoy any water sport and love to run long distances. I am also a Palisades Charter High School alumni. I decided to join the President's Ambassadors program because this program gave me the opportunity to help new students start their year strong and generally just help other people.

Mahmood Shaheen

Mahmood ShaheenHello everyone! I am one of the few international students at SMC from Iraq. This is my second year in Santa Monica College, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. I have chosen this major due to my growing passion for Math and Physics. In fact, this passion stems from my childhood where I was known to enjoy disassembling my toys and sometimes my friends’ toys too. As a hands-on type of person, it was in my best interest to feed my curiosity and figure out how the interworking mechanisms of these toys functioned as a unit. Since the start of my educational pursuits, my goal has always been to transfer to UCLA. I chose to come to Santa Monica College from my home in Jordan because I had learned that it was the best transfer school to the UCs. I decided to become a President's Ambassador to fulfill my desire for helping people, and I want to give back to SMC everything that was given to me since my first day. I have had experience helping students through teaching in the chemistry boot camp and as a peer mentor in the International Education Center. As a President's Ambassador, I would be more than happy to help people with anything they need. This year you can catch me as a member in PTK or around the campus. Looking forward to meeting you all!

Amina Swallah

Amina Swallah"Hello, I was born and raised in Accra, Ghana (west Africa). I am a biology major with plans to transfer to UCLA/UCR/UCI/UC DAVIS to pursue my dream of being a medical doctor. I am currently part of the STEM 6 cohort, scholars, Black collegians, ISF, PTK, PASU, and am also the VP of the Muslim student Association (MSA). I was a very shy girl, but SMC changed that for me. The professors and counselors really cared, helped and supported me to be the person I am today. They motivate me to be confident and to be more involved on campus. I love uniqueness, diversity and support, and that’s what SMC embodies. I encourage you all to be very active on campus, you will come across wonderful people; I did. When you see me around campus, please feel free to say hi, I won’t bite, I promise. As a President's Ambassador, I hope to encourage students to be themselves , to be unique and to take advantage of the resources SMC has to offer."

Kristin Wannemo, Lead Ambassador

Kristin WannemoI am a 3rd year student majoring in Biology. I plan to graduate from SMC and transfer next year. As an international student from Sweden. I struggled my first months few at SMC, but thanks to amazing counselors and professors, I was able to find an academic path I was passionate about. I've been in America for 4 years now and I'm super grateful I had the opportunity to attend an American college. It is a dream come true and I couldn’t have ended up in a better place. SMC has not only helped me figure out what area of study I want to pursue, it is where I’ve met the most amazing people that I’m now happy to call my friends. I know this is a great place for me. The many opportunities presented to me are going to help me succeed after I graduate, such as the Scholar’s Program, the President’s Ambassadors Program and my role as a President of the Scandinavian Club. I served as a President's Ambassador last year and I hoped to be able to help other students follow their dreams and take advantage of the many resources our school has to offer. I was able give back to the school and this community through many different events. I'm thankful for the people the program introduced into my life. This year I was lucky enough to take on the role as a Lead Ambassador which means I get to help and guide the new group of Ambassadors through the same journey I took last year. This program means a lot to me and I am very proud of our new group of Ambassadors. They have all shown great leadership skills and they are all genuine and kind people./p> 

Laura Zwicker

Laura ZwickerHello! I came to SMC after a very difficult period in my life in search of a community and to complete my education. I have been so fortunate to have received much more than I ever could have hoped for from my time at SMC thus far. I served as President of Astronomy Club from 2014-2016 and gained a group of friends that I will have for many years to come. I also served as a commissioner to the ICC Vice Chair in 2015 as well as the Student Trustee in 2016. I then served as Student Trustee myself from 2016 to 2017 during which time I represented the entire student body on SMC’s Board of Trustees. My experiences as part of the Associated Students and on the Board of Trustees greatly enhanced my skills as both a leader and an advocate. I also have had the opportunity to complete several amazing internship opportunities through SMC, including the Student Independent Research Intern program (SIRI) at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars internship program (NCAS), and the Dale Ride Internship Program in Washington DC. I was encouraged to apply for every one of these positions by a peer mentor, and I am excited to be part of the President’s Ambassadors this year to give back to my community and to support and encourage other students in their educational journeys. I’m currently studying astrophysics and political science, and I hope to transfer next fall and continue my own journey of serving others and becoming a leader in my community.