SMC Everywhere reaches to make connections

With one swing of the hammer Frankie Manes did what many students before him had tried and failed to do: hit the bell atop the High Striker three different times, winning himself an SMC Everywhere t-shirt. "Oh man, this is so amazing," said Manes, who's goal is to one day transfer to the University of Southern California. "I'm so glad I got out of class a littler early today, these kind of events really bring a school together." As a soon-to-transfer Communications major, Manes transferred from Los Angeles Pierce College to SMC. He was just one of many students enjoying SMC Everywhere, an event organized by SMC's Alumni Association on Tuesday.

The event was filled with activities such as the High Striker and the velcro bounce wall, information tables on transfer opportunities, food vendors, and a guest appearance by outgoing SMC president Dr. Chui L. Tsang, all to celebrate past and future alumni of SMC.

The event isn't all fun and games. The Alumni Association's goal is to get students involved with their Alumni Network. Mark Morale of the Alumni Association says the network would help connect students' "alumni life with their professional life" through Linkedin and Facebook sign ups.

"SMC Everywhere is where we ask exiting students where they’re going, so we can contact them through our outreach tools," says Morale. "For those who simply leave to start their own business, maybe travel the world, whatever it is, they're still alumni at Santa Monica College, no matter what it is they go do."

The Future Alumni Club spent the afternoon giving out pins with possible colleges students are transferring to as well as gold coins good for a sandwich and a drink, so long as they signed up to receive emails of future opportunities from the Alumni Association.

President of the club Jasmine Rivera-Hackley was happy with the turnout, saying that although last year's event was deemed successful, it was encouraging to see what seemed like an even bigger turnout this year. "It really is all for students and this is like their event so I'm really happy that people are enjoying it," she said.

She explained that everything held during the event had something to do with inspiring students to progress in their scholastic careers, right down to the games. "Everything is very symbolic. So the High Striker is kind of like 'aim high, reach for the stars, reach for your dream.' The velcro wall is actually like 'make a plan and stick to it,' so everything kind of correlates with basically going out and achieving your dreams and reaching for the stars."

Rivera-Hackley herself plans to transfer to the University of California Los Angeles as a sociology major. When she gets there, she will find the SMC to UCLA network, part of the Alumni Network outreach.

SMC alum and UCLA Jewish Studies major Alex Abramoff is a signatory there who was present at SMC everywhere. "SMC Corsairs at UCLA are really trying to look out for students who are trying to come in," he says.

"it’s no secret that getting involved is a secret," says Abramoff. "We know that we’ve got to be out here reaching out to the students."

Soon-to-be Cal State Northridge graduate Francisco Contreras is an SMC alum who responded to the Alumni Association outreach. He signed up upon graduation, but didn't heed the call until now. "I’ve always had it in the back of my mind, I want to attend these I want to come, and now it’s the third year and i’m here," he says.

"Even people i know of now are struggling to find a job, they’ve graduated and they can’t find anything," says Contreras. "But if we have a stronger connection within the alumni association then it’ll make an easy transition."

"That's what it's all about," says Director of Student & Alumni Relations Deirdre Weaver. Funding for the event came from the SMC Foundation, monthly payroll donations, and alumni donations. "It’s really incredible that we have a foundation that will fund the areas that are not funded by the state," says Weaver.

"I invited AS to be included in this, to come out and congratulate students and to come out and be congratulated for where they're going," said Weaver. "Do we need the support? Of course we do, but most important is that they get it, because it’s bigger than the money."

Weaver points out that the main activity of SMC Everywhere is interaction between students and alumni. "We build everything around this idea [that] 'Your presence matters,'" says Weaver.

Though the event may have been held to commemorate students moving on, another non-student member of SMC was in attendance to ensure a good time for the students as well as wind down on what many will say has been a successful nine-year run as SMC president.

President Tsang spoke about a few things he wanted students to take out of the event and SMC in general. “I think they want students to be aware this community will always include them and they should always feel free to come back and feel comfortable to come back to the Santa Monica College Community," says Tsang. ”This is a good time for them to take action, to get connected for the future.”

As a parting message to the future alumni of SMC, Tsang says students have certain values they should take from SMC.

“I think they should always remember what they have learned here and continue to move on and do well," he said. "But one thing we teach on this campus is that always remember your part in this community and not only do you have the privilege of getting assistance but also you have the responsibility of helping others.”

Find out more about the SMC Alumni Association here.