Zambian vice president is honored as a Distinguished Alumni

The SMC Alumni Association honored Zambian vice president Inonge Wina as a Distinguished Alumni Monday during a luncheon at the SMC Office of Campus and Alumni Relations. She is the second to receive the award this year after Anita Sarkeesian was honored in early March.

Wina, who graduated from SMC in 1962 after studying social work and has been a constant activist for women's rights throughout her life, is the highest ranking female official in Zambian history. She was appointed vice president in January 2016 by Zambian president Edgar Lungu.

The invitation-only event had over 50 in attendance including SMC president Kathryn Jeffery, VP of Student Affairs Mike Tuitasi, AS Director of Community Relations Aicha Conde, members of the Board of Trustees and members of the SMC President’s Ambassadors.

Wina was introduced by president of the Black Collegians Club Precious Onuohah who recounted Wina’s journey through life and thanked her for her example.

Onuohah said, “Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for not allowing your gender to discourage you from chasing your dreams… Thank for proving to me that while going to a community college like Santa Monica College, I can make a difference in this world if I stand my ground and focus on the goals I want to achieve.”

Wina then went up to give her speech. She spoke about the nostalgia of walking through a campus she hasn’t seen in decades — a very different campus from the one she remembered.

She said, “It has taken me over 40 years to reconnect with my alma mater. I am happy to come back and say thank you for the seeds of achievement that Santa Monica planted in me so many years ago. I consider it a great honor and a privilege to be receiving the award.”

When she finished, she presented President Jeffery with a gift in the form of a copper relief clock shaped like Zambia.

After the event, attendees had a chance to mingle with SMC alumni, students and administration.

Jeffery spoke about the event and the benefits it has for students. She said, “It brings back to us one of our former students and gives her an opportunity to see how the college is a very different place, how it has evolved over the years… It’s also really fantastic for our current students to see that a community college education can really take you very far… I think this was a score on many levels.”

Deirdre Weaver, Director of Student and Alumni Relations, wrote through email, “When someone of such high stature takes the time to come back, they reaffirm how valuable the student experience is at SMC.”

According to Weaver, the award, which started being given out in 2007, is presented to “those that have truly distinguished themselves through their outstanding professional achievement, leadership and/or community service.”

There is no set schedule for when the award is given out and suggestions for alumni that should be spotlighted can be submitted at the SMC Alumni Association website.