SMC Alumnus Runs in NYC Marathon

Santa Monica College not only has the prestige of being the leading source of transfers to the University of California system, but it has a long list of successful alumni to boast about. The list includes actors like Dennis Hoffman and James Dean and former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold, to name a few.

Most recently added to SMC's list of blooming alumni is Matt Moline, a current student at Columbia University School of General Studies. On Nov. 2, he ran in the ING New York City Marathon for Autism Speaks, his Los Angeles-based charity, setting a personal record for himself at 3:56:24. "I was very proud of myself," he said about competing in the race.

Moline was first inspired to compete in triathlons after losing 137 pounds in 2004. "I was kind of crazy," he recalls on how he first tried to drop the weight. Looking for a quick and easy way to lose, he began to gain instead. "In order for my insurance to cover the gastric bypass, I had to have a certain body morbidity rate. I was at 260 and I needed 60 pounds," said Moline. "I wasn't thinking very rationally."

In the process of gaining weight, Moline got sick and lost weight. This motivated him to lose weight the conventional way. To aide in being physically fit, he began to train for, and then subsequently run in, the Ironman competition. The race covers three endurance events: a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike and a marathon(26.2 miles).

Moline also believes that the mind, like the body, should be exercised. Although he is now in his late 30s and finishing his undergraduate, Moline's first attempt at college was immediately after high school, however, he decidedly stopped going to classes after Halloween, receiving four F's in his first four classes.

"I hid the report card from my parents because they were paying for college. I improved the next semester and told them the truth, but by then it was too late," he said.

No longer having the financial support to go to school, Moline joined the army for two years and took another shot at school after, but instead got involved in the Information Technology field, dedicating the next 10 years of his life to his work.

At the age of 31, Moline got married and that was the pivotal point in his life when the weight began to add on. "I was in a very unhealthy marriage," he said, which led him into an unhealthy lifestyle. After a divorce, Moline wanted to change matters completely, and realized that in order move away from the small company he was running in Los Angeles, and towards a big company, he needed a college degree.

Which is when he enrolled at SMC in Spring 2007. "I love [SMC]. There are classes I had there that are harder than classes I have here [at Columbia]," said Moline. "I have attended six total schools and as far as SMC education goes it was just as good, if not better than all the ones I attended."

Moline also began to work as a contractor for Autism Speaks in Spring 2007. For him, it was the best transition phase to attend SMC at the same time he was leaving his old IT firm, which he called "kind of empty" as he would labor himself for his employees in the entertainment business.

"Before, I was miserable," he says of his job. "I spent the day doing things I didn't want to do. Now I feel very fulfilled, I help scientists and it is all very interesting and meaningful work." Moline is also finding significance in school as well as work, "Every class [at Columbia] is interesting and one reason I went back to school [at the age of 36] is to keep on learning."

Anna O'Sullivan, Communications Officer at Columbia University School of General Studies, reflects on all Moline has accomplished, saying, "If his dedication to transform his body and his career path is any indication of how he will perform at Columbia, we are in store for an exceptional student." O'Sullivan also recognizes the high status of being an SMC alum. "We have many Santa Monica College alums enrolled, and the students are always excellent transfers," she said.

The School of General Studies is the undergraduate college at Columbia University created specifically for nontraditional students who seek a traditional education at an Ivy League university in completing their B.A. or B.S. degree. GS enrolls world-class dancers, athletes, and musicians, bankers and small business owners, and people who come from as far away as China, Israel, and Germany. Moline and O'Sullivan encourage current SMC students to apply. For more information visit

As for Moline, once he graduates from Columbia with a degree in Econ and Philosophy, he plans on going to law school, and of course continuing to keep on running, biking and swimming. The one thing he looks most forward to in the near future? Getting back to Los Angeles as soon as possible. He walks around NYC in shorts and T-shirts, thinking fondly of the weather in L.A. When asked if he doesn't get cold, Moline responds firmly, "I'm going to wear what I want to wear no matter where I go in life."