November 13, 2019 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica College’s Latino Center & Adelante Program Move Achievement Forward:

Imagine a place where you can walk in and talk to someone who knows what it’s like to be a first-generation college student, to have parents who are immigrants, and to carry their dreams on your back. That place exists. It’s at Santa Monica College, and it’s called the Latino Center.

“I feel like I belong,” says Marie Medina, a first-generation student at SMC. “Any time I felt like I was wasting my time in college, I went there and in an instant, they would help change my mind.”

Free tutoring in chemistry, English and math, counselors, workshops for students and their families, smaller classes through its special Adelante program with exceptional professors – the Latino Center provided Medina the network of support she needed to make it through college. A mother at 16, she survived an abusive relationship and came to SMC hoping to build a better life for her son.

Early on, Medina found herself in an Adelante sociology class taught by SMC social science professor Christina Preciado, called “Latina/os in Contemporary Society.”

“I related to it and it made me feel like I matter,” says Medina. Today, she is clear on her life’s purpose: to transform her experiences into an opportunity to help other teenagers. “SMC taught me that an education is about growing as a person…now I want to start making a difference.”

This spring, Medina found out that she was accepted into California State University, Long Beach – her top choice – where she will major in social work.

Maria Martinez is faculty leader for the Latino Center and the Adelante Program. 29 years ago, she started at SMC as a remedial math student. As the child of a maid and a crop-picker who came to the U.S. from Mexico, Maria remembers an SMC history professor who offered her extra help when he saw her struggling, and counselors who would not let her quit. She became the first college graduate in her family and returned to her alma mater after getting a Master’s Degree in Counseling to help students succeed at SMC and move forward to four-year universities. Today, SMC transfers more Latino students to the University of California system than any other community college.

Walter Ramirez is another first-generation college student at SMC who found it difficult to navigate college.

“I wasn’t very confident in my academic abilities, I had no motivation,” says Ramirez. “Just reaching out for help was a big challenge for me.” Class material related to the Latino experience made it easier for him to participate in class discussions. He finally mustered up courage to walk into the office of an SMC English professor, Kevin Menton, who became his mentor. This professor made the difference between him staying in college and quitting, says Ramirez.

This summer, Ramirez also participated in a ten-day research residency called “The SMC Undergraduate Research Scholars Academy” at Loyola Marymount University designed for high-achieving underrepresented students to improve research skills and to help them navigate the transfer process.

SMC Communication Studies professor Amanda Whidden teaches a public speaking class for the Adelante program. She understands that there is often more than stage fright to keep students from being comfortable speaking out in a room full of people, and tries to create a safe, comfortable place where obstacles can be discussed and overcome.

“I see a true metamorphosis,” says Whidden. “I see students who start out in one spot and end in a completely different spot.”

Genesis Garcia is one such student.

“Professor Whidden was encouraging…and she made an effort to not to let our backgrounds interfere in our education,” says Garcia, who overcame her fear of public speaking. Garcia’s personal life story includes losing both parents by the age of 13, and ending up in an orphanage in Mexico for a year on a precarious journey from Guatemala to the U.S. to join her mother, who had immigrated earlier.

When a counselor asked her to write down her goals, Garcia wrote “UC Berkeley,” but only “as a joke”. The counselor helped her realize that her wildest dream was not far from reality. She will be majoring in sociology, beginning this fall – at UC Berkeley – and wants to be an immigration lawyer.

“Our goal is to help students get from the idea they have in their mind to where they want to be,” says John Quevedo, SMC math professor who teaches in the Adelante program.

The Latino Center is open to all students, irrespective of ethnicity. The Adelante classes – which offer material relevant to Latino culture where possible – are open to all students who have met the requirements of the Adelante program. Visit www.smc.edu/studentservices/latinocenter or call 310-434-4459 to find out more about the SMC Latino Center.

Santa Monica College is a California Community College accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). SMC is the leader in California’s 113 community college system in transfers to the University of California.

in News
Related Posts

Santa Monica Sees Nearly 9 Percent Spike in Part 1 Crimes

February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019

SMPD Chief Cynthia Renaud gives crime update. By Sam Catanzaro Over the past month, Santa Monica has experienced a string...

Man Charged for Murdering Mother

February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019

Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office files charges on Stephen Lloyd Fader. By Staff Writer The Los Angeles County District...

Fighting Fires, Tackling Homelessness, Saving Lives

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

The role of fire departments in 21st-century urban centers.  By Keldine Hull Do firefighters fight fires? Obviously, but most of...

SM City Defends Temporary Protective Status for Immigrants

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

By Staff Writer Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously at their January 22 meeting to join an amicus brief to...

SMPD Mounted Patrol Aids in Arrest

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) carried out an arrest on February 1 with the aid of horses....

MDR Oil Well Explosion Sparks Debate

February 6, 2019

February 6, 2019

Jan. 18 incident sheds light on the dangers of oil wells in the city. By Tor Marom Discussions on public...

State of the City: Climate Change, Communication Among Challenges Facing Santa Monica

February 8, 2019

February 8, 2019

Mayor Davis delivers annual address. By Tor Marom This past Wednesday, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce held its annual...

Santa Monica and ‘Big One’ Preparedness

July 8, 2019

July 8, 2019

All it took was 10-20 seconds for the 1994 Northridge earthquake to rattle Southern California in a way no earthquake had done before. Dozens of people lost their lives and thousands more were injured as the state reeled from a catastrophic event that cost billions in damages

Santa Monica Man Arrested for Attempting to Murder Girlfriend

February 12, 2019

February 12, 2019

Kevin Ferron charged with attacking girlfriend Anna Koosman. By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) have arrested a...

Fire Damages Santa Monica High Rise

February 13, 2019

February 13, 2019

Shores Apartments unit catches fire Monday night.  By Staff Writer A Santa Monica high rise by the beach caught fire Monday...

SMPD to Conduct Bike and Pedestrian Safety Enforcement

February 13, 2019

February 13, 2019

Citations and increased enforcement Feb. 15 and 18. By Staff Writer  The Santa Monica Police Department will be conducting bike...

Judge’s Final Ruling Orders Districts, Special Election

February 17, 2019

February 17, 2019

Final judgement calls for July 2 special election to choose new council.  By Sam Catanzaro  A final judgment has been...

Santa Monica Police Seize 29 Guns, Cocaine, Meth and Heroin

February 20, 2019

February 20, 2019

By Staff Writer  On February 15,  the Santa Monica Police Department’s (SMPD) Narcotics/Vice Unit along with SWAT served multiple search...

Adapting to Santa Monica’s Single-Use Plastic Ban

February 21, 2019

February 21, 2019

City’s disposable food-ware ordinance under effect. By Keldine Hull When an updated Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance went into effect...

Council Votes Unanimously to Appeal District-Election Ruling

February 22, 2019

February 22, 2019

City of Santa Monica to appeal ruling that elections are in violation of CRVA.  By Sam Catanzaro On February 21,...