Volume VII, Issue 2 | April 28, 2021

SMC In Focus

A bi-monthly newsletter connecting the Santa Monica College community. Celebrating endless possibilities, innovation, and resilience.


Miles Apart—but So Together

For over a year, the Santa Monica College community has been, to steal a phrase from the New York Times, “together apart.” Meet Ilaria Costa, an international student from Italy who tutors fellow students—in Japanese. Also, meet Ainura Abdullayeva, who’s mentoring fellow students and keeping up with SMC coursework, from 7,000 miles away (Almaty, Kazakhstan). These international students--plus student filmmaker Ozzy Ozuna, soon-to-be-retired VP of Academic Affairs Jenny Merlic, and librarian Cynthia Orozco--are living, breathing testament of the SMC spirit. Even in hard times, even when we're miles apart . . . we persist, we thrive, we inspire.

Positive Balance

Cinematic Dreamer

Can painful personal experiences be turned into powerful art? Osvaldo “Ozzy” Ozuna proved that it is possible, through his film “Ink” which explores the trauma caused by family separations at the U.S. border.

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A Green Thumb & a Heart of Gold

Leaving Home: Jenny Merlic

Soon-to-be-retired VP of Academic Affairs Dr. Jennifer Merlic reflects on her decades-long career at SMC, breaking through a glass ceiling or two, and what the future holds.

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Saving the Planet, Quietly

Konnichiwa, Amici

Ilaria Costa isn’t the language tutor SMC students expect to meet when they sign up for Japanese help. She’s Italian. There must be some mistake, right? Nope.

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Role Model

One Foot in Central Asia, the Other in Santa Monica

For a year now, Ainura Abdullayeva has been studying at Santa Monica College and mentoring fellow students from 7,000 miles away (no) thanks to Covid. We “visit” her in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

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Bragging Rights

Bragging Rights

Students discovering their potential in STEM. The Language and Culture Exchange Program is *back*. A film professor wins an international screenwriting competition.

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Preserving the Fabric of History

Information Ambassador

In this online age of fake news, memes and social media, the ability to conduct fact-based research is more important than ever. Librarian Cynthia Orozco is on a mission to make sure students know the ins and outs of this vital process.

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SMC In the News

INK teaser
SMC Emeritus Concert Band