is more than just usual

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accountant at a top CPA firm, or to work in logistics, marketing ... community colleges, California community .... The J


“You can go as far as you want to here at SMC.”

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Student tutoring; SMC Professor Ming Chun Lu; SMC Professor Gregory Brookins mentoring student Leticia Legre

– Aileen Huang, SMC Accounting Professor


It’s all in the numbers 1. On average, SMC has a higher CPA exam pass rate when compared with all community colleges and CSU institutions. 2. SMC had higher pass rates on all four sections of the CPA exam when compared with all U.S. community colleges, California community colleges, and CSU institutions. 3. SMC is ranked first in terms of number of candidates taking the CPA exam among all community colleges in the United States and its territories.


CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: SMC Professor Marcella Kelly mentoring student Carlos Villegas; Enrolled SMC business students can “shop” for free in the business department’s Career Closet

Business is more than just usual


he seagulls who hang out in the fountains at Santa Monica College’s gorgeous quad attest to two things: sun-kissed beaches a stone’s throw away and three hundred plus days of sunshine. But even they could tell you it’s more than just beaches and sunshine that bring students from all over the globe and the country to California’s number one transfer institution—as proven by SMC’s Business Department. A recent study of data from the National Association of State Boards of Accounting which publishes annual data related to the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) Exam showed that, on average, SMC has a higher CPA exam pass rate (44.1%) when compared with all community colleges (national average, 36.7%) and CSU institutions (41.0%). Accounting professor Jenny Resnick chalks down this success to the following: the support system and resources available at SMC, the quality and enthusiasm of the faculty and their interest in the students’ future. “SMC’s business professors are one-of-a-kind,” says alumna Nancy Bouabsi, 20, now a junior at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Bouabsi plans on returning to SMC to prepare for the CPA exam after she obtains her B.A. in Economics from UCSD. Many of the business department professors are working professionals who are able to tell students stories ‘from the trenches’, of what it’s like to be an accountant at a top CPA firm, or to work in logistics, marketing, management or insurance. And as Department Chair Joy Tucker puts it, SMC’s business professors are “our biggest selling point.”

“What makes us unique is that we attract worldwide talent to our campus,” says Greg Brookins, who teaches accounting. Brookins often finds 15 languages being spoken in his Accounting 1 class of approximately 45 students. SMC’s business department offers transfer and traditional degree or certificate options as well as options for career training and continuing education to business professionals—and a full complement of CPA preparation courses, which includes those offered at the upper division level. SMC offers five Associate degrees in Business: Business Administration, Insurance Professional, Logistics/Supply Chain Management, Management/Leadership and Merchandising, and an Associate in Science for Transfer in Business Administration; five Certificates of Achievement; and six Department Certificates.

“The professors at SMC will make your experience as good as possible and will have a great effect on your future.” – Nancy Bouabsi, former SMC student

Recently, veteran and SMC alumnus Martin McMahon led a team of four from the University of Portland, where he is now a junior, to win the prestigious 2013 American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Accounting Case National Competition—and an award of $10,000. …continue d on p a g e 131


FALL “When I was in high school, I was a volunteer at 2ONALD2EAGAN5#,!-EDICAL#ENTERIN7ESTWOOD and worked as a patient escort,” says KhakshoorKohan. “One day, my friend and I were helping discharge an elderly lady in chronic pain. She pointed to a window and said, ‘That’s a good place to JUMP7EWERESPEECHLESS BUTTHATSWHEN)REALIZED how important it was to connect and communicate with patients on a personal level.” For the past six months, Khakshoor-Kohan has BEEN A VOLUNTEER AT 5#,! -EDICAL #ENTER 3ANTA Monica, where his attention is focused on supporting NURSESCARINGFOR)#5PATIENTS Khakshoor-Kohan, a member of SMC’s academically rigorous Scholars Program, has been ACCEPTED AS A TRANSFER STUDENT FROM 3-# TO 5# Santa Barbara, and is still waiting to hear from 5#,! 5NIVERSITY OF 3OUTHERN #ALIFORNIA 53# AND3TANFORD5NIVERSITYh)STILLHAVENTMADEUPMY mind about where I want to continue my studies,” he says. Although his long-term ambition is to become a physician, Khakshoor-Kohan says, “I cherish every blessing along my journey of learning and growth, and embrace every opportunity with open arms and a view to excellence. I’ve been active—first as a student and now as a workshop leader—with Sustainable Works. One of the things that made me interested in participating was finding out that it takes about 4,000,000 gallons of water to produce one ton of beef! I have to admit that I was really shocked about that, but the whole thing has been an elevating experience, encouraging me to be a role model of higher learning, personal excellence, and service to society. I have always longed to improve the world through higher knowledge and understanding.” SMC Transfer Center Faculty Leader Dan Nannini said—in tribute to both Siamak and Cooke, who once owned the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Los Angeles Kings (NHL)—“It’s nice to know that money I spent going to Kings and Laker games in the 70s is going to deserving students like Siamak today.” Nannini also serves as President of the Western Association for College Admission Counseling (WACAC) and is SMC’s faculty liaison with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Scholarship amounts vary based on several factors, including costs at the college or university the student attends, as well as other grants and scholarships the student receives. Scholarship recipients can pursue any area of study, and can use the award to pay for tuition, required fees, books, and room and board. Recipients also benefit by gaining access to the greater JKCF Scholar community. “The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has long been committed to helping outstanding community college students transfer to and succeed at the nation’s top colleges and universities,” said Emily Froimson, vice president of programs at the Foundation. “Since the program started in 2002, the Foundation has supported 643 community college students directly, and thousands more through the Foundation’s grant-making initiatives.”

About the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Building on the belief that that high-potential, low-income students will excel educationally when given the resources to develop their talents, the Foundation supports exceptional students from elementary school to graduate school through scholarships, grants, direct service, and knowledge creation and dissemination. Founded in 2000 by the estate of Jack Kent Cooke, the Foundation has awarded $120 million in scholarships to more than 2,000 students, and $76 MILLION IN GRANTS TO ORGANIZATIONS THAT SUPPORT THE Foundation’s mission.

First Y e a r Experie n c e Continued from page 3 “All of these young people are first generation college students and have little or no support at HOME v SAID !URORA -ARTINEZ A COLLEGE COUNSELOR from downtown Los Angeles’s Edward R. Roybal Learning Center, who brought a group of 33 “excited and nervous” students to SMC for what FYE calls one of their ‘Admitted Student Days.’ After participating in SMC’s award-winning Prep2Test workshop at their high school, which explains how high stakes the assessment test is—students come to SMC for a campus tour, meet counselors and take the assessment test. *OSE (ERNANDEZ 3-# #OUNSELOR WHO WORKS AT the Welcome Center—which serves as a ‘one-stop shop’ for first-time students—is a former first-time SMC freshman himself. “What better way to get them off on a strong footing than guaranteeing them English and Math classes along with access to counselors in their FIRSTYEAR vSAYS(ERNANDEZ)TTOOKHIMSIXYEARSTO TRANSFERFROM3-#TO5#,!(ENOWTAKESPRIDEIN working with FYE students, and it is his hope that they will transfer in half the time it took him. In the 2014-2015 academic year, the program will be expanded to include 500 students, which is STILLhADROPINTHEBUCKET vSAYS$R'ONZALEZ WHEN compared to the number of approximately 5,800 first-time freshmen. And the plan is to keep growing the program each year while keeping it accessible. “At Santa Monica High School, we rate SMC really high as a potential destination because of the level of support services SMC has,” says Rosa Mejia, counselor from SaMoHi who brought a group of 30 students to SMC on an infuriatingly beautiful day in March. And SMC doesn’t plan to disappoint. There are two kinds of summer programs for the FYE student: non-credit workshops referred to as ‘Summer Jams’ which focuses on strengthening reading, writing, math and study skills for college; and a for-credit program called ‘Summer Bridge’ that offers English, math or counseling classes. Following the summer program, FYE students will have the option to enroll in the fall semester in general education courses in areas such as sociology, art, art history, media studies, communication studies, dance, and political science. They will also have access to academic support, student success seminars, tutoring and supplemental instruction for math and English classes, intensive academic and career counseling and opportunities to be employed on campus. “As an institution, our hope is we will be able to expedite these students getting bachelor’s degrees,” SAYS$R'EORGIA,ORENZ $EANOF)NSTRUCTION The benefit of FYE doesn’t end at the student. One of SMC’s new initiatives, ‘I³’—which stands for ‘Institutional Imagination Initiative’—envisions a future for the campus community that includes the exploration of cutting-edge educational models and technology to prepare students for fast change, emerging careers, and access to educational opportunity. “What FYE does is ask teachers to think about how their course fits into the larger framework of what we offer here on campus and what students’ pursuits might be while they’re here,” says Susan Sterr, English Department Chair. “What English is trying to do is work across the curriculum with math and counseling to create academic pathways for students so that they can choose courses based on their interest and explore it to some depth.” The FYE English, math, counseling, and general education courses are designed as loosely paired cohort courses, with the aim of having faculty


from various disciplines work together to create interdisciplinary assignments, integrate career/ MAJOREXPLORATIONANDCONTEXTUALIZECURRICULUM

about VITA before because he knew that most of his students had a lot going on in their lives; many of them work to support themselves.

“I like the philosophy behind FYE,” says Laurie Guglielmo, Counseling Department Chair. “The students will be moving through it somewhat as a cohort—they will have a community built in and can rely on each other for support in their classes and things that they do.”

For the duration of the tax season—from February till April—Lu’s students prepared tax returns with VITA on a few Saturdays. All of them had to go through a training session and take a certification test.

Details are being worked out for an iPad loaner program, conceived as a way for students to learn how to use technology as an academic success tool and to manage their time and productivity. FYE instructors would also be trained to enhance the learning environment using digital resources and students will learn how to make the most of the iPad—for group projects, making presentations in SMC’s ‘SMART’ digital classrooms, writing research papers, annotating sources and so on. “We’re really setting them up to be successful,” says Guglielmo. “It’s up to them and their motivation.” To learn more about the First Year Experience and to apply, go to

Bu s in e s s Continued from page 139 He credits his experience and professors at SMC—where he was also a student leader for the Supplemental Instruction Program—for his continued interest and desire to succeed in accounting. “They are just so involved,” says student Danny 2ODRIGUEZ OF HIS PROFESSORS 4HIS IS EVIDENT IN faculty-led initiatives like the Rotaract “Business Club” which brings successful business leaders to speak and offers students networking opportunities, and in things like the “Career Closet”, a retail-like space in the business department stocked with gently used business clothing, accessories and shoes donated by faculty and advisory board members. Professor Lorrie Ivas’s Merchandising students maintain the closet while her Advertising students create publicity to generate donations for it. Each semester, currently enrolled Business students can come in and “shop” for a head-to-toe outfit and IMAN cosmetics, all for free.

“This experience gave me great insight into the accounting profession, and I enjoyed helping others,” said Daniel Haiem, VITA volunteer and SMC accounting student, who is preparing to take the CPA exam and holds a B.A. in Economics from THE5NIVERSITYOF#ALIFORNIA 3ANTA"ARBARA “I wish I had gone to SMC since high school,” said Haiem. (VITA is open to people who make $52,000 or less)

It’s all in the numbers 1. On average, SMC has a higher CPA exam pass rate* (44.1%) when compared with all community colleges (national average, 36.7%) AND#35INSTITUTIONS  2. SMC had higher pass rates on all four sections of the CPA exam** when compared with all 53COMMUNITYCOLLEGES #ALIFORNIACOMMUNITY COLLEGES AND#35INSTITUTIONS 3. SMC is ranked first in terms of number of candidates taking the CPA exam among all COMMUNITYCOLLEGESINTHE5NITED3TATESANDITS territories. (Findings from an SMC Institutional Research study of data from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), which publishes a detailed report each year on how candidates did on the national CPA exam. This data is from the 2012 CPA exam) *Includes first-time and repeat testing events **Does not measure the unique number of candidates who passed all four sections of the test. The CPA Exam Pass Rate was calculated by dividing the total number of testing events passed by the total number of testing events. All candidates, including those who attempted only one, two or three of the four sections were included in the analyses.

A student told Pat Halliday in her Accounting 1 class that when she became an accountant, she wanted to look just like her: always professional. The next week, Halliday brought in one of her pantsuits for the student. The student told her later that the pants didn’t fit but when she put on the BLAZER SOMETHING HAPPENED TO HER h) FELT LIKE ) could do anything,” she told Halliday. Inspired by this, Halliday created the Career Closet. When asked what she liked best about SMC, alumna Nancy Bouabsi responded: “How much the faculty cared.” For more information on the Business department at SMC and the programs offered, visit

SMC Accounting Students Learn and Serve “Anyone can volunteer at a soup kitchen but not everyone can help people prepare tax returns,” said SMC accounting professor Ming Lu. For about five years, Lu has volunteered with an IRS program called VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), which provides income tax return preparation services to low income individuals and their families—for free. Early this year, some of his Accounting 2 students asked him what he did for community service and he told them about VITA. Then, nine or ten of them came up to him and asked him if they could get involved. Lu thought two things: that they were kidding and that they were trying to be nice. He had never talked


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