Maria Lopez Zamudio, 19
I.D.E.A.S. Club Co-Chair
Pictured with Latino Center Counselor/Program Leader Maria Martinez
Hometown: Tuxtepec, Oaxaca & Culver City
Transfer Aspiration: Stanford, LMU, or UCLA
Desired Degree: LL.M or MBA
SMCF: Tell us about your role as a leader at SMC.
MLZ: I have been extremely involved on campus since my first semester in Fall 2015. Through Adelante, I found out about the Improving Dreams Equality Access and Success (IDEAS) club that advocates for AB540 and Undocumented Students. I joined Fall 2015, and went from being a member, to Communications and Outreach Director/ICC Delegate, to one of the Co-Chairs, my current role in IDEAS.
In that same semester, I also joined the honor society Phi Theta Kappa, was a commissioner in Associated Students and joined various programs such as Scholars, EOPS, and Adelante. Through Adelante, I participated in the Sister to Sister Mentoring Program, where I mentored young women of color from JAMS middle school. I also had the opportunity to be part of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Academy (URSA), a 10-day residential program at Loyola Marymount University (LMU).
This academic year, I also joined the Black Collegians Program, the honor society Alpha Gamma Sigma, and became a President’s Ambassador.
SMCF: Why did you choose to attend SMC?
MLZ: During my senior year of high school, I was determined to attend Loyola Marymount University, my dream school at the time. Although I was accepted, my legal status took my dream away. It didn’t allow me to receive the financial assistance I needed to enroll, which lead me to the path of community college. Although I had applied to both West L.A College and Santa Monica College, I thought I would probably go to West L.A since it was closer to my home. However, I was admitted to the Scholars Program at SMC, and the decision was made for me. Although SMC was not my dream school, I wanted to make the most out of it, and have not regretted the decision since.
SMCF: What about the SMC environment motivates you as a student?
MLZ: The Santa Monica College environment motivates me as a student because it is filled with such a diverse population of students. My fellow peers as well as the counselors constantly motivate me if I am ever having a bad day. I have met amazing individuals like Maria Martinez, Janet Tercero, and Dr. Paul Jimenez from the Adelante Center, and they motivate me overall as a Latina. Jackie del Banco from EOPS, with whom I have been able to open up and share my story, has given me a safe space when I feel overwhelmed. Belen Vaccaro, who works in Financial Aid and works with DREAMers, has opened her doors to me when I needed help. Overall, Santa Monica has given me the space and a safe environment in which I can not only come out as an Undocumented Student, but also grow and become an activist. I have gained so much life experience, valuable friendships, and mentors during my time here.
SMCF: “PROUD TO BE SMC” is the alumni chant. What are you, as an individual, most proud of?
MLZ: I am proud of SMC for having an overall “open” environment. Not only are we diverse as a campus, but we welcome those who are different as well. SMC provides the space where one can grow as a person by providing new courses or clubs to explore. The best part is, if there isn’t already something established we as individuals can create it ourselves. SMC provides that space where students tend to be heard.
SMCF: What three (3) words best describe your experience as an SMC student?
MLZ: New, Exciting, Joyful.
SMCF: Final question: What words of inspiration would you share with a new student starting at SMC?
MLZ: Santa Monica College has so many things to offer, from clubs and programs, to internships and job offers. But for you to be able to experience it all, you need to be willing to put in some of the effort. Opportunities are everywhere for you to find, but you have to be willing to get out of your seat and start looking for them. There are so many amazing people at this campus, and you are one of them.