Posted: June 28, 2014 by PJ Abode in General

Welcome to MindSpace!

MindSpace is a space committed to a meeting of minds through sharing, and by sharing we hope to form a strong sense of community that all can rely on for joy, support, and aspiration.

By Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator of Community & Contract Education

J001-Golden Flight

Victoria Bleeden’s “Golden Flight” is the winner of the 2017 Student Photo Contest

As our third Annual Community Education Student Photo Contest comes to a conclusion, as always, I am filled with wonder of how this little contest of my imagination has grown to be the annual anticipated event that it is now. Our community once again demonstrated its enthusiasm for photography: altogether, the contest drew 167 photo submissions from 39 current and former students, almost double the 90 images from 22 participants in 2016.

Congratulations are in order to Community Ed student Victoria Bleeden for winning our 2017 Student Photo Contest with her stunning image of a hummingbird that she calls “Golden Flight.”

Victoria captured the photo with a Canon EOS Rebel T3, a regular telephoto lens and a fast shutter speed (sports mode). Victoria came to us through quite a different route than the contest winners we have had in the past: the Calabasas equestrienne and mother of 18-year-old twin boys has taken just one class at SMC Community Ed, the popular Memoir Writing with instructor Monona Wali.

victoria bleeden horse jumping

Victoria Bleeden is an equestrienne who has never taken a photography class

“I am truly honored and thrilled to win this award,” she said. “I began taking photos seriously only about two or three years ago, so this is a particularly meaningful award.”

In many ways, Victoria represented a change from the contests of the past two years. Not only is Victoria our first female winner of the contest, she has also never taken a photography class with us or elsewhere, and this is the first year that our winning cover moves from landscape to still life. Victoria’s interest in photographing the hummingbirds in her backyard eventually translated to the beautiful cover that captured the hearts of many of our voters. We can only imagine that as this annual contest grows in popularity that it will attract even more talented photographers in our community to participate, amateurs and professionals alike.

MM01-Barker Dam

Chad Suggs was first runner-up for his image “Barker Dam”

Kudos also to the other two finalists in the Photo Contest – first runner-up Chad Suggs with his stunning image of Barker Dam, which is located in Joshua Tree National Park, and Diana Clevenger-Stephens for her close-up of a dandelion, using a macroclip on her iPhone. Last but not least, a big thank-you to all the contestants who participated and all the voters who helped us choose our fall 2017 cover. Until next year!


Diana Clevenger-Stephens was 2nd runner-up for her close-up of a dandelion

As SMC Extension/Community Ed continues to expand its technology-related business course offerings – particularly in cutting-edge technologies – it has scheduled new classes in Google Docs and Slack, which fall into the Age of Edge Computing and Blockchain.

seth david quickbooks

And the program has turned to an instructor with a combination of business acumen and teaching skill who is passionate about these new technologies.

“I take complex concepts and make them simple for those who don’t have a background in the subject,” says Seth David, who recently taught Excel to a group of SMC employees to excellent reviews. “That is my super power, plain and simple.”

David is, as he describes, the “chief nerd” and President of Nerd Enterprises, Inc. which provides consulting and training services in accounting and productivity based software. Consulting services range from basic bookkeeping to CFO level services such as financial modeling.

David graduated from Pace University in New York in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and has held a variety of positions in several companies, including Biggs & Co., a Santa Monica-based accounting firm specializing in bankruptcy. He has also been a speaker at conferences throughout the nation.

* * *

Can you talk about the growth in document sharing, both in terms of Google Docs and Slack?

We’re getting into the age of Edge Computing and Blockchain technology. This means information has multiple input and output channels. It has to.

There was a time, not long ago, when having the ability to e-mail a file to someone, so they could work on it, and e-mail it back to you, was really efficient. Now it’s archaic.

Document sharing has to happen, and it needs to happen in real time. This means co-authoring, and Google Docs offers that. No other application, not even Microsoft, offers the same kind of real time co-authoring and collaboration capabilities that Google Docs has.

Once we adopt this kind of technology, we start to see the advantages. Not only can I share and collaborate with people in real time, but also I can easily link a document in any other app that I am using with colleagues.

Enter Slack.

Slack is a communications app. Similar to what I described above about document sharing, e-mail used to be a highly efficient form of communication. Now it is incredibly inefficient.

Slack solves that problem. It is a private communications channel, accessible only to the people I’ve shared it with. Spammers can’t get in.

Then Slack has the ability to organize things with Channels, Pins and Stars. This makes it very easy to organize, categorize, and easily reference information when I need it later.

So I can link a Google document in a channel in Slack. Five people from different parts of the country can access that document and discuss it in Slack. It’s incredibly efficient, especially when I am looking for information long after my independent recollection of what was discussed, and where, is gone.

seth david with dogs

Why are your classes important?

These classes are important because they speak to how we are beginning to communicate and what the future of business communication looks like. There is a paradigm shift, and the changes are happening fast. It will be challenging for some to keep up.

These classes will help with that. Using these products is not rocket science. Once people see how to use these applications, they will get it. There are people like me who love to dive in and learn these apps, and then there are people who don’t have the patience. People like me figure out the right solutions to the right problems, and then we can listen to people explain what they need to do, so we can recommend the right solutions.

What kinds of people are Google Docs and Slack important for?

They’re definitely important for small business owners, as well as for people in the workplace.

There are personal uses too. Recently I turned a client onto Slack. He’d never heard of it before. A couple of weeks later, he sent me a message in Slack, thanking me for introducing it to him. He explained that he started using it with his fiancee and their wedding planner.

Seth David will teach How to Use Google Docs beginning Sept. 16. His Slack Communication Workshop is scheduled for Oct. 6. He will also teach Fundamentals of Microsoft Excel 2013 for the PC – Creating Spreadsheets on Nov. 4.

Raul B. Subia came to Los Angeles in 1988 like so many before him – to seek a career as an actor-dancer-singer. Driving from San Antonio, Texas with few possessions and about $1,500 to his name, he spent the first night in L.A. in his car.

Raul Subia 1

Although he landed a few gigs in Hollywood – including co-star roles on a couple of television series and a spot on the Spanish-language version of “Star Search” – he has had an eclectic career in interior design, retail, cosmetology, event planning, nonprofit management and – mostly – real estate and property management.

And it was at SMC Community Education that he took classes to prepare for his real estate license exam. He now is a licensed real estate agent and property manager with a firm in L.A.

Subia got his initial taste for real estate assisting a celebrity interior designer making high profile homes beautiful. His interest in real estate and property management grew as he moved into facilities-related positions, including overseeing prestigious high-rise buildings from a facility and operations management position and serving as a Corporate Concierge at the landmark “1888 Building” in Century City, whose tenants included major corporations such as Turner Broadcasting.

Raul Subia 2

He says his real estate training at SMC Community Ed was valuable, and he has particular praise for instructor John Anderson.

“John is really knowledgeable and his passion for real estate is admirable and I’ve learned so much from him,” Subia said.

SMC also gave him the opportunity to pursue his passion for sustainable living by getting his LEED Green Associate certificate from the college’s Resource and Recycling Management Program.

Raul Subia 3

“As a real estate professional, my commitment is driven by my troubleshooting skills and keen focus on VIP-level service,” he said. “As a true people person, my inspiration is to help clients with the best in commercial development and leasing, sales transactions – or just securing that perfect place called home.”

Subia says real estate is challenging and that he is learning a lot about the field.

“I used to be under the real estate umbrella, but now that I have my license,” he said, “I understand the profession and all its complexities better.”

Raul Subia can be reached at Rsubiarealestate@gmail.com.

NOTE: SMC Community Ed has a more detailed story on student poet John Young in our monthly newsletter, Sound Bites. The following is an excerpt from that article with an additional poem not included in the Sound Bites article.

John Young poetry book

The thin line that often separates genius from madness, or bursts of brilliant creativity from severe depression, is an intriguing topic that has generated countless articles, essays and discussions over the years.

And it is a topic that has taken on new meaning to SMC Community Ed student John Young, a prolific writer whose world was turned upside down a year ago when he had a breakdown and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Young, who took Betzi Richardson’s poetry class last fall, recited two of his poems at last month’s Community Ed Open House to high praise from audience members

“This is the first time we had live poetry reading at our Open House, and John’s performance was powerful and yet surprisingly intimate,” said Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator of Community & Contract Education. “I think everyone in the audience was touched by the sincerity and the artistic depth of his work.”

john young-guitar

Young is unusual in that his diagnosis came late in life. He is 57, and most people are diagnosed at a younger age. In fact, his siblings and friends were shocked at the diagnosis and he himself had no idea he was bipolar.

He said over the years he has had manic episodes where he had huge bursts of energy and would get “massive amounts of work done” at his computer-related job.

“But I didn’t understand it and I just thought it was my personality,” he said. “I was never out of control.”

A year ago, however, things did get out of control. Within a month, his 17-year relationship ended, he was feeling intense pressure at work, and two of his close friends died. He started buying things he didn’t need, including five iPhones, two massage chairs, a $7,000 bed, computers and a robot. He rescued a dog while living in an apartment that forbade pets. And he stayed up for days with no sleep.

His sister and brother, who live on the east coast, became alarmed at his dramatic behavior shift and came out to L.A. to be with him.

“They saved my life because I would have had a heart attack staying up so many days,” Young said.

John young in Betzi class-all

John Young with fellow poetry students & instructor Betzi Richardson

The day after Super Bowl 2016 he had a breakdown and was admitted to a psychiatric ward, where he stayed for 16 days. That’s when he received the bipolar diagnosis and was put on medications.

Since then, he was forced to go on disability, he’s struggling with memory issues, and his medications are constantly being modified.

But he has been a productive writer, has taken stand-up comedy classes, and has even published a volume of poetry, “Hardcore Dance Poems,” which is available on Amazon in digital and paperback.

“Eyesore” (Dedicated to the legendary icons who have passed away through the years)

 Now that 

David Bowie’s died

Who’ll take his place

You or I?


Not in music

Just in style

You’re a delicious 

Eyesore in argyle


Don’t just sit there

Let’s do something 

Be like Andy Warhol

Not the village bumpkin


Say something different 

Say something important 


Oh shut up and 

Pass that bottle

Of juicy red currant


Let your body hit the dance floor

Let the dance floor hit your body 


Let your body hit the dance floor 

Let the dance floor kill your body


Runny makeup

In your eyes 

Dance the dance

Until you die


The Jean Genie 

Granted your wish

Your jeans will fit

Before you perish


I don’t have that many friends

But if you hold me

You’ll be one of them 




Candle Stick








You ran in screaming

What was I mumbling


I just smiled

And said

I love you


You can turn anything

Into a literal depiction


Yet you still have trouble

Separating fact from fiction


Can Being a Notary Enhance Your Career?

Posted: January 31, 2017 by Bruce Smith in General
Tags: , , , ,

Carrie Christensen teaches several Notary Public classes at SMC Community Education. She is director of Los Angeles-based Notary Public Seminars, Inc., which has been a leading public course provider for well over 15 years.


What are the advantages of being a notary public? 

Being a notary is a relatively easy job and it’s great to have an additional stream of income.

If you’re working in a bank, or as an administrative assistant, for example, does being a notary usually increase your salary? 

 It should, but it’s not automatic. A Notary might have to negotiate with their boss when appropriate. A notary may be able to charge fees when they notarize for their company but the arrangement must be agreed upon first. It’s a great resume builder when job hunting.

Notaries who worked full time earned average annual salaries of $36,000 as of 2013, according to the job website indeed.com. Is that accurate? Is that salary a little low compared to other professions? 

That number does seem low, although it’s probably an average taken from notary earnings throughout the nation. In certain areas like southern California, notaries earn more on average than notaries in northern California.

It also depends on real estate trends. When there are a lot of houses on the market, notaries are making more money. Also, since notaries in California receive a pay raise this year from $10 a signature to $15 per signature, that number will increase. It may not seem like much, but notaries are also allowed to charge for travel. There is no set cap for travel fees.

Mortgage signing agents earned average annual salaries of $45,000 as of 2013, according to the jobsite indeed.com. Is that accurate? That’s more lucrative and so your new class would be a real benefit, right?  

We call them Loan Signing Agents and yes, this is the only way to make a serious living as a notary. We do offer a one-day class on how to notarize loan documents. It does take a bit of extra knowledge to be efficient.

Carrie Christensen

Tell us briefly about yourself. Why did you become a notary public? Why did you start Notary Public Seminars?

Directly out of college, I started working for National Notary Association. It was a perfect fit, as I love public speaking and the law. I decided to start my own company because I felt I could create a better seminar and make more money on my own. This has been a great niche for me.

Is there anything you would like to add? I’m very grateful to partner with Santa Monica College. I feel they truly care about their students and educational vendors.

Carrie Christensen will teach three classes this spring: Become a Notary in One Day, Renew as a Notary in One Day!, and Become a Loan Signing Agent: Build Your Own Notary Signing Business.



By Michelle King, Director of Career & Contract Education

Michelle King

Happy New Year to all our wonderful students, instructors and community members!

We’re starting our year in an exciting way by holding our Third Annual Open House this Saturday, Jan. 21 that will feature class discounts, mini presentations, demonstrations and more.


The Open House, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will give you a chance to meet instructors and staff and learn about the rich variety of offerings in the Spring Semester. It will be held at the SMC Bundy Campus, Room 123, 3171 S. Bundy Dr., Los Angeles. Ample free parking is available.

More than 20 instructors will be on hand to talk about their classes, including art, Italian, French, writing, ballet, photography, health and fitness, stand-up comedy, sports, self-development and more. You’ll be able to enjoy instructor mini presentations and demonstrations and to receive 15 percent discounts if you register for classes at the Open House. Free SMC Community Ed totes will also be given out while supplies last, and refreshments will be served.

Jackline Daneshrad at table

Last year we were thrilled that we drew 120 visitors to our Open House, and many took advantage of the discounts to sign up for one or more classes each. You can drop by any time between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and we think you’ll be pleased by the wide variety of classes that will be offered in spring. In fact, we have slated more than 170 classes, workshops and tours, including several new offerings, for the Spring Semester, which begins Feb. 13.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about the Open House or our classes. You can call us at (310) 434-3400 or email us at commed@smc.edu. Our website is http://commed.smc.edu and you can register for classes online.

Bryan Ricci in Living Color

Posted: December 20, 2016 by Bruce Smith in General

Bryan Ricci not only paints in vibrant colors, he thinks about what color means in contemporary Los Angeles.


The painting instructor – who has taught at SMC Community Ed for three years and also teaches at Loyola Marymount University and gives private lessons to elementary school children – continuously explores themes of modern life in his art work.

Lately, he has been focusing on color and the application of paint in abstract forms.

“The work that I make now is about a process of application of paint, and I’m doing things with paint that maybe hasn’t been done before,” Ricci said in an interview in his West Los Angeles studio.


But he’s also excited by a recent show of his in Brisbane, Australia called “Chromophilia,” a celebration of color that was informed by the book “Chromophobia.”

“Color is really important and it reflects my life,” he said. “It’s why I came to L.A. from New York.”

He explained that the vibrant colors of Los Angeles – reflected in its natural environment, architecture and diversity of people – captured his imagination when he first visited the city in the late 1990s. He moved to L.A. in 2000 to attend graduate school at Otis College of Design & Art, where he earned a Master’s of Fine Arts degree.

But to his chagrin, he has noticed that L.A. is becoming increasingly beige — reflected in recently constructed apartment buildings, McMansions and other elements of the city’s built environment. Hence, in reaction to that, he turned to a celebration of color.


Ricci has explored many styles of painting in his career. He started out as a landscape painter and is interested in going back to that.

“My landscapes will be a tribute to the environment because we’re in dangerous times,” he said. “I’m hoping the paintings will help me or others remember what is important.”


A native of upstate New York, Ricci received his BFA from Purchase College School of Art and Design SUNY in 2000. He has been exhibited widely across the United States in group and solo shows, including his 2005 solo show “A Closer Look,” held at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. In 2006 his art appeared as part of an exhibit of American painters at the Insa Art Center in Seoul, South Korea.

In the Winter Session he will teach two classes – Landscape Painting and Paint Anything! (both of which begin Jan. 7).

“I really love to teach,” he said. “I like to keep an art conversation going. And it helps my work too.”

Bryan Ricci will teach – Landscape Painting and Paint Anything! (both of which begin Jan. 7) in the Winter Session

One of the amazing things about SMC Community Ed’s Stand-Up Comedy Class is that the students “graduate” by performing at the famed Comedy Store.


The most recent group of student “grads” performed at Comedy Club Nov. 12.

Another terrific aspect of the class is that it is taught by comedian Jonathan Leigh Solomon, who has appeared regularly on “Late Show with David Letterman” as well as being featured on HBO’s Stand-Up Spotlight and Comedy Central.

The most recent crop of students held their graduation show on November 12. The show, this time hosted by the Improvisation Comedy Club, featured graduates from a class which included students whose other titles included (professional) comedian, doctor, fashion model, actor, studio exec, professor and politician.

jonathan leigh solomon

Jonathan Leigh Solomon

Also included in the show were alumni from previous workshops, some of whom are now regulars at the Improv, Comedy Store, Ice House and Flappers!

After seeing the show, an Improv manager commented, “The comedians seemed so confident and poised considering they were first timers and what was really a surprise was the quality of the jokes. Exceptional considering these were (mostly) first time performers.”

The next “Stand Up Comedy Workshop with Comedy Store Graduation Show” starts Jan. 4 at SMC’s easy-to-park Bundy Campus, 3171 S. Bundy Drive, Los Angeles.

By Rev. Dr. Louise-Diana

louise-diana 2

Fear of public speaking is a common phobia. It can range from slight nervousness to paralyzing fear and panic. Many people with a fear of public speaking avoid public speaking situations altogether, or they suffer through them with shaking hands and a quavering voice. But with preparation and persistence, you can overcome your fear. These steps may help:

Know your topic. The better you understand what you’re talking about — and the more you care about the topic — the less likely you’ll make a mistake or get off track. And if you do get lost, you’ll be able to recover quickly. Take some time to consider what questions the audience may ask and have your responses ready.

Get organized. Ahead of time, carefully plan out the information you want to present, including any props, audio or visual aids you’ll use. The more organized you are, the less nervous you’ll be. Use an outline on a small card to keep yourself on track. If possible, take time to visit the place where you’ll be speaking and review available equipment before your presentation.

Practice, and then practice some more. Practice your complete presentation several times. Do it for a few people you’re comfortable with. Ask them to give you feedback. Or, record it with a video camera and watch it so that you can see opportunities for improvement. • Visualize your success. Imagine that your presentation will go well. Positive thoughts can help decrease some of your negativity about your social performance and relieve some anxiety.

louise-diana yoga pose

Do some deep breathing. This can be very calming. Take two or more deep, slow breaths before you get up to the podium and during your speech.

Focus on your material, not on your audience. People mainly pay attention to new information — not how it’s presented. They may not notice your nervousness. If audience members do notice that you’re nervous, they may root for you and want your presentation to be a success.

Don’t be afraid of a moment of silence. If you lose track of what you’re saying or you begin to feel nervous and your mind goes blank, it can seem like you’ve stopped talking for an eternity. But in reality, it’s probably only a few seconds. Even if it’s longer, it’s likely your audience won’t mind a pause to consider what you’ve been saying. This might be a good time to take a few slow, deep breaths.

Recognize your success. After your speech or presentation, give yourself a pat on the back. It may not have been perfect, but chances are you’re far more critical of yourself than your audience is. Everyone makes mistakes during speeches or presentations. Look at any mistakes you made as an opportunity to improve your skills.

Get support. Join a group that offers support for people who have difficulty with public speaking. One effective resource is Toastmasters, a nonprofit organization with local chapters that focuses on training people in speaking and leadership skills.

Most important, when speaking be your most authentic self.

louise-diana award

Rev. Dr. Louise-Diana teaches several classes at SMC Community Education, including “Fear of Public Speaking – How to Overcome It.”

By Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator of Community & Contract Education

It’s not even Halloween yet, but I’m already planning for January 2017. And the plans are exciting.

You will be able to enroll online in our Winter 2017 session in just a few days (Oct. 28), and you will find you have a choice of 111 classes, including several new ones such as Plein Air Painting, Spanish for Criminal Justice, and Beginning Modern Dance.

We will be launching new Professional Development courses and certificate programs, including World Class Manufacturing and Cisco Networking Academy.

And our Annual Open House is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Room 123 at our Bundy campus. Like last year, we will offer a special 15 percent discount for anyone who enrolls in classes at the event.



This past January’s Open House was such a success that we are looking to make the 2017 event bigger and better. The energy, enthusiasm and excitement of our 120 visitors and instructors were palpable. More than 20 instructors volunteered to be at tables to allow prospective students and others to ask questions and get a sense of the diverse mix of courses we offer. Ten of those instructors made excellent presentations on their classes and – in the case of our dance and fitness instructors – got our audience on their feet to learn some basic and fun movements.



So, please mark your calendar for Oct. 28 and Jan. 21. More details on our Winter Session and Open House will be forthcoming in Sound Bites, e-blasts and our social media outlets!

Meanwhile, we welcome your questions, comments or suggestions. You can reach us at commed@smc.edu or (310) 434-3400.

Happy Halloween!