“I came to SMC because of Mr. Benny Blades. He’s a counselor in EOPS who works with students from all kinds of backgrounds. He was my mentor.”
For some, the entryway into ‘the system’ is a golden pathway of opportunity and privilege. For others, like Alex Alonso, success—including survival itself—is an uncertain proposition at best. “I don’t even talk about my life before SMC,” he says. “It’s one I’ve left far behind.” Suffice it to say that those days—and the direction he found at SMC—forged in Alex the direction that would lead him to great success as an educator. And on the Web.
“I run a website called
www.streetgangs.com, which began because of research I was doing at USC at the time. And when the Internet became available in 1995, I posted some of my research on a USC server.” Because of his website, original thinking, and personal experiences, Alex became a nearly instant expert in the field of gang-related violence and how and why gangs function as they do. “Because I’m now working on my doctorate, I’m pretty much certified as a court expert on gangs. And I’ve been on MTV, Life and Times, nearly all the local TV stations, and a few national ones as well.”
But though today he’s a fairly high-profile guy, the ‘blueprint’ for his life didn’t always lead him in that direction. “In high school, I was a dismal student with something like a 2.0 GPA,” he recalls. “But at SMC, I realized that I could compete with the best of them. In three semesters, I did two years worth of credit. And then later, the craziest thing happened,” he recalls with a laugh. “Because I’d done so much work in the sciences, I got an offer to come back to SMC and teach earth sciences for a couple of semesters. I helped start up the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) lab, and I was suddenly teaching students who were sitting where I’d been only a couple of years before. Bottom line,” adds Alex, “we all make mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes teach us our greatest lessons in life.”