Most of us have heard the saying, “Many hands make light work” as a confirmation that when we all do our part, a task is facilitated. A lesser known expression, “No one can whistle a symphony” is a testament to the importance of partnership and cooperation in creating cohesive work. If we have the opportunity to practice one of these, we are fortunate. When we experience both, we are blessed.

Skyline College’s mission statement reflects a commitment to transformation and empowerment. Every day we are reminded of our student-centered values, and every day we are urged to move closer to a student ready college. Currently, academic excellence clearly exists in all corners of our institution on a daily basis because we know that when we intentionally seek to interact and collaborate with our colleagues on behalf of student growth, our efforts are significantly reinforced and the results can be magical. Relationship building with our students is essential to their academic advancement and personal growth. This prompting of personal efficacy only flourishes when by design, it is encouraged, valued, and supported by all factions of our campus. Each educator knows this, and every college employee appreciates it.

The efforts put forth toward this rapport building is intensive, and time consuming yet the life altering outcomes for students reflect the distinctive beauty of timely, purposeful college connections. When we act with the intention of authentically serving our students, the ripple effect is wonderful to behold as the benefits continue to swell beyond our reach. We are given a small window of influence during which we can make the slightest of waves that can forever change the course of our student’s lives. Skyline College shines best and brightest when collective energy and expertise are engaged to inspire individual students’ unique sparks of brilliance.

Read more for four student stories in their own words that illustrate the synergy that comes from such alliances:

Article by Lavinia Zanassi


\jarodJaron Dow

Associate Degree, Political Science. Applicant for Rennes School of Business, Rennes, France

“To begin, I would have to say that the Global Internship this past summer revitalized my drive to learn and experience more. On top of carrying out my weekly duties through the non-governmental organization that I had been working with, I was able to build on my personal studies as I traveled throughout nine countries including my host nation in the Czech Republic.

During my time off from work, I was able to visit and study ancient historic sites and major cultural centers throughout Europe and the Middle East. I was able to learn just as much from my travels abroad as I did from my experiences with my NGO.

Upon arriving back in the United States, my relationship with career counseling, the Study Abroad Program and Gilman Alumni Association allowed me to develop knowledge and interest in an iMBA program through Rennes University located in France, in partnership with SMCCCD. I am currently in the process applying to the program and I can honestly say it’s all thanks to SMCCCD Study Abroad Program, counselors and the Gilman Scholarship.”


laurelLaurel Lujan

Associate Degree, Journalism. Currently studying in France toward a BA in Business Management

“It was my first semester at Skyline College and the first professor I had in the morning and of the week became my career counselor. Over time, she also become a mentor to me and guided my journey as a student by pushing me into an unknown and uncomfortable direction that would forever change my life. After I took a sabbatical to find myself, I came back to Skyline College and my professor/counselor was there to guide me in a no-nonsense manner of how I can use my skills and ambitions to become a better person and student.

Whenever I was about to turn down a great opportunity like the Global Internship program or the transfer abroad program in France, she was able to reassure me and ask me if I was ready to gain a ‘what if’. She knew that I was always unsure of taking advantage of these life changing opportunities because I am adamant that I would only pursue these programs if I were financially independent and that I was able to get through the programs without the help of my parents.

For both programs, I am a scholarship student. Lavinia Zanassi, Stephanie Wells and Zaid Ghori have been there to re-read my applications and essays in order to make sure they were cohesive. Without their support I would have dropped out and who knows where I’d be. Currently, I’m in the middle of my last Semester at Rennes School of Business, working toward the completion of my Bachelor’s of Business and finding an internship that applies to my degree while working on my graduate dissertation.

My career counselor opened doors to what life could be if I took a chance and risked a little while going abroad whether it was for a summer internship or transferring to a French university. Now, I feel a little more certain of where I want to be in life.

I think it’s important for students to connect with professors and staff because it helps cement a successful journey as students are human beings. Without this collaboration, students can feel they are drowning in stress without the guidance of professors and staff. It’s essential to have someone to guide them in a direction that fulfills their lives individually.”


vanVan Le

Associate Degrees in Paralegal Studies, and Administration of Justice. Transferring to British Columbia to study Criminal Justice

“As an international student from Vietnam, I graduated from Skyline College with Associate Degrees in Paralegal Studies and Administration of Justice. After completing the required courses for my programs of study, I began seeking internship opportunities and temporary positions for my Optional Practical Training with very strict requirements to fulfill. I was having a very difficult time.

Fortunately I didn’t face it alone. My professor, Jesse Raskin and my international counselor, Carlos Romero along with my career counselor, Lavinia Zanassi worked together. With their support, I submitted excellent application materials and interviewed with a network of people they connected me to. I have gained wonderful experience both in nonprofit and corporate law.

I truly appreciate the help I received which brought me from zero-experience to confidently viewing myself as an asset. With all the accomplishments and experiences, I have had so far, now I can proudly say that Skyline College offers an exceptional Paralegal Training program and choosing a college that supports student development beyond the classroom is the best decision I’ve made.”


lucasLucas Cunha

Biochemistry Major, Prep Medico Ambassador

Plans to attend Medical School after completing a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry

“I am interested in the health field, but more specifically, becoming a physician. I guess that you are probably wondering what this introduction has to do with the significance of collaboration between professors and professional staff in changing students’ lives, but is has everything to do with it because I immigrated to a new country where a language other than my native Portuguese is spoken, and to a place very different from my Brazilian culture, and educational system.

I can say that I was completely lost at the beginning of my journey, I did not know where to seek for help, and where I should start in order to conquer my dream of becoming a physician. And that is the importance of professors and professional staff, as they are mentors that allow students to see the hope and the potential in ourselves when everything seems to be broken down and we do not know what to do.

I am very glad that I was able to meet my career counselor and chemistry professor who have been guiding and showing me the pathway to my educational goal. I was informed by them of “Prep Médico” a summer internship focusing on the Latin community disparities. I applied with their support and help and was accepted. It was a complete game changer and has had a tremendous impact on my life.

This program opened my eyes to the possibility that my dream is reachable because for so many times I doubted myself about all the barriers that I would have to go through, such as language, financial, and lack of guidance. In addition, I would like to acknowledge not only Lavinia Zanassi and Safiyyah Forbes who play a crucial role in my life, but also other professors and professional staffs, such as my English professor Serena Chu-Mraz, the best English tutor Abby De Los Reyes, my math professor Miranda Wang, the staff members from the career and health centers, Jose Milan, Michele Haggar, and Donna Elliott. Lastly, a very important person who without her I would not be at Skyline College, Stacy Nojima who believed in my potential, and gave me the beginning resources to be where I am today.

I am very grateful to have all these wonderful people in my life who always help me and that I do not consider only as  mentor/professor/professional staff, but I consider as a FAMILY because family are those who are always there to care and want the best for you.”



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