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Sound Bites - Issue #72 - October 2019 #322

On the Cover
Caroline Rakness: From Dance Major to Financial Advisor

Caroline Rakness

Caroline Rakness, husband Geoff, sons, Connor & Caleb

Caroline Rakness at Disney with her two sons

Caroline Rakness started out as a dance major at UCLA but ended up receiving a Bachelor of Science from UCLA in Math and Applied Science with a Business Administration Specialization. A finance class at UCLA sparked her interest in a career in investment. In fact, she has been a financial advisor for almost 19 years.

Rakness teaches Women & Investing (the next class is on October 17) and Smart Money Fundamentals at SMC Community Ed.

Rakness is currently a Financial Advisor and Registered Investment Advisor Representative with SearchLight Financial Advisors based in Beverly Hills. She has been teaching at SMC Community Ed for more than 10 years.

You teach "Women & Investing" and you say that women often make the best investors. Why?

There have been numerous studies done on this subject.  Some of the reasons that women make the best investors are that they are more prudent, they rely on advice from professionals, and they trade less, therefore, incur fewer transaction costs. Plus, more women have a formal financial plan in place. Studies have shown that women outperform their male counterparts by 2.3% per year on average.

 Is investing a more complicated and/or challenging endeavor now than 10 years ago? Why or why not?

I would say that it's more complicated now.  There are far more choices and the public is inundated with contradictory data.    
What do you like about teaching at SMC Community Ed?

Finance and investing are important topics that everyone should be well informed about. However, very few understand them. SMC Community Ed is a great avenue to share my knowledge of the investment world with others seeking guidance and education. I find it very rewarding when I can help others successfully fulfill their financial goals.

What kinds of students do you have?

I have a diverse group of students.  Both men and women of a wide mix of ages, from beginners to the very sophisticated. My students want to be educated about money and investing to take charge of their financial future.

What is your idea of a perfect day?

Any day I can spend time with my family – my husband, Geoff, and two sons, Caleb, age 6, and Connor, age one.

What is one of the best compliments you ever received?

With all due modesty, I frequently receive compliments from my clients for helping them and from my students on how much they enjoyed and learned from my class. That makes me feel wonderful. 

What was the last picture you took with your phone?

A picture of my 6-year-old son reading to his baby brother. 

What books are on your nightstand? 

"Shantaram: A Novel" and "Money Master the Game." And for my boys, "5-minute Spiderman Stories Book," "Where is Baby's Belly Button," and "The First 50 Words."

Is there anything you would like to add?

I feel privileged to be a part of the Santa Monica College family.  The opportunity to help students is professionally and personally gratifying.

What's New
It's Fall, But I'm in the Middle of Winter Already!

Alice Meyering

Like our fall cover, we plan to have our winter cover showcase a photo contest submission

Have a wonderful holiday season!

from the desk of Alice Meyering

We're more than a month into the fall semester, and classes are humming along nicely. While we've barely passed the autumn equinox, I'm already thinking about winter – and putting together a Winter Schedule of wonderful classes. The schedule should be online by the end of October, so keep an eye out so you can register for the classes you want. The Winter Session begins January 6.

Also, because the next issue of our newsletter won't be out until December, I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving – and a wonderful holiday season!

Visit our award winning website at to register for classes online 24/7. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about our classes. You can email us at or call us at (310) 434-3400.

Behind the Scenes:
3 Great Tips for Fall Gardening

Christy Wilhelmi teaches Basic Organic Gardening 101

Example of cover crop for winter season

Christy Wilhelmi is not only a hugely popular teacher of "Organic Gardening" at SMC Community Ed, she is also a book author, podcaster, YouTuber and activist in the organic gardening movement. Her website is Gardenerd, the ultimate organic gardening resource for garden nerds.

Christy happily shared with us 3 Great Tips for Fall Gardening (thank you, Christy):

  1. Plant when the weather cools down - watch the 10-day forecast for consistent temperatures in the low 70s, then get planting!
  2. Before you plant, amend your soil with plenty of compost and worm castings. Your garden will thank you. 
  3. If you aren't growing crops this fall/winter, plant a cover crop. Cover crops help build soil health over winter, and provide habitat for beneficial insects. Look for cover crop seed mixes at your local nursery.

Christy Wilhelmi's "Basic Organic Gardening 101" class beginning Sunday October 6. Register now!

Online Course Enrollment Growing Rapidly

Michelle KingMichelle King, Director Career & Contract Ed.

From Santa Monica to Singapore and from San Francisco to Switzerland, SMC Extension's online courses are growing increasingly popular.

Offered through a partnership with Ed2Go, SMC Extension's classes fall into two categories: creative/personal enrichment (called Fundamentals) and career training. In the former category, registrations grew from 186 in 2016 to 599 in 2018, a more than 200 percent increase over two years. Career training registrations went up from four in 2016 to 26 in 2018, a six-fold increase.

As people get busier and as traffic, not just in Los Angeles but in areas throughout the world, becomes more congested, online courses offer people an efficient and flexible way of upgrading their skills or taking classes for enrichment.

In the Fundamentals, or enrichment, category, each class can be completed in six weeks and usually contains 12 lessons representing 24 hours of instruction. The Career Training Program is open enrollment and self-paced, lasting three to six months. A number of the topics or programs are bundled to create a more comprehensive training program.

Basically, you can design your own curriculum.

Students from all over the world take the online courses through SMC Extension. A hefty percentage is from the Los Angeles area, but include many other portions of the state, from San Diego to San Francisco.

What gets interesting is we get 10 percent of our online students outside of California in places like New Jersey, Wyoming, Puerto Rico and Texas, and then further out we have students in such areas British Columbia, Canada; New Zealand; Switzerland; and the United Kingdom.

The most popular courses represent a range of interests from creative to technical, from writing fiction to writing code. And there are some surprises on the popular class list, including Accounting Fundamentals, Introduction to SQL (Structured Query Language, which is used in programming and designed for managing data), Medical Terminology Series, Introduction to Interior Design, Introduction to Photoshop, and Beginning Writer's Workshop, with Human Anatomy and Physiology, Speed Spanish, and A to Z Grant Writing leading the pack.

Another surprise for its popularity is "Singapore Math Strategies." However, when looking at the data it became clearer why it was so popular – it seems a private California school had all their instructors sign up for the class.

SMC Extension will continue to beef up its marketing efforts, which have already proven to increase online course registrations.

We are always looking for the best ways to deliver career training and lifelong learning to our community, both in Santa Monica and the world. Our successful partnership with Ed2Go is one of those ways and we will continue to work hard to expand our reach.

For information and registration for Fundamentals (enrichment) online courses, go to For Career Training, visit

Warm regards,

Michelle King
Director of Career &
Contract Education


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