The Santa Monica College Foundation has announced that 10 students in the Winter 2015 SMC Study Abroad Program were awarded $500 grants to help with the costs of their travel to study in South Africa thanks to the generosity of Mark and Lani Verge. The Verges have established the Art Verge Study Abroad Scholarship Fund at SMC.

“These grants continue the Verge family’s tradition of encouraging SMC students to travel and study in other countries,” said SMC Foundation Interim President Lizzy Moore. “Mark’s father, Dr. Art Verge, taught California and Latin American history at SMC for more than 40 years and helped pioneer our Study Abroad programs.”

“My dad was a huge supporter of traveling and exploring different cultures, and he loved leading groups of SMC students to new places, new experiences, and broader perspectives on the world,” said Mark. “He worked hard to help make SMC’s Study Abroad Program one of the best ones out there. My dad also believed that the opportunity to study abroad should be available to all students, regardless of their background, so we decided to give the grants to students with a 2.5-3.25 GPA.”

Mark and Lani are co-owners of several popular restaurants, including Art’s Table, named after his father. “My brother Arthur, a history professor at El Camino College, suggested we use some of the proceeds from the restaurant to help SMC students live and study in other nations,” said Mark, who also owns and operates Westside Rentals Connection with his brother Patrick. “All of us Verge ‘kids’ are SMC alums ‚Äî my dad wouldn’t have it any other way ‚Äî and we’re developing ideas for different things we can do in the future to support programs at SMC.”

“These grants made a real difference to our students’ travel experiences,” said SMC Dean of International Education Kelley Brayton. “The Verge scholarship was granted to recipients just prior to their trip, which was a wonderful surprise for them. They were so appreciative of this generosity. It enabled students to experience local life during their free time, from venturing to a local caf√©, socializing with locals, or just picking up souvenirs to remind them of this special time in South Africa. Study abroad is a transformative experience, and the gift of the Verge scholarship made it all the more memorable for the students.”

The 10 students who received grants were: Natalie Arrigotti, Mark Biedlingmaier, Alberto Bravo, William Buckner, Ana Castellon, Sally Chang, Karla Duarte, Kelly Malmloef Sandgren, Janessa Tenille Serate, and Raquel Shapiro.

Visit www.smc.edu/studyabroad to find out more about SMC’s Study Abroad Program. For more information about the Art Verge Study Abroad Scholarship Fund, please call the SMC Foundation at (310) 434-4215.

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