Studies in the Culture of Ancient Rome
B.A., June 2010
Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship
Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society
Dean’s Certificate for Academic Excellence
Michael Glenn Smith entered the Borough of Manhattan Community College in 2007 to finish the Bachelor’s degree he started more than 40 years ago in his home state, Texas. During his hiatus, he had two careers, first as a stage and film actor for 14 years, then as a financial industry software consultant for another 21. During that time he wrote magazine articles, books, plays and musicals, several of which were published or produced; he also educated himself extensively, learning, among other subjects, Italian, German and basic Modern Greek. At BMCC he won a prize at the Second Annual Entrepreneurship Fair for Outstanding Essay in the Italian Language on the Subject of Entrepreneurship; clearly he was successful in his independent learning. Indeed, Prof. Carlos Hernandez, who recommended Smith to CUNY BA/BS, said “I can honestly say I have never met a more motivated student in my life. Never.”
Smith’s plan is to work abroad as an English teacher while pursuing a Master’s degree, ideally at Sapienza University in Rome; to that end, he completed The New School’s certificate program in teaching English to speakers of other languages. While at the New School, he taught English at the International Center and he is now a teaching assistant at the Arab-America Family Support Center in Brooklyn (he also works as a NYC tour guide). But his truest passion is studying the Roman Empire. Deeply impressed by movies such as Quo Vadis and The Robe as a child, Latin became one of his favorite subjects in high school; as a college actor, he played the title role in Camus’ Caligula and he received the best reviews of his acting career in the PBS production of Philemon. In 1990, his interest in the Roman Empire led him to his first of many trips to Italy where he explores Roman ruins; his goal is to visit every province of the Roman Empire. He hopes to teach English in the Middle East, as the area is archeologically rich and relatively close to both Europe and North Africa.
Smith was mentored by Prof. Joanne Spurza, Classics, Hunter. In addition to Classics, his concentration included courses in Latin, Arabic, History and Italian, from Hunter and Queens Colleges. He went on two study abroad trips, one in Viareggio, Italy through BMCC and one in Rabat, Morocco through City College. In the former, he studied at a school where all of the other students were from non-English speaking countries (Germany, France, Austria, Poland, Russia, and Greece) so they used Italian as a lingua franca and his Italian skills, although already advanced, greatly improved. He also used his free time to further explore Rome and Prato. In the latter trip, he studied French, Arabic and Arabic culture; by living with a family, he got a small peek at what a Muslim society and a Muslim household are like.
After completing his degree, Smith received a job offer to teach English in Saudi Arabia.