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Foothill College alumnus previews investigative documentary

May 22, 2018

Alex Shebanow 














Moments before an exclusive screening of Fail State, a documentary garnering national attention, President Thuy Thi Nguyen introduced the Foothill alumnus who wrote, directed and produced it.

 “This celebrity actually walked the rooms and halls of Foothill College,” Nguyen said.

 Alex Shebanow returned to his former stomping grounds on May 14 for a special viewing of his film. His documentary investigates the American for-profit college industry and policy decisions made in Washington D.C. that allowed the industry to prey on vulnerable students. Many of those students were left with crippling debt and a worthless piece of paper passed off as a degree.

 “This is some of the darkest aspects of our society. All of these students had good heads on their shoulders and all wanted to better themselves through education,” Shebanow said during the panel discussion that followed the screening. “Basically, unscrupulous business tycoons in tandem with corrupt politicians were able to take advantage of these people. Whoever thought education would take this dark turn?”

 Shebanow credits two Foothill professors with laying the foundation for his interest in storytelling and critical thinking on a global scale. The idea to explore American higher education came from his experience seeing friends, like the subjects in his documentary, unable to finish college because of the cost. His documentary took five years to complete.

 After the exclusive screening, Shebanow shared the stage with Chancellor Judy Miner, former chancellor and now executive director of College Promise Campaign Martha Kanter, President Nguyen and Chegg CEO Dan Rosenweig.

 For more information about the documentary, visit