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By Air, by Land, by Sea: Our OPD Partners Arrive at Merritt in Full Force

25 June 2017

(MORE PHOTOS) The excitement was growing quickly as all eyes and many cameras aimed upward in anticipation of what was to come. Then it appeared: at first tiny in the sky but looming larger as it got closer. Finally the awestruck audience cheered as the official Oakland Police Department helicopter landed, propellor whirring, bringing with it a rush of wind before coming to a stop at its destination: the Merritt Campus!


The appearance of the OPD helicopter on campus near the F Building was the highlight of the Law Enforcement Fair which also included viewing and demonstrations of OPD trucks, motorcycles, bikes and official rescue jet skis, along with tables of information about careers in law enforcement.


The event on June 22, coordinated by Margaret Dixon who heads the Administration of Justice Program, was originally planned to teach the participants of Merritt’s summer Kids Camp about law enforcement. But it turned into a lesson and a thrill for many others on campus, including Merritt President Dr. Marie-Elaine Burns, and demonstrated Merritt’s strong connection with the OPD.


“This was all about community partnership,” says Ms. Dixon, who spent 25 years with the OPD  herself before retiring. “I asked them to bring all of their bells and whistles to show the kids what they do. But the event also showed how our long-running partnership with the OPD strengthens our program with their generous contributions and participation.” (Photos by Birhon Quizhpe)



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Learn All About Merritt’s Popular Histotechnology Program at a Summer Open House on 7/18 or 8/4

24 June 2017

Find out how you can prepare for the fascinating and high-demand career of a histotechnician. At any of three Open Houses this summer you will learn about the work a histotechnician does to help in the diagnosis of diseases, and you’ll have the opportunity to meet the faculty and tour the classrooms and labs in the beautiful new high-tech Barbara Lee Science and Allied Health Building (“S” Building). You will also learn about Merritt’s Microscopy Program which uses state-of-the-art confocal microscopes.


The Open Houses are Fri., June 23; Tues., July 18; and Fri., Aug 4. Each one is from 4-7 p.m.on the first floor of the “S” Building.


To learn more, click HERE to open the 3-page flyer with information about the progams and the Open Houses.




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If You Love Plants and Animals and Need Science Units, Take the New Fall “Biology of the Living World” (BIO 29)

23 June 2017

If you are looking for biology transfer units and prefer focusing on “wild and wacky” animals rather than molecules, check out this fun, hands-on class, “Biology of the Living World” (BIO 29). Instructor Brad Balukjian, who recently moved from Laney to teach this class for the first time at Merritt, offers a  student-centered, active teaching philosophy, field trips, and “no boring lectures allowed.” The course satisfies the life and natural sciences requirement for transfer students and for Merritt’s AA/AS Degrees. Dr. Balukjian is an entomologist (which means he studies bugs!) and has even had an insect named after him! He also writes for National Geographic.

To enroll today, click
BIO 29, Class #43953, Tues. & Thurs., 9-10:15 a.m., Lab, 10:30 to noon. 

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Feel Better for the Fall: Learn to Combine Exercise with Healthy Food and Reach Your Goals in NUTR 25

23 June 2017

Are you not getting enough exercise? Is your daily diet not working for you? Whether you want to lose weight or just find out how to live a healthy life, learn in a group led by instructor Mary DeBusman, who has been successfully helping people with healthy eating and weight loss for more than 10 years. Take Nutrition 25 (#44547), Thursdays, 6-8 pm. starting Sept. 7, with transferable units to CSU and UC). If you have questions, email the instructor at (Note to employees: submit waiver to avoid class fees!)


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Missed the Live Commencement 2017? Now You Can See the Video!

21 June 2017

If you missed the 2017 Commencement ceremony or have a desire to relive it and hear Dr. Siri Brown’s amazing inspirational speech again and the thrill of seeing the graduates reach their goals, below are links to the ceremony in its entirety: Part I (which ends with Dr. Brown’s speech) and Part II (which starts with VPI Dr. Jeff Lamb calling the graduates up to the stage).


Thanks to the District’s video folks for documenting this important occasion!


Part I

Part II


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Bright Sun Shines on Classified Appreciation Day as Administrators Dish Out Food–and Praise!

18 June 2017

(SEE PHOTOS) With Arnulfo Cedillo and Jeff Lamb grilling, and other administrators offering up side dishes they had prepared, the annual Classified Appreciation Day was well on its way on 6/14 under sunny skies on the beautiful Landscape Horticulture grounds.


The event was created by Merritt’s administrators to recognize all the hard work the Classified Staff has done throughout the year.  Administrators including President Burns, Dr. Lilia Chavez, Dr. Siri Brown, Dr. Dettie Del Rosario, Dr. Rosemary Delia, Robbie Kunkel, Dr. Herbert Kitchen, and Maria Spencer organized the event, covered the cost of the food and beverages, cooked and served, provided the raffle prize, and collectively contributed their time to show their appreciation to the Classified Staff.


It was also a rare time for faculty, staff, and administrators to get together to relax. listen to music, and enjoy each others company.


On the menu was BBQ beef and chicken with rice, along with homemade side dishes of salsa and chips, black beans, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and peach cobbler for dessert.


Thanks to event photographer-of-the-day Maria Spencer who documented the lively scene. 









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Business and Econ Majors: Take Two Courses This Summer Starting 5/30

27 May 2017

If you are a Business or Economics major and looking to fulfill two required classes (or if you interested in Business classes in general), this summer you will have the chance to take two classes in just six weeks. The Business Department is offering online classes BUS 1-Financial Accounting and BUS 1B-Managerial Accounting back-to-back from May 30 to July 6 and from July 10-August 16. See the flyer for details and contact the instructor, Dr. Shahbazi, for more information or questions, at

Apply and/or enroll now at!

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High-Achieving Students and Inspirational Speaker Highlight 62nd Annual Commencement

27 May 2017

With the theme, “Moving In, Moving Through, Moving On,” Merritt College celebrated its 62nd Commencement Ceremony on Wednesday, May 24. Out of a total of more than 900 students who received associate degrees or certificates or who will be transferring on to further their education, more than 350 participated in the ceremony.


Honored during the ceremony were two Valedictorians and the Salutatorian, all introduced by Vice President of Instruction Dr. Jeffrey Lamb.


Valedictorian Asmita Neupane (right)  came to Merritt from her home country of Nepal. She achieved a 4.0 in her studies and received an Associate’s Degree in Health Sciences with her ultimate dream goal of becoming a nurse. She is currently getting experience by volunteering at San Leandro Hospital.


Valedictorian Anya Elizabeth Edwards (not present) majored in Administration of Justice and graduated with an Associate in Science for Transfer Degree with a 4.0 GPA. She will be transferring to Cal State East Bay and in the future plans to work in the law enforcement field.


Salutatorian Berenice Diaz Estrada (left) was born and raised in Oakland and graduated from Oakland High School. She came to Merritt because of the excellent reputation of the Radiologic Science Program and is hoping to start the program soon. In the meantime, she has earned Associate Degrees in both Health Sciences and Natural Sciences and a Certificate in Teacher Assistant. She graduated with a 3.96 GPA.


Commencement Speaker Dr. Siri Brown, a passionate and committed educator at Merritt who is currently serving as Interim Dean of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, gave a truly inspirational speech honoring the graduates for their successes no matter how long it took, how many challenges they had to face, or how many people may have discouraged them.


For the first time, Merritt’s newly appointed president, Dr. Marie-Elaine Burns, presided over the ceremony.


“It is an honor to have participated in this year’s Commencement ceremony and be surrounded by all of the students who worked so hard to get to this point,” says President Burns. “Whether they are getting associate degrees, certificates, or transferring, we are proudly looking forward to watching them achieve success beyond college and demonstrating how much Merritt College has changed their lives.”

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Sign Up for “Summer Math Jam” and Get Prepared For Transfer-Level Classes: Aug. 7-10

26 May 2017

Whether you need help with your current class or want to jump ahead to a higher-level class, Summer Math Jam is for you! Improve your math skills signficantly and progress to transfer-level classes in a much shorter time. You’ll have the opportunity to retake the math assessment test and possibly skip to the next grade! The next session of Math Jam will take place Monday-Thursday, August 7-10.

Space is limited, so  sign up early. Just contact instructor Dan Lawson at


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Student Scholars Peer Mentoring Program Surrounded by Community Support and Resources

22 May 2017

In a show of support for Merritt’s Street Scholars Peer Mentor Program, nearly 50 community partners, including co-sponsor Root & Rebound, joined in the largest ever, “Empowerment Summit” on April 19 and 20, attended by a crowd of faculty, staff, students, and community members. “We are all working toward more collaboration to provide services for the formerly incarcerated and their families,” says Ron Moss, Executive Director of the Gamble Institute, the umbrella organization over the Street Scholars. “The motivation was to bring all the community resources together, including the opportunity to get legal rights counseling.”


With an increasing population of formerly incarcerated students at Merritt, Street Scholars was born in 2014 to peer mentoring and training programs focusing on academic success as a way to head toward a bright future. Ron says that much of the guidance in creating the program came from Dr. Bill Love, instructor of Merritt’s COSER program, who Ron calls his “mentor, brain trust, and voice of wisdom.”


The most important thing, Ron says, of the current 63 active scholars and/or family members, is starting with a clean slate. “The formerly incarcerated have had their problems,” says Moss. “You did something wrong, you served your time, now you are starting over. We are changing the narrative and not focusing on negative behaviors but on the potential of life-changing trajectory of post-secondary education.”


Crucial to the program is Earthy Young, Assistant Director, who is the head peer mentor and who,” Ron says, “has the unique knack of communicating with our scholars.” And he calls Program Coordinator La Juana Prince-Vaughn “the mentor of all things Merritt College.” “It’s a small staff, he says, “but we are all building a community and safe space that is built on authenticity and trust.”


That was evident at the Empowerment conference with panel discussions like “Know Your Rights: Reducing Barriers to Employment” and “Accessing Higher Education” (shown above) and influential speakers like Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf who brought the City’s support along with her.


“We not only invest in providing opportunities to this population, but our Street Outreach Team has recently helped get them more than 50 non-profit jobs. Currently we are working on finding a solution to the challenge of affordable housing. The City of Oakland is very passionate about these issues.”

—Susan May

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