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Heads-Up for the 2018-19 Student Planner; E-Flip Version Attached, Printed Copies Soon!

30 July 2018

The Office of Student Activities and Campus Life announces the arrival of the electronic “flipbook” version of the new 2018-19 Student Handbook and Planner and the promise of the printed version soon! Along with the calendar to keep your  life organized, there are lots of tips and resources to help you succeed in college! So just click through the pages as if you are turning them by hand, and look forward to the printed version where you can start the new academic year being organized!

Click HERE for the Flipbook

(Below are the front and back covers)






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Support By Merritt Team Proved Successful for New Child Development Graduate

27 July 2018

When Aaron Kirschenbaum walked across the Paramount Theater stage on May 23 and received his Associate of Arts Degree in Child Development from Merritt College, it was not only his parents and grandparents in the audience who were thrilled see him reach his goal. A team of instructors and counselors who had worked with Aaron at Merritt to achieve his dream were in attendance and cheering just as loudly.

Two years earlier Aaron was a newly arrived freshman having recently graduated from a private high school in Lafayette designed for students on the autism spectrum. With a goal of going to college to learn to teach pre-school children with special needs, Aaron chose Merritt College for its excellent Child Development Program and its highly reputable Student Accessibility Services (SAS) program to help students who may need some extra support to succeed.

It turned out to be a wise choice. Through a team effort, with Aaron at the helm, he was able to graduate and will soon be using his education and experience to help others.

“Aaron came to us as a very a conscientious student with a desire to learn, and he did very well,” says Christine Olsen, longtime instructor and chair of Merritt’s Child Development Program. “It wasn’t until toward the end of the program when he took the required Practicum Lab that we had some concerns. As part of the class, we watch for specific behaviors and evaluate the students on them. We noticed that Aaron was having some difficulty recognizing tactical situations with the children and reacting with appropriate responses. Though he was doing well in other parts of the class, he needed to excel in all the required professional skills to pass.”

So Christine met with Aaron’s SAS counselor, Mary Ciddio, and his academic case manager, Stina da Silva, from College Internship Program (CIP), a Berkeley-based agency that teaches skills for independence to students with learning, some of who are pursuing college degrees. Together they set up a plan to overcome his challenges so he could pass the class and graduate.

“Aaron is a very visual learner,” says Mary (pictured with him at graduation), “so we decided that we could possibly help him learn better by having him see his own errors. We learned that the department uses small video cameras to help observe in the lab. So we recommended that Aaron look at the recordings of himself and role play with both his instructor and his academic case manager to learn and repeat successful responses to situations that occur in a pre-school setting.”

The camera, primarily used to observe student teachers, proved to be invaluable in helping Aaron, thanks to the technical support of Instructional Assistant Bonnie Rippberger, who set up cameras in each of the learning stations. The team then moved on to help Aaron meet some of his other challenges: To maintain focus while watching the children, Aaron began setting the alarm in his phone for every 90 seconds which helped keep him aware; to quicken his pace in meeting the required 30-minute timeframe to set up a play area, he practiced and received feedback; to respond correctly to health and safety situations, Stina came to campus to view the layout of the lab space and role-played with Aaron weekly at CIP every possible safety hazard and what the correct response would be.

“This was a first for me because typically I don’t come to the school and get involved with the instructors,” says Stina, a former middle- and high-school teacher. “I wasn’t sure how these different strategies would work. But Aaron continued to improve and became really excited about his progress, and his parents were thrilled as well, so it was a win-win. It was great to try an alternative approach to the typical plan of action and see it work out so well.”

Christine reflects on Aaron’s success and gives him credit for doing what needed to be done to meet the challenges he faced.

“We were so excited to see Aaron reach his goal. It could not have been accomplished without the commitment and dedication of this team—and the determination of Aaron himself who made it happen,” she says. “This is what teaching at a community college is all about. It makes it very rewarding at graduation time. We’re there to give them hugs because we know what they went through.”

Adds Counselor Mary Ciddio: “Changing lives and reaching goals is what we want for all our students at Merritt College. We use the team’s creativity to solve problems and we thank our students and their support network for providing the motivation to persevere to reach completion.”

As he begins his career, Aaron is very grateful for the help he received to be in a position to pursue his dream. Having come close at one point to withdrawing from the program when he got discouraged, he’s glad he persevered and received his degree.

“I never thought I would get an AA degree, maybe just a certificate, so it was a huge accomplishment to achieve that goal,” says Aaron. “There were some challenges, but I was able to work through them because of my instructors and counselors who motivated me to do better and to go further. I’d like to thank them all. It’s been a great experience at Merritt College!”

                                                                                                                                                                           –Susan May


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Learn All About the New Frontier of Genetics in BIOL 36

24 July 2018

Learn state-of-the-art “Human Genetics,” from cancer genes to genetic testing, in BIOL 36 and explore the new frontiers of genetics. Take part in cool genetics testing in our labs. The course is Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 1:30-2:45 p.m. (lecture) and 3-4:15 p.m. (lab). The class meets AA/AS area 1, CSUGE and IGETC requirements and PA program requirements. For questions, contact instructor Maria Suarez Rodriguez, Ph.D. at


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Everything You Want to Know About Mushrooms in One Class

13 July 2018

Join long-time mushroom expert Theresa Halula in her full-term Fall class, “Mushroom Cultivation (LANHT 45, #44063/64) and explore mushrooms, from growing them in your home garden to identifying wild mushrooms to starting your own mushroom farm. Offered for the Fall semester only, from August 22-December 15 on Fridays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., the course includes guests speakers, field trips, and safe practices for collection of wild mushrooms. The class is part of the Permaculture Design Certification Program in Landscape Horticulture, as well as the new Natural History & Sustainabililty Program.

For questions or more information, contact the instructor at For steps to apply and /or enroll, click HERE and to go directly to Passport to enroll, click HERE.

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From Italy to Merritt, See Video on Valedictorian’s Success

13 July 2018

Meet top graduate Alessandra Chimienti who arrived from Italy without speaking English and ended up at Merritt earning three business degrees and three certificates and being named Valedictorian of the Class of 2018. Watch the video below to find out her thoughts on how she was inspired and motivated by faculty, staff, and fellow students to achieve her goals.

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Prepare for Assessment: Summer English Jam, 7/20 & 27

12 July 2018

Don’t miss Summer English Jam on July 20 & 27 –an opportunity to meet outstanding English instructors who will prepare you for the Peralta Reading and Writing Assessment (for English course placement) or, if you have already taken the assessment, possibly be placed in a more advanced English class can still participate! The Jam will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in L-137. For more information, contact Andrea Henderson at ahenderson@peralta or call Isela Santana at (510) 436-2648.



Tell your students about English Jam, an opportunity for students to meet outstanding English instructors who will prepare them for the Peralta Reading and Writing Assessment(for English course placement).  Students who have already taken the assessment but are interested in placing in a more advanced English class can still participate!

Summer English Jam with Professors Lynsie Falco & Andrea Henderson

Friday, July 20 & 27, 2018

9am – 1pm in L-137
Students who participate in English Jam will:
• learn about the English course sequence.
• gain a strong understanding of success skills for tackling college reading and writing.
• retake the English reading and writing assessment and possibly place into a higher level English Class.

 For more information, contact Isela González Santana at or (510) 436-2648. Registration not required but let students know to email and notify me about their participation.

This activity is sponsored by the Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation Grant.

(Feel free to download or forward the attached flyer for students.)

Isela Gonzalez Santana
Merritt College
English Faculty & Interim Learning Center Director
12500 Campus Drive, Oakland, 94619
Office: L-124

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What Exactly is Participatory Governance? Check It Out!

12 July 2018

You’ve heard all about “participatory governance” but do you know what it means and how it affects you and the college? Now you can learn more about it in a cool animated video that was created as part of the Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative (IEPI) grant the college received a couple of years ago. As Nghiem Thai explains: “The purpose of the IEPI grant was to help focus our efforts on organizational improvement in several key areas, including integrated planning, outcomes assessment, institution-set standards, and participatory governance. One of the final activities funded by this grant was the production of an animated video illustrating the governance process at Merritt College. Thanks to the creative talents of Sheena Miraftabi, Marika Fleming, and Jessica Livingston–Berkeley City College Multimedia Arts students under the guidance of Professor Mary Clarke-Miller–I’m happy to present to you the finished product. A subtitled version shall be available shortly.”

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Merritt Summer Programs Pave Way to Higher Education

12 July 2018

More than 50 high school students in the Adelante Summer Bridge Program at Merritt and Fruitvale are transitioning toward the next step in their education as they explore college and careers and find out the benefits of attending Merritt College. The program is one of several summer opportunities at Merritt to give participants a taste of Merritt at an age when they are beginning to consider their paths beyond high schoo

The 7-year-old program, which started in Fruitvale and expanded to the Merritt campus three years ago, offers students
classes in English and Counseling and gives them a comprehensive overview of college life. For the first time this year, the East Bay College Fund, which supports Oakland high school students in furthering their education, is partnering with the Adelante Program and offering $1,000 scholarships to students who complete the summer program and enroll at Merritt with specific requirements. Last year 75% of the participants enrolled at Merritt. (Pictured top left: English class at Merritt taught by Noel Fagerhaugh; and top right: English class at Fruitvale taught by Daniel Guerrero. The counseling instructor at Merritt is Rosa Perez and at Fruitvale is Marty Zielke.)

“Our mission is to provide a supporting and caring environment to these students who we recruited from Oakland feeder high schools, the majority from underserved populations,” says Program Coordinator Rosa Perez. “The students are engaged and excited. We tell them, ‘You guys are ahead of the game!’”

Another successful summer program, now approaching its tenth year, is Merritt’s Kids Camp which has a specialty of turning educational lessons and positive college-going talks with fun, hands-on experiences that the campers love.

By the end of the two-week camp, the 30 students in 6th-9th grades had dissected cows’ hearts and eyeballs in microscopy, made slime in chemistry, learned hip-hop in dance class, learned lots of nutrition tips. discovered new computer programs, found out about careers in police work, and participated in a cupcake-decorating competition. At the end-of-camp celebration, each camper showed what they learned by giving a presentation on their education and career goals and showing how they would start a business.

“It’s a great opportunity for the campers to try out different activities that may give them ideas about future careers,” says Ne’Shawn Dixon, Kids College Coordinator in Division I. “We’re lucky at Merritt to have such great programs for the students to participate in and instructors who are willing to give their time.”

Ne’Shawn recalled one experience that really made her appreciate her role. “I was so excited last year to have a Merritt student come into my office and remind me that he had been a middle-school student at camp years ago. He told me that his camp experience was what made him want to come back to Merritt. It made all the work worthwhile to know that we are reaching students who are coming back to continue their education here at Merritt.”

Young students interested in computers were thrilled to get hands-on experience in cybersecurity as part of the five-day CyberPatriots Camp. This is the second year that Merritt was invited to participate in this nationwide effort by the Air Force Association to inspire students to pursue STEM-related activities and participate in competitions with other cybercamps around the country.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for students with an interest in computer science, technology, engineering and math to get experience for their future education and careers,” says Anita Black, Program Director for Merritt’s Cybersecurity Program, who oversaw the camp which was coordinated and led by instructor Beverly Brooks. “We hope to see some of the participants in our own program in a few years!”


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Summer Schedule for Merritt S.O.U.L.; Next July 26

12 July 2018

After a successful Spring semester of bringing healthy food to a record number of students and community members, the newly nammed Merritt S.O.U.L. (Sustaining Oakland Urban Lives)  is back for the Summer and Fall! So mark your calendars and be sure to take advantage of the fresh produce and other products as well as information about nutrition and recipes to cook with the food you bring home! And watch for the first Merritt Food Bank Recipe Contest coming in the Fall!

The Food Bank will be open on the following Thursdays from 12 to 4 p.m. on  6/28, 7/12, and 7/26, 8/2, 9/13, 9/27, 10/11, 10/25, 11/8, 12/13, and 12/27.

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WHOA is Here…Enroll in Classes at Convenient Time for YOU!

9 July 2018

Are you having a hard time scheduling classes for Fall 2018 that will fit into your hectic lifestyle? Now WHOA is back! Merritt’s new program was designed to help you reach your educational goals by selecting classes for you specifically in Weekend, Hybrid, Online, and Afternoon timeframes. Just click HERE  to select the Fall 2018 course, program, and pathway that you are interested in that will lead to a degree, certificate, or transfer program of your choosing! (Be sure to see a counselor to confirm your pathway.)


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