Image: Banner image of campus logo Merritt College

Posts Filed under news

Merritt College named Cyber FastTrack National “Top Tier College,” Leads California in cybersecurity talent discovery

29 April 2019

OAKLAND, Calif. (April 29, 2019) – Merritt College in Oakland, Calif. has reached the Top Tier (the top three percent) of U.S. colleges in identifying students with a natural aptitude to excel in cybersecurity.

Merritt College Cybersecurity Program students play a pivotal role in the national initiative launched by 25 state governors to close the elite cyber skills gap with China and Russia. After 17 days of Cyber FastTrack competition, Merritt College was ranked second in California and 33rd in the nation, out of 5,200 US colleges, in the number of students discovering their aptitude for cybersecurity careers. The open access discovery opportunity ends on May 10, 2019.

The state-by-state Cyber FastTrack leaderboard is posted at:

https://www.sans.org/cyber-fast-track/state-ranking

National rankings:

https://www.sans.org/cyber-fast-track/nationally-ranked

According to Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, “The leadership shown by Merritt College is commendable. Without the talent being discovered in Cyber FastTrack, shortages of elite talent will put the United States at a severe disadvantage in protecting power systems, financial systems and military systems in times of conflict, and protecting businesses and personal privacy in peacetime. Merritt College has set a high bar for other schools in California and in the nation.”

Students who do well in the assessment will win access to a simulation/game called CyberStart in which they solve increasingly challenging real-world problems faced by cybersecurity professionals. They will also gain access to CyberStart Essentials, a hands-on, on-line cybersecurity foundations course, and they will become eligible for $2.5 million in scholarships for advanced study in cybersecurity and direct connections to employers seeking elite cyber talent.

SANS Institute partnered with 25 state governors to launch Cyber FastTrack. “It takes very little work to expand participation and many students are surprised to learn they have a lot of talent and like the challenges,” added Paller.

In launching Cyber Fastrack, the governors encouraged high school students (during March/April) and college students (April/May) to discover whether they liked cybersecurity challenges and had the tenacity, curiosity, and problem-solving skills needed by professionals in the field.

More information on Cyber FastTrack may be found at: https://www.cyber-fasttrack.org/

The Cyber FastTrack program rewards creativity while at the same time provides skills that could be used to land a well-paid job, so the 42 students from Merritt we have participating are really enjoying the challenge, said Marie-Elaine Burns, Ph.D., president, Merritt College. Our society is more dependent upon digital information than ever before, and protecting that information from cybersecurity threats has become a crucial aspect of information technology.

“That crisis makes our cybersecurity program increasingly popular and our graduates in keen demand,” she added. “In fact, we are proud to be graduating yet another in-demand class of qualified cybersecurity professionals at Merritt College in May.”

The Consortium of Information Systems Executives (CISE), as well as leading CIOs/CISOs from across the Bay Area, developed Merritt College’s accredited two-year degree program in Applications and Infrastructure Security to address this crisis.

Merritt College is currently the only California community college to offer an Associate Degree in Information Security. The program was designed and is taught by San Francisco Bay Area Thought Leaders from companies including Symantec, McAfee, and Wells Fargo Online Banking, and has earned the support of Congressman Ro Khanna for its innovative approach to strengthening cybersecurity. CISE is dedicated to assisting less advantaged students with a one-of-a-kind opportunity and the program’s unique curriculum offers hands-on learning with real-world security systems to ensure graduates are prepared for the future of information security. For more information, visit: https://cisesecurity.com/

About SANS Institute

The SANS Institute was established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization. SANS is the most trusted and, by far, the largest provider of cyber security training and certification to professionals at governments and commercial institutions world-wide. Renowned SANS instructors teach over 60 different courses at more than 200 live cyber security training events as well as online. GIAC, an affiliate of the SANS Institute, validates a practitioner’s qualifications via over 30 hands-on, technical certifications in cyber security. The SANS Technology Institute, a regionally accredited independent subsidiary, offers master’s degrees in cyber security. SANS offers a myriad of free resources to the InfoSec community including consensus projects, research reports, and newsletters; it also operates the Internet’s early warning system–the Internet Storm Center. At the heart of SANS are the many security practitioners, representing varied global organizations from corporations to universities, working together to help the entire information security community. (https://www.sans.org)

About Merritt College

Nestled in the hills above San Francisco Bay, Merritt College in Oakland, Calif. offers students the opportunity to study in one of the most dramatic natural settings in Northern California. With a panorama that includes the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean, Merritt’s striking vistas provide a breathtaking backdrop for a packed roster of first-rate academic and vocational programs. One of the four colleges that make up the Peralta Community College District, Merritt boasts acclaimed programs in cybersecurity, community social services, registered nursing, child development, nutrition & dietetics, environmental studies, and landscape horticulture. Visit www.merritt.edu

About the Peralta Community College District

Founded in 1964, the Peralta Community College District (PCCD) is a collaborative community of colleges comprised of Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, and Laney and Merritt colleges in Oakland, Calif. The Peralta Colleges provide a dynamic multicultural learning environment offering accessible, high-quality educational programs and services, including two-year degrees, certificates and university transfer programs, to more than 30,000 students. PCCD is home to award-winning Peralta TV (Comcast ch. 27/28, AT&T ch. 99) and public radio KGPC 96.9 FM. To learn more about The Peralta Colleges, visit www.peralta.edu

###

Filed under: Awards and recognitions, news, Special Program updates. Tagged: , ,

Register for fall now: Biol 1A and Biol 1B

22 April 2019

Two great courses to register for: Biol 1A and Biol 1B. Reserve your space for fall 2019 now!

Filed under: Discover, news. Tagged: ,

KQED piece features Merritt student Montel Floyd

18 April 2019

When Montel Floyd graduates in May from Merritt Community College, he’ll be the first person in his family with a college degree. Check out this interesting piece from KQED. #inspiration #communitycollege

https://www.kqed.org/news/11739400/at-these-high-schools-enrolling-in-college-isnt-just-encouraged-its-required

Filed under: Awards and recognitions, news. Tagged: , ,

Check out photos from the Tenured Faculty Reception 2019

15 April 2019

Filed under: Awards and recognitions, news, What’s Trending Now at Merritt College

Summer/Fall 2019 Class Schedules are here!

9 April 2019

Check out the Summer/Fall 2019 Class Schedules here.

Filed under: news, What’s Trending Now at Merritt College

Medical Assisting Program Orientation Friday, April 26

9 April 2019

Medical Assisting Program Orientation
Friday, April 26, 2019
9:30 a.m.to 1:30 p.m.
Barbara Lee Science Building Room 303

Breakfast and Lunch provided for the first 50 participants that sign up!

Please contact: GIdowu@peralta.edu

Filed under: news, Uncategorized, What’s Trending Now at Merritt College

OAKLAND magazine showcases Natural History & Sustainability Program

5 April 2019

Merritt College Is Training the Next Generation of Naturalists

The Oakland community college has a new program for park rangers, interpretative guides, urban farmers, environmental consultants, park managers, and more, and seeks to attract people of color.
By Angela Hill, Oakland Magazine
Published: April 02, 2019

When you picture a career in the natural sciences, the image most likely involves years of academia, multiple degrees, and groundbreaking research at world-class universities.

That certainly may be the top-of-the-career-food-chain goal for many, but there’s an entire ecosystem of jobs out there in the natural world — from park ranger and interpretative guide to urban farmer, environmental consultant, park manager, and more.

To get an entry-level foot in one of those doors, check out the new Natural History & Sustainability program at Merritt College (Merritt.edu/wp/nhs). The interdepartmental program, which kicked off with a soft launch of course work last fall, is a rarity at the community college level, said the program’s director, Brad Balukjian. It aims to prepare students for the workforce through sound academics, but also by getting their hands dirty with field work in activities like rebuilding hiking trails or restoring wildlife habitats.

“With the green emphasis in today’s world, a lot of government agencies are needing more people, whether its regional parks or state or national parks, not to mention nonprofits, environmental consulting firms — there are so many nonacademic jobs out there, but so few training programs for these kinds of jobs,” said Balukjian, who holds a doctorate in entomology and also started the Ph.D. program in environmental science, policy, and management at UC Berkeley more than a decade ago.

“While the research universities turn their backs on the traditional ‘ology’ classes like herpetology or ornithology, we have a unique opportunity to double down on them,” he wrote on the department’s website. “It’s nice to know signatures of population structure in the genome of the acorn woodpecker, but what good is it if you don’t know what an acorn woodpecker is?”

The new program offers course work in three tracks — natural history/resources, conservation/resource management, and urban agroecology. Current courses will count toward certificates of achievement that are being developed for each track and should be in place by the spring 2020 semester.

The East Bay Regional Park District has partnered with Merritt to develop this practical approach to environmental education. “One of challenges we’ve had is not having a training program locally that would prepare youths to compete for these kinds of jobs in the park district,” said Jim O’Connor, the district’s assistant general manager.

“I see this program as giving them the basics, the conservation history and background, but also things like park operations, interacting with customers, running campgrounds, resource management work, public safety,” O’Connor said. “Students will actually go out to the parks and do work, help build a trail, put up some fence lines, help staff a special public event. Then, when jobs come available, they’ll be coming in with some really valuable skills.”

Courses range from core topics like geology and marine biology to Indian Ecology of the Central Coast, Natural History of the Islands of California, and even art classes on botanical drawing.

Jenna Tidd of Walnut Creek started taking classes in the program last fall to “attempt a career change,” she said.

“I realized I wanted to pursue a career that allows me to immerse myself in nature because it’s where I’m truly happy,” she said. “I signed up for the Islands of California class and was immediately hooked. I firmly believe that to be motivated to protect and conserve something, you have to first understand and appreciate it.”

There are field trips to Mount Diablo, Point Reyes, and other Bay Area parklands to examine frogs, snakes, lizards. There are courses on urban farming and food production.

There’s even a segment on social justice.

Merritt College has a long tradition of environmental science and natural history dating back to the late 1950s and the seeds of the environmental movement, but the new program reboots it for the 21st century with a big focus on diversity, Balukjian said. Specific outreach is designed to appeal to people of color who have long been underrepresented in these fields and even in participation in nature-related activities.

“In the environmental sciences, there is definitely a lack of diversity of people of color and in terms of women,” said Analisa Brown, a marine biologist teaching Merritt’s first-ever Intro to Marine Biology course. She also serves as outreach coordinator, introducing the program to local high school students.

She herself is a woman of color who was drawn to the sciences as a child.

“Ever since I was a kid, I always knew I wanted to work with animals,” she said. “When I stumbled upon the Discovery Channel, I absolutely fell in love with Shark Week. I didn’t know at the time what the careers were, what they were called. It was white men on a boat looking for sharks, and I knew I wanted to do what they did. And my passion stayed there.

“So I want to reach out to students who typically may not consider geology or sustainability or, yeah, marine biology as careers,” she said.

Even the program’s logo — a mottled tube lichen — was chosen with diversity in mind. It’s made up of two to three organisms living together (fungus, alga, and bacterium), which Balukjian said represents the interdisciplinary course work. And the lichen is considered an “underappreciated organism,” he said, “much like people who’ve been underrepresented in the field.”

“People of color make up the largest portion of students at Merritt at nearly 80 percent,” he said. “How do we get over his perception that [natural science] is a white person’s activity? I try to get across that nature really is for everybody, and people of all groups should be participating. With this new program we’re building, we wanted to address this specifically, not shy away from it.”

Program coordinators are hoping to attract youth, but also returning students who may want a career change.

“I tell students very honestly, you don’t go into this to get rich,” Balukjian said. “But you can make a good living and, to me, the greatest benefit is you’re often working outside. People that do this work are just passionate about the work itself.”

Filed under: news, Uncategorized, What’s Trending Now at Merritt College. Tagged: , , , , ,

Community Health Fair: Wednesday, April 17

17 March 2019

Join the Student Health Center on Wednesday, April 17 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. between the R-Building and S-Building for a Community Health Fair. This event will host guest speaker Josh Rivedal, a published author and distinguished Diversity and Mental Health speaker. This event will be an opportunity for students to meet our community partners and allow them to provide insight on the type of services they provide. For more information, please contact Jon Murphy or Sidia Acevedo at (510) 436-2533 or jmurphy@peralta.edu

 

Please check out the following information also provided by the Student Health Center:

Student Health Services District Schedule to date spring 2019

Drug Abuse and Alcohol Prevention Program

ACUPUNCTURE FLIER Merritt_SPR 2019

Filed under: news

Check It Out: The i’MPossible Project, April 16 in the Student Lounge

17 March 2019

Join us for an afternoon with Josh Rivedal featuring a 75-minute, three part program – one-man Broadway style play, education session and panel discussion on suicide, mental health and diversity. Free popcorn served. No RSVP required. For questions and disability-related accommodation requests in regards to this program, please contact ASMC or Student health services at jmurphy@peralta.edu or 510-436-2533. Open captioning will be provided.

Date: Tuesday, April 16th,

Time: 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Location: Student Lounge

 

Filed under: news

Check It Out: ASMC President Ya’Mese Johnson on KQED Radio!

17 March 2019

Merritt College’s very own ASMC President, Ya’Mese Johnson, was on KQED’s The California Report!

President Johnson spoke briefly about housing and hunger relating to academic success in the California Community College System! She has started the conversation and hopefully we can band together and find solutions together as the hard-working and dedicated Merritt College that we are!!

 

It’s a one minute listen and a short read after listening! Give it a listen: https://www.kqed.org/news/11731373/half-of-californias-community-college-students-experience-hunger-housing-insecurity

Half of California’s Community College Students Experience Hunger, Housing Insecurity | The California Report | KQED News

www.kqed.org

Brittany Jones was a homeless college student at Laney College in Oakland until she got housing assistance to help her rent an apartment. Photo from November 2016.

Filed under: news