Image: Banner image of campus logo Merritt College

Posts Filed under news

Medical Assisting Program Orientation Friday, April 26

9 April 2019

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

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

Please contact:

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 ( 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


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


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 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:

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

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

Want to be Part of the First Latinx Graduation at Merritt College? See Below for More Details and Register Now!

18 February 2019

Merritt College is holding its first Latinx Graduation and Celebration this year on Saturday, April 27, at 3 p.m., in the Student Lounge, to publicly recognize the achievements of our Latinx graduates and rejoice as they move out into the world and represent their heritage in their new ventures!

If you identify as Latinx and are receiving a degree or certificate and would like to participate, please register now to be part of this new tradition at Merritt!

See the newsletter below (or click HERE) to find out all the details. Once you are on the list, you will be receiving updated information.

To register, write to latinxgrads2019@gmail.comThe deadline is March 29, but there are only a limited number of seats available, so it’s best to register now to assure a space!

Also please see the official letter below (or click HERE) asking for donations from the community to help with this effort.

Thanks to the Committee of the Latinx Graduation and Celebration 2019 for all their planning and hard work to make this event a reality!


Filed under: news

Nearing Retirement, Tony Hampton Looks Back on His Career and His Merritt Family

10 February 2019

Tony Hampton grew up taking things apart and putting them back together. He started with doorknobs and toasters, graduated to stereo systems and auto wiring, and, in the late 1970s in Southern California, discovered a new phenomenon called computers which he thought were interesting but never would be useful.

“I started taking apart hard drives, hooking computers together across phone lines, and staying up all night playing video games,” he says. “There weren’t any programs or hardware, all the things we take for granted now. There were mainframes and punch cards, and it would take 40 hours to teach a computer to do something in only slightly less time than a human being could do it.”

Along with his computer hobby, Tony spent a couple of decades trying to decide what he wanted to do as a career. He started earned a living doing factory work,  held a security job,  and then was trained to do high-voltage electric work which he did for 10 years. In between he went into the Marine Corps Reserve where he held several jobs and worked his way up to becoming a sergeant. At one time he thought he wanted to be a police officer, but then decided against it.

All of his work experience made him realize what he needed in order to be satisfied in a job. “I discovered three things that would make me happy: Helping people, fixing things, and learning new stuff,” says Tony. “So I decided to go back to school at Merritt, and that’s where I eventually found all of them.”

In 1997 Tony was a student assistant working with now-retired anthropology instructor Barbara Joans, and he wanted to upgrade her computer with more memory and a better version of WordPerfect. When he went to the CIS office to see if they could help, they directed him elsewhere.

“I remember walking down a dark hallway and knocking three times on a steel door, and a woman opened it and then suspiciously peeked at me from behind it,” says Tony. “We chatted for 20 minutes and she asked me for my resume and then hired me as a student worker. At the end of the summer, she said ‘I have to cut back your hours or hire you as an hourly employee and pay you twice as much.’ It took me about a nanno second to figure that out.”

The woman was Patricia Rom, and she and Tony have been Merritt’s dynamic tech support duo ever since. “At the time, Merritt was about to upgrade the network campus-wide and people were requesting computers left and right,” says Tony, who was hired two years later as a Computer Network Technician (and is currently Network Support Services Specialist). “We had 290 computers when I started and there are well over 1,500 now, along with the 80 Smart classrooms which added a whole new level of complexity to the job.”

Today, with retirement looming somewhere between now and June 30 and a newly purchased home waiting for him in Arizona, he looks back fondly on having spent the past 20+ years meeting his three goals, especially the “helping” part.  “The people are the heart and soul of Merritt,” says Tony. “Taking care of them has been the best part of my job. It’s all about being kind and supportive of each other. It’s been a great family.”

When Tony was interviewed by Chancellor Jowel Laguerre on C-Direct TV as one of the District’s outstanding employees in 2017, emails began pouring in with praise from the Merritt community that he can carry with him on his retirement and remember his Merritt family as they will always remember him. (See samples below).

  • “A well-deserved honor…Merritt appreciates all you do for us.” –Dr. Marie-Elaine Burns
  • “Sweet! I think Tony deserves a big raise!”–Jennifer Yates
  • “Tony has been there for me, through thick and thin.” – Lee Peevy
  • “Thanks for everything you do, Tony!” –Jason Holloway
    • “A well-deserved recognition for someone who works so hard and has an invariably positive attitude.” –Ann Elliot
  • “Well deserved! Thank you, Tony, for all you do!” –Inga Marciulionis
  • “Kudos to our wonderful Tony who does so much for our college each and every day!” –Mario Rivas
  • “You always go the extra mile, keeping us up and running across this busy campus. –Denise Woodward
  • Tony is a gem. He’s immediately responsive and always maintains a pleasant demeanor. How does he do it”? –Maril Bull
  • “Tony has been a solid rock to me and our students. I appreciate everything he has done for us!” –Barbara Dimopoulos


Filed under: news

This Could Be Your Classroom If You Enroll Now for Islands of California (BIOL 62S). Starts March 13; Three Spaces Left!

10 February 2019

California’s islands are one of the Golden State’s best-kept secrets–but not for long! Come and learn the geology, ecology, and biology of three major archpelagoes: the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California (a national park), the Farallon Islands, and the San Francisco Bay Islands. The course includes classroom lectures and weekend field trips to Santa Cruz Island (the largest of the Channel Islands), Angel Island, and the little-visited Brooks Island, part of the East Bay Regional Park District.

Your guide and instructor will be Brad Balukjian, who became fascinated by islands beginning at the age of six and spent his childhood running around the woods and collecting bugs. Claiming that he’s never grown up, he continued to do just that throughout his college years and adulthood, earning a bachelor’s degee in island biogeography from Duke University and a Ph.D. in entomology from UC Berkeley and then sharing his expertise and passion with thousands of students. (Check out his impressive background at

So enroll now in BIOL 62S, Course Number 23388, as space is limited. The class meets Wednesdays, 6-7:50 PM, from 3/13-5/15. Field trips are: 4/14 from 9 AM-5:50 PM; 5/5 from 1-4:50 PM; and 5/11 from 10 AM-4:50 PM.

You can find out more about the class HERE, apply and/or enroll in the class HERE, and contact the instructor for any questions or more information at

[ Administrator: Edit ]


Filed under: news

Check Out the News in the Latest Issue of The Merritt Connection

9 February 2019

See what’s new at Merritt in the latest issue of The Merritt Connection! The college celebrated the Lunar New Year (Year of the Pig), students from the Inter-Tribal Student Union initiated a successsful official Indigenous Peoples Day for the City of Oakland, a Native American ecology class is beginning at Merritt for the first time on March 1; real estate students graduated from a special program with jobs available at the end of it; and much more!  Click HERE or on image to open!

Filed under: news

First-Time Native American Ecology Course (NATAM 76E) Looks at Sustainable Living; Starts 3/1

7 February 2019

Darby Price has taught over three dozen courses during his teaching career, and most have covered some aspect of ethnic or environmental studies. So he is especially excited to offer a new course that combines both at Merritt: “California Indian Ecology of the Central Coast” (Native American Studies 76E, starting March 1.

“California Indian ecology is a broad topic that is underrepresented in the curriculum, so this course will cover a variety of topics focusing on ecology and the interaction between nature
and humans,” says Darby. “Native American ecological life provides important lessons for
sustainable living, from the arrival of peoples 13,000 years
ago on the California coast to the present.

Students will spend most of the course exploring the Bay Area’s incredible biodiversity through field trips to Point Reyes Miwok Cultural site, Coyote Hills Ohlone site, an Oakland shellmound site, East Bay Regional Park’s Native California botanic garden, and the Native American Health Center (where Darby is a member of the board of directors).

“We all have indigenous roots, and this course is for everyone who wants to reconnect with indigenous ways and learn how to live closer with nature,” says Darby, who is Chinese, Scots, Welsh, and Cherokee, and has lived off the grid in
nature as his ancestors did. “We will focus not only on American Indian ecology
and culture but their ability to survive into the present.”

This course is part of Merritt’s new Natural History & Sustainability Program
which brings together environmental-related classes from a variety of disciplines that offer the knowledge, training, and skills to find a career and help tackle the challenges of the 21st century. Other courses still available for the Spring: Feb. 4: Bay Area Field Studies (GEOL 21, #23387); Feb. 19: Herpetology (BIOL 60C: #24194); March 7: Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail (BIOL 62W, #24207; March 13: Islands of California (BIOL 62S, #23388).

Filed under: news