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Real Estate Students Learn New Skills While Helping Industry Shortage

18 October 2018

Relocating from Sacramento to Berkeley as part of his career-changing plan, Kelvin Warren left behind his Volkswagen import/export business and began researching colleges to study real estate. When Merritt’s name kept popping up, he realized there was a strong program right nearby where he could pursue his dream.

After two semesters, his dream has just grown exponentially. He was fortunate to be among the 25 students in Merritt’s real estate program to be chosen to participate in the Commercial Real Estate Fellows Program sponsored by CREATE, a partnership of commercial real estate associations in the Bay Area. The program has been specifically designed by industry experts to help solve the shortage of commercial real estate employees in the Bay Area. They accomplish this by offering a selected group of students a 16-week program that combines job preparedness skills with industry-specific information on careers such as property management, asset management, leasing and development, construction management, and facilities management taught by experts.

“We wanted to enable college students to consider commercial real estate as a career option,” says Kathy Mattes, a real estate consultant, who helped design the program as a member of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of San Francisco Foundation Board of Directors. “We started the Fellows Program at San Francisco State University last year, then decided to take it to the East Bay and address the needs of the East Bay markets. We chose Merritt because its strong real estate program is primarily geared toward residential real estate, and we were offered the opportunity to give students more options. This program allows them to be better prepared to get a job, and we have industry members who want to hire them.”

Longtime Merritt real estate instructor Guy Forkner agrees wholeheartedly. Between the knowledge they are getting in Merritt’s program to prepare for the real estate licensing exam and the training opportunities offered by the Commercial Real Estate Fellows Program, he says students will be prepared to compete for the many job opportunities in Commercial Real Estate.

“With an outlook of employee turnover of nearly 50 percent in the next five years, there will be no problem finding work,” says Forkner, who also founded the program’s popular Real Estate Forum which addresses current industry issues. “The students in this program are pretty much guaranteed a job to meet the hiring needs of building owners, investors, operators, and service firms.”

And that’s music to Kelvin Warren’s ears, as he has worked hard in his classes and wasn’t expecting this added bonus to his career outlook.  “I had no idea there were so many opportunities in the real estate field,” says Kelvin. “It was a blessing I was chosen for this program to enhance my knowledge from people working in the field. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.”

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Merritt Tennis Courts Benefit from Final Eagle Scout Project

18 October 2018

When Brandon Khuu of Castro Valley was 7 years old and just starting in scouting, his dream was to someday be an Eagle Scout, the highest achievement in the organization, which culminates in a major project to demonstrate leadership and give back to the communit

This summer, Brandon, now 16 and a straight-A student on the Bishop O’Dowd tennis team, not only achieved his goal but made Merritt College a beneficiary as he planned his community project to improve Merritt’s tennis courts which now boasts of a 36-foot x12-foot tennis backboard. “I had seen backboards on other tennis courts and thought that Merritt’s courts could be improved by providing a place for team members to practice while others were playing on the courts,” says Brandon.

He had met with Bishop O’Dowd tennis coach Tom DeTurk to help him come up with an idea for the project. “Since we practice on Merritt’s courts, I wanted to do something to help the college,” he says. “I thought that Merritt’s
courts would be improved by providing a place for team members to practice while others are playing.”

After getting approval from the Troop 708 leader and the Boy Scout Council, the next step was to check with Kevin Bertelsen, Merritt’s Director of Facilitie. “I gave him an enthusiastic thumbs up,” says Kevin. “I thought it was a great project idea and would truly be a wonderful donation to the college to provide additional tennis capacity for practice and for recreation as well.”

So for the next two months, with the help and support of his parents, Coach DeTurk, scout volunteers, and a successful GoFundMe campaign of more than $2,000, the backboard became a reality. “It’s a perfect win-win,” said Merritt President Marie-Elaine Burns at an informal ceremony where Brandon handed her a check for the remaining $250 of the project funds. “Brandon met his goal of Eagle Scout, and Merritt has a beautiful new backboard for all who come to train and practice here for years to come.”

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East Bay College Fund Partners with FYE Program and Provides $1,000 Scholarships

18 October 2018

When East Bay College Fund Executive Director Diane Dodge was looking to partner with a community college in Oakland, she searched to find those with First-Year Experience programs that had the potential to advance the EBCF’s mission of getting minority and underprivileged high school students to complete college.

When she got to Merritt, she knew she had found the right one. “We wanted to see who was already out there doing great work, and Rosa Perez and Lilia Chavez and their team had already shown that they knew how to help students progress through college,” says Diane, whose goal is to eventually partner with every Peralta college. “We wanted to replicate their work and amplify it.”

The partnership, which started as a pilot program at Merritt over the summer, will provide huge benefits to the FYE Program including $1,000 scholarships for 100 Oakland students who are in the FYE program and meet specific requirements.

“We’re excited about our partnership with EBCF,” says Rosa. “This is an extra layer of support for us to help our fast-growing program. Along with the 100 scholarships, EBCF also provides us with dedicated counseling support, a mentorship program, and successful minority guest speakers who students can identify with.

The FYE Program, which provides a cohort program of English and counseling classes geared to largely first-generation Merritt students, also offers the Adelante Summer Bridge Program, a group of specially recruited high school students who spend four weeks learning about what it’s like to be a college student.

“Our goal is to convince the Adelante students that they can be anything they want by teaching them things like success skills, time management, and career exploration, and preparing them to enroll at Merritt and move right into the FYE Program,” says Rosa.  Because of EBCF’s generous partnership, we can help even more students in Adelante and in the FYE Program to meet their goals.”

(Pictured: Above EBCF’s Executive Director Diana Dodge; Rosa Perez; English instructor Daniel Guerrero, and FYE students. Below: Summer Adelante Students celebrate their transition to the Merritt FYE Program.)

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Enroll NOW in Late-Start Classes in October: More Than 50 Subjects to Choose From!

23 September 2018

You can still add a class or even become a full-time student for the Fall at Merritt by enrolling in any of the nearly 50 classes below in a wide variety of topics. Classes begin in September and October. For more details about the classes, click HERE and find out how to enroll by clicking HERE.

(Click on list below to enlarge.)

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Explore Human Sexuality in New Online, Late-Start Class (PSYCH 12), Oct. 22

21 September 2018

Now you can take this popular Human Sexuality class online from the convenience of your own home starting October 22. Explore and anayze the many aspects of the topic, from the physiological and psychological point of view to cultural, educational, legal and more. The 3 units are transferable to CSUs. Enroll now (PSYCH 12, Code #45662) by clicking HERE and following the steps. For questions, contact instructor Kim Murphy at



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Find Your Green Thumb and Head to LandHort’s Fall Plant Sale on October 6 & 7

21 September 2018

Landscape Horticulture’s Fall Plant Sale & Fair is rapidly approaching on Sat., Oct. 6, from 9 a.m.-3 p .m. and Sunday, Oct. 7, from Noon-3 p.m. Plan to spend a few hours on the beautiful grounds and choose from the many carefully nurtured plants waiting for a happy home! 

And while you are on this page, please check out the Landscape Horticulture Nursery website here for more information about the plant sale and a list of all the plants being sold. For information, contact Nursery Coordinator Nia Hill at

Find out more about the Landscape Horticulture Program HERE.




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Support a Healthy Community by Donating to the Merritt Blood Drive, Wed., Thurs, 9/27

17 September 2018

Support your community by donating blood during Merritt College’s annual Blood Drive on Thursday, September 27, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Mobile Coach in front of the Library. To schedule an appiontment, visit and click “Locate a Blood Drive,” or contact Jon Murphy at

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Student Surveys Coming in October: We Want to Know What You Think!

14 September 2018

As we are continuously trying to improve programs and services at Merritt College, it’s important to us that we get the students’ input. That’s why we will be conducting student surveys in selected classes in October. We would appreciate your participation in this survey to help Merritt College help you! Thanks!

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Thanks for Coming to Merritt S.O.U.L; Don’t Forget to Submit Your Cookbook Recipe

13 September 2018

Thanks to all who came to the Grand Opening of the Fall Merritt S.O.U.L. and enjoyed the food and festivities. Don’t forget to submit your recipe for the planned Merritt S.O.U.L Community Cookbook! Guidelines for the recipes and instructions for submission are all on the website HERE. This is your chance to become an instant cookbook author and contribute to a good cause. Next Merritt S.O.U.L. is September 27. 





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Find All the News in the First Merritt Connection of the Fall

6 September 2018

It’s baaaack! After a summer break, The Merritt Connection is back in full swing wih its September issue filled with news: FYE’s partnership with East Bay College Fund; a big improvement to the tennis courts thanks to an Eagle Scout with a final badge to earn; the announcement of the Merritt S.O.U.L Cookbook and request for recipes to go in it; the story of an autistic student who persevered with assistance from a Merritt team of faculty and graduated in May; and the Merritt business class who took a summer trip to Tokyo they will never forget.

Click here or on the image to the left to open up and enjoy the issue!



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