Image: Banner image of campus logo Merritt College

Posts Filed under Uncategorized

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: , , , , ,

ASMC’s Club Council Meets to Plan Exciting Events for Spring

17 February 2019

Club Council President Montel Floyd and other officers meet with club presidents, with a welcome from Dr. Herbert Kitchen, to discuss event planning for the rest of the year. Check this website and calendar for upcoming activities and join in!  Back row: Brooklyn Crawford, Club Council Vice President; Montel Floyd, Club Council President; Dominique White, Club Council Secretary; Anamafi Halangahu, PURE Club; Danielle Spencer, Inter-Tribal  Student Union; Jennifer Hughes, Ability Counts; Airion Boatner, Tobacco-Less Club; Dr. Herbert Kitchen, Director of Student Activities & Campus Life; Front row: Jennifer Erazo, Criminal Justice Club; Spencer Staggers-Emore, Criminal Justice Club; Earthy Young; Street Scholars Club; Yilda Mac, Christian Fellowship; Paul Dunn, SULLY Club. (Photo by Susan May)


Filed under: Uncategorized

Dancing Lion Returns to Delight Merritt Community for 3rd Annual Lunar New Year

10 February 2019

Appearing again at Merritt College for the 3rd Annual Lunar New Year Celebration, the popular Dancing Lion (from the Buk Sing Kung Fu Academy) delighted the crowd with its traditional lettuce-throwing antics with President Burns to recognize the new year (Year of the Pig). The event, sponsored by ASMC and the Office of Student Activities and Campus Life, also included a delicious buffet of Asian fusion cuisine. Gung Hey Fat Choy!

Filed under: Uncategorized

Women in Empowerment

9 February 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized

Join Workshop by Mario Rivas and Be Inspired: “How to Improve Your Motivation for Success,” 2/14

8 February 2019

Don’t miss the workshop by Dr. Mario Rivas on “How to Improve Your Motivation for Success,” on Thursday, February 14, from 2-3:30 p.m. in the Learning Center Room L-137. Dr. Rivas, who is a psychology professor at Merritt College and Faculty Senate President, is also a national speaker on motivation and student success. Come and hear his approach to helping students improve their uniqueness as human beings.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Merritt Student Club Initiates Successful Push for Indigenous Peoples Day in City of Oakland

7 February 2019

As president of the Intertribal Student Union, Danielle Spencer and Vice President Melvin Vierras have been fulfilling their mission to help promote higher education, build community, and be recognized for the historical and cultural contributions of the Native American community to the city. So it made perfect sense to follow other Bay Area cities like San Francisco and Berkeley and request that the City of Oakland also have an official Indigenous Peoples Day.


“We wanted to join all of the other groups of people in the U.S. who have a special day to celebrate and recognize their leaders,” says Danielle, who is Navajo, Laguna Pueblo, and Illocano (Filipino).  “The Bay Area represents the largest concentration of

urban Native Americans. We think it’s important to recognize our part in the history of the urban Indians who were relocated to San Francisco and the East Bay during the government’s Relocation Act of 1956.”

It was no small task going through all of the city’s back-and-forth communications to get approval from the city. The club was fortunate to have the help of Danielle’s mother, Maria Spencer, a Merritt administrator, who has connections with the city and made some inroads with the support of City Council member Noel Gallo.


So after several months of paperwork, on December 4, the Intertribal Student Union and communitymembers were proud to attend the Oakland City Council meeting where the city joined the ranks of nearly 50 other cities and some states across the country by declaring the second Monday of October as the official Indigenous Peoples Day (replacing Columbus Day).


Besides recognizing the official day, the Resolution, which also honored Oakland’s IntertribalFriendship House, one of the first urban American Indian community centers in the nation, along with other community organizations, also stated that this recognition would “create opportunities to learn and educate our communities about the great contributions of Native Americans to our city and our country.” A second Resolution was approved to recognize the month of November as “National First Nations Month.”


Danielle was excited to watch it happen and to know that a small club like theirs could make such a difference. “It was a great moment,” says Danielle. “I just thought, ‘Wow, that actually happened. It showed that that’s why clubs like ours exist to give us the opportunity to be initiators and make a difference. Our club was able to start the process to bring more recognition and importance to Native Americans as we also work with high school students to promote higher education and introduce them to Merritt.”

Filed under: Uncategorized

Student Clubs Bring Merritt Community Together Beyond the Classroom; Support Their Events or Join Them!

6 February 2019

Club Council officers and student club presidents gathered for the first time in the new year to discuss policies, procedures, and plans for coming events throughout the year. You will find the event details on this website, through flyers, and from other promotional methods throughout the semester. Please plan to attend these events to support their hard work in bringing together the Merritt community beyond the classroom.

Pictured: (Back row left to right): Brooklyn Crawford, Club Council Vice President, Montel Floyd, Club Council President; Dominique White, Club Council Secretary; Anamafi Halangahu, PURE Club; Danielle Spencer, Inter-Tribal  Student Union; Jennifer Hughes, Ability Counts; Airion Boatner, Tobacco-Less Club; Dr. Herbert Kitchen, Director of Student Activities & Campus Life; (Front row): Jennifer Erazo, Criminal Justice Club; Spencer Staggers-Emore, Criminal Justice Club; Earthy Young; Street Scholars Club; Yilda Mac, Christian Fellowship; Paul Dunn, SULLY Club



Filed under: Uncategorized

Enjoy Sweets and More on Valentine’s Day by Supporting the Inter-Tribal Student Council’s Bake Sale on Feb. 14

6 February 2019

The Inter-Tribal Student Union is having  its first fundraiser of the Spring Semester by offering sweets and other gifts for you or your loved ones on Thursday, February 14, from 12-2 in the Cafeteria. 

Along with delicious baked goods, club members will also have flowers, plants, and handwritten cards to sell. Please come and support them on this special day of love!


Filed under: Uncategorized

2 February 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized