The Citizen is the student-run publication of the Peralta Community College District. Our mission is to amplify community voices while holding those in power accountable. We foster the growth of student journalists while giving full representation to our complex and diverse community. We provide current, balanced reporting — rooted in truth and clarity.

We are reclaiming the word “citizen” to be inclusive of ALL Peralta Community College community members. At the same time, we embrace all of the differences that make us unique.

Our publication is made up of staff who are enrolled in our Journalism 18 course, News Production.

For more information – or if you are wondering if journalism is a right fit for you – don’t hesitate to contact department chair Eleni Gastis at [email protected]

Copyright and permissions: By signing up for this class, the student grants The Citizen permission in perpetuity to use material produced for this class in print, on its website, in social media or to promote the student news media or the journalism program. This includes material created for this class but not published during the course of the semester. Unless the editor-in-chief consents, all material produced for this class will appear in The Citizen before any other publication. Students retain copyright to their work and the right to sell their work after it has appeared in The Citizen or, in the case of unpublished material, after the end of the semester.

Eleni Economides Gastis

Eleni Economides Gastis

Citizen Advisor and Journalism Department Chair

Eleni Economides Gastis’ journey began at Laney College. She transferred to San Francisco State University in 2004, where she received her bachelor’s  degree in Journalism and International Relations. After working for a few years as a reporter for the Bay Area News Group and the San Francisco Examiner—where she covered local governments, culture and crime—Eleni returned to San Francisco State University for a master’s in English Composition and a Certificate in Teaching Postsecondary Reading.

Eleni started teaching at Laney College as adjunct faculty in 2011 and got her dream full-time position there in 2015. Initially serving as English faculty and co-chair of the English department, Eleni became journalism department chair and took over Peralta’s only student-run publication, The Laney Tower, in August 2019. She embarked on a full-scale rebranding of what would become The Citizen, successfully revitalizing the department to increase enrollment, form a top-notch advisory committee, overhaul curriculum to mirror industry demand and remodel the journalism lab to become an inviting space for students.

In addition to her work in the journalism and English departments, she currently serves as the Laney College Academic Senate President and is the co-coordinator for the college’s Guided Pathways initiative. Eleni is passionate about teaching students to advocate for themselves and their communities through writing. She believes every student should be supported and uplifted during the learning process, and shudders when she thinks about students who aren’t. When she isn’t at Laney, she enjoys spending time in Greece with her family and nerding out about all things journalism.

Journalism students harness the true power of democracy, rooted in free speech and the landmark protections of Tinker vs. Des Moines, as they afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

You can reach Eleni Economides Gastis at [email protected]

Leticia Luna

Leticia Luna

Editor in Chief

Leticia is a Brazilian living in the Bay Area. Her interests range from environment to education, and living abroad since 2013 has given her the opportunity to explore and learn about many cultures — so her interest in cultural diversity has only grown. In Brazil, she has taught English and studied education, now she is pursuing an English degree and hopes to continue learning and exploring the world. Her belief in communicating the truth has led her to this journalism class. Leti is also a National Parks enthusiast and loves to use her camera to photograph landscapes and wildlife. On her off time, you can find Leti on hiking trails around the Bay Area or on long road trips with her friends.

Derek Sylvester

Derek Sylvester

Managing Editor

Crashing into the Journalism scene late last year, Derek Sylvester throws his charisma into any project he touches. Whether it be a detailed article on the intricacies of our ever changing society, or a video about his favorite type of bread (Artisano Wheat), you can always expect to be thrown out of the box when consuming his content.

Justin Burrows

Staff Writer

Justin Burrows was born and raised in Berkeley, California and enjoys biking and listening to many different genres of music. As an animal lover, Justin has an affinity for dogs and enjoys creative and fiction writing as a hobby and passion. Justin wants to incorporate mixed media, especially photography, into writing as a means of enhancing storytelling. He has always had a profound interest in social politics as well as activism around the many issues we face as a culture and society. He hopes to gain a better understanding of world politics and issues by traveling. His goal is to report on problems that affect all of us within the system and the solutions that we can create as a community.  During his time at the Citizen, Justin hopes to spread awareness about issues that impact different people everyday.

Travis Chapman

Staff Writer

A little about Travis Chapman can be summed up in a short phrase: your imagination is the only limit you have in life. Travis spent a decade homeless and is now intent on becoming a Social Worker so that he can help homeless youth, like he once was. He also is aspires to open an after school program for impoverished youth, helping them hone their creative skills to hopefully make a career out of their gift and rise up out of poverty. Travis also has a dream of becoming a writer and is working on writing an epic tale that he spent half his life making. Travis just wants to help make the world better.

Shiloh Johnston

Shiloh Johnston

Staff Writer

Shiloh Johnston is a Bay Area native currently working towards a degree in Political Science with the hopes of starting an illustrious career as a poorly paid academic. His interest in both politics and journalism is rooted in the desire to understand why people believe what they believe. He thinks that in this deeper understanding we can find common ground and work towards solving our country’s greatest problems. When he’s not working as an election administrator or taking classes, Shiloh enjoys writing fiction, watching pretentious films, and making music. Shiloh joined the journalism department at Laney in the hopes that a familiarity with news production would assist him in his long term goals. And who knows? If the illustrious career as a poorly paid academic doesn’t work out, he might become a reporter.

Ken Lester

Ken Lester

Staff Writer

Ken Lester is an avid enjoyer of life. When you can’t find him in the upper deck at the Coliseum watching the green and gold bash homeruns, with peanuts and crackerjack in hand, you might try one of the other local sports venues. If he is still lost, check the parks (themed or not), where he can often be found with his camera capturing beauty as he sees it, or the local restaurants – bonus points if they have a reuben sandwich on the menu. If all else fails look no further than on his couch at home, where you will often find him adorned in a snuggie with his border collie Indiana draped across his lap, perhaps reading Lord of the Rings, or maybe just watching the movies again — for the hundredth time.

Luke Wrin Piper

Luke Wrin Piper

Staff Writer

Luke Wrin Piper began writing for The Citizen in 2019. Starting at the sports desk, his focus has expanded into politics, art, activism, crime and the all ways they intersect here in the 510. The people and culture of the East Bay have never failed to fascinate him and he hopes to bottle that local lightning for The Citizen. He thinks there’s never been a better time to be alive, especially for journalists.

David Rowe

David Rowe

Associate Editor

After a 40 year career in advertising, David is considering journalism as his “second act” and preparing himself for that new profession by taking classes at Laney. During his days in advertising, Rowe headed up the media departments for a number of leading ad agencies in San Francisco and Salt Lake City. In this capacity, he was responsible for the planning and placement of tens of millions of dollars of paid media. A high point of his career was placing Intel’s first Super Bowl TV ad in 1997. Rowe has a lifelong interest in journalism dating back to high school in San Jose where he started an underground newspaper called, appropriately enough, The Del Mar Free Press. The school administration threatened to suspend him, so Rowe, with the help of his attorney father, sued the school district in Federal Court and won and injunction. Ultimately, the case was decided in his favor and California state law regarding the rights of high school students was re-written as a result. Rowe is a political junkie who enjoys watching all the Sunday morning news programs and is actively involved in the Joe Biden presidential campaign this year.

Pamela Rudd

Pamela Rudd

Opinion Editor

This is Pamela Rudd’s forth semester at Laney College and her third as a staff writer for The Citizen. Pam was born in San Francisco and grew up in Contra Costa County when cattle roamed the hills and life had yet to cross from rural to suburban. She attended college directly after high school and received a doctorate from the University of Nevada, Reno in psychology. As a Bay Area native she witnessed the the Vietnam War, the Free Speech and Black Panther movements, the AIDS crisis, and the birth of Silicon Valley. Pamela is always amazed by the resiliency of the human spirit and the repetitiveness of history. She is excited to be back in school and to be part of The Citizen’s newsroom. For Pam, journalism was the path not taken..

 

Daniel "Wolf" Santana

Staff Editor

Daniel Wolf Santana is a budding writer, who spent most of his career at city college studying to become a civil engineer. Like many things, the COVID epidemic helped create a shift, directing him away from engineering and down a new path of exploration in the art of writing. Native to California, Daniel has resided in San Francisco for 5 years by way of Los Angeles. To no surprise, he is a vegan just as many Los Angelinos before him. As a result of COIVD and his SoCal roots, Daniel has also begun a new project to start a breakfast concept with his cousin, Alix Pulido, a vegan chef in Manhattan. The establishment will be called ‘Oat Bar, NY’ a gourmet oatmeal shop in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He has a passion for creative expression and all the wonderous possibilities life has to offer and hopes to promote such a mindset for all those he crosses paths with. 

Pamela Samuels

Pamela Samuels

Staff Writer

Like a fine matured wine, Pamela Samuels brings the nuances of her life’s experiences to the Peralta Citizen’s newsroom. She brings with her the embedded undertones of a blended foundational love of writing passed down from her mother across time. Currently pursuing majors in Communication and Journalism, she enhances her thirst for writing through her travels. Living a nomadic and minimalist lifestyle, you will find Pamela intricately managing homes and nourishing her advocacy of pet and animal therapy full time while pursuing her education. As a former International Flight Attendant, it should not be surprising to find Pamela camping in a yurt on top of dormant volcanic lava fields and seeking spiritual oneness with our planet while vacationing off-grid nestled within rainforests and waterfalls as her neighbor. Some fun trivia facts to highlight Pamela’s zest for life include a love of dark chocolate, smoked cheese, and an amazing cup of roasted coffee preferably picked and roasted personally by her from the Blue Hill Mountains of Jamaica. Music, books, animals, family, and loyal friends fill up her soul, all treasured far beyond the finest gems. A favorite pastime is exploring vineyards, with Merlots and Malbecs from Chile and Argentina securing a place in her heart. She is known for relishing every sunrise and sunset, considering each, a one-of-a-kind palette of brilliance. Pamela believes that what gets her through each day, is the belief that essentially people are good, the world that we live in is one of humanity — and she refuses to believe otherwise. Her passion in life lies within the desire to speak and advocate for those who are not heard and cannot speak for themselves, she fuels this desire with her personal life motto: “We do not do this world alone, hold out your hand and I will help you up.”

Ulysses Smith

Ulysses Smith

Staff Writer

Born and raised in Oakland, Calif. Ulysses’ father is of Scots-Irish and Danish descent and his Mother is African-American. As a child his dad would take him on bike rides to protests, concerts, sporting events and sometimes even bars across the Bay Area, which developed his fascination for  culture. 

 Ulysses’ mother is a dedicated public servant and has worked for the public library system for over twenty years. When she was still with Oakland Public Library she had access to free tickets at A’s games and his dad would take him out of school to see them play. They’d end up getting box seats but would sneak down the stands to be next to the real action and developed his lifelong fascination with sports. He played baseball and basketball off and on throughout grade school, coached in his summers and got a chance to  play for state but got knocked out of the division 5 playoffs after the first round. 

A lifetime addicted to music and gardening as well; he’s been playing the guitar since the age of 7 and later learned the basics of music production, bass guitar, banjo and his instrument of choice the drums. He got a green thumb from his father, a horticulture major, and Ed Rosenthal, the godfather of homegrow. To this day no matter what season he has at least two plants growing. 

He graduated from Realm Charter High School In July 2017 and enrolled in Laney Community College by Fall 2017. His High School eventually ceased operations and was permanently closed in Fall 2019. During his time at Laney he has worked as a private English tutor, a teacher’s aide for the C.I.S. department and as a sports reporter here at the Peralta Citizen.

 

 

Gretchen Zimmerman

Gretchen Zimmerman

Staff Writer

Gretchen Zimmerman settled in Vallejo, CA in 2002 after spending a couple of decades bouncing around the inner San Francisco Bay area. Before her move to Vallejo, she had lived for no more than couple of years in one place. Her recent stability has facilitated a greater involvement in her community. She became active in local arts groups first, volunteering with Vallejo Open Studios and Vallejo Art Walk. As she got to know more people and their circumstances, her interests broadened into local politics. She started attending City Council meetings, writing to the local paper, and engaging in serious debates on social media. That wasn’t enough for her. Gretchen decided to get serious about writing and study journalism so that she can delve into meaningful investigative work.

Former Editors

Saskia Hatvany

Saskia Hatvany

Former Editor

Saskia was born in Oakland with her little brother, to an American mother and a British father. Just before she turned seven, her family spontaneously relocated to a quiet village in rural France, where she would spend the majority of her childhood in nature and discovering art through photography and books. When she was 15, she relocated to an international boarding school where she graduated with honors and a bilingual diploma, and immediately left home to fulfill her dream of traveling. She picked strawberries and apples in Australian farms, lived in a van for a while, taught English in Cambodia, and returned home two years later with many stories to tell. Knowing that she had always wanted to return to the Bay Area, she did just that —once again leaving friends and family thousands of miles away. During this period of uncertainty, she enrolled at Peralta Colleges and eventually began taking journalism classes, where — upon encouragement from her professors — she began writing for the student newspaper. Currently Saskia is applying for transfer and works as a freelance journalist, photographer, writer and graphic designer for California news outlets, non-profits, and local businesses in the greater Bay Area. She hopes to graduate in 2021.

Michelle Dione Snider

Michelle Dione Snider

Former Editor

Michelle Snider is the Editor-in-Chief of The Citizen and has been an editor for three of the four semesters she has attended at Laney College. Best known for going viral filming “BBQ Becky” at Lake Merritt during her first semester, Michelle aspires to break into a new modern world of multimedia journalism. Dabbling in photojournalism, article writing, social media reporting, and film, Michelle has learned how to use different mediums to tell everyday stories. In 2017, Michelle was concerned about violent rallies breaking out in Berkeley, CA and went to document what she felt would one day be political history. When she learned what she was doing was considered journalism, she was inspired to go back to school to get a journalism degree. She later sold some of her Berkeley footage to a PBS Frontline documentary called “Documenting Hate.” At 42-years old, after raising 20-year-old twins, Michelle is ready to start a new life informing the local community and the world about the events around her. After all, journalism is the first draft of history.

Isis Piccillo

Isis Piccillo

Editor in Chief 2019-2020

Editor-in-Chief Isis Piccillo was born and raised in the Bay Area. An avid reader and lover of libraries, Piccillo knows reading has been key to developing their writing voice. They are invested in covering and amplifying the voices of marginalized and underrepresented groups, especially in the areas of health and science. When not frantically copyediting or furiously writing, Isis can be found on the soccer field, or with food.

More by Isis Piccillo
Jacquelyn Opalach

Jacquelyn Opalach

Editor in Chief Fall 2020

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Jacquelyn Opalach is a student reporter who has been pursuing journalism since she was 15. Opalach is particularly passionate about the safety net that journalism provides for small communities, and is interested in the intersection of ethical reporting and investigative journalism. When she isn’t scoping out a new story, Opalach is likely sampling out a new recipe in the kitchen, forever trying to satisfy her insatiable sweet tooth.

 

Ryan B.

Ryan B.

Editor in Chief Spring 2021

Ryan B. is an Oakland native who is following his passion of writing. It has led to his desire to expand his knowledge and insight in this profession by learning and sharing with others. Ryan attended primary and secondary schools in Oakland and has ties to various community outreach programs throughout the East Bay. Indebted to the teachers that have supported him throughout his scholarly journey, Ryan desires to pursue a career that will allow him to positively impact the world around him.