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retain copyright to their work and the right to sell their work after it has appeared in The Citizen or, in the case of unpublished material, after the end of the semester.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]

Luke Wrin Piper

Luke Wrin Piper

Managing Editor

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.
Moamar Abdelrahman

Moamar Abdelrahman

Staff Writer

Moamar was born in Egypt and is very fond of journalism since he was young because of his family ties to the industry. He and his brother created a 20-page magazine when he was 10 years old and his brother was 13 years old. He continued to produce magazines when he was a student at Cairo University, and his magazine was on the distinguished wall of the Faculty of Arabic Language. When he graduated from Cairo University, he worked for Egyptian Radio and Television Magazine as an Arabic language reviewer and news editor. His path led him to Saudi Arabia where he worked as a news editor for several magazines and became managing editor. He completed his MBA while he worked in Saudi Arabia. Fueled by for his deep love of journalism, Moamar came to United States in 2011 and studied Mass Media at Laney College, where he now takes other classes. He hopes one day humanity will live in harmony so that future generations can live in security, love and peace, but is worried this seems impossible.

Misha Berman

Misha Berman

Staff Writer

Misha Berman was studying Journalism at Skyline College for almost two years but decided to transfer to Laney this semester because it is closer to where she lives. She is taking a media course at Laney, her interest is broadcast journalism and hopes to be a news reporter for a big TV station one day.

Ethan Bronstein

Ethan Bronstein

Staff Writer

Ethan was born in Can Tho Vietnam but was adopted at birth and grew up in Oakland. After struggling through much of high school he took a hiatus from academics and worked for years in the restaurant industry. A sports junkie with an ever increasing interest in politics, Ethan enrolled at Laney College to follow his passion for journalism and aspires to be a sports reporter. He is excited to return to school and hone his skills as a writer and communicator. In his free time Ethan loves to hike, throw a baseball or casually shoot hoops with his friends. 

Ivan Chairez

Ivan Chairez

Staff Writer

Ivan Chairez is a 21 year old man simply trying to navigate the enigma of the world. He was born and raised in El Paso, Texas but moved out to the bay in 2015 — more specifically, Alameda. Ivan appreciates the simple things in life such as listening to good music, hiking, drinking coffee, and his passion — photography. Photography is very important to Ivan because it allows him to express his feelings and channel his creativity, capturing a single frame in time with the goal of evoking emotion through his photographs. Ivan also runs an independent online magazine called Artistic Bonez Magazine, where he interviews other photographers in an attempt to share their stories and unique photos. Like many other college students, Ivan picked a random major until he figured out what he enjoyed and wanted to study. Originally on paper as an art history major, he later realized he was more intrigued by documenting, interviewing and understanding different perspectives as a way of understanding the world around him. After two years of indecisiveness, Ivan came to the realization that journalism is what he sees himself doing. He is beginning his journey to an Associate of Arts transfer degree in journalism at Laney, hoping to ultimately transfer to a UC. Which UC, you ask? He’s not quite sure yet.

 

Ari Chertock

Ari Chertock

Staff Writer

Ari Chertock is a second year student at College of Alameda. He is planning on majoring in international studies with intentions of traveling in the future. He has spent plenty of time touring different countries with the interest of learning about different cultures and languages. He is proficient in Hebrew and Spanish, having spent one month with a program in Costa Rica studying Spanish, and eight years studying  Hebrew. Aside from Ari’s interests in travel and language, he has an affinity for sports. He has competed in baseball since a toddler, and continued throughout his high school years. Ari wishes to peruse his passion for sports in the future as a sports journalist. He is starting this career path by participating in journalism courses to gain the skills needed. As he plans on continuing to expand his knowledge in this field of work, he has dreams of connecting his passion of travel and sports by becoming a writer for sports teams around the globe. 

 

Farhad Golriz

Farhad Golriz

Staff Writer

Farhad Golriz is an Iranian-American that was raised in Berkeley. He is interested in politics and foreign affairs – in particular, the Middle East. Farhad enjoys writing about events that have happened in other parts of the world and his goal is to be able to speak up for those who feel their voices are not being heard. Farhad’s goal is to one day become a Journalist and he is very honored to be a staff writer for The Citizen at Laney College.

William Ink

William Ink

Staff Writer

Born and raised in Oakland, William returned to the Peralta school district in 2017, after a 25-year hiatus, to advance his education recently receiving his AS-T in Film, Television and Broadcasting and an AA-T in Communication. He has enrolled in and been accepted to San Francisco State as a dual major in the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Art (BECA) and Communication Studies. After nearly 50 years working in the restaurant and catering business, residential construction and In-Home Care, William now pursues a long dreamed of career in the Arts, as a writer, producer and editor of media content in both fictional and non-fictional realms. Mr. Ink loves people and their stories, believing we are all capable of serving our communities well and elevating our standard of living.
Gabriel Johnson

Gabriel Johnson

Staff Writer

Gabriel Isaac Johnson is a second-generation San Francisco native, raised in the  Haight Ashbury and Fillmore districts. Gabriel has a strong love for the city he grew up in; with high respect for the Fillmore and Mission districts where he attended school. He has developed an affinity for photography–mostly 35mm–which is probably because of his grandfather David Johnson, who was a well-known photographer in San Francisco starting in the 1940’s. Gabriel would like to continue to study photography and become a photojournalist, because he feels he owes it to San Francisco and the Bay Area to do a profile on the people who have enriched the soil and cultivated the seeds for change and growth.

Leticia Nicolini Luna

Leticia Nicolini Luna

Staff Writer

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.

Jacquelyn Opalach

Jacquelyn Opalach

Features Editor

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.

 

Menel Raach

Menel Raach

Staff Writer

Transitioning from your birth country to a foreign land can be a journey of its own and at times challenging. Menel Raach, was born and raised in Tunisia, a poor country ruled under dictatorship. During her last year in high school, the revolutionary war began in Tunisia, talking about human rights or politics had been forbidden, and the economic system wasn’t strong at the time. Despite living in such difficult situations, Raach considered herself fortunate and privileged to have lived in a good neighborhood and obtain an education. Her beliefs and values are simple, yet passionate as she states, “I don’t like injustice. I don’t care about politics, but I care about justice”. Raach had decided to pursue her career in journalism, thanks to her curiosity and being socially active, then later she pursued her true interest by earning her master’s in film making. With all her achievements in Tunisia, Menel was living her best life, yet knew she had more to pursue, deciding to leave Tunisia and come to California in order to strengthen her English and obtain a further education.

More by Menel Raach

Biridiana Ramos

Biridiana Ramos

Staff Writer

Biri is a returning student who grew up all over the Bay Area with her mother. She is bilingual—she speaks English and Spanish. Biri enjoys reading and learning about different cultures, and she currently working for a megachurch where she manages social media and is also a creative videographer. In addition, she also works for a radio station where she is learning all the ins and outs of hosting a live segment. She is interested in pop culture news and plans to work in broadcasting. Her dream is to become a TV personality host!

David Rowe

David Rowe

Copy Editor/Staff Writer

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/Staff Writer

This is Pamela Rudd’s third semester at Laney College and her second 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..

 

Brisa Santana

Brisa Santana

Staff Writer

An Oakland born and raised Native, Brisa Santana, 21, is a proud member of the Tecutnut Ohlone and Mexica nations. Now starting her third semester at Merritt College, Brisa has made deep connections with her passion for education, history, writing, politics, and social justice. She has a strong knack for physical movement, as she was raised doing Aztec dancing with her mother and three sisters, and more often than not you’ll find her outside engaging in something extremely active. Whether it be softball, soccer, martial arts, skating, or her more recent obsession in rock climbing, Brisa is constantly moving and having fun in order to stay sane and happy. In her more professional life, Brisa is very committed to and invested in community work surrounding the East Bay housing crisis, immigrant rights, Black Lives Matter, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women awareness, environmental justice, and much much more. She also continues to support her father in their family business at Cafe Santana as a barista, and has been doing so since she was 13. In her relaxed time, Brisa enjoys watching and breaking down films, shooting some photography, and listening to or playing music.
Tayler Shaw

Tayler Shaw

Staff Writer

Tayler Shaw is 19 and was raised in Oakland, originally born in Pleasanton. Currently enrolled in Laney College, she wants to major and achieve in Journalism. Her interests have always been reading and writing, which she takes very seriously and finds joy in. She loves to write out stories and be very creative, journalism is very much new to her so she’s hopeful that she’ll make it in this field. Tayler is very outgoing and intelligent but can be very shy and quiet. It takes time for her to adjust to new things and new people. She loves pictures and is a super goofball when you get to know her. She is very proud of who she is and who she’s becoming as she tries to be a light for those she interacts with. Tayler loves everything and everyone, is grateful for her family and friends and tries to smile even on her worst days.

Derek Sylvester

Derek Sylvester

Staff Writer

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.

Veronica Steiner

Veronica Steiner

News Editor

Born in Connecticut, Veronica moved to the Bay Area with her family for new opportunities. After moving to San Francisco in 2011, Veronica and her family opened a bar and restaurant in the Richmond District of San Francisco. After having her first child, she was eager to finish her education and pursue her dream of writing — so she joined The Citizen. Having deep roots in community service as she founded a women’s group building sisterhood through service, a big sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters and an Americorps Alumni, Veronica believes journalism is the perfect bridge of career and passion, combining a life of service and substance.
Zach Thompson

Zach Thompson

Staff Writer

Zach Thompson was born and raised in Oakland, Ca. After graduating high school in 2018, he began taking classes at Laney while also working jobs in the Security field. While Zach knew he wanted to be educated and longed to graduate college, he struggled to find a particular subject he was interested in. He eventually took a few Journalism courses and immediately understood this was route he should go. His unique writing style and passion for debate made the choice seamless. Enthusiastic about sports, politics and current events, he hopes to write professionally about all of these in the future. 

Editors Emerita

Saskia Hatvany

Saskia Hatvany

Editor Emerita

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

Editor Emerita

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