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]

Eleni Economides Gastis

Eleni Economides Gastis

Citizen Advisor

Eleni Economides Gastis is the journalism department chair at Laney College. After graduating from Laney, Eleni went on to receive her bachelor’s in Journalism and International Relations from San Francisco State University. After a few years as a reporter for Bay Area News Group and the San Francisco Examiner—where she covered local governments, culture and crime—Eleni returned to SFSU for her Master’s in English Composition and a Certificate in Teaching Postsecondary Reading. She started at Laney as a part-timer in 2011, where she now teaches all levels of English and journalism, serves as Academic Senate vice-president and is the co-coordinator for the college’s Guided Pathways initiative. When she isn’t at Laney, she enjoys spending time in Greece with her family and freelance reporting.
Isis Piccillo

Isis Piccillo

Editor-in-Chief

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
Ryan Barba

Ryan Barba

Staff Writer/Associate Editor

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. Having spent his life in Oakland, he enjoys telling feature stories that are occurring in his community.

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Tyler Black

Tyler Black

Staff Writer

Tyler Black was born in Washington D.C., but raised in the Bay Area, spending most of his childhood and adult life in Berkeley, with brief stays living around Lake Merritt and North Oakland. Tyler has always been one for adventure and exploration of some sort. Growing up included activities such as Boy Scouts where he learned how to throw axes and won best throw, drama class at school and ministry at church to express himself. He would often draw original comic strips in class. Always questioning things lead him to a life of conspiracy theories, and he hopes to gain journalism knowledge to make these claims more factual! Tyler feels The Citizen will help him pursue his other passions, which include storyboarding, podcasting, as well as authoring screenplays and documentaries. Tyler has already fallen in love with journalism, and the passion he sees in others drives him to want to learn more.

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Jonathan Cannon-Wright

Jonathan Cannon-Wright

Staff Writer

Jonathan is a 19-year-old Laney student with a passion for sports and fitness. His after school job is helping and mentoring local youth. With sports broadcaster and journalist Stephen A. Smith as his idol, Jonathan has a dream of becoming a sports writer and journalist.

More by Jonathan Connon-Wright

Kasper Dilmaghani

Kasper Dilmaghani

Staff Writer/Copy Editor

Kasper Dilmaghani is a returning student to the Peralta District. After earning an AA-T in Communication Studies in the Fall of 2019 Kasper is taking electives in Journalism and debate as well as exploring communication theory. Kasper likes to be up to date on current events and is motivated to spread awareness to the rest of the student body. Kasper works part time while going to school and is interested in exploring the issues surrounding how expensive it is to live in the Bay Area. Kasper also has personal interests in health, nutrition and physical activity that he picked up along the way to earning an AA in Natural Science. Being a part of The Citizen is an exciting opportunity for Kasper to explore his writing abilities and to further learn about the functions of various forms of media. Kasper is interested in writing various articles ranging from opinion pieces to hard news.

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Kaylah Frazier

Kaylah Frazier

Kaylah Frazier is a journalism major who was born and raised in North Oakland, CA. Kaylah was a former business major at Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas but just felt like she was wasting her time and decided that it is time to study what she loves. She is an aspiring journalist who dreams to one day report Breaking News for CNN. She enjoys beauty vlogs, DIY videos and daily mantra videos on YouTube. While working at Safeway as a Food Clerk, Kaylah does her best to keep up with her studies and still remains an active member in her Oakland community. She volunteers at EOYDC (East Oakland Youth Development Center) in the fashion class where she can teach young girls that fashion is an outlet that can help you express how you feel and make you feel beautiful. Kaylah’s biggest lifetime goal is to be a true raw and uncut role model and inspiration for all young African American girls, which is something that she yearned for growing up.

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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!

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Ericka Jackson

Ericka Jackson

Staff Writer

Ericka Jackson is a Bay Area Native, born and raised in Berkeley. As a single parent to an adult son and a surrogate mom to her niece and nephew, Ericka took on a career as a care provider after her close family members became ill. She attended Laney College for rwo and half years when she graduated from high school 23 years ago and found her first job through Laney’s College Career Center. Ericka eventually worked as a real estate agent but had to rethink her career after the economic bubble burst in 2008. So, after many years of caring for others, Ericka has decided that she is going to take on journalism – which always piqued her interest. Ericka loves a good story!

More by Ericka Jackson

Tamia Lane

Tamia Lane

Staff Writer/Social Media Editor

Tamia Lane also known as Mia Sky, is an independent published author, editor, and ghost writer. She is a multi-talented artist, from photography to creating amazing visuals. Tamia enjoys street art, music, and poetry. She’s been writing since the age of seven with only the hopes of becoming a magazine owner. Mia is very passionate about her craft, she keeps her mind focused by journaling daily. Mia loves African American culture and women empowerment. In 2018, she founded Girl Bosses Radio, a podcast media outlet used to uplift women of color.

More by Tamia Lane

Wen W. Li

Wen W. Li

Staff Writer

Wen W. Li a returning student at Laney College. He was born in China and grew up in Oakland, California. He speaks three languages: Cantonese, Japanese, and English.  His favorite sport is real football (soccer), and he also loves most Japanese foods and J-pop culture. Li is currently a reporter for Laney Tower, and he is always passionate about writing and reading. Although he is interested in education and social issues right now, he also wants to report about digital entertainment and scientific study. Li always has a high interest in child development, health psychology, and clinical psychology because he wants to know how the environment can influence one’s personality. His dream is to work for scientific journal publications or work as an international correspondent that travels around the world.

More by Wen Li
James Millett

James Millett

Staff Writer/Managing Editor

An aspiring Andy Rooney, James Millett has spent one semester writing for The Citizen. His personal mantra “hell is other people” is taken from a play by Sartre, “No Exit.” Millett’s theme song is “Desperado” by Rihanna. In his spare time, Millett likes to sit.

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Jacquelyn Opalach

Jacquelyn Opalach

Staff Writer/News Editor

For her first semester on staff, Jacquelyn Opalach hopes to tap into her small-town roots to write community-centered stories for the Citizen. Born and raised in Humboldt County, California, she has always regarded urban living with intimidation, respect, and curiosity. She moved to Berkeley shortly after graduating high school in 2019 to see for herself and attend classes in the Peralta community college district. Like many kids, Opalach once dreamed of becoming a novelist, but upon realizing she had close to no talent in fiction writing, her interests quickly shifted to journalism. After three years working on staff of her high school paper, Opalach grew to understand the crucial role journalism plays in democracy and society. She finds the ever-changing nature of the industry thrilling and can’t imagine not being a part of it. Aside from digging up stories, Opalach is a lover of yard sales, podcasts, breakfast, farmers markets, and statement outfits. She is also interested in photo-realistic drawing and rock climbing (with little confidence). See her stories this semester in the Citizen!

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Christy Price

Christy Price

Staff Writer/Photo Editor

Christy Price is a Photographer and Activist who was born in the Central Valley of California, raised in New York and Texas. After giving birth to her first daughter at the age of 17 in Ft. Worth, TX she moved back to California where she attended Fresno City College and wrote for the school’s newspaper, The Rampage. She married at the age of 24 and had her second daughter a couple years later. After a 14-year career as a secretary at the Internal Revenue Service, Christy switched gears and began working in the growing Cannabis industry. In her down time, she traveled cross country to document the 2016 Democratic National Convention and later that year went to Standing Rock. Her thinking about the dynamics of the way this world works changed with her experiences at Standing Rock and she vowed to do what she could to be the change she wanted to see.

Christy returned to school in Spring of 2019. She decided to major in something she already enjoyed and settled on Photography. Wanting to make an impact with her photographs she decided to try her hand at Photojournalism. During that class she covered the Indigenous People’s Sunrise Ceremony on Alcatraz. The coverage was published in the Panther Times. Being published sparked a fire inside of her that helped guide her to her new position as Photo Editor of The Citizen.

More by Christy Price
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

Maya Rapier

Maya Rapier

Staff Writer

Maya Rapier is a 22-year-old Bay Area native. She graduated from Oakland Technical High School and currently attends Laney College. Maya’s mother moved to California with hopes of living a better life. Maya’s family is her biggest motivation, her father most importantly plays a big part in her career goals. Her father is an activist and she frequently tag along with him to protest. As Maya attends Laney College, she studies different courses with hopes of finding a long term goal. Maya loves to travel because she enjoys the diversity of cultures and different languages. Her joy for art has yet to fade.

More by Maya Rapier

Pamela Rudd

Staff Writer

This is Pam’s second semester at Laney College and her first 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.  Pam has witnessed the aftermath of the Vietnam war, the AIDS crisis and the birth of Silicon Valley and is always amazed by the resiliency of the human spirit.  She is excited to be back in school and learning, and happy to contribute to the diverse group at The Citizen.  Journalism was her path not taken.

More by Pamela Rudd

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.

More by Tayler Shaw

Rashee Taneja

Rashee Taneja

Staff Writer

Rashee Taneja was born in Berkeley, CA and is currently a resident of San Leandro, CA. A Social Science Major, Rashee hopes to use her skills to help people heal. Her goal is to one day be a doctor or surgeon, but is undecided as to what she will specialize in. Rashee has a fond interest in writing and is thinking about minoring in Journalism. Rashee believes that writing is magical and although she struggled with it in grade school, she has blossomed in college. When she is not watching videos of surgeries, Rashee enjoys activism. She lends a voice to people that have grown up in similar circumstances to her own. Despite adversity, Rashee has kept her passion strong. She uses that passion to fuel her desires for a better life. She pays it forward by advocating for others and inspiring them to reach for higher goals.

More by Rashee Taneja

Emiliano Villa

Emiliano Villa

Staff Writer

Emiliano Villa is a multimedia journalist seeped in Oakland culture. A lifelong Oakland resident, he grew up with a love for reading. In high school, he found local organization YR Media (formerly Youth Radio). Through his internship with YR, Villa discovered his love of journalism. He has continued to write for YR Media and has also been published in NPR and the New York Times. His story on economic inequality within families for Here & Now, a public radio collaboration between NPR and WBUR Boston, won an Emerging Youth Voice award in 2017. Villa loves all things media and voraciously consumes pop-culture, race-related, and queer media, while also keeping up with politics. He is pursuing a dual-career as a drag-queen journalist and aspires to one day run his own magazine. Villa performs as Poison Oakland at drag venues and parties across the Bay Area. When not performing or writing, he enjoys listening to music and working out.

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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.