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retain copyright to their work and the right to sell their work after it has appeared in The Citizen or, in the case of unpublished material, after the end of the semester.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
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
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 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 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 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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
Copy Editor/Staff Writer
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..
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.
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.
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.
Michelle Dione Snider
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