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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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retain copyright to their work and the right to sell their work after it has appeared in The Citizen or, in the case of unpublished material, after the end of the semester.
News Tips: Please email email@example.com if you have a story tip.
Corrections: The Citizen makes prompt corrections of factual errors. If you would like to submit a factual correction for review, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide any evidence you have in the email including a link to the story you think needs a factual correction.
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@example.com
Editor in Chief
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 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.
Tamara Copes is a California native with a nomadic spirit and curious mind. Deep family roots in Oakland brought her back here to live as an adult and since then she has involved herself in numerous and varied community projects; determined to leave her mark. When not working, you may find her dancing to House, Salsa and Hip Hop music or rolling around town running errands and rhythm skating. Tamara most enjoys creative forms of storytelling. She is on the hunt to find her place in the literary world and has returned to a Journalism major after 20 years of pursuing other interests.
Randi Cross was born in Oakland, California at Highland Hospital. She spent most of her childhood living in Clearlake, California with her great grandparents. Randi has always been an “old soul” after spending most of her childhood with her great grandparents and being the only child in the house. She became a lover of reading and writing fiction since she was only allowed to watch one hour of TV a day. Her one hour of TV did not include the morning, evening, and nightly news so she was always well informed. After moving back to Oakland in high school, Randi became addicted to pop culture. When blogging became popular, she spent her free time keeping up with celebrity news and even started a blog of her own. After high school she went to Contra Costa College and got her certificate in early childhood education. Shortly after working with children, she realized it was not a career she wanted to pursue and got a job at 18 years old at an insurance company in Concord, California. Twenty-one years later, she still works at the same insurance company! Fifteen of those years were spent as the receptionist who always had the “tea”. After turning 40 this year she realized her passion has and will always be for reporting, reading, and writing. This is Randi’s first semester at Laney College in hopes of pursuing an AA-T in Journalism, ultimately transferring to San Francisco State University to get her bachelor’s degree. Writing a fiction book is also one of her goals in life. “If you find a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
Jillian Jones Grant
Jillian Jones Grant was born and raised in East Oakland, CA. She is RBT, LMT and is majoring in journalism. She is the property of October! Jillian is a bold, blunt, and beautiful Scorpio and single mother. She loves to cook, write poetry, and listen to music. She has always wanted to write and bring facts and knowledge to her peers and others. Catch her on campus or around town jamming with her headphones, dancing, writing, and last but not least, munching on her snacks!
Li Khan is a lifelong lover of food. As a child of Pakistani immigrants, she has experienced the ways immigrant families connect through food. She believes that behind every dish, there’s a rich story to tell about the people who make and eat it. Li hopes that an interest in journalism will one day empower her to report on the history and politics tied to Oakland’s food cultures. When she’s not cooking at home with her husband or searching for discounts at local grocery stores, Li can be found exploring local restaurants or playing video games with her friends.
Born and raised in Oakland, California, Daniel Lopez is a first generation college student currently working towards an associates degree for transfer in journalism. Daniel’s main hobbies include cooking, playing all sorts of video games, and coaching basketball at his former high school. Daniel has always had an interest in journalism that sparked from watching KTVU every morning while getting ready for school. This led to a spark in his love for sports journalism as he spends a lot of time reading up on not only his favorite teams, but also on the entirety of sports in general. If Daniel isn’t working or at school, he’s more than likely to be found spending quality time with family and friends.
Leo Premnath-Ray is a current Peralta freshman. He finished high school three days before he took his first college class and spent that last weekend taking part in his two favorite activities: re-reading one of his favorite books (in this case, ‘In Sensorium’ by Tanaïs) and panic-sewing. As someone who grew up in Berkeley, he is very grateful for the rich community history within the Bay Area. He is interested in exploring the political aspect of that history and how it interacts with the present.
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.
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..
Isabelly Sabo Barbosa
Isabelly was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil and moved to the US in 2018 to pursue a life change. Back home, she went to communication school where she focused her studies in Radio, Tv and Internet productions and worked as a media and marketing producer for 5 years, producing for the biggest Brazilian pop radio and traveling the world to cover concerts and events. Isabelly moved to California as an aupair and extended her stay in the US to explore and study, taking extension classes in Stanford, UCLA and UC Berkeley and now majoring in Journalism at Laney. You can find Isabelly petting all the dogs at the park and cuddling her guinea pig when she is at home. She also enjoys pop culture, Spider Man, playing instruments, karaoke, exploring the bay, a good true crime documentary and spends a lot of time reading and learning about earthquakes.
Lylah Schmedel-Permanna is a Bay Area native and graduate from the University of California-Davis where she received her bachelor’s degree in Socio-Cultural Anthropology with an emphasis on political structures. She is returning back to the community college system after having attended Las Positas College, where she was student body president in 2019. Lylah also has a strong background working in employment law and police misconduct law. She is passionate about uplifting voices in the Bay Area which has sparked her interest in becoming a journalist.
Emily Tenorio Molina
Emily is a recent Cal graduate who is eager to begin a career in journalism. During her undergrad, Emily wrote stories on Bay Area activists, social movement groups, and the importance of community engagement. Some of her interests lie in healthcare, financial equity, social activism, and breakthrough technology. In her free time, Emily enjoys walking through the picturesque streets of the Bay, learning about new fusion foods, and driving at night.
Ian is a Bay Area native, who has lived in the East Bay his entire life. He is interested in how and why things are designed, which often manifests in a passion for playing and analyzing games. He often fails to focus on a singular subject for long, reading to a plethora of interests such as reading, movies, and thinking about (but never acting) purchases of spices. In addition to The Citizen, he also writes play reviews for Theatrius.
Josh Winzeler is a lifelong Bay Area resident, having lived the majority of his life in Oakland. After graduating high school, he enrolled at Diablo Valley College where Josh was able to nurture his passion for photography and grow his skills through the Journalism program by way of Photojournalism. Back then, newspaper photography was a different beast as film was bought in 100ft. rolls and photos were processed in a darkroom. Josh became the Photo Editor for The Inquirer, DVC’s publication, as well as the Photo Editor for The Voice, Cabrillo College’s publication. Even though most of his journalistic background is with photography, the other editors at the newsrooms he worked at did let him write a few stories here and there. Life took over and brought Josh in a different direction than journalism, but stuck close to Laney to take photography related classes, and expanding his education. He has found himself back in college after some time with the hopes of honing his writing skills so that he may round out his journalism skills.
Jindi graduated from UC Berkeley about a year ago after receiving a master’s in education. However, they aren’t quite ready to enter the teaching field just yet. They are taking this year to move slowly and intentionally and journalism and writing has always been a passion project of theirs. Usually Jindi writes creative non-fiction or prose sometimes about nostalgia, mothers and time however they’re excited to practice a different genre! When Jindi is not writing, this semester you can find them teaching an ethnic studies class part time, waitering at a restaurant, editing some photos in a tea shop or cooking the latest Trader Joe’s frozen meal with a few sauce and garnish additions of their own.
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.
Luke Wrin Piper
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.