COA commemorates golden anniversary remotely during pandemic

December 8, 2020

By Morna Mandic, Staff Writer

Founded in June 1970, the College of Alameda celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. The milestone was commemorated with a gala on December 1st. Co-hosted by Interim President Don Miller and Peralta Foundation’s Executive Director LaNiece Jones, the gala featured current and former students of the College of Alameda as well as several instructors and other staff. 

New COA president, Dr. Nathaniel Jones III, introduced the event, highlighting the college’s successes over the past 50 years. He emphasized COA’s effective response to the COVID pandemic and the new programs it has created in response, such as community food drives and laptop lending initiatives. “I look forward to working with the CoA community to build this vision and plan for a future we can all be proud of,” Jones said, addressing his presidency, “as we continue to educate world changers that are diverse, ethical, and passionate critical thinkers.”

The gala featured several vocal performances by COA students, including one by the College of Alameda Gospel Ensemble, conducted by Professor Silvester Henderson, who congratulated the college on 50 years. You can hear these performances here

The COA FabLab was praised for providing students the resources to work with technology and create a better future. The FabLab is involved in an initiative to develop and distribute face shields and masks in response to the pandemic. “I think a lot about what innovation is and it’s basically learning as quickly as you can,” said a speaker at the event. “We are training people who are prepared to save your life.”

Area 1 Trustee Bill Withrow praised COA for its financial contributions. “The school has been a tremendous economic engine for our community,” Withrow said. “[Creating] very well prepared candidates for transfer to four-year universities,” COA increases the GDP and quality of life of the surrounding areas. 

Adrien Abuyen credits CoA with helping him find his place in the world. Photo by Morna Mandic, courtesy of Zoom.

“[COA made] my first year as a first-generation college student an unforgettable one,” Adrien Abuyen, COA student and UC Berkeley alumnus said. Abuyen congratulated COA, saying, “I learned that I needed to use my life and my career to bring about positive and healing change to people’s lives. CoA gave me that opportunity and I am very grateful for it.”

A video by the dance department highlighted the diversity of education at COA, featuring all kinds of different dance taught by instructor Danny Nguyen. “If you haven’t found what you’re going to do, you’re going to find it somewhere in the Peralta system,” a student of the department said.

“The job market is more competitive than ever,” Miller said. “By having a college degree or career training our students multiply their possibilities.” He also addressed measures COA has taken to fight systemic racism, saying that the college is “committed to fighting discrimination in all its forms.” 

Miller and LaNiece Jones urged attendees to donate to the Peralta Colleges Foundation. “About 60 percent of our students are eligible for some form of financial aid,” Miller said, “but financial aid isn’t enough to cover food, shelter, necessities to be online, [and] WiFi access.

“Help us fund the college’s vision for a better future by making a contribution today that will help provide emergency grants and scholarships to students today and tomorrow.” You can donate here.

“[COA] is a college characterized by success and resilience. The faculty staff and students have much to be proud about and celebrate,” Nathaniel Jones III said. “As we chart the future course of the CoA let us do so with passion, a focus on student access and success, and a commitment to equity.”