February 25, 2022
By David Rowe, Associate Editor
Viewers of the Peralta Board of Trustees meetings on YouTube are probably familiar with Micah Cooper, the outspoken student trustee from Merritt College. Leesa Hogan, Cooper’s fellow student trustee, keeps a lower profile. However, Hogan has been a staunch advocate for students with learning disabilities.
Hogan, a 44-year old returning student, originally attended Merritt in 2016-17 before transferring to the University of California, Riverside in 2018. Hogan, who says she suffers from learning disabilities and a speech impediment, had a difficult transition. Already struggling with academics during her time at Riverside, she discovered that her mother passed away unexpectedly the day before Mother’s Day, 2019. Hogan described having lunch with her mother just two hours before she suffered a fatal heart attack. Hogan stuck it out for one more quarter at UC Riverside, but found the stress was taking a toll on her health. Hogan returned to Merritt in the fall of 2019 to study childhood development.
In addition to her academic and student government responsibilities, Hogan fills a variety of part-time roles for the Oakland and San Leandro school districts, including working with the parents of special needs children. She also finds time to spend with her 2 ½ year old grandson and has another grandchild on the way.
After returning to Merritt College, Hogan was looking for ways to help students with learning disabilities avoid the kind of experience she had endured in transferring to a four year university.
“I wanted to make sure that no other student had to experience what I experienced trying to transfer to a UC college,” Hogan said.
A Merritt counselor suggested she look into student government as a forum to voice her concerns and to gain more self-confidence. The fact that meetings were conducted online during the pandemic also appealed to Hogan, since she was reluctant to “put herself out there.” She was elected as a Student Trustee on the Peralta Board of Trustees for a one-year term that began on July 1, 2021.
Hogan also serves as Vice President of the Associated Students of Merritt College and as the student representative on the Peralta Community College District Participatory Governance Council which, according to the Peralta website, is “the primary district-wide advisory review body pertaining to major participatory governance issues.” The council meets monthly and is co-chaired by interim Chancellor Jannett Jackson and District Academic Senate President Donald Moore.
Hogan says two of the Peralta trustees, Nicky Gonzalez Yuen and Linda Handy, have acted as her mentors.
Gonzalez Yuen, in an email to The Citizen, observed that Hogan “has worked hard under really difficult circumstances to raise up the needs and concerns of students. She’s an invaluable asset to the board and I wish we had more like her. It takes persistence and hard work to be a good trustee, and Leesa has been willing to step up to this challenge.”
Gonzalez Yuen hopes to see other students inspired by Hogan’s example “willing to vie for the privilege of representing our students in the student government election process” in the coming year.