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Peralta Community College District Celebrates Faculty Tenure Achievements

PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Group Photo

The Peralta Community College District (PCCD) held a reception on March 12, 2024, to honor 15 faculty members across all four colleges within the district: Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College, and Merritt College; who were approved for tenure later that night by the Board of Trustees. Their tenured status takes effect with the 2024-25 academic year. 

This prestigious achievement marks a significant milestone in these faculty members' careers, recognizing their dedication to exceptional teaching, scholarship, and service to the PCCD community. The ceremony was a joyous occasion that acknowledged the faculty's contributions to student success and the overall excellence of the educational programs offered by the Peralta Colleges.

The Peralta Community College District is committed to fostering a strong and talented faculty. Tenure awards represent the culmination of a rigorous evaluation process that ensures faculty members meet the highest standards of teaching and scholarship. By investing in faculty excellence, the PCCD guarantees its students access to a world-class education that prepares them for success in their academic and professional pursuits.

Congratulations to all the tenured faculty members! The Peralta Community College District is proud to have you on our team.

Many thanks to Dr. Tina Vasconcellos (Associate Vice Chancellor for Education Services) and Sabrina Manrique for organizing the reception. The video was recorded by Joe Sullivan, Bendi Yilmaz, and Angel Hunter. Photos from the reception taken by Faiza Ali, Marcus Creel, and Mark Johnson are posted here: https://peraltacolleges.smugmug.com/District/Events-/2024-Events/Faculty-Tenure-Reception/n-8BjpWM

Here are the names and short biographies of the faculty members awarded tenure.

Berkeley City College


PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Randy Yang

Randy Yang

Randy Yang teaches in the Biological Sciences in the Berkeley City College Science & Biotechnology department. He holds a B.S. in Biology from M.I.T., a Master of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from U.C.L.A. and earned his Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from U.C.L.A. focusing on PIAS in gene regulation. He worked as a scientist in the SF Bay area pharmaceutical industry when he then transitioned to teaching in 2009, joining Berkeley City College in 2011.

With over 15 years of teaching experience in the California community college system, Randy is committed to the advancement and support of underserved populations. He has participated in numerous programs at enhancing pedagogical expertise in Biology and has served on multiple academic committees. Randy is currently a faculty advisor to the student Stem Club, a representative in the Academic Senate, Science Career Education coordinator, and Co-Chair of the Science and Biotechnology department.  

Laney College


PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Peder Aune

Peder Aune

Peder Aune is an instructor in the Machine Technology department at Laney College. He was a high school teacher looking for a career change when he first made contact with the department in 2010. He took courses in machining, computer-aided design, and CNC programming that helped him transition to a nine-year career as a machinist, technician, and engineer. Although he enjoyed this work and the chance to apply his undergraduate mechanical engineering degree, he missed teaching and working with students. In 2018, he returned to the Machine Tech department as a part-time instructor and began to work full-time in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Prior to becoming a machinist, Peder worked for 17 years as a secondary math and science teacher, including work in Oakland, San Leandro, and an overseas stint teaching at an international school in Guatemala. He is a graduate of the Oakland public schools and took his first class at Laney as a high school student in 1986.


PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Mary Catherine Bassett

Mary Catherine Bassett

Mary Catherine Bassett, Art Faculty and Department Chair at Laney College, has taught various courses in the Art Department since 2020. Having started her journey at a Tenure candidate 6 weeks before the world locked down was an interesting experience to say the least. Not only did the world change, but how we approached education and hands on learning changed along with it. Her tenure journey has been one of navigating through uncharted territory; developing learning environments in the classroom studios that foster community, finding new and creative ways to accommodate all students, and building a vibrant department as we emerged from the COVID epidemic.

Over the past 4 years, Mary Catherine has been an integral part of curriculum development and program creation in the Art Department. Creating degrees like Digital Fabrication Technology – Art and the Foundations Certificate for the OUSD Young Adult Program, as well as nurturing community collaborations with arts organizations like Hort|Culture and Civic Design Studio, her work has opened up pathways of success and new approaches to the field of art for the students at Laney College.                                                                                                              


PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Danitza Lopez

Danitza Lopez

Danitza Lopez joined Laney College in 2017 as a part-timer, and immediately fell in love with the community at the Peralta Community College District, so much so that she left another full-time position to come back and serve at Laney College when the opportunity surfaced. Growing up as undocumented for 10 years, Danitza was not sure whether college was a real option for her, but she fought hard to forge a way through community college classes, and later undergraduate and graduate studies. After teaching in other California Community Colleges, the UC system, and abroad, she is glad to have made Laney her home. Because of her unique background, she fights hard to help her students learn the English language and the importance of self-growth, all with the hopes of building a supportive community to improve their lives as immigrants in the Bay Area. To that end, Danitza has designed a series of support classes to assuage the transition for incoming immigrant students into the American college system. She works closely with her colleagues to lead Laney College in supporting all Latinx students, including important events such as the Undocu Resource Fair and the Peralta RAICES graduation celebrations. For these efforts, Danitza was awarded the Laney Eagle in fall 2023.

Sharing her story of being undocumented and an English learner herself, she is living proof that anyone can overcome adverse situations and achieve their own American Dream, and that is what she hopes to convey to her students. She is proud to be the only tenured Latina in the ESOL department but does not take this honor lightly. Considering the lack of authentic representation in higher education, Danitza‘s aim is to pave the way for future generations of minorities in academia.

Outside of work, Danitza enjoys learning, hiking, and reading, but most of all, traveling around the world.


PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Kyla Oh

Kyla Oh
Kyla Oh is a math instructor at Laney College. Kyla served as adjunct faculty at College of Alameda for 4 years before being hired full-time at Laney. She has an EE degree from Brown University and a Master's Degree in Math from Cal State East Bay. Over the past few years, she has helped launch the Data Science program at Laney College and is currently working on three grant projects aimed at developing courses and transfer pathways to four-year institutions. Additionally, she leads the Equity in Calculus grant initiative, collaborating with math faculty district-wide to implement alternative grading strategies that promote equity and inclusivity. Furthermore, she is currently serving as the faculty lead for Laney’s new MESA program, contributing to its launch and development. Committed to student success, Kyla has actively participated in many workshops on equitable grading practices. Her main areas of teaching are Data Science, Statistics, Introductory Calculus, and Precalculus.


PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Matthew Wolpe

Matthew Wolpe

Matthew Wolpe is carpentry faculty at Laney College. Par of his focus for the past several years at Laney has been our Tiny House program, including the Wedge, Laney’s entry into the 2016 Net Zero Tiny House Competition, where we won several awards including Best Architecture.

Matthew has a background in design/build, and is particularly interested in applying design and construction towards social and environmental responsibility. His focus is on innovative models of teaching hands-on skills and creating a welcoming environment for all students. He is also passionate about Accessory Dwelling Units, Timber framing and furniture making.

Prior to teaching full time at Laney, Matthew started the Design/Build program at Berkeley High School, taught at the Crucible in Oakland, and was a Design Specialist at UC Berkeley’s Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation in the College of Engineering.


PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Maricela Zambrano

Maricela Zambrano
Maricela Zambrano is an EOPS/CARE/CalWORKs Counselor at Laney College. Maricela received her master's degree in counseling with a specialization in College Student Services in 2016 from Saint Mary's College. Upon graduation, Maricela was immediately hired as an adjunct counselor at Contra Costa College, her alma mater. Maricela also worked as an adjunct CalWORKs counselor at Berkeley City College for 1 year, before landing her current full-time position as EOPS/CARE/CalWORKs counselor at Laney. Being a product of community college and a former Puente student, Maricela is exited to continue learning and growing while working with students in special programs and learning communities at Laney College.

Merritt College


PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Sara Alturk

Sara Alturk
Sara Alturk, MS, started working at Merritt College in 2019 as a part-time Athletics Counselor. In August 2020, she became a full-time faculty member as a Career and General Counselor within the Counseling Department. Sara created and started the Career Center at Merritt College hosting career workshops, supporting students individually to develop their job skills, and planning a budget outline to provide students tools for career exploration. Last Spring, Sara partnered with Insight Housing to host a career fair on campus with over 40 employers and 150+ students attending. Prior to this, she hosted virtual career fairs with students partnering with our Child Development Department and connecting students individually to healthcare careers. Sara also supported opening the Transfer and Career Center in Summer 2023 to host workshops in collaboration with the Transfer Counselor. As our current Counseling Department Co-Chair and campus committee member of the Behavioral Intervention Team, Sara continues to build relationships with students and supports them with transferring to CSU, UC, Private, and HBCU colleges. Some of Sara’s current student success stories include admission and attendance to Cal State East Bay’s Nursing Program, Kaiser’s Radiology Program, HBCUs including most recently Clark Atlanta University, and most of the UC and CSU campuses. Sara is committed to student success with their career and transfer goals and continues to champion for students in their educational journey.        


PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Michelle St Germaine

Michelle St. Germaine

Michelle St. Germaine, M.S.Ed., assumed her role as full-time faculty within the esteemed Merritt College Child Development Department in August 2020. With over 25 years of hands-on experience in the field of Child Development, Ms. St. Germaine brought a wealth of practical knowledge and expertise to her position.

Following her appointment, Ms. St. Germaine was tasked with leading the department amidst the challenges posed by the pandemic and significant faculty transitions. Stepping into this pivotal role during such a critical time, she demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and resilience. Ms. St. Germaine adeptly navigated the department through a period of transition, overseeing the seamless integration of new faculty members while maintaining the department's high standards of excellence.

Under Ms. St. Germaine's guidance, the Child Development Department at Merritt College continued to thrive, adapting to the evolving needs of students and the community. Notably, she spearheaded the development of innovative solutions to the challenges posed by the pandemic shutdown. Ms. St. Germaine designed a pivot to the Lab Practicum capstone course, integrating proprietary video technology to enable students to complete the practicum remotely. This pioneering model not only ensured continuity in education but also served as an alternative method for completing the capstone course, thus removing a significant barrier to student success.

Additionally, Ms. St. Germaine collaborated with prominent employers such as the City of Oakland and YMCA of the East Bay to secure and manage a California Apprenticeship Initiative (CAI) grant for the college. This 1.5-million-dollar three-year initiative established the Merritt College Early Childhood Educator Apprenticeship program, which, by its completion in 2026, will have assisted 108 apprentices in obtaining their Merritt College Associate Teacher certificate and the California Child Development permit, ultimately addressing the teacher shortage in the field.

Ms. St. Germaine's dedication to the field and her unwavering commitment to student success have left an indelible mark on the department, embodying the spirit of excellence that defines Merritt College.


PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Mitra Mofidi

Mitra Mofidi

Mitra Mofidi brings a lifetime of dedication to Peralta Community College, embodying a profound understanding of its mission to serve the community. Moving to the United States from Iran, her family settled across the street from Laney College where Mitra grew up immersed in its vibrant environment, and took her first Laney College courses at the age of 9. Living across the street from Laney and through Mitra's familial ties at Merritt College campus, she has spent most of her life at Peralta and experienced firsthand the essence of community college life, deeply ingraining within her the mission to uplift the community through education. At 16, Mitra began her professional journey at the Merritt College bookstore, gradually transitioning through various roles, from Student Worker to Instructional Assistant to Classified Staff, until she fulfilled her aspiration of becoming a faculty member in the Learning Resources department, where she supports all students, with a focus on those with disabilities and diverse learning styles. Mitra considers learning to be both a process and an experience that she is eager to share with students through her work in the Learning Resources Department and SAS Department, aiming to equip students with the tools and support necessary for college success in addition to sharing her passion for accessibility services, which she believes can empower individuals to reach their fullest potential.

She is a Merritt College alumni receiving a degree in Social and Behavioral Science in 2003. Fueled by her passion for learning and equipped with degrees and certifications in Anthropology, Special Education, Nutrition, and Online Teaching, Mitra has dedicated herself to advancing educational accessibility at Merritt College and helping others achieve their academic goals. Her dedicated commitment spanning over 20 years of service to Merritt includes advocating for students with disabilities, leading workshops on learning and accessibility, serving as chair for the Learning Resources Department, and co-chairing the Merritt Technology Committee and Health and Safety Committee. Noteworthy among her recent achievements are the successful securing of the Juvenile Justice and Adult Transition Program grants, thereby injecting over $3 million into Learning Resources programs and campus-wide programs that enrich student experiences and expand educational horizons. Mitra's work with the campus and her commitment to sharing the transformative power of education echoes the college's motto, "Merritt College Changes Lives" as she continues to champion equitable access to higher education for all, sharing her passion for bringing awareness to the needs of students, and those with different learning styles and disabilities.

Janine Nkosi

Dr. Janine Nkosi is a dedicated and passionate sociologist, activist-educator, and community organizer. She joined the Merritt College family in Spring 2020. She’s incredibly grateful to the hiring committee for taking a chance on her, to her tenure committee for supporting her and helping her grow as a sociology professor and to her colleagues and students for all of their encouragement and support as she navigated starting a new position at the beginning of a global pandemic.

Dr. Nkosi is a member of the Merritt College Distance Education committee, is the secretary for the MC Academic Senate and is the Chair of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department. In her first few years at Merritt she completed the Peralta Equity Training, led the process for updating the Social and Behavioral Sciences degree, supported the Social Sciences department in completing their APU’s, and learned a lot from her peers through participating in peer evaluations. She’s really proud of the work she’s doing with her colleagues to help advance ZTC and OER at Merritt College.


PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Adoria Williams

Adoria R. Williams
Adoria's journey from a precocious toddler in Fremont—when it was merely half its current bustling size—to the esteemed halls of academia, is nothing short of a rollercoaster designed by fate with a penchant for the dramatic. Born with a book in one hand and, presumably, a pen in the other, she was ready to enter kindergarten at three years old, but dismayed by the fact that she could not. She learned to be a disciplined learner while sitting in evening college classes with her mother at Ohlone College. By the age of 14, she landed her first job, tackling the task of folding clothes at a dry cleaner with a zeal that would later fuel her journey through the esteemed, albeit occasionally perplexing, halls of higher education. Despite a challenging relationship with mathematics, Adoria danced through trigonometry and high school with grace, graduating early at age 16—not to escape education, but to dive into it even deeper at San Francisco State University.

However, it wasn't long before Adoria's academic voyage took a detour. In the midst of an exceptionally dreary Western Civilization class, a flyer on the wall whispered a siren call to study abroad, and it sparked an epiphany. With a decisiveness that would make even the most renowned explorers seem tentative, she set her sights on Spain, leaving the mundane behind to embrace the cobblestone allure of Europe. This was no ordinary gap year—well, technically, it stretched into almost two—but rather a leap into the unknown, fueling a passion for political science that saw her returning to the States with a clear sense of purpose. Degrees in Political Science soon followed, marking her intellectual curiosity and steadfast refusal to be bored by life.

Yet, the plot thickens, as all good stories do. Despite getting a Juris Doctor degree and spending several years working for government organizations—where she juggled contracts and team dynamics—Adoria's true calling whispered to her from the stacks. The call of the library was too potent to ignore so Adoria returned to school for her fourth degree in Library & Information Science. Adoria began working at the Merritt Library and teaching information literacy in 2024. While advancing from an adjunct librarian to the Chair of her department, her journey is a testament to the power of perseverance, passion, and perhaps, a touch of wanderlust. Now, as she stands on the precipice of tenure at Merritt, Adoria contemplates retirement in the next five to seven years with the wry acknowledgment that for someone who's spent a lifetime turning pages, the next chapter is always the most exciting.                                                                            

Joe Zermeño

Joe Zermeño is a first-generation college graduate. His family immigrated to the United States from México and he grew up in the Salinas Valley (CA), where the importance of an education was instilled in his family by his mother, Guadalupe Cardenas Zermeño. Joe attended Chabot College (Hayward, CA) before transferring and earning my B.S and M.S. in Biological Sciences at California State University, Hayward (now CSU East Bay).      

Joe started at Merritt College in the spring of 2020, just before the COVID pandemic. He has been fortunate to work with incredibly supportive colleagues as he works through the tenure process. Joe is most proud of having supported our students through the COVID years through extensive online instruction training and teaching, that has been transitioning to more hybrid and face-to-face instruction. Joe believes that Merritt College offers a wonderful start to our students’ college education and future careers.

College of Alameda



PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Danna Chavez Baquero

Danna Chavez Baquero
Danna Chavez Baquero was born and raised in Cali, Colombia. At age of 15, she moved to California. Danna started her education at Cuesta Community College. As an immigrant with limited English and resources, she enrolled in college. Danna’s mentors were there to support and guide her through her educational journey. After completing her Associates of Arts in General and Transfer Studies, Danna transferred to Cal Poly University San Luis Obispo and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Later, Danna earned her Masters in Art in Education with Specialization in Counseling and Guidance from California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo.

Danna’s work experience started at Cuesta College where she worked for 10+ years in many departments including Transfer Center, Admissions and Records, English as a Second Language, and Student Support and Services Programs. She also worked at Los Medanos College for 2 years as a Transfer and Career Services Program Coordinator, helping students discover their career pathway as well as exploring their transfer possibilities to the four-year university. In addition, Danna taught Academic Career and Success Courses at Los Medanos College. Before Danna came to College of Alameda, she was a Career Technical Programs Counselor for Contra Costa College. Currently, Danna is a PUENTE/ ACCESO Counselor at College of Alameda and has dedicated the last 4 years to help develop and structure these two wonderful programs where students can find a sense of belonging, familia, and direction towards their goals through the pedagogy of love and self-exploration.

Danna has a strong passion to help students achieve their goals and to transfer to 4-year universities. She has worked with a diverse student population and understands the importance in cultural values influences students’ careers. She wants to help students succeed in their careers because she believes that investing in education is key to success.                                                      


PCCD 2024 Tenure Reception Cynthia Haro

Cynthia Haro
Cynthia Haro is a native of Richmond, California, and a proud product of her local community college. Born to immigrant parents, Cynthia dreamed of attending college but needed assistance navigating the education system.

After completing high school, she enrolled at Contra Costa College (CCC), where she received invaluable support from counselors, staff, professors, and peers. Cynthia earned an AA degree in Economics from CCC before transferring to the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) to pursue a degree in Chicano Studies. Inspired by her life experiences at CCC and UCB, Cynthia was motivated to pursue a career in college counseling. She obtained her degree in College Counseling from San Francisco State University.

Cynthia manages the College of Alameda Promise Program, providing counseling services to general and College Promise students. She also co-chairs the counseling department and teaches counseling courses.

Cynthia aims to empower and guide students at College of Alameda in reaching their academic aspirations, aspiring to offer the same level of encouragement and assistance that supported her throughout her community college journey.

Tags: District, Tenure, Faculty


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