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Peralta in the News – October 6, 2023

BCC BoT Report 9 26 23_11

Student Stories: BCC Poetry Student’s Short Story Memoir Published

A Berkeley City College poetry student published a book of personal short stories over the summer and is seeing a fair share of success with hundreds of copies sold. Skinny Woman in a Straw Hat: Memoir of a Vietnamese American by Hao C. Tran is currently holding a 5-star rating on Amazon.

BCC BoT Report 9 26 23_10

Hao C. Tran left Vietnam as a young man to go to college in Australia and later settled in the United States. Shortly after he left Saigon, the war ended, and he couldn’t return for 20 years. Since 1994, he has gone back to his homeland a dozen times, and many of his short stories are based on these journeys. Hao’s stories are from the perspective of a Việt Kiều, a Vietnamese living overseas. He writes about his own experience as an immigrant, his family, the people he encountered in his travels, and the heart-breaking changes in post-war Vietnam.

After retiring from the US Forest Service where he held a position as a scientist, Tran began taking creative writing classes at BCC in the summer of 2010. He had spent the majority of his life doing research and writing scientific reports and was not familiar with creative writing.

“I took a summer class with Sharon Coleman, and it opened something, a gate, a door, a valve, and I felt this is how you do it – this is how you can let the stories flow out,” said Tran.

He took a poetry class with Coleman for 5 consecutive semesters and found a community of authors and an instructor in Coleman that helped him workshop stories and find his voice. “I’m still friends with the community, we’re still writing together in self-organized groups. The friendships last a long time and the connections are strong. We bonded over the class.”

Over that time, he was able to compile stories that would ultimately form the backbone of his book, with the encouragement of Coleman and his classmates. Coleman wrote the foreword for the book and gave tips on how to market and get it out in the community. Skinny Woman in a Straw Hat was published by Autonomous Press in late May 2023.

“My background in science was to tell everything, but to learn a new trade-in storytelling is like a painting. It’s taking the reader through the experience without telling them what they’re supposed to see and feel,” said Tran. “Instead you make them care. Sharon called it find your poetic voice, write with your senses. She builds community in her classes, and I owe a lot of this work to her.”


CoA BoT Report 9 26 23_2

Dr. William Ramos Ochoa to Serve as Acting Dean of CoA Liberal Studies and Language Arts

Dr. William Ramos Ochoa has been appointed as the Acting Dean of the College of Arts (CoA) with a focus on Liberal Studies and Language Arts (LSLA). Ochoa brings a wealth of experience in higher education, particularly in the realm of dual enrollment initiatives and dedicated service to underserved students. His journey in higher education began at Laney College, where he was a student himself. In 2020, he returned to Laney College as the director of the Gateway Program, a role dedicated to facilitating the transition of high school students into the college environment. In the interim period between his time as a student at Laney and his directorship of the Gateway Program, Dr. Ochoa earned both a Master of Arts and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership.

Throughout his career, he has also served as an instructor and held various leadership positions in coordinating community college programs. Dr. Ramos Ochoa is a passionate and dedicated educator whose primary goal is to empower students to succeed in their educational journeys.


Merritt BoT Report 9 26 23_3

Merritt College's Lilian Pires to Retire

Merritt congratulates one of the College’s most beloved and amazing classified professionals. After nearly nine years of service to the Peralta District and Merritt College, Ms. Lilian Pires is finally retiring. Lilian joined the Peralta Community College District as a Principal Accounting Technician with District Finance in March of 2015. In that role, she also worked closely with large grants such as Strong Workforce and Adult Ed, establishing critical reports that are still used today.

In August of 2019, she came to Merritt as a Principal Financial Analyst, and led the Business Office through the pandemic and during a time when the VPAS role was vacant. Lilian has had a tremendous impact on this institution, and the support that she has given is appreciated. When Merritt College was navigating through very difficult waters trying to maintain sound fiscal planning and operations, she was the ballast that kept us moving in the right direction. In the immediate future, she is planning to take some line dancing classes, so we wish her much happiness in her retirement. Thank you, Lilian!

Tags: Merritt College, College of Alameda, Berkeley City College


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