Profiles

The great sea mystery
By |
March 10, 2011

A tropical retreat on the open sea doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend the summer, especially if it provides a summer income and inspiration for a mystery novel series.

City College anthropology professor William Doonan spends his summers as a destination lecturer at sea gaining inspiration abroad for his mystery novel series. Doonan published his first mystery, “Grave Passage,” in 2009 and its sequel, “Mediterranean Grave” in January 2011.

Mystery novels are “escapist fantasies” for this anthropology professor who gives presentations to passengers on cruise ships about art, history and prehistory.

“I started thinking about that environment as a great place to set a series of mystery novels,” says Doonan, who has been lecturing on cruise ships for the past 10 years. “If a crime happens at sea, jurisdiction is a pretty vague issue, so I thought the open seas needed their own special investigator that’s when I came up with Henry Grave.”

“Mediterranean Grave” is set on a small cruise ship in the Mediterranean where a valuable artifact is stolen and Henry Grave has to solve the crime.  The second book includes more of Henry’s experience as a prisoner of war in World War II, says Doonan

Doonan’s…» Read More



From soldiers to students
By |
March 10, 2011

Transferring from the military life of guns and tanks to a civilian college atmosphere isn’t as easy as some would like to think, but former soldiers and college students are doing just that.

According to the Veterans Resource Center office at City College, there are roughly 430 veterans on campus this semester actively using their educational benefits.

Army veteran Alexis Penalver joined the U.S Army at the age of 17. For three years, he was an infantry soldier in Iraq. Penalver said his job was to fight on foot and engage the enemy face to face. He served three consecutive tours in Iraq and said that he was exposed to a lot of combat and death. After serving his time in the Army, he found it difficult to resume his civilian life.

“I was like a little soda can, you know,” Penalver said. “On the outside it looked normal, but inside, everything was going crazy.”

Veterans transitioning from active duty in the military to home and student life face an abundance of challenges. One of the toughest things for a veteran to do is ask for help, and Penalver said he was no exception.

“Speaking for myself,” he said, “being in…» Read More



Boycotting the Holy Land:Dr. Hajo Meyer speaks at City College
By |
Feb. 25, 2011

A white-haired elderly Jewish author steps outside an American college with the intention of promoting his newest book. He is greeted by an angry crowd and hateful words from Jewish people waving Israeli flags. They prevent him from speaking with their criticizing screams about his book.

In this moment the 87-year-old Auschwitz survivor compares the crowd’s behavior to that of early Germany, when the oppression of his people unfolded before him in just this way.

The man is Dr. Hajo G. Meyer.

Meyer, author of the book “The End of Judaism: An Ethical Tradition Betrayed”,  shared this story and others with City College students in the Cultural Awareness Center on Feb. 16. The center was one of the stops on his national tour, Never Again For Anyone.

Meyer’s experience with the angry mob was one of many he recreated for his audience, stories that kept faces stoic and lips still as students listened intently. Remembering the psychological torture, the Holocaust survivor told the audience of the preparation involved to reduce human empathy to the point of allowing the extermination of a people. He says the mounting oppression of the Palestinian people in Israel has ignited a new fear that is…» Read More



Doubt goes away with Professor PJ
By | Guest Writer
Feb. 24, 2011

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s Super PJ. Students won’t find her just anywhere, but she’s there when they need her. Super PJ is what they call her.

Fifty-one-year-old Patricia Harris-Jenkinson, aka PJ, teaches in the communication studies department at City College. If that wasn’t enough, she also has a private consulting business, has been married for 24 years and has two children, both in their teens, one with special needs.

Students who take a communication studies class from Harris-Jenkinson will discover an instructor who really cares about her students. They say they are drawn to this confident, yet vulnerable woman because she makes them feel better about themselves and always has a word of inspiration to offer.

Reymon Hernandez, 29, returned to City College after serving in the army for seven years and is a former student of Harris-Jenkinson’s. Hernandez had Harris-Jenkinson for “Introduction to Public Speaking” and was nervous and uncomfortable about getting up in front of a group. But he says the professor, in her special way, gave him the confidence not only to succeed but to excel in her class.

“She’s so warm and open,” Hernandez says with true admiration. “She’s very put together…» Read More



Courage to Change
By | Guest Writer
Feb. 24, 2011

City College graduate Holly Bloesser hit rock bottom before coming up for air to realize that life wasn’t just fun and games. Five years ago, Bloesser was pregnant, addicted to drugs and homeless.

When she became a resident at Sacramento Emergency Housing’s Mather Community Campus, Bloesser began to look for a new outlet, adamant about moving forward with her life.

The Mather Community Campus is a two-year housing program for the homeless, assisting its occupants with job training and classes that emphasize financial stability, mental health and support groups.

In 2006, Bloesser attended City College. She didn’t have a major in mind at the time, but today Bloesser attributes much of her career success to training she received at City College.

“What prepared me for my educational goals had to be the intimate relationship between the students and instructors,” Bloesser said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I got there. I didn’t have a goal or educational plan, but it made me think about the possibilities. It was time there that gave me direction.”

Pam Flaherty, professor and chair of the sociology department, was Bloesser’s instructor when she took Introduction to Social Services. Flaherty says she was…» Read More



Italian vagabond
By |
Feb. 24, 2011

Marci Selva found herself in the middle of Florence, Italy, trash everywhere, scents of cigarettes and tourists at every corner, an experience she would never forget.

City College English professor Marci Selva, 40, ignited her passion and profession to teach Northern California students in the city of Florence. There she experienced the delights of having the statue of David as a neighbor, the culture shock of Italian lifestyle and the wonders of a road less traveled.

In spring 2010, Selva packed her bags and embarked on a trip that was long overdue. Selva’s heritage is Italian, and she has an admiration for the famous landmarks and art of Italy.

“I come from an Italian-American background,” Selva says, “so I had to do this.”

During the study abroad program, Selva taught “Mythologies of the World” and toured most of Florence with the 96 or so students who entered the program.

“I think she’s really awesome,” says City College student Christine Mafnas, who attended the study abroad program. “She always made it a point that she wanted to help students.”

Every morning Selva encountered a new experience from vendors selling roasted chestnuts or walking down the street to greet Michelangelo’s statue of…» Read More



Mining for minds
By |
Feb. 9, 2011

The air is thin and oxygen-deprived, the perimeter pitch black. The walls of the underground mine are damp, the air heavy and cold. It’s hard to imagine the existence of sunlight.

One hand clings to the yellow hard hat you made fun of just minutes ago. Now it offers protection, your only protection hundreds of miles down in the cave.

Outdoor experiences like these really allow for appreciation of geology, and Dr. Kathryn Stanton, City College geology professor, does just that for her students. Stanton plans a mandatory field trip so students can see geology at work in cave mines.

Her passion for geology is not only reflected in field trips, but through her insightful PowerPoint lectures, quirky anecdotes, and interesting experiments.

“I explain things in a manner that I find useful,” Stanton says. “I make comparisons, or use food analogies.”

You can find Stanton’s classroom in Mohr Hall, as you turn a hall corner next to a wall covered with glass shelves exhibiting rocks, smooth outer surfaces and clear purple crystalline interiors, fossils and bones. Twenty eight students in red, hard plastic chairs sit rustling notebook papers, food wrappers and cell phones.

Click-clack, click-clack, click-clack.

The sound of Stanton’s…» Read More



Learning how to cope
By |
Feb. 9, 2011

“Every ending is a beginning,” says Tom Bruce with a hopeful smile and a gleam in his eyes. “Life is one big journey full of many journeys.”

This is the motto of City College psychology professor Tom Bruce, and it is something that he demonstrates in teachings for his popular classes: “Death and Dying,” “Peace and Conflict,” and “The Heroic Journey.”

Bruce says he teaches these courses because he believes the current culture and society have caused people to behave in a way that does not seem natural or right. He is optimistic that if students are given the opportunity to take courses like these, they will be able to see other ways to handle everyday situations in more productive ways.

A man well into his later years, Bruce has spent a lot of time gaining knowledge, through both studying and personal experience.

His office is packed with stacks and shelves of books. The gray hair and lines on his face show. Growing up in a family of “undereducated dirt farmers,” education for him and others has become his life.

“Tom is a very genuine teacher who loves his job,” says Kevin Farrell, a City College student who took “Death…» Read More



Prisoner of the City
By |
Dec. 15, 2010

City College Operations employee Ly Pham has been at City College since the 1990’s. He started as a student in the Electronics division and then found a job on campus. He is now in charge of all the keys on campus and can constantly be seen going from job to job.

Before coming to City College, Ly had a very interesting life when he was in his home country of Vietnam. Instead of being in charge of the locks, he was under the lock himself.

Prisoner of the City from Express Multimedia on Vimeo.

» Read More



Back to the History Class
By | Guest Writer
Dec. 9, 2010

In a small, unassuming office with stacks of CDs on the windowsill sits the Doc Marten bootwearing Dr. Carl-Petter Sjovold, City College History department chair.

He is immediately friendly despite the relatively early hour, although Monday through Thursday his first class begins at 7:30 a.m. Rodda Hall South is quiet at this time of morning, save for the occasional grumblings of students schlepping by Sjovold’s office on their way to or from class.

Sjovold’s iceberg-blue eyes shine like prisms when he speaks of his students. Teaching both U.S. and world history, the good doctor encounters many a learner.

“I meet new people every semester,” he says. “They all have a story.”

Apparently, so does he.

Sjovold has a varied résumé. He once had a part-time job digging ditches. He says, “It was fun for awhile, but that kind of life has its limits.”

He once worked in the advertising department of the Oakland Tribune as a production assistant and was employed at a cannery in Alaska. Sjovold got back to California on a Schwinn High Sierra bicycle. Literally.

Sjovold and three of his friends encountered bad weather along the way from Alaska to California, often sleeping on the side of…» Read More