Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

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    HS students get computer ‘Upgrade’ at Laney

    High school students from the Laney College ‘Upgrade’ summer computer program toured the Square facility in San Francisco. It’s is never too late to study Computer Science.
    That is what happened to Emerson Garcia and Yong Li-Dich, two of the “underrepresented” high school students that participated in the Upgrade Program at Laney College this past summer.
    Formally called “Upgrade: CIS Program Summer 2015,” the program combined computer skills tutoring and hands-on experience for 38 current and former high school students. “Underrepresented” in this case meant minority high school students.
    Garcia is an Oakland Tech High School graduate who plans to attend a Peralta college then move on to a four-year university.
    “I was trying to do something with technology, but I didn’t know what,“ he said. “A guest speaker came to our school during my junior year (at Oakland Tech) and he gave us some statistics on what jobs were going to be open in five years. They were all computer-related. That got me to start thinking about computers.
     Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory “I took a class in computer animation. It was fun and I decided to continue with it.
    This course (here at Laney) is teaching me a lot. We are doing some basic work, coding and programming.”
    Yong Li-Dich, another Upgrade participant, is a graduate of San Leandro High School and will attend Harvard University in the fall and will major in computer science and neuroscience.
    “I started in my senior year (at San Leandro) taking an AP computer science class,” she said. “I went into high school thinking I was going to be a doctor, but computers were always around me.
    “My mother said, “You should be a software engineer and I said, ‘What’s that and it sounds really boring.’ But I gave it a chance.”
    And such is how life paths and careers can be started and the Upgrade Program at Laney can help. Even though these two students started rather late in their high school careers studying Computer Science, they are on their way to success.
    A majority of the students stayed with the six-week programs, which was voluntary.
    “It went great,” Upgrade Program organizer Johnnie Williams said, citing a retention rate of 87 percent (33 of 38) who finished the program. Students represented 10 East Bay high schools.
    The program was all-inclusive; it lasted six weeks from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and provided students with both breakfast and lunch (a hot lunch was served on Thursdays).
    “‘Under-represented’ means we’re talking about women, African Americans, Latinos, Pacific Islanders,” Williams said. “There is really such a lack of people doing computer science but when we went to the high schools, it was really about who was interested (in the program).
    Fast-render mapping is a course of study at Lawrence Berkely Lab“We were looking for under-represented students, but there were no restrictions (on who could attend the program).”
    The Laney campus was closed Fridays, but the group used the time to take field trips — to the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Square and Google.
    The program had 14 guest speakers from different technology companies give presentations and talks to the students, according to Williams. Eligible high school graduates were also placed in paid summer internships.
    Williams started passing out flyers in February to announce the inaugural program, would like to expand it “to 60 or 80” students for the 2016 Summer Session.
    With these kinds of enticements (food, field trips) it shouldn’t be hard to get the students.
    The others involved with launching and maintaining the program are: assistant directors Kim Bridges and Jose Luis (co-chair of the Laney CIS Department), Richard Bell, James Menefee, Monty Peeler and Jillian McDermott (caterers), Denise Richardson (dean), and Julian Lesoli and Yunna Gens.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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