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

Students discuss their work in class at the MESA center at American River College on April 25, 2024. (Photo: Cristian Gonzalez/CalMatters)
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    In loving memory of KeithWelch, Laney Hero-Students, administrators and friends mourn the loss of…

    by Michelle Snider/Co-editor

    Keith Welch graduated from Laney with the class of 2018 and worked tirelessly to help others succeed in their educational goals.

    Mourning the loss of Laney College alumni and student advocate Keith Welch, family and friends, students, faculty and staff came together on Feb. 28 to remember the positive impact of his life.

    Welch passed away on Feb. 25 after suffering from a series of heart attacks, according to Laney President Tammeil Gilkerson.

    She began the memorial by announcing Welch’s family was present, and that the large gathering in the Laney Administration Building lobby showed the spirit of Laney College.

    Culinary student Laura Bloom remembered Welch for his love of cooking and making sure students were well-fed.

    “He loved to cook, especially Southern style, and he loved to feed people — especially students here at Laney College,” Bloom said.

    Responsible for starting a library for the culinary arts chefs at Laney, Welch also advocated against the A’s stadium development on Peralta property near Laney and fought against gentrification in Chinatown.

    “He was about the community, and we need more people like him,” Bloom said. “If you guys could step up to do community service, that would be great. He started something that turned into a snowball.”

    Former ASLC Senator Sheon Slaughter also had strong memories of Welch. The two ran against each other for president, and Welch won.

    “I lost because you cannot beat food. Food unifies, it brings us together,” Slaughter said about the election.

    The Culinary Arts Club was also created by Welch, and provides free food on campus regularly with events like “Green Mondays.” Their goal is to help keep students from feeling hungry on their way to classes.

    Welch was also responsible for creating a designated counselor for the Culinary Arts Department, Slaughter said, to help students graduate within four semesters.

    On the fourth floor of the Student Center, Gary Albury, director of student activities and student life, often works late into the night, and Welch had an office across the hall.

    “Who was right there with me? Keith,” Albury said. “That was the testament of the kind of person he was. He always wanted to put students first.”

    Referring to the lifespan of people, Albury said that the space between a person’s beginning and end is that person’s “dash.”

    “Within that dash you get to write your story,” he said. “Looking around this room, it’s a testament within that dash the effect that Keith has had on so many people.”

    Announcing an ASLC vote to put together a $1500 scholarship in Welch’s name, ASLC President Dagnachew Sibhat said Welch was a leader he looked up to as a past president.

    Gilkerson ended the memorial just before attendees were served fried chicken, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese in Welch’s honor, and all food was free.

    Welch inspired her so much, she said, that she spoke about him in her commemoration speech.

    “Love begets love. Kindness begets kindness. We build a culture of service,” she said. “You serve where you are, you stand on the shoulders of people, you give love into the world, and the love comes back to you. We have to build communities around that, and that was the principal of Keith in total.”

    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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