Seeing Beauty in the World

Cut and polished rock

When I used to think of things like the Dust Bowl, Dr. Pepper, or rock hounding, I did not feel any sense of significance or connection to them, but after interviewing my grandfather, I became a lot more interested in all three. While he is not my biological grandfather, I have grown up knowing Rod Reber as my grandpa, or papa, all my life, and it was fascinating to learn so much more about him. There are a lot of differences between his generation and mine, but in each of his stories and responses to my questions, I found some way of relating them back to my life.

Continue Reading

Bend, Not Break: My Grandmother’s Story

I was born in Redding, California. Redding is a small town. It’s the kind of small town that even if it grows, it maintains that small town feel. I always thought of Redding as being small of mind as well. There is not a lot of diversity in Redding, and there is still a lot of racism. There is also a lot of poverty. Though I didn’t live there long, my grandparents have always been in Redding, and I’ve seen them like a beacon of light in the small town.

Continue Reading

Envisioning Colors

“I wish I could do that,” I say, showing my boyfriend a makeup post on one of the various sites I used to waste my hours on.

“Then do it” he replies, “You can pull off anything.”

Yet, something holds me back.  Sitting in my squeaky computer chair, makeup products cluttered along my desk and arms, the voice in my mind asks me, “But what if I’m going to be judged?”  I stare into the mirror, talking myself out of playing with the colors I envisioned while my cat in the background navigates the mess just to get to her sleeping spot.  Continue Reading

A Tribute to Dr. Reyes Ortega

The above 13-minute video features an interview with Dr. Reyes Ortega about his work with the Puente program at Sierra College and his legacy as he enters into retirement. After the interview in the video, two former students share personal tributes. In the written article below, other former students pay tribute to their transformative teacher and offer advice to future students.

Continue Reading

Femicide

It’s the start of a new relationship,
I get ready for my date, hair in soft spirals,
lips stained red while the color upon my eyes are smoked,
body adorned by a sleek bodycon.

Love took over my mind, the insides of my body filled with floating butterflies,
He’s sophisticated, smart, and charming,
A man that wants to take care of me, wanting what is best for us,
It’s too good to be true.

Cracks start forming, another man emerges,
It’s my fault, I can’t do anything right,
Apologies aren’t enough, thoughts spinning in my head, telling me I’m crazy,
Suddenly, my skin is blemished with bruises, my face stained with tears.

I need to get out, but no one will help me,
After filing several complaints, police won’t help me,
I can’t get out and soon it will be too late for me,
As I will be strangled by the cracked image of a man I thought I loved.

I would be alive today if I was listened to,
Now I am just another number among the women killed before me,
For I have died by femicide, murder committed by my partner,
But there is an outcry for us, activists rallying for a change.

Posters littered amongst the walls under tunnels,
An image of me, the woman I once was,
Displaying the reality of domestic violence,
With the intent of making women before me, victims of femicide, visible.

Written by Taylor Hamilton | Photo by Jean-Luc Mounier 

Education as Creative Freedom

Jenny Stamps self-portrait

My proudest day of school was the day I dropped out. That was the day I declared my learning autonomy; the day I took direct action to occupy my education. I have Sierra College to thank for reigniting my passion for exploration and desire to learn. When I first graduated high school, college was the last thing on my mind. The busy work and pressures of public school had rid me of any interest in further studies. To me, school was a prison. Perhaps I felt that way because I had something to compare it to.
Continue Reading

Sierra Alumni Story: LittleDove Rey

My name is LittleDove Rey and I am currently a first-year doctoral student in clinical psychology at the PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium, a program run jointly by Palo Alto University and Stanford University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. While I am now working towards an advanced degree, I did not always think that I would pursue higher education. Growing up, college felt very out of reach. I am a first-generation college student, and throughout my life I did not know anyone who had attended college. Despite this, my journey led me to Sierra College in Fall 2013, where my life course would transform and ultimately help set me on the path to where I am today.
Continue Reading

Near and Far: An exploration of travel and the human spirit

Photograph of Ruie and Rosemary Shows, circa 2015

My grandmother speaks vividly of life’s adventures, recounting details most lose with age—styles of brothers’ shorts, colors of Easter hats and childhood prayers recited in front of the fireplace. She recalls in similar sentiment the gentleness of her mother’s fingers knitting Christmas presents for 12 children and the clammy hands that clutched her small arms as Axis bombers flew overhead. A childhood lived, in part, under the dining room table and school desks, learning to hide from the worst. For all tragedy of WWII, my grandmother adored the American soldiers who shared chewing gum and oranges with the children of her rural British town. Now, 80 years later and decidedly settled in Northern California, she leaned back on her floral couch and shared stories of youth—of younger years tinged with travel, chance love and unlooked for peace.
Continue Reading

Tribute to April Moore

A photo featuring from left to right April Moore (grandmother), Brooklyn Shinabargar (granddaughter), Sadie Hampshir (granddaughter), and Isabella Delatorre (niece).

The following is a sestina for grandmother April Pamela Moore (December 21, 1947-September 5, 2015), written by Sierra College student Brooklyn Shinabargar (Nisenan/Washoe) in English 20 with professor Barbara Nelson-Burns. Moore was a Sierra College alumni and granddaughter, Shinabargar is the president of the Native American & Pacific Islander Student Club.

You are the woman people admire,
The energy flows through your dance.
Shells and beads twinkle with you,
The ground trembles from your strength,
Still wind makes the moment last.
Proud to be yours, proud of your pride.

Continue Reading

Split

The goal of many transgender people in transitioning is to “pass.” That is, to have people, especially strangers, associate them with their true gender without question. Yet in a dichotomous society with a foundation of blue and pink, boys and girls, men and women (which gives rise to widespread transphobia in the first place), there is no room for people like me. There is a clear boundary, a crevasse that splits right down the middle of my forehead. “Are you a man or a woman?” No! Should I be?
Continue Reading

Tokyo Darling

Every morning, Haruka Ogawa would wake up to the sight of string lights above her dorm room bed, an experience so uniquely American for her. As she stepped out into the cold air to get ready for her day, her eyes would catch the memories of her old life hanging on the walls — a group photograph of her dance team, or a snapshot of her graduation ceremony from her high school back in Japan.

Just a few months prior, Ogawa was living in a suburban city outside of Tokyo, visiting the bustling metropolis each weekend with her friends. She was used to the colors, the sights, and the sounds of the place she grew up. Now she was walking through a campus of unfamiliar trees and faces, in a country where everyone spoke an unfamiliar tongue.

Continue Reading