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.
“Congrats! You qualify to join the Honor Society.” This is the email students receive when they have completed 12 units and earned a 3.5 or higher-grade point average at the end of a semester. It’s an email with the potential to set students up for scholarship opportunities, help students develop leadership skills, gain lifelong friends and so much more.
Click. Silence. Four Beats. A breath. And go. This is the beginning of a typical recording session for Northern California based artist, Shilla Varasteh. At only nineteen, she has released several singles, an EP, and more all while balancing home and school life. She writes, produces, and releases her songs from her bedroom studio.
It’s no secret that the college experience has included experimentation with drugs. When I think of drug use on campus, I picture sitting in circles on a grassy hill, smoking joints, trading revolutionary ideas, and experimenting with psychedelics like LSD. Fast forward a few decades and what you get is a complex drug problem that exists in colleges around the country, and the new juggernaut is the prescription drug trade.
“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
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.
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.
“I don’t want a single one of you to leave here tonight thinking you’ve done anything other than kick some serious butt this semester,” laughed Alex Zenner, the president of Roundhouse News and Review. She addressed the attentive crowd of 40 family, friends and local supporters gathered to celebrate the launch of Sierra College’s latest online intercultural news publication. “Tonight, we shared in ideas of what Roundhouse can become – a place for community, a place for voices of all kinds. I couldn’t be more proud of us.” Students on the founding editorial team shared knowing smiles, understanding our term developing Roundhouse, a collective brainchild, was coming to close.
“Yet, this is just the beginning,” I thought, gazing at the crowd. “Roundhouse is public now. The site doesn’t belong to just us anymore. It’s for everyone.” As Roundhouse’s Community Engagement and Communications Director, I connected the editorial team and the public through graphic design, in-person meetings, food and email. In short, my job was to listen to the stories, interests and values of Sierra community members.
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.
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.
We are perpetually distracted. Gathered for meals, my friends and I often place our screens into a pile atop the table, vowing the first person to touch their phone pays for the meal. 30 minutes later, we all give up. Much of our conversation revolves around the screens and memes shared online, and the frequent dopamine boosts from our buzzing devices is too tempting to resist. Who can blame us?
“Do you have a phone number with us?” I ask, my hands poised over the number pad on the register.
“Yeah I might. Wait, where am I? Petco? PetSmart?” the customer asks.
“PetSmart,” I answer with my classic retail-friendly smile.
Yes, I know. No one else gives a crap about the trivial differences between pet stores with similar names. I didn’t even care until I started working at PetSmart over a year ago. Now, it stings a little every time someone mistakes our store for a –co instead of a –smart.