The Peralta Colleges Foundation celebrated 50 years of serving the community through education last Thursday night at the Oakland City Center Marriott.
Oakland District 2 Councilmember Abel Guillen, who was formerly a member of the Peralta board, served as master of ceremonies.
College of Alameda graduate Reagan Lolo, originally from Haiti, talked about his struggle as an orphan. Due to political turmoil in the country, the orphanage shut down, and he was arrested for cleaning and re-opening the orphanage as a safe haven for Haitians.
After 3 months in jail, Lolo founded Sosyete Djol Ansanm pou Demokrasi (People Working Together for Democracy). His desire for a great education led him to the United States and the Peralta College District that prepared him for his UC Berkeley bachelor’s degree in political science this spring.
“I applied for and won the Chancellor’s Trophy Award,” he said. “The scholarship provided me with the opportunity to perfect my education, promote community leadership and prepare for greater leadership roles in the global struggle for justice an empowerment for all.”
Another graduate, Erika Padilla, said for 20 years she felt she was too dumb for college. However, as an educator teaching communication, arts and video editing, she always encouraged her students.
After being laid off from her job and on the verge of eviction, she had to believe in herself. Receiving a scholarship from Laney College changed the course of her life.
“Laney College showed me that I am college material,” she said. “Receiving the Oakland Scholars Promise Fund scholarship and other foundation scholarships throughout my time at Laney allowed me to fill the gap between my income and living expenses in order to stay in school.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf presented the 2015 Partner in Education Award to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. The hospital was recognized for its partnership with the Peralta Colleges Foundation, creating a pipeline and job development for students interested in the health care field.
College of Alameda alumna and clothing designer Stella Carakasi was presented the 2015 Hall of Fame Award by Peralta Community College District Trustee, Linda Handy. Carakasi, a designer for Two Star Dog Inc. for over 20 years, launched her own label in 2012 catering to “women who have busy lives and want to feel fabulous effortlessly.”
Founding Chairman and National Organizer of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale was also presented the 2015 Hall of Fame Award by Dr. Norma Ambriz-Galaviz, president of Merritt College.
Seale continues to support social services in Black neighborhoods.