With the Olympic games underway in Sochi, Russia, it is pretty amazing to note that we had a homegrown Olympian come right out of our local community colleges.

In 1974, a Peralta Colleges student, James Robinson, was one of the best half-mile runners in the United States. Robinson, who ran for McClymonds High School in Oakland and, after attending Laney College, UC Berkeley, competed in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada. You can see a photograph of Robinson in his Laney jersey at http://web.peralta.edu/.

Speaking of milestones, did you know that the Peralta Community College District is celebrating its 50th birthday this year? Alameda County voters created the East Bay district, which includes Berkeley City College, College of Alameda and Laney and Merritt colleges in Oakland on July 1, 1964.

Watch this space for more news about upcoming events that will showcase 50 years of local higher education and stories of the tens of thousands of students who attended the Peralta Colleges over the past five decades.

Ever wonder why so many healthcare professionals get degrees and certificates at our community colleges? Because schools like Merritt College have some of the best medical programs anywhere.

If you've thought about a career helping others, here's the perfect opportunity: a nine-week Administrative Medical Assistant Certificate program starts at Merritt College in March.

This special program prepares students to manage a medical office with lectures that demystify medical terminology, human anatomy and patient communications. To gain hands-on experience, a 60-hour externship at a local medical office is included.


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For more information, contact Kirsten Clover at 510-436-2674, or email her at kclover@peralta.edu. Space is limited, so sign up early.

Travel plans? If not, why not travel to Cuba this summer and enjoy the Caribbean island's rich history and culture by way of a Laney College dance department study abroad program.

The program -- open to everyone -- allows students to explore Cuba through dance, music and spiritual traditions. Tours will put students face-to-face with the full life and rhythm of Cuba. The program runs July 11-18, 2014, and the cost is $2,685. Learn more at http://web.peralta.edu/international/study-abroad/.

"Science Denialism" is the focus of Dr. Eugenie Scott's upcoming lecture at Berkeley City College. Both evolution and global warming are controversial issues in education, but are not in the sciences, according to Scott. The way both camps promote their views on these issues will be explored in this lecture that begins at 7 p.m., March 12, in the Berkeley City College auditorium, 2050 Center Street. To learn more, visit https://www.msri.org/general_events/20267.

Even more events: In February we see Black History Month and Lunar New Year celebrations throughout the Bay Area. Likewise, the Peralta Colleges are hosting so many events featuring cultural and historic commemorations that there just isn't enough room to detail all of them.

Make sure you check our local community colleges' webpages for more on the myriad of Lunar New Year and Black History Month happenings throughout February.

Reach Jeffrey Heyman at jheyman@peralta.edu and follow him at Twitter.com/JeffHeyman.

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