07-03-2020  5:47 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Police Union Contract Extended, Bargaining to Continue

Negotiations will resume in January 2021.

Inslee Heckled Off Stage During Tri-Cities Appearance

Speaking outdoors in Eastern Washington, the governor was repeatedly interrupted by hecklers as he urged residents to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Portland Police Declare Riot, Use Tear Gas

Several arrests were made as protests continued into early Wednesday morning.

Oregon Legislature Passes Police Reform Package Amid ‘Rushed’ Criticism

Six new bills declare an emergency in police protocol and are immediately effective. 

NEWS BRIEFS

Trump Blows His Twitter Dog Whistle on America’s Fair Housing Policies in the Suburbs

The president could be Tweeting on unemployment or COVID-19 infections but instead pushes housing discrimination ...

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Awards Historic $100,000 Founders' Centennial Scholarship

Zeta celebrates 100 years with largest single recipient scholarship awarded by a historically Black Greek-lettered sorority or...

Nominations Being Accepted for the Gladys McCoy Lifetime Achievement Award

Gladys McCoy Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 1994 to honor Multnomah County residents who have contributed outstanding...

Shatter, LLC Launches to Elevate Diverse Voices in Progressive Politics

A collaboration of leading female political strategists aims to fill a void in the world of political consulting ...

New Director Takes Helm at Oregon Black Pioneers

In its 27-year history, the organization has never had an executive director, and has expressed confidence and optimism in Zachary A....

Oregon thought it had controlled COVID-19, then came surge

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — It was early June when the mayor of Newport a small city perched on Oregon's coast, received a phone call that he had been dreading.It was the county commissioner — two workers at a local seafood plant had coronavirus and others were being tested. “When he...

Surge in state COVID-19 cases driven by eastern Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Cirio Hernandez Hernandez was thinning apple trees on a June morning in Yakima, grabbing a fistful of tiny apples and knocking off all but one that was left to grow to a marketable size.It wasn't the Yakima Valley's hot temperatures, or the strenuous work, that was...

Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner hurt in jet ski accident

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner sustained serious injuries when he and a passenger on a jet ski collided with a boat on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.According to a police report, Koerner and Cole Coffin were hurt at about 6:30 p.m. Friday when their watercraft...

Missouri football program pushes again for racial justice

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Ryan Walters had just arrived at the University of Missouri to coach safeties for the football program when a series of protests related to racial injustice led to the resignations of the system president and the chancellor of its flagship campus.The student-led movement...

OPINION

Editorial From the Publisher: Vote as Your Life Depends on It

The Republican-controlled Senate won’t pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, no matter how hard Oregon’s senators and others work to push for change. ...

Banana Republic or Constitutional Democracy? The US Military May Decide

Will the military, when and if the chips are down, acts in accord with the Constitution and not out of loyalty to its commander-in-chief? ...

To Save Black Lives, and the Soul of Our Nation, Congress Must Act Boldly

For too long, Black people in America have been burdened with the unjust responsibility of keeping ourselves safe from police. ...

Racial Inequalities - Black America Has Solutions; White America Won't Approve Them

The problem is we have to secure approval of the solutions from the people who deny the problem's existence while reaping the benefits from it. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Religious leaders to invoke Frederick Douglass on July 4th

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — About 150 preachers, rabbis and imams are promising to invoke Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass on July 4th as they call for the U.S. to tackle racism and poverty.The religious leaders are scheduled this weekend to frame their sermons around “What to the...

Paint schemes go political as NASCAR season heats up

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Many a fan is quick to insist they do not like politics in their sports — no kneeling, no raised fists, no T-shirt messages. Just the game or event, please and thank you.That has not been the case of late as the nation goes through a reckoning on race and racism...

Redskins to have 'thorough review' of name amid race debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Redskins began a “thorough review” of their name Friday, a significant step toward moving on from what experts and advocates call a “dictionary-defined racial slur.”Even though owner Dan Snyder had shown no willingness to change...

ENTERTAINMENT

Hugh Downs, genial presence on TV news and game shows, dies

NEW YORK (AP) — Hugh Downs, the genial, versatile broadcaster who became one of television’s most familiar and welcome faces with more than 15,000 hours on news, game and talk shows, has died at age 99.Downs died of natural causes at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Wednesday, said...

Review: A master class by Catherine Deneuve in 'The Truth'

Family may be the great subject of Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, but he doesn't draw straightforward portraits. In Kore-eda's hands, family is more malleable. He tends to shift roles around like he's rearranging furniture, subtly remaking familiar dynamics until he has, without you knowing...

Union tells actors not to work on pandemic film 'Songbird'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The union that represents film actors told its members Thursday not to work on the upcoming pandemic thriller “Songbird,” saying the filmmakers have not been up-front about safety measures and had not signed the proper agreements for the movie that is among...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Reps: Singers Kacey Musgraves, Ruston Kelly file for divorce

NEW YORK (AP) — Grammy-winning singer Kacey Musgraves and her musician-husband, Ruston Kelly, have filed...

Paint schemes go political as NASCAR season heats up

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Many a fan is quick to insist they do not like politics in their sports — no...

Redskins to have 'thorough review' of name amid race debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Redskins began a “thorough review” of their name Friday, a...

US victims of FARC rebels win claim to Venezuelan's fortune

MIAMI (AP) — Three American defense contractors held for five years by leftist rebels in Colombia moved...

French government ministers investigated over virus crisis

PARIS (AP) — A special French court ordered an investigation Friday of three current or former government...

Russian Orthodox Church defrocks coronavirus-denying monk

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian Orthodox Church on Friday defrocked a coronavirus-denying monk who has defied...

McMenamins
Vickie Cheng New America Media

SAN FRANCISCO – Elsa Eder stands in her lab coat, preparing to inject genes from one cell into another. Biotechnology isn't something the 40-year-old former journalist ever expected to be studying, but when she lost her job with a local media outlet at the height of the Great Recession she was suddenly forced to make a dramatic career change.

She eventually came across City College of San Francisco's Bridge to Biotech program, which works to expand access for the city's low-income and minority residents to this rapidly growing sector.

"I noticed the Bridge to Biotech course on [CCSF's] website a couple of times, but never had the courage to try," says Eder, who is Filipino American. She holds a bachelor's degree in international studies and psychology, as well as a master's degree in communications.

With no background in science, she credits the program's counselors for helping her get past her own reservations about being qualified. "They were very supportive … [and] explained to me what the course was about in detail, semester by semester," she said.

CCSF's Bridge to Biotech program began 10 years ago, one of the first such programs in the country. It aims to give people like Eder a chance to break into one of the Bay Area's – and the nation's – fastest growing industries. There are more than 250,000 California residents employed in the biotech field. The San Francisco Bay Area represents the largest cluster of such jobs, with close to 900 companies employing 30 percent of the state's biomedical workforce.

A lot of those jobs are in manufacturing according to Travis Blaschek-Miller with the San Francisco-based industry trade group Bay Bio. Unlike other industries that have outsourced entry-level work overseas, he notes, the Bay Area remains a "strong corridor" for this kind of work.

A fact sheet released by the group shows that the industry weathered the recession, with overall job growth contracting by only 0.2 percent. With the local economy again picking up steam, experts anticipate an increase in employment opportunities.

But for low-income and minority communities, access to these positions remains low. Program counselor Li Miao Lovett says part of the reason has to do with a basic ignorance about what biotech is. "Unlike in nursing or radiology [two other popular programs at CCSF], people don't see the role of biotech directly in the clinics."

Lovett also says there's a misplaced sense that biotech requires an extensive background in science, a concern that almost kept Eder from applying. "You don't need any science background," insists Lovett, who says the program has been key to "bringing underrepresented minorities to the field of science."

Indeed, in 2012 Bay Bio honored the program with a Biotechnology Educator award for its work with these communities. But with less than a year before CCSF's accreditation expires, the future of the program is in doubt.

The Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges ruled last month that it would revoke CCSF's accreditation in July 2014 for failing to meet a set of recommendations made by the commission a year earlier. School officials are appealing the decision.

In the meantime, faculty and students are contending with the fallout.

"They've come since day one," says Lovett, referring to the steady stream of students that have been in and out of her office since the accreditation crisis first erupted. With a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the school, students are eager for advice on everything from financial help to transfer options.

Lovett says such concerns reflect the reality of students in the program, most of whom can't afford the alternatives. "A lot of them are priced out of the private universities," she notes, "while public education [including California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) schools] is growing less affordable."

In-state students pay $46 per unit at City College, far below the $3,000 price tag for a full semester at San Francisco State University and the $271 per-unit cost at a UC school.

Eder received a biotech scholarship, which helped her cover tuition and basic living expenses. But there were other challenges. Midway through her first year, her father passed away, causing her to miss several weeks of class. If it weren't for the support of classmates and teachers, she says she wouldn't have stayed with the program.

"They were supportive. That doesn't mean they lowered their standards, but they did give me the flexibility I needed at the time," she said. "It's something I'll always remember."

There are eight core instructors in the Bridge program and a number of part-time faculty. Most come straight out of big pharmaceutical and biotech companies, bringing with them years of experience and expertise. Eder says teachers often share tips on job interviews and other work-related advice.

She chose science because of her concern for the environment, she says, and because she wanted a challenge. "I thought to myself, 'I still have about 35 years of healthy brain activity,'" she says jokingly. "I wanted to really learn something."

Within a year Eder completed 15 of the required 21 units for the program's lab assistant certificate. She says that while much of her time was spent in the lab, her classes covered everything from research methods to resume writing. During her second semester, she took an internship with a consultancy group that focuses on food safety, and says the experience convinced her to continue her education past the program.

"Food is everything," she says enthusiastically, adding that when she's done with the Bridge program she plans to pursue a certificate in environmental monitoring, which could open the door to a career in biofuels and other food-related research.

Eder says it would be a "tragedy" if the program disappeared. She recently joined the Save City College campaign, which is working to boost enrollment as applications have fallen in the wake of the accreditation crisis. With much of the funding for City College and other community colleges enrollment based, any decline in the student body spells financial trouble for the school, even as it makes cuts to meet commission recommendations.

As for her own future, Eder is more optimistic.

"I hope to do something good for the world," she says. "I know it sounds idealistic and maybe a little pretentious, but who knows." She adds, "The Bridge program gave me this opportunity."

Additional reporting by Peter Schurmann

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