12-06-2019  3:35 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Black Food Professionals See Opportunities to “Scale Up” in School Cafeterias and on Store Shelves

Two Portland women are addressing disparities in the local food scene with Ethiopian and Haitian flavors, ingredients

Portland Fire Chief Sara Boone Climbing Historic Ladders

In 1995, Boone was the first African American woman hired by Portland Fire & Rescue; this year she became its first African American Chief

Christmas Tree Shopping is Harder Than Ever, Thanks to Climate Change and Demographics

For Christmas tree farms to survive, shoppers will need to be more flexible

November Holiday Travel at PDX Brings More Comfort, Convenience and Furry Friends

If you’ve not been to Portland International Airport in a few months, you’re in for some surprises.

NEWS BRIEFS

Conservation Breakthrough for Endangered Butterfly

The Oregon Zoo's breeding success provides new hope in an effort to save Oregon silverspots ...

Meet 80 Local Authors at OHS 52nd Holiday Cheer Book Sale and Signing

This free Oregon Historical Society event will be held this Sunday, December 8 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. ...

Need for Blood Doesn’t Stop for Holidays – Donors Needed

Those who come to give through Dec. 18 will receive a Amazon.com Gift Card ...

North Carolina Court Decision Upholds Removal of Confederate Monument

Lawyers argued that the monument was installed at the end of Reconstruction to further the false “Lost Cause” narrative,...

Artist Talk with 13-year-old Local to be Held This Tuesday, Nov. 26

Hobbs Waters will be discussing his solo exhibit “Thirteen” at The Armory in Portland ...

Man who 'freaked out’ on plane, forced landing pleads guilty

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Washington man who ingested methamphetamine before getting on a plane in Seattle and had what a prosecutor called a "freak out'' on board pleaded guilty Thursday to interfering with crew members after the California-bound flight was forced to land in Portland.The...

Owners of Thai restaurant chain get prison for tax fraud

SEATTLE (AP) — A couple that used software to hide more than jumi million in revenue at the Thai restaurant chain they owned have each been sentenced to several months in prison and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines.The U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle said Thursday that Chadillada...

Missouri fires football coach Barry Odom after 4 seasons

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri fired football coach Barry Odom on Saturday, ending the four-year stay of a respected former player who took over a program in disarray but could never get the Tigers over the hump in the brutal SEC.The Tigers finished 6-6 and 3-5 in the conference after...

Powell, Missouri snap 5-game skid with win over Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — In a game started by third- and fifth-string quarterbacks, the outcome was decided by one of their backups. It was appropriate enough for Arkansas and Missouri, two teams facing their longest losing streaks in decades.Fayetteville High School graduate Taylor Powell...

OPINION

Will You Answer the Call for Moral Revival?

In embracing and expanding the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Revs. Barber and Theoharis have asked Presidential candidates to consider a debate that focuses exclusively on poverty ...

What I’m Thankful For This Season

Ray Curry gives thanks for a human right that shaped our country throughout the 20th century and that made Thanksgiving possible for so many Americans who, like him, didn’t get here by way of the Mayflower ...

Congressional Black Caucus Members Visit U.S.-Mexico Border: “Mistreatment of Black Immigrants is Another ‘Stain on America’”

Members said they witnessed first-hand the deplorable treatment and plight of Black immigrants ...

Portland, I'm Ready

Last month I had the privilege to stand with hundreds of supporters and announce my intention to run for re-election ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Kansas judge accused of bigotry, profanities in courthouse

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A foul-mouthed Kansas judge accused of bigotry and racism who cursed at courthouse employees so often that a trial clerk kept a “swear journal” documenting his obscene outbursts is facing complaints that his conduct violates the central judicial canons of...

Buttigieg backs black leaders after Indiana event disrupted

HENNIKER, N.H. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is applauding African American leaders in his home city for “speaking their truth” after a protester disrupted an event held to demonstrate black support for the mayor in South Bend, Indiana.African American...

Panel calls for Virginia to purge dozens of old racist laws

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The laws are still on the books in Virginia: Blacks and whites must sit in separate rail cars. They cannot use the same playgrounds, schools or mental hospitals. They can’t marry each other either.The measures have not been enforced for decades, but they remain in...

ENTERTAINMENT

Timberlake apologizes to wife for ‘strong lapse in judgment’

NEW YORK (AP) — Justin Timberlake has publicly apologized to his actress-wife Jessica Biel days after he was seen holding hands with the co-star of his upcoming movie.The pop star and actor wrote Wednesday on Instagram that he prefers to “stay away from gossip as much as I can, but...

Veteran producer of 'WarGames,' 'Blue Bloods," dies at 85

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Leonard Goldberg, a network and studio executive and producer whose TV credits ranged from “Starsky and Hutch” in the 1970s to the current drama series “Blue Bloods” and whose independent movies included “WarGames” and...

'Once Upon a Time,' 'Portrait' top AP's 2019 best films list

Associated Press Film Writers Lindsey Bahr and Jake Coyle name their choices for the best films of 2019.LINDSEY BAHR1. “Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood": Quentin Tarantino’s movie business fairy tale, featuring all-time performances from two of our great living movie stars, and the...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Pearl Harbor vet’s interment to be last on sunken Arizona

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — On Dec. 7, 1941, then-21-year-old Lauren Bruner was the second-to-last man to...

Chase with stolen UPS truck ends with shootout, 4 dead

MIRAMAR, Fla. (AP) — Four people, including a UPS driver, were killed Thursday after robbers stole the...

A locker, a chirp: How tiny clues help solve child sex cases

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — It was the odd-looking locker handles that caught their eye.Investigators spent hours...

Injured journalist seeks answers from Hong Kong police

HONG KONG (AP) — More than two months after being blinded in one eye by what she believes was a projectile...

France’s Macron faces decisive test over economic policies

PARIS (AP) — Massive strikes against a planned overhaul of the pension system are sending a powerful...

Hong Kong police sound alarm over homemade explosives

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong's much-maligned police force provided a rare behind-the-scenes look Friday at...

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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