A coalition is calling for the University of California to give disabled students more support and a say in pandemic-era learning plans.
Bots are filling up community college classes in a likely attempt by scammers to fraudulently access COVID-19 relief grants and other financial aid. At least 10 districts or individual colleges told CalMatters they’ve been affected, and the community college system has announced new security measures to combat the scam.
During the Covid emergency, the federal government has expanded food stamp eligibility for college students, who have typically had trouble accessing the aid even though many suffer from food insecurity. California colleges are stepping up their efforts to get students enrolled.
Tribal colleges provide culturally relevant education for Native students. But in California, they face an uphill battle because of lack of funding and a lengthy accreditation process.
College Beat is produced by the CalMatters College Journalism Network, a collaboration between CalMatters and student journalists across the state.
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Meet the Team
Sindhu Ananthavel, UC Santa Barbara: Sindhu Ananthavel is a second-year student at UC Santa Barbara majoring in Communication. She is an assistant news editor at the student newspaper The Daily Nexus where she covers university news, including both on-campus and UC-wide affairs.
Juhi Doshi, Chapman University: Juhi Doshi is a sophomore political science major and journalism minor at Chapman University. She is currently the managing editor of Chapman’s independent student newspaper, The Panther. Juhi reports on the intersection of politics, social justice, and higher education.
Marnette Federis, UC team leader: Marnette Federis is a multimedia journalist based in San Jose, Calif. For more than a decade, Marnette has worked as a reporter, editor and producer in various newsrooms and platforms including print, digital media, television and radio. Most recently, she worked as a higher education and immigration reporter with The World. She has also worked for Capital Public Radio, KQED, KGTV/ABC 10 News in San Diego and the Bay Area News Group. Marnette holds a master’s degree from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. in literature from UC San Diego.
Emily Forschen, San Diego State University: Emily Forschen is a senior at San Diego State University studying journalism and film, covering arts and culture for The Daily Aztec. She is interested in writing about all things pop culture, criminal justice, education and all of their intersections.
Emma Hall, Sacramento State University: Emma Hall is a journalist currently based in Sacramento. Alongside CalMatters, Hall is the first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Editor at The State Hornet, Sacramento State’s student-run publication. Her work has been featured on KQED, The Pleasanton Weekly, High Country News, The Advocate at Contra Costa College and The Inquirer at Diablo Valley College. She is also a proud community college graduate.
Benjamin Hanson, Pierce College: Benjamin Hanson is a student journalist attending Pierce College, where he is the Editor-in-Chief of The Bull Magazine. He has been Photo Editor, Sports Editor, Copy Editor, Reporter and Photographer for Pierce’s RoundUp News. Having worn hearing aids his entire life, he is interested in sharing the stories of disabled people and the adversities they must overcome.
Michaella Huck, CSU Northridge: Michaella Huck is a Senior at California State University, Northridge where she works as the Magazine editor at the Sundial. The magazine highlights issues we face as a generation, but her coverage focuses on diversity on campus and breaking news reporting. She loves photography, trying new restaurants and hanging out with her dog. She is also a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.
Sonali Kohli, CSU team leader: Sonali Kohli is an award-winning journalist based in Los Angeles. A product of Southern California, Sonali grew up in Diamond Bar and graduated from UCLA, then reported at the Orange County Register and Quartz before covering education and breaking news for The Los Angeles Times for six years. In 2020 Sonali was named the best education journalist in the U.S. by the Education Writers Association, then completed the Spencer Fellowship in Education Reporting at Columbia University. She is now working on a young adult nonfiction book about teen activists. When she isn’t interviewing youths or editing college journalists’ stories, you’ll find her baking or in a pottery studio.
Ryan Loyola, UC Santa Cruz: Ryan Loyola is the City Desk Editor at City on a Hill Press, the student-run weekly at UC Santa Cruz. A third-year politics major and legal studies minor, he reports on the Santa Cruz community, local government, and general campus news. This is his second year as a member of the College Journalism Network, previously working as a contributor for the 2020-21 CJN cohort.
Itzel Luna, Stanford University: Itzel Luna is a freshman at Stanford University, planning to study political science and journalism. She is an incoming staffer for the Stanford Daily and previously interned for KTLA, a Los Angeles based newscast. She is particularly interested in politics, breaking news and investigative journalism.
Felicia Mello, College Journalism Network Editor: Felicia Mello has covered higher education for CalMatters since 2018, focusing on affordability, equity and innovation. A UC Berkeley graduate, she was a finalist for the Education Writers Association’s beat reporting prize in 2018.
Bernard Mendez, UCLA: Bernard Mendez is a fourth-year math student at UCLA. He previously reported on Los Angeles-based startups, tech and venture capital as an intern for dotLA and helped cover the daily news cycle in Westwood as the News editor for the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper.
Julian Mendoza, Chico State University: Julian Mendoza is a Chico State student who is interested in investigative reporting. He’s covered politics, higher education, policing and more. You can find most of his work at The Orion, Chico State’s student newspaper. He wants to report on what’s going on in the North State and hold authority accountable using journalism.
Colleen Murphy, Private colleges team leader: Colleen Murphy is a Minnesota-raised, D.C.-dwelling freelance editor and writer. She spent five years learning about everyone’s favorite topic ─ taxes ─ as a reporter, editor, and ultimately deputy team lead at Bloomberg Tax. She overhauled breaking news coverage and, in 2021, steered a story about daily fantasy sports that won two SABEW awards. She is a graduate of George Washington University, where she was editor-in-chief of the independent student newspaper, The GW Hatchet.
Omar Rashad, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo: Omar Rashad is a senior fellow at CalMatters covering higher education. He frequently reports on homelessness, housing, education and state legislation and is most interested in exploring how those topics intersect with culture and religion. Rashad attended El Camino College in Torrance, CA for two years and was the editor-in-chief of its independent student-run newspaper, The Union. He attends Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as a student in its undergraduate journalism program.
Matthew Reagan, Program Manager: Matthew Reagan is a journalist and the Program Manager for the CalMatters College Journalism Network ─ a collaboration between CalMatters and student journalists from across the state to produce high quality, student-centered coverage of higher education in California. Reagan was a Fellow and intern with CJN beginning Sept. 2020 where he covered the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on students, state higher education policy and the 2021 California recall election.
Zaeem Shaikh, Fresno State University: Zaeem Shaikh is a senior at Fresno State majoring in political science and digital journalism. He is the editor-in-chief of The Collegian, the university’s student newspaper. He is interested in writing about higher education, criminal justice, and state and local politics. In his free time, Zaeem loves playing the acoustic guitar and chatting about the NBA.
Oden Taylor, American River College: Oden Taylor is the former Editor-In-Chief and current student worker for the American River College Current. Taylor covers politics, climate change, criminal justice reform, LGBTQ+ issues/events, and entertainment, among many other topics. He is currently serving as the Student President of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges, as well as being a volunteer for Journalists in Classrooms.
Steven Vargas, USC: Steven Vargas is a dancer, actor and multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles whose work focuses on arts activism. He is a current Arts Journalism grad student at USC Annenberg and previously graduated from USC with a BA in Theatre and Journalism with a minor in Dance. He is the founder of the Equity Board at USC Annenberg and likes to report on arts, culture, entertainent, health and social issues.