Collaboration with CCPA

This program is an exciting new partnership between the Coliseum College Prep Academy (CCPA), a public high school in east Oakland, and the CMES.  Using a multi-year cohort model, 15-20 students from the CCPA will take a series of seminar courses that meet in the summers and academic school year. The seminars will be co-taught by Dr. Asad Q. Ahmed, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies (CMES), and Jerica Coffey, CCPA Humanities Instructor.

The focus of this collaboration is to strengthen students’ academic identity through sustained contact with the UC Berkeley Campus and deepening their capacity for analytical reading and writing through deep inquiry into texts of resistance and empowerment. The goal is to prepare students in the cohort for post-secondary education.

The seminar courses and related programming will be offered at the CMES, UC Berkeley, and the CCPA campus. Students will also explore the campus, be guided in their analyses and writing by UC Berkeley undergraduate mentors, learn from and connect with Berkeley faculty who will teach as guest lecturers, and will develop an appreciation for the work of the humanities, as it pertains to the Middle East, specifically, and the Global South, generally.

In the pilot year, Honors English credit at the CCPA, formal certificate of participation, and a letter from the Director of the CMES will be offered to students.

Course Scope

The aim of this course is to decenter texts and narratives that are normally part of the western canon taught in American high schools and universities. By focusing on indigenous voices, ideas, and categories internal to non-western modes of thinking and by juxtaposing them with parts of the western canon, students will explore new ways of imagining the world. As such, they will also recognize the essential work of the humanities as empowerment.

We will begin this course with an assessment of the legacy of colonialism and imperialism. We will first familiarize ourselves with some representative cases of political conquest and we will study generally how dominated cultures were narrated by the conquerors. We will then focus on the following themes: narrating the Self as the Other, narrating the Other, the dominant gaze internalized, forms of resistance in speech and writing, forms of resistance in the language of return/return of language, forms of resistance in modes of belonging, and forms of resistance in modes of representation.

For each theme, we will juxtapose a short work written by a non-western author (often a translation from a non-western language) with a text engaging a similar theme in the western canon. We will compare and contrast concepts at work in these different texts, understand the different genres of writing and their usefulness, discuss audience, figurative language and intertextuality, in each case placing the texts in their specific historical contexts.


Jaqueline Castaneda Lagunas is a passionate scholar who is currently studying in CCPA, as well as a part of a variety of extracurriculars and programs such as volleyball, Heads Up, and Girls Who Code. She aligns her enjoyment for humanities to connect with other people with discussions and writings, and learn more history most institutions don’t teach because of an unjust system. After high school, she plans to attend a 4 year college with an interest in a STEM career.

Esteban Cruz is a scholar that came into Humanities with an interest in Computer Science. He is currently studying at CCPA, the Peralta Colleges and the University of California Berkeley and also taking classes from Peralta Colleges. He is also a member of the CCPA Robotics Team and involved in programs like METS and Summer Search.

Lei’ani Donaldson is an enthusiastic young scholar whose interest in humanities corresponds with her love for writing and poems. She is very passionate with her writing; if she is given a topic to write about, she puts her whole heart into writing the best paper. She is interested in business. She would like to attend a four year university, and she would like to pursue a major of business, specifically business administration. She’s very passionate about her grades and about her community.

Wendy Gabriel is a creative scholar and dancer who studies at CCPA and UC Berkeley. Her interests in humanities connects together her passion for creative art and desire to expand on knowledge. She is also a part of a few programs such as METS, Summer Search and ETC. She is also involved with CCPA’s Baile Folklorico and Robotics team.

Emilia Lozano is a junior scholar at CCPA. Before going to a 4 year college she wants to make sure that she is all ready to write any type of essay for her future assignments at her future college class where she will study psychology. She is also involved with CCPA’s Baile Folklorico program and takes courses at the Peralta Colleges as well as through the Center for Middle East Studies at UC Berkeley. Her humanities class is a safe place for her because she feels free to share her thoughts about life, and at the same time she is learning how to write those ideas in essays. This has helped her with her charisma, one of the reasons why she’s the favorite student of her humanities teacher, Ms. Coffey. Emilia plans to be a therapist in the future to help those who need support.

Stephani Munoz is a young scholar at Coliseum College Prep Academy whose passion for the Humanities is driven by her desire to grow as a reader and writer. After high school, Stephani wants to be the first in her family to go to a four year college and major in business administration.

Daniela Pena is a young scholar at CCPA. I’ve been at CCPA since 6th grade. What draws me to humanities class is learning new things in every class I always think about something new. I am taking this Young Rising Scholar because in my perspective is a good opportunity to be able to learn more about humanities and other things that I don’t learn in my regular class time that I am at school. I wanted to share that I am in a sport, I am in the volleyball team. I have been playing volleyball for two years I started playing when I was in 9th grade. My future plans after high school I’m planning on going to a college to study something that I want to keep learning and just doing what I want to keep doing in life after high school.

Adamarys Perez Preciado

Kelvin Ramirez is a curious scholar whose interests in the Humanities grew from his perseverance and desire to improve his proficiency in reading and writing. Instead of settling for less, he pursues the knowledge available around him to be active along with his sports and career development.

Micaela Ramirez Pablo is a young scholar at CCPA in East Oakland. She wants to pursue a career in the Healthcare field. She’s also passionate about humanities in discovering different beliefs people had in the past and how they contributed to the current period. To be able to understand ideological ideas and where they originated from. In the health field there are various research studies that show that racial bias has implications that promote racial disparities in healthcare. She is part of the volleyball and soccer varsity team at her school.

Wendi Ramos is a student that attends CCPA and is currently studying at UC Berkeley and hanging out and making connections with her friends. She is also fond of sweets. She prefers studies over sports since she believes studies lets you look into many connections. In the future she is planning to go to a medical school and make her way up to become a radiologist.

Roxanna Rivera is a scholar at CCPA who often spends her free time reading fantasy novels as well as re-watching her favorite show, Criminal Minds. She is currently focused on her studies because it is her junior year. Her interest in reading made her drawn to humanities and the literature it contains. In the future she hopes to go to a 4- year university where she can study linguistics.

Adriana Ruiz-Zamudio is a junior at CCPA. In Adriana’s freshman year she played volleyball. She has also been part of programs in the last year like PCA, Youth Brigade, and College Track. She currently takes classes in the Peralta colleges and does community service in her church. She is passionate about humanities and wants to grow in her reading and writing skills.  Adriana is very interested in the medical field relating to something like labor and delivery for her future.

Saniyah Stafford is a creative artist-scholar whose enjoyment in drawing and humanities aligns with their love for writing, drawing, and history. After high school her plans are to attend an arts college that will provide her with more resources and ways into becoming a visual artist and singer.

Samantha Tovar is a scholar at CCPA who’s interest in humanities strives from her passion to learn about other people’s backgrounds and their origins. She is currently apart of an honors class in UC Berkeley and participates in programs such as CollegeTrack, Upward Bound, METS, and is apart of the volleyball and soccer team at her school. She would like to pursue a career in the medical field specifically being a physician assistant and helping other people around the world.

Yasmin Vargas is a scholar at CCPA. She has an interest in STEM which persuades her to participate in programs that involve creative thinking. Yasmin is participating in a Media Arts Training Program, Youthbeat, where she is learning Character Animation, and is also involved in her school‘s Robotics team. She is aware of the Gender-bias and the lack of women of color in the STEM community which drives her to learn more about society’s culture and history.

Yoselin Vargas is a scholar who is determined to expand her knowledge and improve her skills in order to achieve being successful in life. Her interest in Humanities stems from her love for writing, reading, and analyzing text, as well as learning more about human history and the way of the world. Her time is spent participating in CCPA’s Robotics team, Youthbeat’s Animation program, and the Humanities YRS program that takes place at UC Berkeley. She has also previously participated in UC Berkeley’s HSEP SWE (Highschool engineering program for the society of women engineers). She currently strives for a career in STEM.

Juan Virgen Hernandez is a student at CCPA whose interest in humanities stems from his enthusiasm in the field of law and love for history. He is currently taking a class in the University of California, Berkeley and a youth law program in Fruitville, Oakland. He strives to get into a good college and get a well paying job within the field of law so that his mom can retire before she turns 60.


Asad Q. Ahmed is Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Affiliate Professor in the Department of Philosophy, and the Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in early Islamic social history and pre-modern Islamic intellectual history, with a special focus on the rationalist disciplines, such as philosophy, logic, legal theories, and astronomy. His publications include The Religious Elite of the Early Islamic Hijaz (University of Oxford, 2011), Avicenna’s Deliverance: Logic (Oxford University Press, 2011), and Palimpsests of Themselves: Logic and Commentary in Muslim India (University of California Press, 2022).

Jerica Coffey is the co-imaginator and co-director of the Young Scholars Rising Humanities Program. She is entering her twenty-fourth year serving young people in public schools as a teacher, school director, advocate, and community organizer. She teaches in Oakland Unified School District and in the Teacher Pathway Program at City College of San Francisco.

Undergraduate Student Mentors

Nuha Abbasi I’m a senior here at Berkeley pursuing a double major in Arabic and Linguistics. I grew up in the East Bay, but originally my family is from Balochistan, Pakistan and I’ve had the privilege of embracing both parts of my cultural identity. Before transferring to Berkeley, I studied at my local community college, which allowed me to explore my interests and find what I enjoy learning. For me, that was languages. I was able to study several different languages ranging from American Sign Language and German to Japanese. Here at Berkeley I have gotten the chance to study what I enjoy at a deeper level and been presented with opportunities that have shaped me and my learning in so many different ways. This program specifically is a new learning experience for me as well, and I am so excited to be a part of it and to welcome the future generations of Berkeley scholars.

Fouz Abdellatif I am a third year at UC Berkeley, intending to major in molecular and cellular biology or public health. I am a low-income, first-generation student, born and raised here in the Bay Area. Growing up, school was a bit challenging at times because I did not have the academic resources that many of my peers had, as my family did not speak fluent English. Therefore, I want to help other students who may have faced similar challenges I had growing up in order to succeed in all academic settings! My life goal is to become a physician assistant and open a clinic in the bay to provide equitable healthcare to our communities. I am very excited to work with you all and hope you enjoy this program!

Aleeza Adnan is a fourth-year student at UC Berkeley, where she is majoring in English and Public Policy. She has a strong interest in researching human rights issues, with a special focus on policy initiatives that impact racial and ethnic minorities. In addition to her academic pursuits, Aleeza is passionate about reading and writing poetry. As she looks toward the future, she aspires to earn a J.D. and continue making contributions in the legal field.