Los Medanos College opened 38 years ago, providing higher education opportunities to people who were unable to make the commute to its older sibling Diablo Valley College. Since then, LMC has seen thousands of students make a future for themselves, and it has been an LMC Experience tradition to commemorate the success of former students.
Charleen Earley is a name that local residents may already be familiar with, as creator of the increasingly popular Delta Living Magazine that is making its way across the Bay Area; however she is also the ROP Journalism teacher at Deer Valley High School.
Once upon a time, Earley was the LMC Experience’s editor-in-chief, a 1997 liberal arts major who graduated with an Associate of Arts in Journalism in 1999.
It’s her LMC roots that brought her to where she is today.
“One of my humor columns that ran in the Experience was picked up by one of the writers of the [San Francisco] Chronicle. He was on campus covering a story, picked up the Experience, saw my humor column and liked it,” said Earley.
The Chronicle hired her as a freelance writer where her work was published for over five years.
“Charleen was a natural talent,” said Cindy McGrath, journalism chair. “She came into the journalism program at LMC with a nose for news and the instincts of a storyteller. I didn’t have to teach her how to tell a good story, just guide her through the process of putting it into journalistic style.”
Earley got involved with the LMC Experience after she submitted a letter to the editor that got her noticed for its controversial subject at the time.
From there she set herself on the path toward a journalism degree, regularly writing for the Experience and taking charge of the team as editor-in-chief.
“The staff loved working with Char. She has a great sense of news, of course. But she is also a people person, outgoing and funny, and made everyone feel at home in the newsroom,” said McGrath. “They could tell she cared about them and the LMC Experience, so they always wanted to do their best for her and for the college audience.”
Earley grew up in Oakland and moved to Contra Costa County 25 years ago.
She is 49 and maintains a freelance writing career while teaching high school journalism. She is also a comedian who has performed stand-up and she regularly writes a humor column called “Funny Side Up.”
“I’ve always loved to write and, being a comedian, you write your own jokes and deliver it on stage, that’s part of communications,” said Earley. “I have always been a communicator and I love that.”
She has written for nearly every newspaper and magazine in the local community, learning the ins and outs of the publication process.
Her experiences, alongside a bachelor’s degree in English from California State University, Hayward and two AA Degrees from Los Medanos College, has led her to create Delta Living Magazine, a free Bay Area magazine that covers a variety of topics across 32 high-quality colored pages, available for pick-up at over 80 locations in the area.
“I am proud of all Char has accomplished since leaving LMC,” said McGrath. “She’s even sent some students our way to work on the Experience. But it has been a lifelong dream of hers to start her own magazine, and after seeing her first few issues, I think she has a real shot at success with the new Delta Living Magazine.”
The magazine was recently celebrated at a ribbon cutting ceremony at Trilogy in Brentwood, a renowned chain of retirement communities where she has worked wearing many different hats.
While Earley has found her place in life as a writer and comedian, she now has the pleasure of guiding her own students toward a successful future.
At Deer Valley High School she teaches ROP Journalism, a course that prepares students for a journalism career with hands-on experience producing and publishing The Millennium, one of the largest high school newspapers in the Bay Area.
ROP, which stands for Regional Occupational Program, is a job-training program provided by the county that gives students the opportunity to gain skills in a field that may suit their career goals. Journalism is a career that continues to evolve and branch out with the times and there will always be a demand for writers.
“If you love writing and if you love writing about people and places and things, or if you want to make a difference, then pursue a degree in journalism. It gives you a ticket to go anywhere,” said Earley.
Success is what LMC is all about, and it’s inspiring for students to be able to see that the fruits of their labor will plant seeds of hope that will allow them to grow and achieve their goals just as others have before them.
Visit DeltaLivingMagazine.com to find out where you can get a hold of the latest copy of Earley’s magazine. Copies will also be made available outside of the journalism lab on the south end of the college complex level 3.
At Los Medanos College, you have a chance for a successful life. We look forward to featuring your success to inspire others.