Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, June 22, 2019… A great day to be a Renegade.
Throughout the months of June and July, Bakersfield College faculty are getting high school and middle school students interested in STEM with the Summer STEM Camps sponsored by Chevron and Project Lead the Way. There are 7 camps over the summer centered around interesting STEM projects. Each participating student applied to the free camps with an application and essay back in May.
Students in the first three camps learn about digital fabrication (3D Printing), mobile app development, and programming drones. Last week, the students created guitars from cigar boxes in camp. Upcoming projects in the STEM camps include learning to design and build a tiny house, and exploring and designing alternative sources of energy. This is a fun and engaging method to entice students to consider STEM fields of study.
All of the camps are held on our Panorama Campus, except the last, Alternative Energy/Solar, which will be held at the Weill Institute location. I’d like to thank Martin Perez, Program Manager, Klint Rigby, Department Chair, and everyone with the Industrial Technology Department, as well as Chevron and Project Lead the Way for providing this amazing opportunity for potential future students.
2019 Energy and Ag Academy
The 2019 Energy and Ag Academy kicked off their first session at Bakersfield College on Saturday, June 15th. This five-session academy is hosted at Bakersfield College and introduces students to local professionals, careers, and other features from these industries in the Energy and Ag fields. This year over 60 students have been accepted into the program.
The academy brings awareness to Kern County’s largest industries and teaches how they provide resources for both the community and the world. The academy includes speakers in the Energy and Ag industries, financial scholarships, field trips to local energy and ag facilities, leadership opportunities, student ambassadors for Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, volunteer opportunities in the community and meeting with elected officials. The academy – presented by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the KCHCC Business Education Foundation – is sponsored by Area Energy, Bakersfield College, California Resources Corporation, Chevron, and Kern Energy Foundation.
Wonderful Academy Ag Camp 2019
You may have seen a large group of very young students around campus over the last two weeks and wondered who they were. These incoming 8th grade students have been participating in one of two weeklong summer camps at Bakersfield College in partnership with the Wonderful Company. These students came from middle schools in our rural communities, including Wasco, Shafter, Delano and other surrounding areas. They were exposed to all the exciting things Bakersfield College’s Agriculture department has to offer.
With days full of activities, students created stationary holders in our welding facilities and a water filtration system in our Horticulture Lab, learning about the different materials that can be used to filter water. Students also created a product marketing plan for a unique product.The students were given the option to use a variety of ingredients such as tajin, cocoa powder, cinnamon powder, lime juice, and cayenne pepper to create their unique product – then they had to create a branding strategy. Students created t-shirts, hats, and other marketing materials using their own logo designs and a printing press. In addition to creating different products, students connected with industry professionals discovering the many related opportunities that exist in our community.
I would like to thank our dedicated staff involved in making this happen: Raquel Lopez, Program Manager overseeing the program with the support of Manuel Muralles; Heather Baltis and Jim Selgrath, lead Agriculture faculty: Jesse Oropeza, lead mentor who was with the group 24/7 and his leadership team of peer mentors. I would also like to thank Abel Guzman, Delano Campus Executive Director, Carolina Madrigal, Delano Site Office Coordinator, and all the support staff without whom none of this would have been possible.
New Renegades get Oriented
The Outreach and School Relations Department welcomed a group of 64 new students into the Renegade family at an orientation event in the Levan Center on Tuesday.
The incoming students learned all about BC’s curriculum, counseling opportunities, and academic support services to help them properly navigate their college journey. Representatives from Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance were also on hand to talk about resources they have to support homeless and low-income students.
I’d like to thank the Outreach team, Steve Watkin, Nicolette Castruita, Cecilia Gabaldon, Asshlea Ward, Angela Williams, Jo Ann Acosta, Debi Anderson, Savannah Andrews, Josie Guillen, and Manuel Muralles for putting together this informative orientation event to welcome new Renegades and for their efforts in reaching out to schools and the larger community.
HBCU Tour Continued
Last week I shared pictures from the first two days of Umoja’s HBCU Tour by Umoja Coordinator Dr. Paula Parks and four outstanding students interested in transferring to a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in Georgia and Alabama. The grant-funded tour included visiting cultural and historic sites, with Heritage Empowered as the tour operator. Dr. Parks has sent more pictures and descriptions of the exciting and rewarding tour that I would like to share with you:
“Day three, we went to Talladega College, which is an hour outside of Birmingham, Alabama”.
“A very special part of our visit was reconnecting with BC transfer student and Umoja participant, Tonysha Miles, who will graduate in December. Of Talladega, she said, ‘I love it here. All the resources I need are here.’”
Mr. Lon Weind, who conducted the tour, touted the family feel and caring professors. He also shared some history with the students in showing them a door on campus that led to a stop of the Underground Railroad, a network of tunnels and pathways that the enslaved used to escape North to freedom.
On the campus of Tuskegee University is the Tuskegee Airmen Museum, which highlights the accomplishments of the segregated fighter pilot unit during World War II. They became the most victorious and decorated squad.
Tuskegee is 45 minutes outside of Birmingham.
Tuskegee University was founded by Booker T. Washington – former slave, educator, and civil rights leader. This statue honors his accomplishments.
Kerry Jones, who conducted the tour of the beautiful campus discussed the eight undergraduate colleges and graduate programs they offer, the availability of scholarships, and the caring professors.
Kierra Littles was impressed: “My favorite school was Tuskegee because of the community feel and their English program. I also liked it because they always have different activities on campus.”
Alabama State University, which is in Montgomery, Alabama, was front and center during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56. The sculpture means no matter what African Americans went through, they made it, and today’s students are encouraged to persevere and make it as well.
The tour guide touted their campus life, including the football team as well as internship and research opportunities.
View of the campus including the sculpture.
In Montgomery, students saw the site of a slave market, a sad reminder of a time in our American history.
The last stop before flying out was the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. It put America’s civil rights movement in the context of people around the world struggling for human rights.
Dujour Sams summed up the experience: “I recognize how great of an opportunity it is to be part of a trip like this. . I felt empowered by visiting the schools as well as the historical sites we visited.”
What a wonderful experience! Thank you Dr. Parks for taking Umoja students on this HBCU tour and for sharing photos with me. A tour like this makes such an impression on our students, giving them cultural experiences and inspiring them to achieve their dreams. Faculty like you that dedicate so much time and effort toward enriching students’ education experience at BC is why I am the luckiest and happiest college president ever!
Leadership Bakersfield Graduation Gala
“What you do has far greater impact than what you say.” Steven Covey
For the past 10 months 32 strangers came together and made our community a little bit better. Among those 32 strangers were Brandon Ury, Endee Grijalva and Heidi Forsythe. They have now joined the ranks of Bakersfield’s Top Community Leaders as the class of 2019’s Leadership Bakersfield. Leadership Bakersfield (LB) has been running for the past 32 years bringing individuals from across the city and challenging them to step out of their comfort zone to be a part of a greater good in the community. Potential participants are interviewed and selected to be a part of a ten-month commitment to a team of strangers who will work together to strengthen and improve the community while developing their leadership qualities. Each month LB participants dedicated one entire day where they learned about their own individual leadership style, studied local issues, personally interacted with top leaders who make things happen in our community and discovered new reasons why Bakersfield is a great place to live.
Brandon Ury served on Team 1 where they empowered Project 180 to realign their mission and scope as a grassroot organization. They also focused on bringing awareness and solidarity to victims of senseless acts of violence by unveiling a park bench at Laurel Park. Their park bench dedication also led them to raise funds for a local children’s school choir. Their project was an act of kindness and unity in a predominantly high-crime rate community.
Endee’s Team 2 focused on a newer nonprofit organization located on Union, south of California Ave known as Dream Center Bakersfield – not to be confused with The Dream Center of Kern County that serves foster youth. Dream Center Bakersfield serves all individuals who may be dealing with homelessness, drug abuse, violence, sex trafficking – the list is endless. Team two however, focused on the services provided to the children. The team met regularly for several months to revitalize the children’s center by painting a beautiful mural with the hope of brightening the lives of children dealing with issues out of their control. They did an amazing job of turning the children’s center into a brighter beacon of hope for the little lives that often go unnoticed.
Heidi’s Team 3 took on a similar goal but focused on revitalizing the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault’s Resource Center located in downtown Bakersfield. Team 3’s goal was to beautify the center as a means of brightening up the lives of not only the participants but the staff as well. The team put two coats of paint on over 5400 sq. feet of wall space, improved their curb appeal as well as the conference room and children’s library by changing décor and adding donated furniture and children’s books.
Every act of kindness has an impact we may never fully know. A conversation on a bench park can lead to a peace treaty among rivals, a painted mural in a children’s center can ease the stress and pain of a child and even brighter walls can improve the quality of work for those who ease other’s pain. Leadership Bakersfield is a great opportunity to grow leadership skills but more importantly to become a greater community. Applications for the class of 2020 are currently being accepted. Will you step up to the challenge? #BuildingCathedrals
Bakersfield Young Professionals
BC was out in full force at the 2019 BYP (Bakersfield Young Professionals) Summit on Thursday. We were happy to sponsor such a great event, one that encourages and fosters young professionals in our community. Our very own Heather Pennella spoke about engaging BC Alumni and getting to know their connection with the college. If you have a BC story that you’d like to share, please visit BC Foundation’s Your Story and help us with our Alumni Outreach program!
Bitwise Industries Coming to Bakersfield
There was great energy and excitement in the room at The Padre Hotel on Wednesday, June 19 as co-founders of Bitwise Industries, Irma Olguin and Jake Soberal, hosted a joint virtual announcement in Fresno and Bakersfield. Community leaders including Mayor Karen Goh, JP and Ingrid Lake, Morgan Clayton, Teresa Hitchcock, KEDC representatives Cheryl Scott and Richard Chapman, and the Greater Bakersfield Chamber’s President/CEO Nick Ortiz were among those present for the event. Bitwise Industries announced its expansion to Bakersfield as a result of a $27 million investment from Kapor Capitol and the New Voices Fund. This aligns with Bitwise Industry’s vision of taking opportunities to places who may not have it.
Bitwise Industries was founded in 2013 by Irma L. Olguin, Jr., and Jake A. Soberal with the goal of activating human potential for the technology industry in Fresno, CA. It operates three lines of business that sustain and support this objective. Geekwise Academy trains people to code, with a focus on marginalized groups, to give them the skills for today’s job market. Bitwise’s commercial real estate provides a physical home for aspiring technologists, fast growing technology companies, and many mission-aligned companies that hire out of Geekwise Academy; all of which contribute to the ongoing downtown revitalization efforts of the cities where Bitwise is based.Their Shift3 Technologies is a custom software development shop that pairs senior talent with entry-level programmers from Geekwise Academy to build and deliver top quality software solutions to clients around the world.
Bitwise has produced more than 1,000 new software developers, attracted over 200 technology companies to its facilities, contributed to the creation of thousands of jobs in the region, and turned 250,000 sq. ft. of previously blighted downtown buildings in Fresno into desirable commercial real estate.
Bitwise will be acquiring a facility in downtown Bakersfield for the expansion and has expressed a commitment to ensuring our local community thrives. Bakersfield College is proud to be a partner in education and looks forward to expanding tech opportunities to our students and the community as a whole.
Emails to Share: BC Faculty Prepare Research Student
I received this wonderful email in regards to one of our students, Sarai Jaime. This reflects the quality education our faculty provide and I am proud to showcase the success of Sarai Jaime . We are BC!
One of our students is doing REU research at Ole Miss and will be going to Davis in the fall. I did not have her in my class but I became a mentor to her when she did volunteer work at the middle school with me. Now that she is with peers from other colleges I asked her if she feels we prepared her.
This was her response:
Yes, most definitely! Recently, we had a lecture where a professor presented his research (synthesizing dyes for solar cells) and he asked who had taken organic chemistry. About 10 of my peers raised their hands, including myself, and then he asked how many would synthesize the molecule he was showing (DPP17). It was an enormous organic molecule and I was the only one who’s hand was raised. I was able to raise my hand because Dr. Vaughan challenged his organic class in the second semester in a similar way. Dr. Vaughan would give us a staring material and a couple of steps and we would have to fill in the rest. This prepared me to not be afraid of synthesizing giant molecules and instead ask “what’s the starting material?” Of course, I wouldn’t have made to organic without my gen. Chem. professor, Dr. Da Silva and Dr. Copper, who taught me how to think like a scientist and approach problems differently than most people. The same can be said about all of my math professors; particularly my calculus professors Professor Starr and Professor Head. They, similar to my Chem. professors, taught me to apply what I know because the easiest path to a problem is often the correct one. I’ve had various professors in both the sciences and mathematics and they have all contributed to me being able to not be afraid of tackling problems that seem difficult and sometimes even impossible to solve at first glance. The lessons I have learn from my BC professors will transcend my summer internship and be present in my upper division courses at UC Davis and eventually at grad school when I pursue my PhD.
Community Voices: Let’s not judge…
I just shared with you an email from Deborah Rosenthal about a student she mentored. When I asked for permission to publish her email and for pictures, she humbly refused any praise for herself as she was “just a mentor” not one of the professors that Sarai was praising. Now I can commend Professor Rosenthal for an excellent article published in the Bakersfield Californian Community Voices. She makes an excellent point about bias and judgements that continue in our community. Her article reminds us all not to judge people by their looks and the role of teachers as mentors. Professor Rosenthal’s influence and dedication as a mentor is evident in her continued contact with a student during the summer break. Be inspired and mentored by Deborah by reading her article “Let’s not judge a person by their looks.”
Emails to Share:
I was so pleased to receive this email from Heidi Forsythe:
Subject: Good News!
I teach off campus (Inmate Scholar’s Program) and only find myself on the main campus when I need to pick up copies. Today, I was on campus for a lengthy period of time which happen to be my lunch. As I decided how to efficiently use my time (while I waited for my copies) and plug in some exercise I chose to walk (climb my way) to the huddle where I met Christina Rodriguez. This is where the good news comes in. Christina Rodriguez was the very cheerful food server who gladly took my order. As I thanked her for her excellent customer service she replied with great pleasure that she loves her job and the institution. She also mentioned that she is a graduate of BC. While she is currently looking for full-time work within her field as an Administrative Assistant she expressed how happy she was working for the institution. She was very genuine in her remarks and expressed much gratitude for the opportunity to work for Bakersfield College. I was truly impressed with Ms. Rodriguez that I told her I would share the news with you and she was ecstatic.
It was so exciting to hear her brag about our amazing school. She is a true example of the phrase, We are BC.
And when I shared this with Christina, she replied with a delightful email:
Dear BC President Sonya Christian,
I’m honored to receive an email from you. I am very proud to be working at Bakersfield College Food Services Department as a permanent employee. I enjoy coming to work and making a difference there when servicing our customers with a smile no matter how their day is going. Bakersfield College is my second home just as it was for my mom, Theresa Rodriguez who worked there 26 years in the Food Service Department.
I graduated with an AA degree in Administrative Office Assistant and planned to make a career here. Bakersfield College is an amazing place to work at and I enjoy every second of it. I want to express to you how much I appreciate my job, the people I work with and serving our BC students, faculty and the community. I hope as they leave I made their day. Thank you for taking the time to read this and hope to see you soon.
Thank you Heidi for recognizing a valuable member of our team and thank you Christina for you dedication and bringing a smile to everyone on campus. We are BC!
Fun Photos: Inmate Education Team
That’s all for now.
Until next time.
With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
the luckiest and happiest college president ever