Celebrating our talented students. Commencement 2017

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, May 20, 2017…one week after graduation and a phenomenal week to be a Renegade.

Graduation 2017

BC 103 Commencement

The 2016-2017 Academic Year ended on a wonderfully high note.  There were so many important and inspiring events during the last few weeks of the semester, but everything culminated in Bakersfield Colleges 103rd Commencement Ceremony.  Here is the slideshow of images from the evening:

Bakersfield College Commencement 2017 - May 12, 2017
Bakersfield College Commencement 2017 - May 12, 2017
Bakersfield College Commencement 2017 - May 12, 2017

So proud of Somaly Boles who graduated with her associates degree.  Seriously smart, incredibly talented, a calm personality, no drama, and so beautiful.  The entire Executive Office was so excited.  Here are some photos with Somaly.

Somaly Boles and Tarina Perry May 12 2017

Somaly Boles and Tarina Perry May 12, 2017


Somaly Boles and Chris Counts May 12 2017

Somaly Boles and Chief Chris Counts

This year we thought we would try a new approach to all of the pre-commencement celebrations.  We have the Chicano-Latino, African American, Veterans, and Delano pre-commencement celebrations.  So let’s take a looks at two  of the four celebrations.  I will have the Veterans and the Delano celebrations in my next blog.

African American Pre-Commencement

Our African-American graduates were specially recognized in the Indoor Theater at the African-American Pre-Commencement Ceremony on Friday afternoon. This event started with beautiful music, as the audience sang along to James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” After the opening prayer by Pastor Prince Charles, Outreach Director Steve Watkin offered some words of encouragement, asking students to do their part to “help us continue to be proud of you.” Financial Aid Director Jennifer Achan introduced keynote speaker Brenda Lewis, assistant superintendent of instruction for the Kern High School District. Lewis told her story of growing up with 11 siblings in poverty to become one of Kern County’s first black high school administrators. She urged the students to carry themselves with honesty, integrity and ethics and to help others who struggle along the way.

“You must continue preparing to succeed,” she said. “Be the one who clears the way for others to succeed.”


African American Pre-Commencement 2017

Graduating student speaker Sharita Knowles told a powerful story about how she went back to school after having children, worked full time at a hospital every night to support her family while she went to classes during the day, and how members of the BC family such as Janet Fulks, Steve Watkin and student peer mentors helped her get a job at the Welcome Center so that she could see her kids at night.  “I thought I had a plan,” Knowles said, “but if our plans don’t line up with God’s plan, then they’re not really plans at all.


African American Pre-Commencement 2017

“At BC, a whole new world opened up—experiences that I’d never known I’d experience,” said Knowles, who the other students affectionately refer to as “Momma Bear”. “Coming to school here was a huge sacrifice…but it was all worth it.”

The Chicano and African-American Pre-Commencements are living demonstrations of the truism that education is the great equalizer in our society. Regardless of the racial, socioeconomic or other struggles that define your past, an education at BC offers the opportunity to overcome those obstacles and build a new legacy for yourself and your family.

Chicano Latino Pre-Commencement

The Chicano/Latino Pre-Commencement Celebration took place at the Outdoor Theater


Chicano Latino Pre-Commencement 2017

on Friday and began with a traditional dance ceremony as family members gathered. Women dressed in ornate costumes moved in beautiful syncopation to the trance-inducing rhythm of two young boys drumming between ferns on the Outdoor Theater stage. One woman burned incense in a wooden bowl to accompany the ritual, spreading good intentions throughout the theater and invoking the spirits of the ancestors.

Victor Diaz served as master of ceremony, leading the crowd to a bilingual chant of “WE ARE BC” before introducing Dean of Instruction Cornelio Rodriguez, who’s been organizing the Chicano/Latino Pre-Commencement at BC since 1994.


Victor Diaz, MC of the 2017 Chicano Latino Pre-Commencement

Rodriguez said how grateful he was for everyone who helped organize the event and was awestruck at how it has grown to become one of the most anticipated events of the year. As an expression of that gratitude, he presented Diaz with the sash used 24 years ago at the first Chicano/Latino celebration.

The keynote speaker for the Pre-Commencement was television journalist Christina Lopez, who spoke about her struggles as the child of farm workers who became a first-generation college graduate at the height of the economic recession, and how she overcame her obstacles to succeed a TV reporter in Bakersfield and a documentarian chronicling the life of civil rights leader Dolores Huerta. Lopez offered an important message for other first-generation graduates.

“Never lose sight of dreams that propel you to a future filled with purpose,” she said. “Don’t just dream, but dream bigger for yourself, your community and your family.”

After Lopez spoke, each student got the opportunity to take the stage and thank all of the parents, teachers, friends and family that encouraged them to get through college. On days like this, I’m so proud of all our faculty and campus leaders who change the lives of people in our community every day and create opportunities for upward mobility to our Latino community.

Remember… Somos BC!

Back to the 103rd Commencement

Here are some more photos of the incredible evening

The four readers: Prof. Jennifer Johnson, Dean Corny Rodriguez, Prof. Paul Beckworth, Prof. Cynthia Quntanilla

Thank you Trustee Kyle Carter and Trustee Romeo Agbalog for attending the 103rd commencement.  It is always a treat to have our trustees at college events.

Kyle Carter Sonya Christian Romeo Agbalog

Trustee Kyle Carter, President Sonya Christian, Trustee Romeo Agbalog

BC SGA President Matthew Frazer, thank you for a fabulous year.  I will miss you!

Matthew Frazer Sonya Christian May 12 2017

President Matthew Frazer, President Sonya Christian

The platform party for the 103rd commencement.

Standing: Trustee Romeo Agbalog, Vice President Zav Dadabhoy, SGA President Matthew Frazer, Academic Senate President Steve Holmes, Trustee Kyle Carter, Prof. Bernie Scanlon, Vice President Don Chrusciel, General Counsel Chris Hine, Prof. Paul Beckworth, Prof. Corny Rodriguez

Sitting: Vice President Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, President Sonya Christian, Prof. Jennifer Johnson, Prof. Cynthia Quintanilla

Platform Party for Commencement 2017

Platform Party for the 103rd Commencement

Nicky Damania and Michelle Pena

Nicky Damania and Michelle Pena May 12 2017

Bernie Scanlon and Chris Hine

Matthew Frazer and Steven Holmes 

Full gallery of photos are available at

Commencement Day was incredible. I have a team of people to thank, especially Jennifer Marden, Tracy Hall, Kristin Rabe, Lesley Bonds, and Chris Glaser. So many roles, so many volunteers, so many names to mention. From our ushers, to Francis Mayer, our emcee to our name readers, and photographers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Food Services.jpg


2017 Commencement BTS

The 2017 Commencement Committee included:

Karimeh Amin
Gayla Anderson
Paul Beckworth
Vanessa Bell
Ralph Burnette
Cheryl Caswell
Christopher Counts
Victor Diaz
John Farrand
Eric Garcia
Tracy Hall
Christy Haycock
Eryn Justice
Laura Lorigo
Jennifer Marden Serratt
Francis Mayer
John Menzies
Rachell Morehouse
Michelle Pena
Jack Pierce
Ramon Puga
Kristin Rabe
Corny Rodriguez
Monika Scott
Dennis Spencer
Pearl Urena
Sue Vaughn
Angelica Vasquez
Steve Watkin

More behind the scenes photos

The day before commencement with the Dream Team — Tracy Hall, Jennifer Marden, Kristin Rabe, Lesley Bonds, Chris Glaser

Commencement Prep May 11 2017

Tracy Hall, Jennifer Marden, Sonya Christian, Kristin Rabe, Lesley Bonds, Chris Glaser

On-Campus Mentorship

I received an email from Tarina Perry (and Administrative Secretary from my office), who told me about her amazing experience as a mentor to a group of students on campus:
Tarina Perry with Andres Abundis

In June 2015, I contacted Lesley [Bonds] inquiring if a classified member could be a mentor and she said she “would love to get me connected with a group of mentees”.  Well, she certainly “hooked me up”!  When she said “group”, I was not anticipating TEN (10) students!!  However, it turns out that most needed occasional directional information and only a select few fell under my wing.  Although one student is struggling, I am there to offer guidance and encouragement; another student changed her major and is moving right along.  I’m most excited to share that Andres Abundis (photo attached) was able to graduate with a major in Business Administration with his Associate in Science Degree for transfer to Cal State Long Beach with a 3.44; Dean’s list for Spring 2016/Fall 2016.

Along the way there were many times he wanted to drop a class or needed assistance with just a quick edit of an essay and I was there to lend a hand.  Together, we worked on his resume, attended BC football games, and he even went to the hockey game with my boys.  I am glad to say he is and always will be a longtime friend of the family.

Thank you Lesley for this amazing opportunity; both Andres and I have grown so much from this experience!”

Umoja End of the Year Gathering

Thank you Paula Parks for leading this work!

The event was definitely one of celebrating our students.  I was sitting next to a fabulous woman Sharon Randall, who is a community mentor for the ASTEP program.  A retired Biology teacher, Sharon was so enthusiastic about the program.

Umoja Celebration May 18 2017

The star mentor was none other than our June Charles.

This is what Kimberly Bligh tweeted

Kimberly Bligh tweets about June Charles May 18 2017.png

Tyler Johnican from Umoja  is heading to China

After the Umoja program Zav, Nan and I were talking in the parking lot just telling stories about what a great year this was for BC.  And then Jackie Lau joined us and we were talking about Measure J.  Jackie was a constant at 1675 Chester Avenue the headquarters for the campaign.  Phone banking, precinct walking…..  Thank you Jackie!

Jackie Lau and Sonya Christian May 18 2017

Jackie Lau, Sonya Christian

That same evening, the evening of May 18th, there were three events happening on campus — Softball Hall of Fame dinner, the ASTEP-Umoja celebration, and the Landscape meeting.  I was rushing back to campus after briefly attending the pre-Stemposium dinner event at Luigis organized by Cheryl Scott of Kern Economic Development Corpporation (KEDC).  More on the Stemposium in next week’s blog.

Coach Christie Hill at the Softball Hall of FAme

I was so delighted to see Kanoe Bandy, Athletic Director at Taft College at the event with her husband Don Bandy who was being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Kanoe Bandy and Don Bandy May 18 2017

And in the Fireside Room Lindsay Ono was there with the Kern County California Landscape Contractors Association.  Here is a video posted on Prof. Ono’s Facbook page.  So proud of BC faculty and out curriculum.


Summer Institute

The last three years, BC has had a summer institute right after graduation.  The summer institute is a professional development event for faculty and staff and the focus has been on improving our student success rates as it relates to students completing a certificate or degree.

Here are some photos that Janet Fulks sent me.

Stem Metamajor

Stem metamajor Summer Institute May 17 2017.JPG

Public Safety

Public Safety Metamajor May 17 2017

Health Sciences Metamajor

Health Science Metamajor May 17 2017.JPG

Catch all for students who are undecided

Exploratory Summer Institute May 17 2017


Education Metamajor May 17 2017


Business Summer Institute May 17 2017

Behavioral Science Metamajor

Behavioral Science Metamajor Summer Institute May 17 2017

Arts and Humanities

Arts and Humanities Metamajor May 17 2017.JPG

Odella Johnson’s Retirement

Hard to beleive that so many of the colleagues I started with at BC are retiring.  On Friday, May 19th, we recognized Odella Johnson at the Four Points Sheraton.  BC colleagues were there in full force in addition to the Alapha Kappa Alpha sorority group and the Links group.

BC Gang at Odella Johnson's Retirement Party

Here is Odella with her AKA sisters

Odella Johnson with the AKAs.jpg

It was a treat hearing all the wonderful Odella Stories. I am here in this picture with two women who spoke at the retirement.  Rhonda Williams, President of The Links and Michelle Fambrough, President of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Odella Johnson's Retirement Party May 19 2017

It was wonderful seeing Jackie Fisher there looking so well and so strong.

Sonya Christian and Jackie Fisher

And here I am with woman of the evening, Odella Johnson

Odella Johnson and Sonya Christian May 19 2017

Here is a 13-ish minute video of Odella on Equity TV

Celebrating Olivia Garcia

Celebrating History Professor Olivia Garcia‘s recognition as Garden Pathways’ “Women with a Heart for Bakersfield” award. Congratulations, Olivia!! Pictured here with Dean Mourtzanos and History Professors Jason Stratton, Paul Beckworth, and Matthew Garrett.

Olivia Gardia

Garden Pathways Honors History Professor Olivia Garcia with a “Women with a Heart for Bakersfield” Award

Our fabulous mayor, Karen Goh


Garden Pathways Honors History Professor Olivia Garcia with a “Women with a Heart for Bakersfield” Award

‘Labor of Love’ from inmate education

Chelsea Esquibias from the Inmate Education Program in Delano sent me another uplifting story from the program:

Jesse Perez, 38 years old, is housed at Kern Valley State Prison, B Yard, Level 4 Main Line.  He has been incarcerated since he was 12 years old and was convicted as an adult at 16.  He has sued CDCR twice and won due to his 20 years in solitary. Today in speech class, he gave a speech about dreams and creating an unofficial partnership with prison officials for social change and continued rehabilitative programs.

After his speech, he passed out a sample form letter (click here to see the letter) to students to send to elected officials and others.  He wants everyone to know how thankful they are for the college program and the rehabilitative steps being taken.

Here is a snippet:

“So, as prisoners in an active general population setting, and in proactive acknowledgement of the tentative nature of the current favorable reality, we’d be of service to ourselves if we embrace fully the idea of an unofficial partnership with prison officials.  A partnership geared towards making the current rehabilitative trends a permanent fixture in prison life.”

Adding to this, Jesse’s letter was forwarded directly to Governor Brown!

Thank you for your continued support to Bakersfield College.  I am honored to serve these students and assist them as they achieve their goals.  Thank you for your belief in us.

Retired BC Professor gets Lifetime Achievement Award

Celebrating the heritage of BC is important and exciting.  I love hear about accolades given to our past teachers and staff.  This week I heard of Helen Gordon’s recognition, her are here words about her time during and after BC:

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 1.30.09 PM

I taught English and study skills at Bakersfield College for 21 years, retiring from the classroom in 1995.  While an English professor at BC, I also served the Bakersfield Californian editorial board as a citizen representative for one year.  Keeping in touch with BC, I received the Levan Faculty Colloquium award in 2011 for my research into Shakespeare, “Sleuthing the Shakespeare Mysteries.”

I also contributed a poem to the new journal begun by Jack Hernandez that year.

I had moved to Santa Barbara in 1995  to bring my husband (Rev. Clifton B. Gordon) for assisted living care.  To help supplement our retirement income, I took a job at UC Santa Barbara for 5 years as an editor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.  I really enjoyed helping graduate students polish their papers for publication in prestigious journals or conference proceedings.

After my husband’s death in 2004, I turned again to scholarly and creative writing. I also trademarked a word game, “Anagrabber” which I field-tested for 5 years and am now beginning to market with the help of two grownup grandsons.

I worked closely with Jerry Ludeke developing the Learning Center which now bears her name.

You can view the full press release here:

Law Day

BC again hosted “Law Day” for pre-law students to get an idea of what they’re in for when they move on to Law School.  Most of the panelists are either judges or lawyers, but offer encouraging advice to BC students who want to explore the field.

Here is the article from The Rip about Law Day: http://www.therip.com/news/2017/05/02/bc-hosts-law-day-on-campus-for-students/

Team_Photo 2

I covered this event more in depth in my May 7th blog but when I saw the article in The Rip, I wanted to highlight it again.  Here is the link to my blog post


How Do BC Staff Prep for Events?

On Wednesday, May 24, 2017, Bakersfield College will host the second annual guided pathways summit, Leadership Matters: Reimagining Leadership to Sustain Transformative Change to Advance Student Success & Equity. When BC prepares for an event of this magnitude, we go all out.

Chris Glaser has gathered a group of ushers and event staff to help with our summit check-in and crowd control. But putting all of the pieces of an event together is an intense process!

BC Leadership Ushers

Thank you to our event ushers and event staff (from left to right) Tarina.Perry (holding a picture of Rosalee Pogue and Helen Harp), Tracy Hall (holding the event diagram breakdown), Yolanda Aguilera, Chris Glaser, Marissa Jeffers, Anita Karr, Bernadette Martinez, and Maria Diaz. All are holding out their phones showing Slack!

See that document Tracy Hall is holding? That’s a complete diagram breakdown of the crowd flow for the event check-in. Our ushers will know exactly where to be, what to say, and who to go to for help.

I was also introduced to Slack. Slack’s slogans are “where work happens” and “team communication for the 21st century” and that couldn’t be closer to the truth! It’s this neat collaboration software for your computer and mobile device and it’s been taking off with our teams!

And how is our team prepping the details for Leadership Matters? By sending ideas, comments of encouragement, files, photos, updated files, and more ideas, all within Slack. It’s very fast-paced and super engaging, but you know what? That is how BC rolls!

The Ralph Bailey Show

Mike Turnipseed asked me to sit in for him on his weekly spot on the Ralph Bailey show. We discussed the Kern Promise, Measure J, and the Industrial Automation Baccalaureate Program.  Ralph had me laughing and I had so much fun being on the show.

Thanks for the time Ralph!

Sonya Christian and Ralph Bailey Cropped May 18 2017

Sonya Christian and Ralph Bailey

From Facebook

Theresa McAllister post’s picture of Wasco High Students at Summer Bridge

Theresa McAllister's FAcebook post WAsco High Students at Summer Bridge.png

The Veeps

Thank you Vice Presidents for a fabulous 2016-2017.  I could not have done it without you!  Selfies by Zav!

Exec Team Part 2 May 16 2017

Don Chrusciel, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Sonya Christian, Zav Dadabhoy

Exec Team May 16 2017

Don Chrusciel, Sonya Christian, Neo, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Zav Dadabhoy

Zav Dadabhoy Nan Gomez Sonya Christian Don Chrusciel 2017.jpg

Zav Dadabhoy, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Sonya Christian, Don Chrusciel

Superhero behind the scenes

Blanca Blanco had the night shift on Thursday evening and we had three programs on campus.  Thank you Blanca for all that you do.


Here is Blanca! She can always be seen with a smile on campus.

What a week!

And then there is Neo who has turned my life upside down.  Last night he ripped a strip of carpet.

And here he is sleeping peacefully like a little angel

Neo in bed May 20 2017

And then there is the ball

Sonya Christian MAy 12 2017

That’s all for now.  

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya —
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Congratulations talented faculty and staff

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, May 13th….the day after BC’s 103rd commencement.  What a glorious week to be a Renegade.

In January, the halls of BC filled with students as the new semester began… A semester that will forever change the lives of our 1400 plus graduates who were invited to walk on the commencement stage yesterday evening.

There is so much to talk about and so much to share about the Commencement festivities yesterday. I’ll be recapping the individual events next weekend, but for now –


Have you checked out the Waterfall in Bakersfield?  I did..on May 3rd when a friend told me about it.

Check out Lois Henry’s brief fun description of the Waterfall in Bakersfield at




Closing Day

What an incredible, record breaking and history setting year for Bakersfield College. We saw a record setting increase in student numbers, improved student outcomes, created efficiency saving time and money for students and taxpayers, broadened outreach to Kern County Residents, particularly in rural Kern, engaged with our community, educational sector, business, and industry, and continued to develop innovative programs that benefit our students.

Closing Day is all about celebrating people.  Here are some of them

Shirley Trembley Award Recipient: Reggie Williams

Reggie Williams recipient of the Shirley Trembley Award May 12 2017


The Margaret Levinson Award Recipient: Kimberly Bligh

Kimberly Bligh Margaret Levinson Award Recipient May 12 2017

Levan Faculty Colloquim Recipient: Rafael Espericueta

Rafael Espericueta Levan Faculty Colloquim May 12 2017.png


Each year, at Closing Day, I recognize groups or individuals with The Presidents Leadership Award. This year, the 10 recipients were:

I. Public Safety:


On call 24/7, 365 days a year, and under the guidance and leadership of Chief Chris Counts, our Public Safety officers and department has put forth commendable effort to keep our campus safe and welcoming.

Thank you for your caring service to our community. As an open campus, with thousands of visitors and students, it is you our campus officers who deal with the issues and providing assistance to those in need.

Thank you for putting forth the effort to make BC an environment that not only reaches out, but also provides a safe and caring community. I am delighted to award the President’s Leadership Award to the Public Safety team!

Chris Counts, Christina Vazquez, Freddie Rodriguez, Felix Ramirez, Marcos Sifuentes, Mason Blair, Blanca Blanco, Vincente Costa, Robert Fore, Raymond Grant,
Jason Mattheus, Matthew Rodriguez, Carlos Rios

II. Financial Aid

17closingday14Tenacity!  Eye on details!  Relentless focus on improving systems!  Challenging the status quo!

These are some of the characteristics I think of when I see a whole department reinventing itself and championing “systems” changes to ensure student success. And this is exactly what I think of when I hear what our Financial Aid Department has achieved this year!

For the first time in my memory, we did not have any delay in awarding Financial Aid, and disbursing awards on time.  Our Financial Aid team, under the direction of Jennifer Achan, has re-invented itself by sheer hard work, and a focus on examining processes internally and externally!

They have been relentless in challenging inefficiencies, and have focused on putting student success first!  And more importantly they have sought out innovative technologies and applications to improve how they work.  I am delighted to present the President’s Leadership Award to the Financial Aid team!


Jennifer Achan, Mark “Adam” Llanes, Adriana Vega, Connie Garza-Singh, 
Donica Delarose, Gina Hunter, Heather Skibinski, Pita Montes, Rebecca Bumpous               Roberta Ayala, Valerie Mackey, Victoria Koiyan, Walter Rivas, Lucy Perez-Dykes
Evette Lara, Claudio Felix, Grace Saenz, Jesus Cardenas

III. Inmate Education

Inmate Education 2017 President's Leadership Awards

“Teaching inside is a labor of love.”  These words are from Bryan Hirayama’s blog on his experience teaching in prison.

The ‘labor of love’ also applies to those who started and developed the Bakersfield College Inmate Scholars Program.

In 2 short years, BC has taken a leading role in the state. Our dedicated team has been asked to present at state-wide conferences, provide training, and we are one of 7 California programs to receive a grant for our innovative and effective approach to teaching incarcerated students.

The rigor and the academic standards are maintained in these college level courses. Our program faculty and administrators go the extra mile.

That might mean using paper and pen to answer student questions over the weekend because students don’t have access to email or telephones.

Or it might mean providing additional transfer materials so a student can answer their daughter’s questions about college classes.

In a recent post Bryan said, “It is no different teaching inside. One measurable but significant call of teaching behind the wall is shouldering hope.”

Chelsea Esquibias, Rich McCrow, Patricia Smith, Bryan Hirayama, 
Douglas Grimsley, David Moton, Yuki Takeuchi Chan

IV. Dual Enrollment Program


Dual Enrollment President's Leadership Award.pngIt takes vision, leadership, persistence and thinking to move from an idea to a college practice.

BC’s early model of dual enrollment was at a Delano Charter School and, now Wonderful Academy.

Just this past year and a half, we have built on the long standing articulation agreements and CTE program pathways to schedule courses that prepare students for college and careers. This year, general education courses were piloted.

We are well on the way to address the significantly low degree attainment and unemployment rates in our rural communities.

All these indicators pointed to the need for post-secondary education and training. We knew we could not afford to wait until students enrolled at one of BC’s college locations. We knew we had to strengthen our partnerships with high school districts in order to make a positive change for Kern County.

Building connections between two very different systems has its challenges and growing pains. Bringing together college and high school faculty is time intensive but critical to the success of dual enrolled students.

But, for the sake of our students, making the effort and improving what we are doing is exactly where we need to be.

This year 69% of dual enrolled students live in rural communities and 85% are students of color. Dual enrollment is about access and equity. It is about improving the statistics of Kern County.

Cindy Collier, Corny Rodriguez, Klint Rigby, Anna Laven, Rich McCrow, Raquel Lopez


The MESA Program is vital to our first student generation and assists students who are declared in STEM transfer majors that are economically and educationally disadvantaged.

MESA, under the leadership of Connie Gonzales, leverages a $75,000 State grant with three times that amount in donations from local business, industry and other private philanthropic groups.

Students have access to dedicated tutoring support, guidance and resources to develop habits that keep them on the pathway to success, resulting in historical success rates 10% higher than the total BC student population.

Just last month, MESA ran a successful STEM Pre-Health Conference in collaboration with UCLA to direct 150 future STEM students to BC and beyond.

MESA is housed in the AERA STEM Success Center, which was opened last fall using a major financial donation from AERA Energy. This valuable resource center for students, led by Yadira Guerrero, is funded through a STEM grant.

MESA and STEM May 12 2017


I promise you that if you swing by anytime you will find the center alive with support for all STEM students through assistants and mentors, who help other students succeed in challenging courses.

Together, Connie and Yadira and the MESA and STEM team have made BC the place to succeed in Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering . I am delighted to present this team The President’s Leadership Award!


Connie Gonzales, Yadira Guerrero, Cynthia Quintanilla, Tiffani Alvidrez, 
Mark Osea, Patrick Aderhod, Kenward Vaughan, Wayne Cooper, 
Dan Kimball, Joe Saldivar, Kim Newton, Regina Hukill, Dillion Giblin                                Josh Lewis, Donna Starr, Becky Head

VI. Summer Bridge

Summer is almost here – and it’s a critical time in the academic success for recent high school graduates planning to attend BC in the fall.

This is the time when new students can get started on their pathways to success at BC, but it takes the determination, coordination and hard work of BC faculty, staff, student mentors and leaders like Kimberly Bligh and the Summer Bridge team.


Together, their efforts have created the BC Summer Bridge program – an intensive orientation program with hands-on activities covering academic and student services, campus tour, registration processes, and financial aid.

  • In 2013, the Summer Bridge program was only one section with 35 students over one week.
  • In 2014, this was increased to 145 students, and in 2015, over 400 students.
  • Funding from a Title V grant and Kimberly Bligh’s leadership, last year, supported nearly 1,000 students, who were 5% more successful in their fall courses than those not attending Summer Bridge.

With new sessions and expansion to Delano, the participation goal is simply… every new BC student!


Kimberly Bligh, Lesley Bonds, Isabel Castaneda, Matthew Garrett, 
Marcelyn Allen, Alexandra Dalllara, Faith Bradham, Jessica Wojtysiak
Paul Beckworth, Stephen Tavoni, Andrew Haney, Teresa McAllister
Don Brady, Jennifer Peters, Sarah Baron, Ximena Da Silva, Nigie Shi,
Eddie Rangel, Sondra Keckley, Jonathan Shultz

VII. Measure J. Writers Bureau

Higher education is a pursuit; one that follows visions and dreams to make tomorrows story better than today’s.

With the support of our community and because of the phenomenal efforts of a dedicated group of individuals who helped broadcast BC’s unique story, we gained the support of over 65% of voters for YES ON J.


Our stories were everywhere.

They were authentic and vibrant. They brought to life our outstanding history and long tradition of excellence. They shared experiences and whispers from within the classrooms and the hallways.

Thank you for sharing your talent and thank you for sharing your stories.

Your words, community voices, and opinions have brought life to the conversation that has propelled Bakersfield College into the next era.  Thank you.

Andrea Thorson, Talita Pruett, Neely Hatridge, Gloria Dumler, Krista Moreland, Nick Strobel, Oliver Rosales, Patricia Smith, Paula Parks, Sarah Baron, Tom Moran, Janet Tarjan, Debbie Rosenthal

VIII. Measure J Campus Leaders

The Measure J journey started a year in advance and included much more than just 12 months of intense work. A team of campus leaders rallied behind this work, often not even knowing what the work needed to be… building it as we moved forward, one step at a time – creating that step as we took it.

The work took courage, time, patience, and grace from many individuals who came together during non-school and non-work time, volunteer hours, evenings, weekends, early mornings, lunchtime meetings, whatever it took – these campus leaders were there.


The work was initially broken up into two phases.

The first was the educational campaign… Together, we shared our vision for A Better BC through presentations, conversations, and sharing our ideas with anyone who would listen.

And then when the board took action in July 2016, we moved to the political campaign – Yes on J.  As educators, who know nothing about political campaigns, except our Political Science faculty, we rolled up our sleeves, locked arms, and engaged with the hard work.

1675 Chester Avenue became a home away from home. It was a refuge of sharing our vision, engaging with folks on the phone in English and Spanish, eating pizzas, exhausted, planning walking precincts…. And then…. November 8th happened.

Our hard work gave life to our vision… a vision that now will be a reality.  And as I began to identify those who worked so tirelessly, I know many were missed… but here is a glimpse of the mosaic of faces that have made measure J a reality.

Somaly Boles, Tarina Perry, Shannon Musser, Kate Pluta, Nicky Damania,                     Richard McCrow, Cornelio Rodriguez, Steven Holmes, Zav Dababhoy                              Todd Coston, Liz Rozell, Sandi Taylor, Tom Gelder, Nan Gomez-Heiteberg
Mary Jo Pasek, Lesley Bonds, Steven Watkin, Sue Vaughn, Isabel Stierle                      Sarah Baro, Nick Strobel, Sondra Keckley, Tina Johnson, Jennifer Marden Serratt, 
Chris Glaser, Stephen Waller, Manny Mourtzanos, Andrea Thorson, Bill Potter, Jackie Lau, Paul Beckworth, Michelle Pena

Check out this 5-minute video that Manny de Los Santos put together of some Measure J photos.

IX. Jerry Ludeke, Bob Allison, and Jack Hernandez

It’s hard to imagine a world without archives, without scholarship, and without lifelong learning.

On the BC campus, we uniquely rely on these three important components to enrich our working and learning environment.

Jerry Ludeke Bob Allison Jack Hernandez May 12 2017.png

Our archives give us a comprehensive and vital understanding of our past, as we work towards building a better future…. the detailed extent to which Jerry Ludeke preserves our history is usually only found at prestigious universities and not so much in community colleges.  The Bakersfield Californian accurately called Jerry Ludeke a “True Bakersfield College Treasure.”

The lifelong learning offered at The Levan Institue, under the direction of Bob Allison is a gift for our neighbors, community, and Renegade alumni.  Bob Allison has served this college as a chemistry faculty, a senior administrator, president and now the caretaker of lifelong learning opportunities for our community.  Bob Allison opened up his home to me as a rookie faculty and mentored me on the enrollment management and budgets when I was a rookie dean and has done so for many many of us at BC.

The lectures and programs offered at the Levan Center, led by Jack Hernandez, brings a unique opportunity to deepen the learning environment for our faculty, staff and students and to elevate our core value of learning.

The Levan Center through its scholarly and rigorous treatment of the humanities, arts, letters and sciences does just that.  And it is a bright shining light of excellence due to the leadership of Jack Hernandez.

X. Mary Jo Pasek

You will frequently see Mary Jo speeding around campus in her golf cart, making friends wherever she goes and serving as BC’s goodwill ambassador to students and visitors alike.

In her role as Events and Scheduling Manager, Mary Jo is involved in all outside events that come to campus and she was instrumental in bringing the Condors and their WinterFest to Memorial Stadium.

She works closely with our maintenance, media relations and food service staffs to make sure every event has the right venue, the right equipment and the perfect menu to make it a success.

Sonya Christian Mary Jo Pasek May 12 2017

She knows everybody in town and is a fountain of information when you need to know who to call, who to ask, or who to invite.

She is a true Midwestern treasure… Minnesota born and bred…and a treasure to Bakersfield College.

Between her stints at the District and her time at BC Mary Jo has spent 10 years making “a better BC” and today, I’m delighted to honor her as a recipient of The Presidents Leadership Award.

Here are some photos from the morning.

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Thank you to the Closing Day Team: Monika Scott, Dylan Wang, Kristin Rabe, Manuel De Los Santos, Kevin Ganger, Francis Mayer, Jennifer Marden Serratt, and our Ushers led by Chris Glaser, Kristina Whitmore, Bernadette Martinez, Heather Skibinski, Walter Rivas, Cecilia Lopez, and Tarina Perry. And I can’t forget, Emmanuel Limaco who led our stretch break.


What a great selfie of the three VPs



Wounded Heroes Event

BC was represented at “An Evening with American Heroes” last Friday evening.  The Wounded Heroes Fund is a local service organization for those veterans and their families affected by the war on terror with a focus on facilitating a healthy transition to civilian life through support and appreciation. The beautiful evening underneath the big trees was a perfect setting for a great meal, catered by Cafe Med, with community members supporting this important organization.  The highlight of the night was a panel of three Army special forces operators discussing their missions and their passions.  On stage was SGT. Major Jeremy Morton, Master SGT., (Ret) Jason Beardsley, and SGT First Class Joe Drullard.  Paul Beckworth told me, it was Sgt. Major Jeremy Morton who helped plan and execute the capture of Saddam Hussein. Bakersfield College veterans attended this important fundraiser as a part of, and in support of our local veteran community.  

Mayor Goh, Angelica Perez (Army), Jahnea Palfrey (Navy), Bernadette Martinez (Air Force) Paul Beckworth

Paul Beckworth, Mayor Goh, Angelica Perez (Army), Jahnea Palfrey (Navy), Bernadette Martinez (Air Force)


Women’s Empowerment Summit

Last Saturday marked the second annual Women’s Empowerment Summit which brings knowledge, resources and networking to all who attend. There was a wonderful line-up of some amazing and talented women throughout the county and state.  In today’s world, we are striving for equality and inclusion for everyone, and it is with this in mind that the women at the conference shared statistics, studies, and hope. It is estimated that women today earn 86 cents to every dollar a man is paid for the same job with the same experience and so we are left asking ourselves what is it that we can do to level the playing field? This is especially pertinent when we think about the fact that 1.5 million businesses in California alone are owned and run by women.


Through the various speeches shared a story of importance… a story of being that role model for others to emulate whatever field you are passionately pursuing. There were speakers from Latina Leaders of Kern County, Associate State Director for AARP, Executive Director for the Kern Literacy Council and also a stirring presentation from Melissa Abad, Research Associate for the Clayman Institute. The morning began with refreshments while those in attendance networked with others, then the women sat together, shoulder to shoulder and listened intently as each speaker shared with us with wisdom in their field of expertise.

IMG_5623The first speaker of the day was none-other than Executive Vice President of Instruction at our own Bakersfield College, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg. She shared, “I started in 1966 as an educator, teaching three year olds, but I was always curious and my curiosity is what put me in positions that opened doors instead of simply watching life by the sidelines. Appreciate people who have taught you things that maybe were painful but they are all part of your story, you can become your own author to your story of life. The best thing about working for BC is being able to transform so many lives but also working for and with so many wonderful women’. These words resonated with me, as she closed by simply stating, “It’s never too late to write your story.”

As all of the other wonderful speakers presented, these words continued to stay at the forefront as each one demonstrated how they had in fact written their own story and how they strived and continue to strive each and every day to make it the best story possible. Lisa Baca posted photos on Facebook! 

Levan Humanities Review

The Norman Levan Center for the Humanities just released the fifth volume of the “Levan Humanities Review”, an annual journal of essays, poetry and cultural criticism submitted by contributors in and out of BC. Contributors submit their work to Levan Center director Jack Hernandez for publication, and he curates and edits the entries throughout the year.

In the current issue of the Levan Humanities Review, Writing Center tutor Susan Abbassi wrote an essay on the cultural importance of the hijab and the struggles many Muslim women in the Western world face when they choose to continue incorporating it into their spiritual practice. Philosophy professor, Anna Poetker’s piece documented the obstacles that many undocumented Latino college students face in achieving their educational goals, while commercial music professor Joshua Ottum wrote about the percussive, industrial sounds of Kern River oilfields and its influence on our music and culture. Cal State Bakersfield professor Tim Vivian even contributed a review of Wendell Berry’s book “Roots to the Earth” and a poem titled “To One Who Coughed in Darkness”.

To find out more about the latest issue of the “Levan Humanities Review,” including David M. Kernanen’s explanation of humanism and Miriam Raub Vivian’s essay on Roman architecture, you can read Volume 5, Issue 1 online right now.

To order a paper version of the journal, please check the Amazon page at: https://www.amazon.com/Levan-Humanities-Review-Jack-Hernandez/dp/1544171021/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491337744&sr=8-1&keywords=levan+humanities+review

U.S./Mexican Muralism

The Bakersfield College Art Department was excited to have a guest lecture from UCLA PhD candidate Kaelyn D. Rodriguez on campus. She was here share all about U.S./Mexican Muralism: Visualizing the Past, Present, and Future of Chicanx Murals. She expressed the reason behind the word Chicanx and its importance. In a world were inclusion in vital to us as a society, by saying or labeling things as Chicanx, you are taking the gender and or sex out of the equation. No longer do they say Chicano or Chicana or Latina or Latino which designates to only certain gender and sexes, by using the word Chicanx, you are now including all!

Mexican Muralism flyerHer excitement beamed as she went through the history of Chicanx Murals and then brought the audience up to today. She engaged all in attendance to share with her in discussion about murals that represent different time eras and events throughout history. Social Realism was one of her main themes throughout the discussion for the day, focusing on its true meaning of being true to yourself and representing yourself accurately, it’s about what’s happening in life now and how that affects you. With each of the pieces of artwork that she shared, she asked the students what caught their attention. She wanted to know their interpretation of what they saw, how it spoke to them, what it was that they noticed is. This entire discussion was actually Ms. Rodrigues Thesis paper at UCLA and she was thrilled at the opportunity to share it will all those in attendance to engage with the students in a riveting back and forth of thoughts, feelings, and interpretations of Murals and artwork represented through time in the Chicanx society.

Bill Potter’s Ride

Todd Coston showed me this fantastic pic of Bill Potter. I had to share. What do you think?!


End of Year Celebration in my backyard

Since 2013 when I started as president, I have held a traditional end of year celebration for the leadership of BC and the District Office in my backyard.  Here are some photos from the May 2nd event.  Thank you Krista Moreland, John Hart, Tracy Hall, Jennifer Marden and Chris Glaser for helping me with this event. It was wonderful have Chancellor Tom Burke, Vice Chancellor John Means, and Vice Chancellor Gary Moser join us.

Exec Team Enf of year potluck May 2 2017

Don Chrisciel, Zav Dadabhoy, Sonya Christian, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg







Girls just wanna have fun 🙂




Here are the party planners.

Party Planners May 2 2017

Tracy Hall, Sonya Christian, John Hart, Krista Moreland, Jennifer Marden

So if you are wondering why I have been tardy with my blog posts, I can only ask you to look at the picture below.  Can you guess his name?  Post the name as a comment on my blog.  If you don’t get it right, I will then give you clues until next Saturday.

Sonya-and-Neo-May-13-2017-at-Comanche-Gas-Station v2




That’s all for now.  

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya —
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

One Week Left in Spring 2017!!

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, May 6, 2017….a great day to be a Renegade

View from Room May 6 2017 Tahoe.JPG

That’s the view from my room as I start my blog in Tahoe attending the CCLC Annual Trustees Conference in Lake Tahoe.  Just beautiful! And the coffee is perfect.

Here is photo of Lake Tahoe.  Beautiful…serene.  Crater Lake in Oregon (a must see as well) is the deepest lake in the United States and Lake Tahoe the second.

Lake Tahoe May 7 2017.JPG

I drove to Tahoe via I-5 and I-80 but returned via Nevada Hwy 50 and Route 395.  The drive back went back and forth between rain and sunshine and I captured this brilliant rainbow ….of course, my iphone photo does not do it justice.

Rainbow off Route 395 May 7 2017.JPG

It was fun presenting with the statewide Vice Chancellor Theresa Tena on Guided Pathways.  Here is a tweet from Miles Nevin from Long Beach right after the presentation.  Was real happy to see Tom Burke, Chancellor of KCCD, in the audience.

Miles Nevin Tweet on Theresa Tena and Sonya Christian May 6 2017

I was also happy to see Doug Otto, Chair of the CCLC Board attend our session.

Sonya Christian Doug Otto Theresa Tena May 7 2017

Sonya Christian, Doug Otto, Theresa Tena

Pre-Law Day at BC

Pre-Law Mayor GohThis year Bakersfield College held its second annual Law Day Conference on Friday, April 28, 2017 which was open to both high school and college students.  Included in the program were several distinguished attorneys and judges from the Bakersfield legal community in addition to BC Professors: Christian Zoller, Charles Kim, Oliver Rosales, and Ed Borgens. Adjunct Professor Marilyn Sanchez and Pre Law Advisor, Pearl Urena, were also instrumental in the preparation and success of the event.

Sonya Christian and Karen Goh Law Conf April 30 2017Mayor Karen Goh opened the conference after making very poignant remarks by reading a proclamation.


I am so happy Lesley Bonds snapped this picture of me receiving the proclamation from the mayor.


The panel topics dealt with the 150th anniversary of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as the challenges of the Law School path.  At the conclusion of the morning presentation,  discussion sessions took place and the audience received lunch in the Performance Arts Center courtyard. They then had the opportunity to participate in the Internship Fair held by various law schools at BC. As the BC Pre-Law Program continues to grow, future Law Day Conferences will also grow in order to accommodate the increased interest in the legal field. I can’t wait for next year’s conference!

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Congratulations Pre-Law Students!

Bakersfield College is one of 24 community colleges in the state of California participating in the Pre-Law pathway. This program is designed to help students matriculate more easily from Bakersfield College to a four-year university and on to a participating law school. We are happy to report that this year our first graduating class of 11 students has completed the recommended courses for our Pre-Law Program. We have students transferring to CSUB, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to San Diego. Best of luck to our Pre-Law graduates!

Student_Photo 1

Graduates present at the graduation (left to right): Diana Alvarez, Elaina Barker, Princess Herrera, Raquel Fuentes, ShaQuia Jones, Lucelle Irven, and Raul Munoz.

Team_Photo 2.JPG

Advisory Council and Leadership Team present at the celebration (front to back, left to right): Cynthia Loo, Christian Zoller, Yinka Glover, Pearl Urena, Steve Katz, David Torres, Courtney Lewis, Rebecca Murillo, Bethany Peak, Robert Tafoya, Charles Kim, and Ed Borgens.




Sonya Christian and Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg May 3 2017“A Little Knight Music”

Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, and I found the perfect way to wind down after a busy Wednesday.

“A Little Knight Music” took place at the Outdoor Theater and featured all of BC’s performing ensembles and programs, including jazz ensemble, choir and chamber singers, orchestra, concert band, and commercial music ensemble (performing Bohemian Rhapsody!).  The evening also showcased some of our soon-to-be AA-T in Music graduates performing solos.

Linda Snoddy opened the evening.

Linda Snoddy May 3 2017

The Jazz Band directed by Kris Tiner was spectacular.  Loved Little Rootie Tootie.  Wish I captured a video clip for you to enjoy.

The Commercial Music Ensemble directed by Josh Ottum was a lot of fun.  I totally enjoyed Radioactive (Imagine Dragons) and The Scientist (Coldplay) and Nan was in ecstasy with Locked Out of Heaven (Bruno Mars)

Here I captured Nan in action dancing to Bruno Mars as we walked to the car at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night.  She said: “Bruno Mars Carpool Karaoke. Bruno Mars Uptown Funk Mark Ronson, (featuring Bruno Mars). Now that is my favorite song.” Don’t you love it!

Well, back to the program…

The BC Combined Choirs directed by Jen Garrett performed Baba Yetu a powerful Swahili adaptation of The Lord’s Prayer.

The Combined Band and Orchestra directed by Dr. Kathryn Kuby did a great job with all their  pieces and in particular, the Pirates of the Caribbean.

The grand finale was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s You’ll Never Walk Alone/Climb Every Mountain by the BC Combined Band and Orchestra and Combined Choirs.

What a night!

Now listen to the Bohemian Rhapsody by our students:



2017 Leadership Academy

Congratulations to all the graduates from this year’s KCCD Leadership Academy!  From Bakersfield College: Victor Diaz, Chris Dison, Gustavo Enriquez, Raquel Lopez, Tracy Lovelace, Christine Morales, Tarina Perry, Zenaida Tutop, and Reese Weltman. From Cerro Coso Community College, there are two graduates: Rebecca Rock and Matthew Wanta. From Porterville College, there are also two graduates: Elmer Aguilar and Patricia Serrato. And our District Office has one graduate: Cathi Jacob

Congratulations to you all from everyone at Bakersfield College!

LA 2017 Group

Thank you Genevieve Graber for the photos.  Here are the individual graduates.




























Give Big Kern

GiveBigKern (2)The 2nd annual Give Big Kern took place on May 2nd. The day of county-wide giving was coordinated by the Kern Community Foundation and had 101 different non-profits from Kern County participating in this year’s event!  Money raised will go directly toward students realizing their goals of higher education. Bakersfield is such a generous community and thanks to all that supported Bakersfield College. #WeAreBC

Public Health

Bakersfield College is always striving to improve the lives and future careers of our community by staying agile concerning the growing needs and demands. On April 24, many eager students in the Levan Center listened to the exciting information regarding the new programs that Bakersfield College will be implementing in the near future.

Sarah Baron Public Health Hackathon March 2017

Sarah Baron

With staggering statistics that show Kern County having the highest rates of STI’s in ages 18-24 year olds, highest teen pregnancy rates, as well as prediabetes affecting one in every 3 people, the need for those who obtain their degree in Public Health Science is on the rise. Part of the new program that is being put in place will allow students to obtain their Associate in Science in Public Health Science for Transfer and will also allow them to be a part of a Certificate of Achievement program that will require four specific classes. Students will have the opportunity to intern so that they will obtain experience to back up their degree.

Special thanks to Sarah Baron for making this information session possible.

Automotive Open House

Automotive Open House (2).jpgCTE in partnership with the Automotive Department Faculty hosted an open house on April 27th. It was a great event that welcomed both current BC students and current Kern County High School Juniors and Seniors. The evening included an informative presentation of the new program pathways, a student panel, and a tour of the automotive labs.

Thank you to the Automotive Faculty, Justin Flint, Andrew Haney & Dan Johnson; Dominica Rivera-Dominguez, CTE Educational Advisor & Stephanie Baltazar, CTE Job Development Specialist; and the Auto Student Panel, Morgan Langston, Javier Chavez, Mark Gildez, Derek Karns & Noe Cantu. Special thanks to Leticia Garza, Director K-14 Pathways, for allocating CTE Transition funding to support the event.

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Ceramic Sale

Professor Darrin Ekern, who has been practicing ceramics and pottery for 20 years, showcased and sold the pieces that students in Ceramics I, II, and III crafted this semester. The ceramics classes at Bakersfield College teach students how to make pottery, sculpture out of ceramics, and about the materials and process. “Ceramics is a highly process oriented medium. They learn about the clay and how to fire it and cook it in the kilns. As well as the actual crafting on the wheel for pottery and hand building which are more sculptural conceptual pieces.”

Like all things beautiful, Ceramics requires a lot of patience. Once you get the technique down this can become a soothing yet exciting and fun way of creating art.

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Separation of Church and State

IMG_8180Eddie Tabash delivered a presentation on the First Amendment and the separation of church and state on Thursday evening. Mr.  Tabash is chair of the legal committee of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He is also a Los Angeles area constitutional lawyer and chairs the board of directors for the Center for Inquiry Transnational/Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

The talk provided history of the religion clauses of the First Amendment that demonstrate that the Framers really intended for believers and nonbelievers to be equal before the law. This means that no branch of government can favor belief over nonbelief and that everyone, regardless of their views on religious topics, is to have equal rights in American society. Professor Olivia Garcia, described the evening as “powerful.”  Thank you to all who attended and thank you to Jack Hernandez for coordinating such fantastic programs for our students and the community.


Retirement Reception

Old friends got a chance to catch up and share stories about working for BC at the Archives Association’s annual Retirement Reception on Thursday morning in the Fireside Room. Former Renegades such as Dr. Greg Chamberlain relished the opportunity to chat with faculty and staff over a beautiful selection of cheeses, fried cauliflower and other hors d’oeuvres provided by the Food Services department. Thank you Chef Eric Sabella. Some current faculty and staff members took time out of their busy end-of-the-year schedules to reminisce with some of their former coworkers. Thank you Archives staff – Jerry, Rosalee, Daniel, and Helen – for putting together this reception and all of the tireless work you do to keep the retired members of our Renegade family close.

Our 2016-2017 Honored Retirees:

Anna Agenjo, Edwin Barton, Richard Brantley, Carroll Brown, Elizabeth Cancio, Deborah Carmona, Nancy Coyle, Daniel Edwards, Marsha Eggman, Elizabeth Elms, Jana Fidler-Wiggers, Kathryn Goehring, Kathleen Howarth, Daniel Johnson, Odella Johnson, Joyce Kirst, Michael Komin, Janet Lewis, Connie Maranda, Tom Moehnke, Bill Parker, Katherine Pluta, Kathleen Rosellini, Rachel Vickrey, Scott Wayland, Melanie Wheeler-Hayes, Rita White, and Becki Whitson.

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Renegades Out and About

Luis HernandezI ran into Luis Hernandez at Vons a few weeks ago.

He’s a Renegade Alum who is now studying Engineering at CSUB. He was in the Energy Academy and loved his time at BC.

I love any and every opportunity to quickly chat with our community and reminisce about their time at BC. I loved that Luis specifically mentioned how the classes at BC prepared him well for his upper division courses at CSUB.

Emails Worth Sharing

Eileen Pierce tagged me in an email this week where the title was “You all are amazing!” and it was a personal note from her to her SI Instructors. The Supplemental Instruction program at BC is essentially group tutoring led by a fellow student, known as an SI Leader or SI Instructor. The SI Leaders attend classes with you so they know what the pace of the class is and what is being expected of the students. More details can be found on the Supplemental Instruction Page on BC’s website.

Back to the email, I was struck by how impactful these programs are and how valuable our students are when they serve one another. Eileen said, “Just now, I shut my office door so that I could read through all 45 of the SI Leader evaluations that you all have returned to me so far via Survey Monkey.  And I am wiping away tears.  Thank you so much for giving of yourselves to mentor and encourage these SI Leaders.  As you all know already, they don’t come to us perfectly formed and are still in need of a great deal of nurturing.  On the other hand, they are positively bursting with potential, and with each day that goes by, we catch more and more of a glimpse of the gems they are becoming.

Every mark and every comment you indicated on these evals is so valuable to your SI Leader (and, of course, I will only share those that you want to have shared).   You are the ones closest to your Leaders in the network of SI relationships, so you have the unique ability to impact them for a lifetime.I couldn’t feel more honored and blessed to work with each and every one of you.  You have gone above and beyond the mere call of duty as faculty.  From my heart, I thank you for choosing to be involved with SI.”

Here are some photos of our SI Leaders in action.

SI Leaders

Superheroes Behind the Scenes

Have I mentioned yet that I’m the luckiest college president in the world? I get to work with the most incredible team of administrators, staff, faculty, and students. I’d like to highlight a couple of them!

Keri Kennedy

Speaking of amazing students on campus – we have amazing staff as well.

KeriI’m still smiling and thinking about last Friday, our commitment day to The Kern Promise. If you haven’t seen last Saturday’s blog, check it out here! It’s an incredible program which will greatly improve the future success of our students and the community.

There is so much detailed work that goes on behind the scenes to make exciting events and programs a reality at BC. Keri Kennedy is a dedicated completion coach who makes herself available to every single promise student. She reviews each and every application and transcript, she individually follows up with each of them, she oversees the multiple measures placement to insure students are placed appropriately, and she does everything she can to help every student reach their maximum potential. Thank you Keri for everything you do!

Mary Jo Pasek

Mary Jo is everywhere on the BC campus! As our Community Relations and Event and Scheduling Manager, almost everyone who attends an event on campus will see MJ out and about. She sent an email recently highlighting all the busy happenings in her department over the course of two weeks and WOW! From the Health Fair with a record number of vendors to Gardenfest, retirement celebrations, community events, student events like career day, Presidents Breakfast, The Kern Promise –  oh and booking the U.S. Air Force Band for an outdoor concert this summer! So many exciting happenings on campus are touched by the work of Mary Jo Pasek and her crew!


Here is a great photo of Mary Jo Pasek and Susan Hopkins, Event Specialist.  Thank you for all that you do.  #WeAreBC

Nick Strobel

Did you see Nick Strobel’s newest stargazing article?

Check it out at


The Kern Promise

As I just mentioned, I’m still smiling thinking about last Friday and this week Kern Promise Program Manager, Shanell Tyus, met with Bakersfield City School District Superintendent, Doc Ervin, to get his signature on The Kern Promise commitment. What a great photo!

Doc Ervin

Superintendent Doc Ervin, Shanell Tyus


Did you know?


It’s always a great day to learn something new. Thursday was “May the Fourth be with You” and  I saw on Twitter this week that George Lucas attended a California Community College! Did you know that?! Know any other cool CA Community College facts? I’d love to read them in the comments.

Renegade Athletics Roundup from Francis Mayer

While the 2016-2017 athletic season is winding to a close, there are still a few teams out of our 20 that are still competing!

The BC Swim team is competing in the CCCAA State Championships at East Los Angeles College. Brian Bender and Jennifer Quan are still competing as individuals, while the men’s relay team of Bender, Kenneth Rodriguez, Cameron Reeves, and Steve Santana are hoping to make a mark for the Renegades after a grueling season in the pool. The competition will be the last of Santana’s intercollegiate career before he transfers to UC Santa Barbara and concentrates his efforts on getting a Chemistry degree. Good luck, Steven!

Renegade Track & Field is competing at the Southern Californian Prelims this weekend at Cerritos College, and then they’ll compete at the SoCal Finals next weekend (also at Cerritos) before wrapping up their season with the CCCAA State Championships at American River College. We’ve followed Jacob Bookout’s incredible High Jump season as he seems poised to break a record or jump right out of the stadium every time he approaches the bar! But his teammate Cesar Patino has put together a pretty amazing season in the 1500. He just clinched the conference championship by two seconds, and Coach Pam Kelley says that isn’t very close when it comes to a race like the 1500.

“It was a very strategic race; it started slow, and that played right into his trap,” Coach Kelley told Sports Information Director Francis Mayer, “The other runners were saving themselves for the 5000, or maybe they didn’t think they needed to exert themselves to win, so Cesar went for it and he won.”

Coach Kelley feels like Cesar could win a state title for BC in the 1500, as long as he keeps doing what he’s done all season…as Cesar hasn’t lost a single 1500 meter race ALL SEASON! Fingers crossed, Cesar!

Our athletes aren’t the only ones winning competitions! Wrestling Coach Brett Clark competed in the Master’s Nationals and won both the Greco and Freestyle National Championships! Coach Clark competed in the Class B (for athletes with birthdays from 1974 to 1982) 130kg bracket for “Team Fluffy”, and the wins were the third consecutive time he’s “doubled up” and swept his division.

“The team is something (BC Assistant Coach and former state champion) Ryan Meloche put together with comedian Gabriel Iglesias a few years ago,” Coach Clark explained, “We do this to remind us older guys to stay in shape, and that fitness doesn’t need to end when our collegiate careers are over. We have families that need us, and friends that we need to be there for, so we have to stay in shape.”

Way to go, Coach Clark!

Coach Brett Clark

There is so much more to blog about… The end of year event in my backyard for the leadership of BC and KCCD, the Board meeting at Cerro Coso Community College.  But alas due to my travels and needing to turn my attention to another important event I must stop for now. But will pick up where I left off on May 13th. Until then……

Sonya Christian Creekside Inn Bishop May 7 2017


That’s all for now.  

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya —
the luckiest and happiest college president ever


Strengthening Kern County One Degree at a Time

Good morning Bakersfield, it is Saturday, April 29, 2017 and such a fabulous day to be a Renegade.

Yesterday was the culmination of an incredible day after an incredible week.  So much activity at BC that I will need to punt some of the events to next week’s blog.  Let me start my blog with The Kern Promise.

Bryon Schaefer Sonya Christian Horace Mitchell April 28 2017

Bryon Schaefer, Sonya Christian, Horace Mitchell

Imagine: Over the next 10 years, Kern County will advance our education attainment rates, increase the health of our community, engage our youth, and decrease poverty.

Kern Promise Logo

In Kern County, one in four residents live in poverty, with just 22% of Kern County residents 25 years of age and older holding an Associate’s Degree or higher, compared with California’s average of 39%. In the next ten years, more than six out of ten jobs will require employees to have more than a high school diploma. Today, only 40% of U.S. adults ages 25–64 are adequately prepared for the workforce.

Education is the key to equity, social mobility, and economic prosperity. This drives the work of educators throughout Kern County, and been the foundation for envisioned and implemented institutional, instructional, and student service policy changes locally and statewide in recent years.

KernPromiseEvent Horace Mitchell Sonya Christian Bryon Schafer.jpg

Horace Mitchell, Sonya Christian, Bryon Schaefer


With a critical lens on issues of equitable educational attainment, Kern County educators and industry leaders have been working to provide opportunities for applied learning through internships with business and industry partners, to embed academic support services for first generation and low- income students throughout the students’ pathways, and create pathways for success. Albeit a grand vision, the community is committed and inspired to usher in this vision, the promise of a college opportunity: The Kern Promise.

KernPromiseEven-042817s Group.jpg

Yesterday was an incredible day. It was one of hope, laughter, excitement, enthusiasm, but most of all – a promise. In front of almost 1,000 Kern County High School students, I was joined on stage by community leaders, political representatives, and industry partners to pledge our commitment to The Kern Promise.


By working together with Kern High School District and CSUB, the Kern Promise is a commitment in action at Bakersfield College to help students complete their Associate Degree for Transfer within two instructional years through structured support, priority access to courses, and financial assistance to those who qualify. The Kern Promise focuses on a shared responsibility model where students will work with Completion Coaches and follow a clear path to success. In return, each promise student is required to maintain good academic standing and commit to their studies.


Bree Parks

It was bright and sunny morning yesterday and as each school filled the stands at the Outdoor Theater, our student emcee, Bree Parks, shouted their school names and a roar spread across the auditorium. While they waited for the event to begin, students were engaged in games, videos, group selfies, and activities chanting, “We are BC!”

When our program began, Chancellor Tom Burke, gave his remarks exclaiming that the Kern Promise would be one of the best ways our future Renegades can contribute to the future of our city, state, community, and their own personal lives as well.


Chancellor Tom Burke with dignitaries

I was joined by the initiative’s founding partnering institutions – Kern High School District Superintendent, Bryon Schaefer, and CSUB President, Horace Mitchell who also shared their excitement of the program. I remember specifically seeing the faces of the many students in the audience when Dr. Mitchell said that promise students who make it through that program, would be guaranteed acceptance into CSUB. Dr. Schaefer said that KHSD would work toward getting more high school students enrolled in college preparatory classes and promoting dual enrollment programs that allow students to complete college courses through BC while still being enrolled in high school.


Horace Mitchell, Sonya Christian, Bryon Schaefer

The mornings dignitaries and guests even took a moment to share some words with the students before signing a commitment document. Mayor Goh touched on the ways education “transforms and advances communities.” Check out this video!

KCCD Trustee, Bill Thomas urged the crowd to look into the program and said,  “Dr. Mitchell would like many of you here today to graduate as Roadrunners, but before you run, you have to walk. If you follow the Promise, everyone here will deliver.”


Retired Congressman and Trustee Bill Thomas

Supervisor Leticia Perez a strong supporter of Bakersfield College and a believer in the tranformative power of education said that she was proudly representing the Fifth District of Kern County.

Leticia Perez The Kern Promise

Supervisor Leticia Perez

Kern Taxpayers’ Association CEO, Michael Turnipseed described The Kern Promise as “instrumental in closing the education gap in Kern County”, while Michael Bowers, speaking for state Senator Andy Vidak, said that the program is “certain to create a pathway to success.”

Michael Turnipseed at The Kern Promise April 28 2017

Michael Turnipseed, CEO Kern Taxpayer’s Association


Michael Bowers representing Senator Andy Vidak

This kind of monumental promise is the kind of promise that only a community, working together can make. Thank you to BC’s educational partners and the KCCD Board of Trustees for providing such a powerful initiative for the students. Thank you to all of these community and industry leaders for supporting education in Kern County. Thank you to the elementary, middle, and high school educators in Bakersfield and in Kern County for preparing students before they begin college.

Mary Barlow Superintendent of Schools April 28 2017

Mary Barlow, Superintendent of Schools, Kern County

Mayor Jose Gurrola a Renegade and a Runner spoke in support of The Kern Promise and shared the vision of having a Bakersfield College satellite campus co-located with Arvin High School.

Mayor Jose Gurrola at The Kern Promise April 28 2017

Mayor Jose Gurrola

Mayor Jose Gurrola signing The Kern Promise

Mayor Jose Gurrola signing The Kern Promise

Keenan Hochschild stopped by with a message from Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Sonya Christian with Keenan Hochschild

Keenan Hochschild representing Congressman Kevin McCarthy


Michael Herrera representing Senator Jean Fuller.

Michael Herrera at The Kern Promise April 28 2017

Michael Herrera representing Senator Jean Fuller at The Kern Promise


Lauren Skidmore represented Assembly Member Vince Fong at the event.

Lauren Skidmore for Vince Fong The Kern Promise


Amanda Sampson represented Assembly Member Rudy Salas

Andrea Sampson representing Rudy Salas at The Kern Promise

Amanda Sampson representing Assembly Member Rudy Salas

The Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is a great partner of BC.  Here is Jay Tamsi, CEO of the KCHCC

Jay Tamsi at The Kern Promise April 28 2017

Jay Tamsi, CEO KCHCC

Nick Ortiz, CEO of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce pledged his support for The Kern Promise

Nick Ortiz at The kern Promise

Nick Ortiz, CEO Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce

Kristen Barnes, CEO of the Kern Community Foundation pledged scholarship dollars to support The Kern Promise students.

Kristen Barnes at The Kern Promise April 28 2017

Kristen Barnes, CEO, Kern Community Foundation

Here is Adam Alvidrez pledging Chevron’s support to advancing educational attainment.  Chevron has supported CSUB, BC, Taft College consistently over the years.  Adam, in his truly Adam way, then slaps on a BC baseball cap before he signs The Kern Promise.

Adam Alvidrez of Chevron at The Kern Promise

Adam Alvidrez, Chevron

Adam Alvidrez signing the Kern Promise with the BC hat

Adam Alvidrez


It was great to have Wonderful Company represented by Rebecca Farley.  BC has partnered with Wonderful to provide Pathways that start in the 9th grade.

Rebecca Farley for Wonderful Academy at The Kern Promise

Rebecca Farley representing Wonderful

Richard Chapman, CEO of the Kern Economic Development Corporation (KEDC) wholeheartedly supporting The Kern Promise.

Richard Chapman at The Kern Promise April 28 2017

Richard Chapman, CEO, KEDC

But perhaps most importantly – thank you to our future students for believing that you can, knowing that you can, and pushing yourself to excel. You are the future of Kern County and you are the reason for the promise and the inspiration for all that we do. And thank you for using ASL to sign PROMISE every time the word Promise was mentioned by a speaker.  Thank you Rayven Webb for stopping by my office in the morning and teaching me how to sign PROMISE.  Here I am demonstrating the second half of the word.


KernPromiseEven-042817 Sonya Christian ASL Promise

Sonya Christian

This is a promise where our young people can define their own future and I’m so pleased to invite them to take the first step at Bakersfield College with The Kern Promise.

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I can’t thank enough my fellow speakers, leaders, and friends who joined me yesterday to sign The Kern Promise –

Tom Burke – KCCD Chancellor
KernPromiseEven-042817s-64-X3Superintendent Bryon Schaefer – KHSD
President Horace Mitchell – CSUB
Trustee Bill Thomas – KCCD Board of Trustees
Karen Goh – Mayor of Bakersfield
Leticia Perez – Supervisor, County of Kern
Michael Turnipseed – CEO, Kern Taxpayers Association
Michael Herrera – Senator Jean Fuller’s Office
Amanda Sampson – Assembly Member Rudy Salas’ Office
Michael Bowers – Senator Andy Vidak’s Office
Lauren Skidmore – Assembly Member Vince Fong
Nick Ortiz – Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce
Jay Tamsi – KC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Arleana Waller – KC Black Chamber of Commerce
Jose Gurrola – Mayor of Arvin
Rebecca Farley – Wonderful Academy
Adam Alvidrez – Chevron
Kristen Barnes – Kern Community Foundation
Richard Chapman — Kern Economic Development Corporation


Here are some fun pictures before and after the event

BC Cheer Team at The Kern Promise

BC Cheer Team


BC Drumline Students

Before the Kern Promise April 28 2017

Sonya Christian with BC Students

Dignitaries having fun

Mayor Karen Goh, Jay Tamsi, and Michael Bowers having fun

KernPromiseEven-042817s Karen Goh Sonya Christian Horace Mitchell

Mayor Karen Goh, President Sonya Christian, President Horace Mitchell

After the program, our high school visitors were treated to a resource fair, workshops, and activities on campus. Thank you to Steve Watkin and the Outreach Team! 


Here is a We Are BC pump up video from Chris Glaser prior to The Kern Promise event.

Thank you to those who worked behind the scenes to make The Kern Promise a reality.

Jennifer Marden, Lesley Bonds, Shannel Tyus, Tom Gelder, Janet Fulks, Chris Glaser, Mary Jo Pasek, Dylan Wang, Monika Scott, Keri Kennedy and many others. 

I don’t have pictures of many of these individuals, but here are pictures of few of them.



GardenFest on Earth Day

GF1Last Saturday was Earth Day and the BC campus was buzzing for GardenFest 2017. The open house featured the Environmental Horticulture and Agriculture programs for a day of family fun. With over 150 vendor booths featuring gardening, pets, farmer’s market, cooking, arts and crafts, and more… there is something for everyone. The Bakersfield Californian had a nice piece this week highlighting this year’s Gardenfest – check it out here!

The official website for Earth Day says in its history, “On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment.”

Today on the site, it says “Education is the foundation for progress” and they offer suggestions for how you can take action in becoming more green. Check out http://www.earthday.org/take-action/ to learn more.

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Renegade Health Fair


On Wednesday April 19, 2017, BC hosted the Renegade Pulse Health Fair on the lawn between the Student Services building and the Library. The local organizations who attended this Health Fair gave students an opportunity to peruse, discuss, and obtain pertinent information that could aid them and their loved ones in a variety of ways. Some of the local businesses that attended this year’s Health Fair were; Kern Public Health, US Army, Bakersfield Police Department, Blue Shield of California, Child Support Services, WIC, Behavioral Health and Recovery, Covered California, Community Connections for Childcare, Overeaters Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, The Dolores Huerta Foundation, Bakersfield College’s own DSPS and student nursing program who were doing free health screenings, and many more.

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The Bakersfield Pregnancy Center or BPS who was on site with their mobile health van, which allows individuals to obtain free screenings along with free ultrasounds. The Milan Institute booth was one of the biggest attractions, giving much needed neck and back massages to those students who visited and the constant line that was present seemed to speak to the need for some stress relief in this upcoming finals preparation. Another booth that seemed to have captured the attention of many in attendance was the booth on Community Needs Survey.. The individual at the booth was asking everyone to have a voice in Kern County concerning areas they feel are of greatest concern and could use attention. Each person was given five stickers and asked to place them on a chart of local needs.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, which was located directly behind the Community Needs Survey brought attention to the growing need for adequate Mental Illness facilities and care in Kern County as well as passing out green ribbons to commemorate that May is Mental Health Illness month. Throughout the morning and afternoon, a multitude of students frequented the Health Fair, listening to music, walking from booth to booth, obtaining healthy and helpful information and hopefully took away knowledge, and resources that will better their lives. I loved our photo on BC’s instagram of Terri Goldstein out at the Health Fair.  If you’re not following BC on Instagram, check us out at https://www.instagram.com/bakersfieldcollege/ for most up to date snaps and photos.


Retail Management Showcase

The Retail Management and Hospitality Showcase sponsored by Deputy Sector Navigator, Shelley Attix (Retail, Hospitality & Tourism Programs) and CTE Transitions took place on Monday. ROC students learned about the sector and received valuable insight about industry trends, employment opportunities, and HS to College pathways and certifications. Thank you BC Faculty and staff including, Mike Ivey, Alex Gomez, Beth Harrison, Lupe Aguilera, Antonio Alfaro and Pam Gomez.


Guided Pathways in April 2017 Rostrum

The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges has a quarterly newsletter titled Senate Rostrum and it was great to see two special BC Faculty had an article published in April’s edition. The article, Guided Pathways: Two Professors’ Perspective on Why We Need the College GPS  by Nick Strobel and Jessica Wojtysiak is a piece worth reading if you’re not familiar with the Guided Pathways project.


Talking about Guided Pathways, we had our statewide CA Guided Pathways Advisory Committee meeting in LA on Thursday, April 27, 2017.  The one-day meeting funded by College Futures and hosted by Bakersfield College was successful.  We made progress on a few difficult issues which makes the hardship of travel and and other work associated with the meeting, well worth it.  Lesley Bonds and Jessica Wojtsiak are amazing!

Here are some photos:

Lesley Bonds and Jessica Wojtsiak CA Guided Pathways Advisory Committee April 27 2017

Lesley Bonds, Jessica Wojtsiak

Sonya Christian Janet Fulks and Craig Hayward at CA Guided Pathways Advisory Committee

Sonya Christian, Janet Fulks, Craig Hayward

Sonya Christian and Craig Hayward April 27 2017 at Manhatten Beach

Sonya Christian, Craig Hayward

The Joy and Enchantment of Life

CCCApply Annual Meeting

Michelle Presenting w screen (2)

Every year, the CCCApply and eTranscript California steering committees meet to connect with colleagues at other institutions and discuss the issues unique to the online application to the California Community Colleges (CCCApply) and electronic transcript exchange across California, including CSU, UC, and private universities. This year, it was held on April 12th and 13th at Sacramento City College.  As the Vice Chair, Michelle Pena, BC’s Assistant Director of A&R, helped coordinated the conference, sessions and meals. She provided the introductions for each speaker including Dr. Walker and gave an overall orientation of what the day, the closing, and the raffles. She ran a session on Residency Algorithm 101 with Michael Quiaoit and Natalie Wagner with the CCCCO, in conjunction with Los Medanos.

Dr Walker and Michelle _n

Veterans Club Giving Back

On Friday April 21st the Bakersfield College Veterans Club went to the Bakersfield homeless shelter to serve dinner to the community as well as the people living at the center. They took a tour of all the facilities to better understand where their help may be needed.

Veterans Club

BC’s Korean Culture Festival

The first annual Korean Culture Festival took place at BC this week on April 25th. Students of the Korean Club put together a great event including Korean karaoke, information on the culture and history, a language table to have your name written in Korean script, known as Hangeul, food and snacks, and a table on tourism and UC/CSU study abroad opportunities. Check out the fun photos taken by Belen Martinez at https://bakersfieldcollege.smugmug.com/Korean-Culture-Festival

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Civic Engagement covered by CHAP in Delano

CHAP2017The Bakersfield College Delano Campus Cultural Historical Awareness Program (CHAP) hosted its final event for the spring semester. Political Science Professor Charles Kim did a wonderful job moderating an informative panel about civic engagement and the political process with staff members from Congressman David Valadao’s office and State Senator Andy Vidak.  Following a 45-minute discussion about their entrance into local politics, political staffers Ariana Joven (Valadao) and Rogelio Caudillo (Vidak) fielded questions from the audience ranging from immigration reform, human trafficking, water policy, and what prompted their interest in pursuing a career in politics. This was a fun and lively session and connected local issues to the lives of our rural students. We hope this is the first of many future policy-oriented community dialogues our campus can host in the spirit of promoting civic education and participation in the political process.

Penelope Project

I’m always impressed when hear incredible stories about what our BC students are doing with their lives. A recent article on BakersfieldNow.com featured one of our BCSGA students and her incredible story. The article titled, “Local dog owner turns fundraiser into business venture” begins by highlighting Diana Martinez as a BC student studying architecture and photography. She is the founder of the Penelope Project which she started as a way to afford her dog’s medical care after her pet was hit by a car. In the article, Diana says, “I wanted to create a win-win situation, where the people would receive something in return and I did not want it to be an unequal service, I wanted to give the community a service.”


Congratulations to Sue Vaughn

Sue vaughSue Vaughn was recently honored with the Robert Brown Award for distinguished leadership at CAACRAO. The website describes the award by saying,  “The Robert Brown Award is given to a CACCRAO member who has distinguished him or herself within the Admissions and Records profession.  CACCRAO presents this award to recognize the outstanding contributions of individual CACCRAO members and to further the profession of Admissions and Records Officers within the California Community College system.  It is a symbol of commitment to leadership, innovation and professional standards.” From everyone at BC, Congratulations Sue!!!

Jerry Ludeke, a BC Treasure

Jerry Ludeke April 2017.png

A beautiful piece about Jerry Ludeke by KGET,  Tabatha Mills did a great job capturing the spirit and person of Jerry Ludeke.


I went back to my photo archives and found these two pictures of me with Jerry.  One from 2014 when Jerry received one of the 100 stars and the second from the 2016 Sterling Silver event.


Sonya Christian, Jerry Ludeke receiving one of the 100 BC stars


Sonya Christian - BCF-SterlingSilverDinner_09

Jerry Ludeke, Sonya Christian. 2016 Sterling Silver


Bakersfield College transforming our community one degree at a time.




That’s all for now.  

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya —
the luckiest and happiest college president ever




Joy and Enchantment

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, April 22, 2017, Gardenfest at Bakersfield College and a great day to be a Renegade.  Come on out!

I promise you, BC’s GardenFest will bring you joy and enchantment!

Roses 2 April 22 2017

Renegade Red and White Roses that I planted in 2013 


This has been a semester of work-related travel and I am getting road weary.  Can’t wait for the last bit to be over and then on to summer.

The Easter weekend was great. Besides going to St. Phillips for the 7:00 a.m. mass, spending some time reading at the Riverwalk park, over indulging with Krispy Kreme, there was Beauty and the Beast.  A phenomenal movie remake of the 1991 animated film. Two words to describe the movie — Joy and Enchanted!  And you can imagine my delight when I saw A.O.Scotts review in the New York Times use the very same words.

Here is an excerpt:

This live-action/digital hybrid, directed by Bill Condon and starring Emma Watson and San Stevens in the title roles, is more than a flesh-and-blood (and prosthetic fur-and-horns) revival of the 26-year-old cartoon, and more than a dutiful trip back to the pop-culture fairy-tale well.  Its classicism feels unforced and fresh.  Its romance neither winks nor panders.  It looks good, moves gracefully and leaves a clean and invigorating aftertaste.  I almost didn’t recognize the flavor: I think the name for it is joy.

For the entire review see

I love the dance scene from the movie and found this clip on Youtube.  Its just a 1:53-minute length video.  watch it.



Tuesday, April 18th at the Capitol

I was in Sacramento on April 18th to testify to the Assembly Budget Committee with individuals from the State Chancellor’s Office on Guided Pathways.  I hope it makes it through the legislative cycle.

Assembly Budget Committee April 18 2017

Here is a picture of Vice Chancellor of Finance Mario Rodriguez and me prior to the meeting at 9:00.  Mario Rodriguez has done a tremendous job shepherding this effort on behalf of Chancellor Eloy Oakley.  Mario, you rock!

Mario Rodriguez and Sonya Christian April 18 2017

Mario Rodriguez, Sonya Christian

I must pause here for a moment to recognize our legislators in Sacramento — Jean Fuller, Andy Vidak, Rudy Salas, and Vince Fong.  They are just phenomenal and all four of them support education and Bakersfield College 100%.  During this visit, I texted Rudy Salas and he was immediately helpful in talking to the chair of the Assembly Budget Committee on Education.  Rudy Salas we are so proud of the work you do!

Sonya Christian and Rudy Salas Cesar Chave Bfast March 31 2017

Sonya Christian, Rudy Salas

Here is a photo from the train as I was riding back from Sacramento.

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Looking at this picture again, I am reminded of two pieces that I read describing agriculture in California’s Central valley:

And from Verlyn Klinkenborg on May 13, 2013 from the New York Times:

It is easy to let yourself be overwhelmed by the agricultural geometry of the valley, all those rows seeming to rush past as you drive.  But to understand its true immensity and capacity for transformation, you have to drop down off the interstate and onto the valley floor.  There is something stunning in the way the soil has been engineered into precision.  Every human imperfection linked with the word “farming” has been erased.

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/programs/atc/features/2002/nov/central_valley/

Most Americans, and the rest of the world, would describe California by its popular tourist destinations and economic touchstones: Hollywood, Disneyland, the Golden Gate Bridge, Big Sur, Venice Beach, Silicon Valley.

But there is another California, and it’s home to the greatest garden in the world. The 400-mile-long Central Valley supplies fully one-quarter of the food America eats. It’s a long, mostly flat and incredibly fertile pocket of land nestled between the coastal mountains and the Sierra Nevada range.

California’s Central Valley is growing fast and its biggest industry, agriculture, racked up $27 billion in revenues last year.


Trustee Agbalog at the Honor a Hero event:

It was wonderful to see Trustee Romeo Agbalog visit the BC booth at the Honor a Hero event by the Employment Development Department at the Marriott.  Here he is with Domenica, Beth, and Armando.  Thank you Trustee Agbalog for your consistent support of education, our rural communities and our veterans.


The Billion $$$ Man


Bill Thomas

What a great featured piece by Dorothy Mills-Gregg  in the Bakersfield Californian today on the Thomas Roads Improvement Project.


Thank you retired congressman Bill Thomas for all that you have accomplished for this community.

The fabulous Becki Whitson

Hard to imagine that Becki Whitson is retiring.  Becki is all things Renegade…At the Board meeting on April 13th after Kay Meek, President of the KCCD Board recognized Becki, Trustee Kyle Carter talked about Becki and said that Becki Whitson is Bakersfield College.  I can’t agree more Trustee Carter.

Becki Whitson, besides her passion for student success, has stepped up to serve BC in many ways. She has been Department Chair of the Behavioral Science Department, Co-Chair of the BC Alumni Association, has organized the biannual Alumni Hall of Fame, served as BC Cheer Team Coach, coordinated the Great Teacher Seminar, BC Commencement Committee, Archives Committee and was the recipient of the Margaret Levinson Faculty Leadership Award in 2010.  Prof. Becki Whitson, thank you for over 20 years of dedicated service to Bakersfield College.

Paul Beckworth

Paul Beckworth

Paul Beckworth forwarded to me an email be sent Becki.  Here it is”


I am sorry that I could not make it your retirement party.  I wish you all the best!  It is well deserved and well earned.

I would be remiss if I did not share my “Becki moment” with you.

Four years ago we held our first ever Vetfest at the Huddle.  I had only been at BC for three years and really did not have a clue what I was doing outside the classroom.  I didn’t know the planning for a BC event should take several months.  Sonya cut threw some red tape for me and we had our first one.  I can say it now; it was pretty sad.  We only had four vendors, and a handful of water and potato chips.  HOWEVER, it all got better when you brought you whole class to the event.  The students came out, they were engaged, and happy to be there.  Before you came out with your class, I had a sinking feeling of failure in the put of my stomach.  I knew I did not plan well but I did not know about the support for our veterans at BC.  Before this, I only knew you via email when you would sell the discount cards for BC Cheer.  You came out, we talked about how important this event was and I immediately knew we were on the right track.  I knew this college cared about our veterans because of you taking the time to show it!  So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for what you probably thought was a small gesture of support.  It was so much more than that.

All the best on your retirement.

So, from an old Navy hand; Dear Becki,

Bravo Zulu!

Fair winds and following seas.

Paul Beckworth
History Professor
Veterans Faculty Lead
Bakersfield College

Here are some pictures from her retirement party last night.

Reitrement Party April 21 2017

Becky Whitson with Cheer Team April 21 2017.JPG

Tom Moran emcee April 21 2017

From Mary Jo Pasek’s Facebook

Becki Whitson's Retirement April 21 2017.png

Library Case

Have you seen the display case in the library’s lobby? Anna Agenjo, our beloved Library Chair who will be retiring at the end of Spring 2017, sent me a photo so I could share it with all of you. She said this display case has been coming together since I shared my support of our DREAMers, back in January. There’s a little glare, but I think you can see most of it and Anna says the reactions in person have been very positive. #WeAreBC!


Alpha Phi Alpha 2017 Scholarship Banquet

The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Chapter #530 presented the 9th Annual Black and Gold Scholarship Banquet at the Sheraton on April 15th at the Four Points Sheraton. Five local high school students were applauded as they received well deserved scholarships for their high academic achievements.  Encouraging words from the keynote speaker, Dr. (and Pastor) Oscar J. Anthony, reminded everyone that when we help our students succeed academically, our communities thrive.


Scholarship winners from left: Darion Gutierrez, Hope Maiden, Jordan Amey, and Iesha Hamm

Guests included Bakersfield College staff, Mandelyn Hobbs, Tonysha Miles (student), Jennifer Achan, June Charles, Eryn Justice and Paula Parks.


Relay for Life in Delano

Loy Salarda is back….so of course BC’s presence at the Delano Relay for Life was grand.

Check out the photos:

Emails Worth Sharing: KCMEA Jazz Day at BC

Peggy Picture

Peggy Biller

Dean Mourtzanos forwarded a lovely email from Peggy Biller, the KCMEA Treasurer AND Rosedale Middle School Jazz Band Director, about the Jazz Day event recently held at BC. You can read about it in last week’s blog titled, Love Endures… Happy Easter.

The email said, “The 2nd Annual KCMEA Jazz Day at BC that Kris Tiner planned, advertised and got Kern County Middle School and High School jazz programs involved in was fantastic. His commitment to bringing a Jazz Performance Event to the Kern County Community as well as the top notch jazz artist that he brings in to demonstrate and clinic our students is fabulous!

I am both the Treasurer of KCMEA and the Rosedale Middle School Jazz Band Director (one of the groups that participated in the Festival).  Kris’s fiscal responsibility of running the festival was great from KCMEA’s treasury point of view.  My Jazz Band’s performance that morning after the clinic provided by one of his guest artists was much better than I thought was even possible.  The idea of getting a clinic before the performance was brilliant.  My students came home with information and techniques (especially my drummers) that they will use for the rest of their lives.

KCMEA has Awarded  Kris Tiner the Jazz Educator of the Year.  He was awarded Primarily due to his influence he has had on Jazz Education in Kern County. Thank you for Bakersfield College’s involvement in allowing this event to happen. I’m looking forward to participating in the KCMEA Jazz Festival next year.”

Such a great message! Thank you Peggy and Congratulations Kris Tiner! It’s a fantastic day when students visit BC to be inspired and leave campus with information they can use for the rest of their lives.

BC Faculty Jazz

Here is Kris Tiner on stage during Jazz Day with the BC Faculty Jazz Group!

Inspired jam session at Spring Fling!

Blind drummer Anthony Rodriguez plays on stage during Spring Fling week.

Anthony Rodriguez jams with a musician during “Spring Fling” week in April.

A big congratulations to Nicky Damania for organizing yet another fun series of events on campus. The week before spring break, Student Life hosted a full week of activities and bands. What an electric week to be on campus to see the fun laser tag setup, see food trucks on campus and hear the live bands from the student center.

On Wednesday (April 5) you may have walked by and heard something special. One of the musical artists was playing his guitar when one of our own students Anthony Rodriguez joined him on stage to jam for a couple of songs.  What a treat!  If you had walked by, you may have noticed that Anthony was holding his drumsticks in a very thoughtful way, later to find out he is blind.  What a talent!  Anthony is a Kinesiology Major and plays in a local band called the “Stanley J. Tucker Band” which is nearly completely made up of former BC students.

Here is a video of the “Stanley J. Tucker Band” with Anthony drumming!:

From twitter:

Great tweet from Chris McCraw, Ag faculty on the internships with Grimmway Farms

April 2017 Grimmway Academy Chris McCraw Tweet.png

and from Lesley Bonds

Leadership Matters April 2017

From Jen Garret on Facebook

I am so proud of all of the BC musicians in the Stars production of “Ragtime” tonight. They gave a great opening night. The music director,Brock Christian told me that all of the BC people he gets are wonderful and great to work with. That made me very happy. I am so blessed to be at BC! Go see the show!

BC Chamber Singers in Ragtime April 21 2017

Renegade Athletics Roundup by Francis Mayer

The Bakersfield College Men’s and Women’s Swim teams are competing at the Western State Conference Championships at Allan Hancock College this weekend, and they’ve shown plenty of promise so far. After two days of competition, the men are ranked fifth and the women sixth, with room to rise.

The relay team of Kenneth Rodriguez, Brian Bender, Steve Santana, and Cameron Reeves placed third in the 200 Yard Medley Relay, and fourth in the 400 Yard Medley Relay.

Santana also placed third in the 200 Yard Freestyle, while Bender has set the high-water mark with a second place finish in the 100 Yard Breaststroke. Andrew Martinez also nabbed a third place finish in the 400 Yard IM.

On the women’s side, Jennifer Quan has a pair of top five finishes in the 500 Yard Freestyle and the 400 Yard IM.

Quan also anchored a fifth place finish in the 800 Yard Freestyle Relay with teammates Kathryn Hunter, Victoria Hernandez, and Cynthia Maner.

BC Track and Field hosted the Western State Conference Prelims in historic AND beautiful Memorial Stadium Friday, and while high-jumper Jacob Bookout didn’t break the school record of 7 feet, he is still ranked #1 in the state, and he and several teammates are advancing to Finals at Moorpark next weekend. Bookout is having a special season, and he’s just one inch away from setting a new record in the high jump.

Teammate Cesar Patino is ranked #3 in the state in the 5,000 and Coach Pam Kelley believes he could also break a school record! Exciting times in Track and Field!

Baseball will wrap up it’s home season on Tuesday against West LA College, and if you haven’t been to a game this season…or even if you have, this could be the last chance to enjoy the game while you savor Ray Miranda’s tri-tip sandwiches until next year…and the last chance to see D-1 bound Brock Hallum and Austin Toerner!


Treasuring the Joy and Enchantment of Life!

Sonya Christian Easter Sunday at Riverwalk April 16 2017


That’s all for now.  

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya —
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

(photo on Easter Sunday at the Riverwalk