I’ve made no secret of the fact that outreach is essential to Bakersfield College taking information on the importance of higher education into the various communities we serve. I know, as do others around Kern County, that many times, our residents don’t think college is an option – that going to work is their only path following high school.
After screening the movie First Generation last year, we came to understand exactly how important outreach is to making higher education an option for our community. Featuring a Bakersfield College student, the movie showed exactly what high school students go through as they plan the rest of their lives.
Our outreach team has been working hard in the community, at events and high schools, to take information about BC to potential students. I was able to accompany the team, led by Steve Watkin, to a visit to Arvin High School.
If you aren’t from the area, let me tell you a bit about Arvin. This is a small community southeast of Bakersfield. Primarily Hispanic, these residents support the agriculture industry in Kern County. It is a community with the area’s lowest college-going rate, lowest rate of college degrees, lowest unemployment, and lowest household income. We all know that education can change these factors – particularly the unemployment and household income – but when forced to choose between financially supporting the family and going to school, the immediate income benefit outweighs the future earnings potential education makes possible.
Steve and his team are doing a phenomenal job of systematically visiting the high schools in Bakersfield College’s service area. There are more than 30 high schools feeding to Bakersfield College, and Arvin High School supports the communities of Arvin and Lamont.
As I walked into the Library at Arvin High School, I was pleased to see about 100 students listening to one of our counselors, Alex, talk about options at Bakersfield College. Through our multiple measures efforts, a number of these students were already placed in appropriate coursework and has completed their educational plans! I can only imaging how much our student success and indicators will improve as we continue our outreach into high schools.
Steve talks so much about how important it is to bring opportunity into the high schools – to help students where they are comfortable so they can be successful transitioning to college work. I am so proud of the work we are doing to help students be college ready!
I also was able to talk to Cynthia Zamora, a senior at Arvin High School, who will be coming to BC in the fall. Let’s enjoy Cynthia.