We are BC!

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, May 7, 2016…..A good day to be a Renegade.

Woke up to a front-page article in The Bakersfield Californian about our veterans–Korean War veteran Art Gentry in a conversation with Kevin McCarthy at Bakersfield College.  Check out the story at http://tinyurl.com/zlykmbw.  Mary Jo Pasek, thank you for pulling this event together. Thank you Kristen Rabe and Manny De Los Santos. 

Well, we are now one week away from graduation.  a time of so many celebrations on campus–Honors Program, Latino Celebration, Black Graduates Celebration, Veterans Celebration….During this time our days at BC start at the crack of dawn and end rather late.  This last week during many of the activities though I found a deep quiet and stillness within me as I was immersed and present in all the fast movement.  It is a good time to be at BC!

Let me start this weekend blog with the Delano Prayer breakfast on Thursday, May 5th, at 6:30 a.m.  I was invited to speak at this event and the task turned out to be quite daunting; trying to figure out what I should speak on.  The days and nights leading up to the prayer breakfast had me exploring various framing ideas and finally settled on what gives life meaning.  Is life the pursuit of meaning (Frankl)? Or is life the pursuit of happiness?  There is a wonderful piece in The Atlantic Monthly, Jan 9, 2013 titled There is more to Life than being Happy (http://tinyurl.com/asf7lke) that keys off Frankl’s work in 1946 titled Man’s Search for Meaning.  So, I finally settled on the theme of my talk to be the “pursuit of meaning” rather than the “pursuit of happiness”.  Although I must say that having my peanut butter and jelly sandwich with coffee every morning is sheer happiness.  And I am amazed how much I enjoy my breakfast each morning as if I am having it for the first time.

Choir at Prayer Breakfast May 6 2016

Caesar Chavez HS Choir


Gustavo Romeo with WECOMM

Gustavo Enrique, Romeo Agbalog, WECOMM Students

Here are a few excerpts from my talk.  You can find the full version at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/president/delano-prayer-breakfast.


We, in this room, may be of different faiths, but we have a common belief that “whatsoever you do unto the least of my brethren you do unto me”.   Does the “least of my “brethren” have the same opportunity for success as the rest?

So you see, in the educational realm, there is much to be done.  Do we have the ability to “see” each and every student, In the movie Avatar we are introduced to the Na’vi concept of “To see” – I see you is to open the mind and heart to the present and embrace it as if encountering it for the first time with all of your senses.  Did you love the scene with Neytiri and Jake when he tells her “I see you?”   So, do we see each of our students and understand their circumstances and respond… respond quickly.   No waiting…. Waiting to respond is to be lulled by the status quo.  Martin Luther King in 1963 in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” wrote:

For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” …… This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”


The best way I can describe my dad is that he was always “true to the other.”

I suspect we all share the experience of having struggled with being honest with the other – a family member, a friend or a co-worker.  Do I share what I know, what I think or feel, do I risk causing hurt – or do I not? Do I decide on my own that an issue is not someone’s concern, so withhold information, keep others from having a vote?

My father was as wise as he was kind. He helped me understand that this sort of turmoil is a waste of energy; and it is at its core a kind of self-protective instinct. Not that self-protection is bad – it’s essential – but approaching life primarily from a defensive stance is limiting.  Rather, the question is how each of us cultivate a sense of being “true to the other” so that the focus is on “the other” rather than self…..An “I see you” approach.

As I’ve grown older, I have come to understand my father’s uncanny ability of being “true to the other”.  He was not a man who spoke much, not one for dissecting feelings or getting entangled in the dramas of the community or extended family.  Remember, I grew up in a catholic family in a small coastal community at the southern tip of India where everyone was in everyone else’s business.  My dad was very much part of this community very present, staying true to family, loved ones, colleagues and the community and yet with a mysterious ability to not be caught up with the dramas that ensue from a close community.  I have started to understand the essence of his attitude in three principles: Know yourself; Keep it simple; See the other.  He epitomized the sentiment expressed in a W.H. Auden couplet that a friend introduced me to:

If equal affection cannot be
Let the more loving one be me

Thank you Janet Rabanal, President of the Delano Chamber, for hosting such a wonderful event.  Also, I was touched when you took the time to quietly bring me a plate of eggs with delicious potatoes after my talk.  I was so happy to see Trustee Romeo Agbalog at the event.  He is such an advocate for education and an advocate for the Delano community.

I was so proud to see Rich McCrow, Gustavo Enriquez and our WECOMM students share diversity and acceptance as a central theme to service. As we prayed for people of different communities and career types, such as educators, social justice workers, public service men and woman, and even inmates, our WECOMM students shared statistical data and the idea that together, we are one humankind community.  

Kaitlyn Raybuck and Jacqueline Lomba

Jacqueline Lomba, Kaitlyn Raybuck

Talking about community, I was especially touched by witnessing kindness, love, and our ability to quickly respond when tragedy recently hit one of our BC students. Kaitlyn Raybuck is a bright and successful young woman who suddenly lost her mother at the tender age of 42. Kaitlyn’s mom, Jacqueline Lomba, was a veteran who served our country, and she was also a great example of selfless love and service to others, taking in two foster sisters when they were homeless high school students.  The picture here is of mother and daughter at Kaitlyn’s senior year of high school.

I was made aware of the situation by Joyce Kirst, one of our Academic Development faculty, who in partnering with Paul Beckworth, our lead faculty for Veterans Affairs, rallied around this wonderful young woman during a time of great need. Paul’s compassion and knowledge has made a positive difference for Kaitlyn’s family. This story, even though terribly tragic, gives me a great sense of hope and inspiration that our BC family is on the right path of ministry for our students. To Paul and Joyce, thank you for being the good in our community and for being true to our students. And Kaitlyn, you inspire me.  All through my drive back from Tehachapi, your words, your face and your voice, delivering the eulogy played in my mind over and over again.  Your mom is proud of you.

Here is Kaitlyn’s email to Joyce:

Date: April 30, 2016, 12:37:56 AM PDT
To: Joyce Kirst <jkirst@bakersfieldcollege.edu>
Subject: I am grateful


I am at a loss of words over the overwhelming love and support I have received from not only you, but the students and numerous staff on campus. The cards are beside my bed and they give me such great comfort right now. I have cried so much this past week, and it all seems so surreal. I am grateful to have wonderful people like you in my life.

My mother’s funeral will be this Tuesday at 10 am. I am delivering her eulogy and the Navy will honor her at the Bakersfield National Cemetary. I am so thankful you put me in touch with Professor Beckworth, and because of your help my mother will be honored and it will be of no expense to my family. The funeral costs will also be reimbursed, and I have made myself an appointment with Veteran’s Services to discuss benefits for my siblings so that they can have tuition free college and perhaps some sort of trust so that they can be taken care of until they are eighteen.

Again, words cannot express how thankful I am for all that you have done for me. I will see you Monday.




Wheels Downtown


On Saturday, April 30th a group from BC joined student leader Enrique Martinez for Wheels Downtown—a ‘walk’ through the downtown area of Bakersfield to point out some of the access issues faced by people with disabilities.  The event was sponsored by Martinez’ new Independence Foundation.

“We want to participate in activities downtown and frequent businesses, but the lack of curb cuts and pot holes can be prohibitive,” said Martinez.

Attending the gathering was Christopher Gerry from the City Manager’s Office. who spent time talking with participants and noting the access issues brought up.  Also attending the walk were a numberof Bakersfield mayoral candidates.  The walk ended at a new downtown establishment, Centro 18, for tacos and conversations.

Representatives from the BC DISC Club (Disabilities Inspire and Support Change), who just won the Renegade Spirit Award also turned out.

It was wonderful to see Karen Goh, CEO of Garden Pathways, supporting individuals with disabilities and the BC DISC Club.  Karen you are a great partner of education!

BC currently serves over 1,000 students with any kind of learning, mental health or physical disability.  In addition to providing classroom accommodations, we offer job preparation support and specialized classes for our students with disabilities at Bakersfield College. The main office is located in the Counseling Center to get more information or to sign up for services.

A wonderful evening of music

On Wednesday, May 4th, BC’Performing Arts program  showcased all of our music programs starting with our award winning Drumline in the gym followed by an evening of incredible music filling the outdoor theater.  The Chair of the Performing Arts program Dr. John Gerhold emceed the event and it was clear that he was so proud of the faculty conductors, the support staff and the students.

Jorge Santos Sonya Christian May 4 2016

Jorge Santos, Sonya Christian

Kris Tiner and the fabulous BC Jazz Ensemble kicked off the evening with an early Miles Davis piece, 1940’s vintage. Jorge Santos later played a solo that captured the essence of Miles Davis, but with his own style. Jorge is one of our Applied Music majors who will be transferring to CSUB in the fall.  Jorge later connected with me and I enjoyed hearing his story.  BC students rock!

First time ever, the BC Choir and the BC Jazz Ensemble cooperated on a rousing version of Sing, Sing, Sing. All of the women from both the Choir and Chamber singers joined for a moving version of Music Down in My Soul. Regina Shelton, our talented pianist and accompanist was featured.

The men from both the Choir and the Chamber singers brought a bit of humor to the concert with, Please Mr. Columbus. The song gave us a behind-the-scenes view of what Columbus’ crew members were thinking on their long voyage to the new world.  And Jen Garret was absolutely fabulous.

Performers May 4 2016

The combined vocal groups filled the stage. Their last piece featured percussion instruments in an African piece that Translates to All Creatures of Our God and King.

The Concert Band, under the direction of Tim Heasley, showed their versatility by playing two pieces a world apart, Bolero and Officer Krumpke from Westside Story. Both highly entertaining in their own way. The Orchestra followed, with Lisa Buringrud conducting, the piece from Porgy and Bess. Last performance of the evening was a folk piece, Cindy.

May 11th is California Community College Music Instructors Day. Take a moment next week to tell our fabulous music faculty how much you appreciate their talent and their dedication to our music students.

BC Athletics:

BC Athletics has had yet another stellar year with 15 of 19 programs advancing to post-season play.  Baseball, Track, Swimming and Beach Volleyball continue to represent in post-season play this week.

CCCAA Regional Round 1, #9 seeded BC Baseball took game one of a three games series from #8 seeded Long Beach City College 5-2 on Friday afternoon.  Hudson Hartley had a dominating performance in a complete game effort. First pitch of game two is 11:00am today.  If necessary game three will start at 3:00pm.

BC Track & Field sends 25 participants to the CCCAA Southern California Prelims at Antelope Valley College today, the top 12 out of 27 in each event qualifying for the Finals to be held next weekend.

BC Swimming has three athletes still competing in the CCCAA State Championships today. Erik Wood, Sara Klang and Brianna Smith each will swim one more event this morning with finals this afternoon.

Beach Volleyball #1 pairs team Sara Aurin and Alyssa Mathews advanced to the CCCAA State Championships at Grossmont College today.  BC’s Beach team completed their season at the Regional event this past week.

Latino graduates celebration:

I started my Thursday morning in Delano at the Prayer Breakfast and ended it with BC’s Latino graduates celebration.  This year the event was organized by Victor Diaz and team under the guidance of Corny Rodriguez.  Dolores Huerta was the keynote speaker and her energetic and passionate speech, I am sure, has created a lasting memory for our students. It was wonderful seeing our faculty and students just beaming at this event.  Thank you Trustee Kyle Carter for attending this event.

Corny Nan Sonya Kyle May 5 2016

Corny Rodriguez, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Sonya Christian, Kyle Carter

Current Renegade graduate and a little future Renegade

Tameika May 5 2016

Tamika Payne, her daughter, Sonya Christian

Milt and Betty Younger honored:

The very same evening of the Latino celebration, Milt and Betty Younger were the 2016 Hillel Award recipients.  BC had a full table with Exec VP Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg at the event to support the Youngers who are good friends of the College.  Do check out my Sep 12, 2014 posting on Betty’s sculpture Circle of Friends that was installed on our campus.  This sculpture honors Jim Young, Chancellor Emeritus of KCCD and an advocate for education.   http://tinyurl.com/zbq8k28.

Milt and Betty younger.jpg

Physics Olympics

On April 29, we invited students from over a dozen high schools in Kern County to compete in the annual Physics Olympics. Teams competed in events that required both skills and knowledge in theoretical and experimental physics and engineering.

This wonderful event promotes interest in the fields of physics and engineering, with 18 different events held throughout our campus. Many thanks to the Kern High School District for sponsoring this great event for our local high school students!

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Nurse’s Week

This past week was Nurse’s Week. Our nursing faculty & staff set up a table outside the skills lab with treats and snacks for our students. Our faculty also put together some amazing door prizes. Thank you also to partners in the community that donated prizes: Dignity Hospital, San Joaquin Hospital, FullSizeRenderHealthSouth, Central Valley Office Supply, Pepsi and the Bakersfield Condors.

I received an email from Cindy Collier, our Dean of Nursing and Allied Health, thanking everyone for their donations. She said, “This is how you build a community!”

This is just another great example of the community we share – not just among our BC faculty and staff, but throughout Bakersfield.

And speaking of our fantastic Nursing department, Carla Gard, our Associate Dean/Director of Nursing Programs, let me know that our average annual pass rate for the NCSBN has increased to 91.27%. Our first time test takers had a 94.5% pass rate.

I am so proud of our students and their hard work – they truly will make Kern County a healthier place!

Wow…. it is already 3:40 p.m.  I have had commitments today that has made it impossible to make progress on my blog.  It is time now to get this blog published.  Until next time then…..

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