We are Bakersfield….and We are BC!

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Sunday, June 19, 2016 and Father’s Day.

Happy Father’s Day Dad.  I miss you.


Here’s to all the great father’s I know….and to all the fathers in this community, today is your day! Happy Father’s Day!

Alex Eisha Frank June 17 2016

Alex Tuckman, Eisha Christian, Frank Atenello. Photo: Dr. Weiss

On Friday, June 17th, my daughter Eisha graduated from her 7-year residency in Neurosurgery from USC.  Wow, neurosurgery.  I attended the graduation event along with my mom.  The event started with a cocktail reception followed by dinner and speeches from the faculty and the three graduating students.  Yes, three.  There were a lot of tears as faculty talked about these three amazing surgeons — Alex Tuckman, Eisha Christian, and Frank Atenello.  Thank you Dr. Martin Weiss for the photos on Facebook.  Here is one of them.

Eisha Christian, the little girl who was at OLPH, then Highland High, who took math classes at BC from Rafael Espericueta, Mike Moretti and others in the math department.  Eisha, I love you!


So, do you know Clifford Evans?  Well, I got to meet him on Thursday, June 16th as I was rushing back from a a presentation at the Kern County Hispanic Chamber meeting (more on that later.)

Clifford Evans June 16 2016

Clifford Evans, Sonya Christian

Clifford called out to me as I was hurrying from the parking lot to the Levan Center where the Executive Office was having a retreat.  As I paused to say hello he went on to say that BC has the best staff ever and that if the world had the staff at BC it would be a much better and much happier place. Of course I was thrilled and immediately requested a selfie with him for my Saturday blog.  You see Bakersfield, faculty and staff at BC don’t consider this a job…but rather a calling.  So they do give their minds and hearts to this college, to the students.  Just amazing.  It is a good time to be at BC!


Earlier that day, I did two back-to-back presentations about BC’s facilities needs and the potential bond.  The first presentation was with Tom Burke to Kern Tax at the Bell Tower Club after which I rushed to the Double Tree Inn to present to the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  I am happy to report that KernTax voted to endorse the potential bond.  Of course, the presentation was all about the numbers, including how the bond sequencing would happen and the precise management of the interest paid as a result of the pacing of the bond sequence.  Thank you Michael Turnipseed, CEO Kern Tax, and Jay Tamsi, CEO KCHCC, for inviting us to make these presentations.  For more information about the potential bond and the work of the Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Harvey Hall with Bill Thomas as the Senioir Advisor, check out http://www.abetterbc.com/.

You can’t see everyone in the KCHCC picture, but here are the names: Jay Tamsi, Carlos Navarro, Blodgie Rodríguez, Robin Mangarin-Scott, Adam Alvidrez, Colleen Dillaway, Olivia Garcia, David Alanis, Donna Herman, Eva Ramirez, Victor Martin, Ed Herrera, Dr. Stuart Tatsuno, Denise Ornelas, Ken Ouellete, Sal Brito.

Executive Office Retreat:

Back to the story of Clifford Evans…..At the Exec Office retreat, I shared the photos and the Evans story with our team, and as it turns out Tracy Hall has regularly interacted with Clifford and helped him.  So Tracy is one of those “amazing individuals at BC” that Clifford was describing to me.  Talking about Tracy, she did a wonderful  reflection about our work together in 2015-2016.  Here it is.  I am sure you will enjoy it as much as me.

Exec Office Retreat June 16 2016.jpg

Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Tracy Hall, June Charles, Zav Dadabhoy, Tarina Perry, Sonya Christian, Anthony Culpepper, Somaly Boles, Jennifer Marden

This last year has been amazing. It is hard to believe it has been a whole year since our last retreat. I love coming to work, and I’m privileged to work with this group of professionals who are bright, kind, funny, and committed to our students, to BC, and to each other.

When we met last year, we had just been inspired by Michael Wesch’s presentation about the Age of Wonder. Sonya had asked us to share our impressions. Each of us shared something that spoke to us…that resonated. It was great to see how each of us, with our differences and deficiencies, took away something that caused us to pause and think differently about the way we may view or approach something.

We reviewed 2014’s commitment to Celebrate our Differences, Respect Each Other, Provide Accurate and Consistent Information, and Streamline Paperwork and Signatures Within 24 Hours. I am pleased to say that the commitments we made in 2014 are still a practiced priority in our office today.

Among the themes we discussed last year, a new phrase emerged, “May the Disruptive Force Be With You.” The Administrative Team has been Empowered to be a “Disruptive Force”, to take necessary and appropriate action on behalf of the Executive Team, and to:

  • Be Gatekeepers
    • Protect the time and energy of the Executive Team members
  • Ask questions
  • Solve problems before they escalate
  • Manage the flow of information in the office

All members of the Executive and Administrative Team will participate in:

  • Active Listening
  • Sharing Stories and Intel
    • Fingers on the Pulse of the Campus
  • Being Transparent and Authentic
  • Cultivate and Maintain a Sense of Trust

2016-17 is going to be busy, challenging, and exciting. The hard work the team is putting into educating the public about BC’s facility needs will hopefully come to fruition in November. The work doesn’t stop, and neither will our commitments to each other. We Are, BC.

Helen Chavez Memorial Service June 14 2016


Helen Chavez

Monday, June 13th morning, hundreds of people paid respects to a revolutionary woman, Helen Chavez. I had the honor of attending her funeral services at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Tehachapi. The church was packed with two overflow venues — a tent as well as an adjacent hall where there were large TVs with live feed from the church.  The ceremony was inspiring with the priest drawing comparisons between her life’s work and the bible.  He spotlighted the Beatitudes that are such a beautiful part of scripture.  Again, whether you are a believer or not, I think you will appreciate the beauty in the language and the calling for the best in the human spirit.  Here are two of the eight Beatitudes:

Blessed are those who mourn: for they shall be comforted
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy

The liturgical music was wonderful and Amazing Grace which was sung in Spanish and English intermingled was hauntingly beautiful.  Here is the Spanish version on youtube


President Obama issued a statement last Tuesday calling Mrs. Chavez “a force of quiet strength” who “left a legacy that will echo for generations.’’ A nice article about this woman and  her life can be found at http://tinyurl.com/j2lelk2.

Thank you David Villarino for getting this event on my radar and making arrangements for VIP parking.  With my crazy schedule on Monday, it really helped.  David Villarino does amazing work through his organization FIELD that focuses on educating adults with English as a Second Language.  

Champion of Bakersfield College — Michael O’Doherty

Michael ODoherty Sonya Christian June 14 2016

Sonya Christian, Michael O’Doherty

Last week, I forgot to mention that Michael O’Doherty presented an update of Measure G to the KCCD trustees.  O’Doherty is the past president of the Bakersfield College Foundation Board of Directors.

As a member of Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee for Measure G, Michael O’Doherty described the diligence of the committee; and the onsite visual compliance efforts.

According to Michael, the visual compliance review resulted in an opinion that Bakersfield College is in full compliance of the 2002 Measure G Bond requirements.

The KCCD Board of Trustees received Michael’s report that effectively supported the overall presentation made by the KCCD CBO, Tom Burke.

Thank you Michael O’Doherty for all that you do for Bakersfield College.  You are a true champion for BC!

Christina Sistrunk

The Kern Business Journal recently published an article crediting Christina Sistrunk as being one of the most powerful women in the oil and gas industry and I’m proud to say that we are so lucky to have strong and influential women doing great things for our community.

To support the educational experience of our students, Aera made a valuable gift for the Aera STEM Success Center which will benefit our students for generations to come. BC is so fortunate to have such a fantastic industry and community partner like Aera, lead by their president and CEO, Christina Sistrunk and prior to Chrstina, Guardie Banister. I had the pleasure of hosting Christina, Cindy Pollard, Lynne Carrithers, and others from Aera during our groundbreaking press conference last year. Here are some photos.


The Californian states, “Sistrunk’s selection was based, in part, on being a top leader in her organization and profession; directly contributing to business growth and strategic direction of the organization; being an effective role model who inspires other women; and operating with the highest integrity and ethical behavior.”

Read the entire article online at http://tinyurl.com/jr2uq8j

Louis Amestoy

Louis Amstoy Richard Beene

Richard Beene, Louis Amestoy

Check out Louis Amestoy’s piece in The Bakersfield Californian
Did you know Richard Beene is retiring, but thankfully, he will still continue writing for TBC.

Thank you Louis Amestoy for your shout out in the Californian:

On an equally impressive note, in her blog Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian highlighted the celebration of the college’s commencement ceremonies. Christian’s blog is a fascinating read about the workings of BC, and I recommend it.


Track & Field Banquet

The Bakersfield College Track and Field team held their annual banquet last week at Hodel’s.


Marilyn Quintero, Kyra Saunders, Tyra Saunders, Jacob Bookout, Dillen Littles, and Christopher Moreno received their conference honors at the Track & Field Banquet.

The following athletes took home MVP honors:

  • Men’s Track MVP: Christopher Moreno
  • Men’s Field MVP: Dillen Littles.
  • Women’s track MVP: Tyra Saunders
  • Women’s Field MVP: Marilyn Quintero

Saunders had a breakthrough season that culminated with the shattering of a 29-year-old school record in the 100 meters with a blistering 11.91 second run at the SoCal Finals in Antelope Valley this season. The original record was set by Aisha Harrison in 1997 with a time of 11.98.

Coach Pam Kelley said she expects half a dozen athletes to commit to four-year schools in the coming weeks.

Let’s hear it for our amazing athletes!

IEPI Inmate Education Training Workshop

IEPI TrainingThe Bakersfield College, Delano Campus hosted the Institutional Effectiveness and Partnership Initiative (IEPI) Inmate Education Training Workshop.  

BJ Snowden, Director of Inmate and Re-Entry Education in the CCCCO’s office, asked our campus to host the training and to present to community colleges throughout California as we are offering courses in multiple state prisons. During the training, College of the Canyons and Chaffey College provided insight on their inmate education programs. The sharing of information resulted in all colleges furthering the ability to serve students.

Chelsea Esquibias led the training on behalf of Bakersfield College, providing insight on our ability to assist students with admissions and records while overcoming obstacles associated with being incarcerated. Bryan Hirayama presented Bakersfield College’s evaluation of curriculum and course selection.

The two-day training wrapped up with a tour of Kern Valley State Prison.  Attendees from the different colleges were able to witness Bakersfield College’s partnership with the prison firsthand.  The knowledge gained by all involved, including BC, will lend additional support to all of the Inmate Education Programs and ensure students receive the necessary skills for employability as well as navigating society as they transition out of the prison environment.

Thank you to the CCCCO’s office for the continued support and partnership and thank you to the numerous colleges in attendance.

Summer Bridge:

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BC is ramping up our Summer Bridge efforts as a focused student success strategy for students transitioning from high school to college.The goal of this program is to make students more aware of what is expected of them in college and what programs, services, resources, and assistance are available to them as a BC student. A team of faculty across areas led by Dr. Kimberly Bligh developed the content for the curriculum. Thank you Kimberly!

13394130_1753396228216718_1160833627451719312_nIn 2014, BC offered 4 sections of the bridge class for 140 incoming freshmen during mid-summer over a two week time frame. We had 100% retention! We also held a family luncheon at the end of the bridge sessions so that students could spend some time on campus with their friends and family and share their experiences from the bridge.

Eighty-nine percent of the students successfully completed their Comprehensive Student Educational plan that summer during Bridge.

In 2015, the Bridge scaled up significantly and even more faculty and staff became involved in co-teaching and assisting.

Dr. Bligh wrote an online text for the Bridge that includes discussions about transitions to college, team and leadership building activities, career interest surveys, links to campus, academic, and personal resources, self-inventories, and information about BC’s history, programs, processes.  The book includes student testimonial videos and videos and PowerPoint access to topics like Plagiarism, Mindsets, Learning Styles, Email Etiquette, and more.

13244614_1748599302029744_9112036423111254982_nIn 2015, we scaled up from 4 to 18 sections and also held some non-credit sessions for incoming freshmen at the Wasco and Delano high schools. Those sessions included field trips to BC’s Panorama and Delano campuses. Over 400 students completed the bridge program in 2015. The overall success rate for this cohort during their 2015-2016 term was 12% higher than those first time freshmen who did not attend the bridge!

In 2016, our target was to scale up sessions again, but we planned to do it with a unique approach to recruitment.  We developed the themed sessions based on students’ majors and career interests and included several sessions for career exploration for those students who are still undecided. The students signed up for their week of preference so they could meet other students with similar interests and meet faculty from those areas.

Since April, we have already held 8 sessions of BC Bridge 2016 for over 200 incoming freshmen! We have 15 + sessions still open. Students can attend any of the sessions. The curriculum covers the same topics throughout all sessions.

Go to https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/sssp/summer-bridge  today to get directions for signing up for the Bridge, which runs through August 11th. You’ll need to sign up for the Remind App associated with your option so that we can contact them about details for their Bridge session – and check your BC email account and personal accounts often all summer for alerts and updates!

Let’s check out what faculty have to say about Summer Bridge program:

“I enjoyed seeing incoming students being proactive, taking the initiative to get themselves prepared for college.  I heard more than a few students whisper, ‘I didn’t know that,’ when particular topics were discussed.  But, now they do know thanks to Summer Bridge!” — Paul Beckworth

“Summer Bridge is a great experience for everyone. The incoming students get eased into the college life as we walk them through everything from financial aid to email etiquette. It also benefits faculty who are reminded of BC services and the needs of our incoming students that might otherwise be ignored. Teaching Bridge puts me in tune with our students and makes me a better overall instructor.” — Matthew Garrett

Two concluding spotlights:

When I was rushing across town on Thursday for one of my presentations, I saw our drumline trailer carrying all the musical instruments.  I hurried to catch up (safely as Greg Williamson and Donny Youngblood would have been happy to see), and at the next traffic light could not help but take this picture.

BC Drumline Truck

Greg Gallion in The Bakersfield Californian:

Here is a great Community Voices piece by Greg Gallion in TBC about the importance of donating blood.  http://tinyurl.com/gs2nc7b.  A good friend of mine did so on Thursday.

Greg Gallion June 16 2016 TBC

That’s all for now.  

Until next Saturday.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya ….. the luckiest and happiest college president in the whole world.

sonya at polynesian cultural center april 2 2015.JPG

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10 thoughts on “We are Bakersfield….and We are BC!

  1. Joyce Kirst June 19, 2016 at 10:23 am Reply

    Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful and informative blog. I was especially interested in your summary of our expanded Summer Bridge Program. Last Fall several of my best students shared what they learned in Summer Bridge; it was clear that this experience helped them start college on the right foot, personally as well as academically.

  2. bcpresident June 19, 2016 at 12:05 pm Reply

    Thank you Joyce for taking time to write. It is indeed a good time to be at BC!

  3. Debra B. Strong June 20, 2016 at 7:26 am Reply

    Thanks for communicating to all, and making us feel that we are apart of the positive BC experience. We are B.C.!!

  4. Michael O'Doherty June 20, 2016 at 10:06 am Reply

    You do a great job of linking the vision of Bakersfield College’s past to the actions of today, and clarifying how these actions help continue that Vision into the future.
    Great job!

  5. bcpresident June 20, 2016 at 11:27 am Reply

    Thank you Debra for your comment. Yes, We are….BC!

  6. bcpresident June 20, 2016 at 11:28 am Reply

    Thank you Michael O’Doherty for taking time to write on my blog. You do so much for the college. Your work with the BC Foundation has been remarkable.

  7. Heather Baltis June 23, 2016 at 2:36 pm Reply

    Congratulations to your daughter – what an accomplishment! WOW!

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