Bakersfield has talent

Good morning Bakersfield!  It is 4 am, Saturday, November 19th and a fabulous day to be a Renegade.  

Most of Bakersfield is asleep right now….the air is cool and crisp at 48 degrees.  The coffee by my side could not taste better.

An ideal morning to listen to Misty Mountain Cold.  The song I was introduced to with the Hobbit Trilogy that I watched on December 31st 2012, Dec 31st 2013, and Dec 31st 2014.  Take a moment to enjoy this beautiful music.

This last week was yet another hectic week and a week of travel for me.  Left on Sunday for Napa Valley where I was chairing a technical assistance  PRT team for the college, back to Bakersfield late on Monday, and was on the road again on Wednesday to attend the state-wide CEO meeting at Riverside.  Kay McClenney was the keynote speaker at the event and she spoke about Guided Pathways.  A few of us are trying to bring this work to Californian through the CA Guided Pathways three-year demonstration project for which we submitted a proposal to the funding agency.  We should know the results on December 6th.  I chair the CA Guided Pathways advisory committee and here is a photo from our last meeting.

CA Guided Pathways Advisory Committee Oct 11 2016.jpg

You can find me in the second row, second from the left.  The tall man to my left is Eloy Oakley the incoming Chancellor of the 114 community colleges in California.

matt-riley-and-sonya-christian-nov-18-2016Got back from Riverside on Thursday and then had a full day on Friday.  Met with Matt Riley of the Condors to do some planning.  We are so fortunate to have the Condors here in our community and Matt has such a great vision and works on the details with such great precision.  Just remarkable!

Now, they are putting together a historic event here in Bakersfield.  WE MUST fill Memorial Stadium friends.  Mark your calendars right now.  yes, right now.  Stop reading my blog, go to your calendar and block your calendar for January 7th to watch the Condors play on ice outdoors at the Memorial Stadium.  Did I just say play ice hockey outdoors at the Memorial Stadium?

The entire extended event begins on Dec 21st and concludes with the game on January 7th.


Here is the a short video from the press conference this term.


BC’s College Council met earlier in the day.  The meeting was a particularly engaging meeting and I just loved walking into the room seeing all the familiar faces that I work with.  I am the luckiest and happiest college president ever.  Here is College Council!


From left to right: Bernadette Martinez, Chris Glaser, Faith Bradham, Nicky Damania, Janet Thomas, Krista Moreland, Mark Staller, Isabel Stierle, Tina Johnson, Sonya Christian, Cindy Collier, Steve Holmes, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Kate Pluta, Sue Vaughn, Jennifer Marden, Jason Stratton, Jennifer Johnson.

Nan opened up the meeting by reading the diversity core value one of the six core values of Bakersfield College.


Here are BC’s Core Values.  Please take a moment to read them.


We use our Core Values in various ways at the college.  One way we use our core values is to read the relevant one(s) during difficult times and then share our reflections.  It serves as an anchoring feature to stabilize us and give us direction to move.  Right now the college has been significantly disturbed by the possibility that some of our students and their families and loved ones could be moved out of their homes and schools and out of the United States.  I will be addressing the college from our Delano campus on Monday, November 21st at 3:00 p.m.

Bakersfield College has identified about 700-800 students who are supported by the Dream Act. The Dream Act provides a great opportunity for those students to attend college and pursue their educational goals.  We value each one for what they are able to bring to our vibrant, diverse college community.  Our students are our greatest resource, and we are committed to providing access and supporting their success.

I believe that education is the vehicle to advance the economic and social mobility of the communities we serve.  We should do everything possible to keep these opportunities available to everyone. At Bakersfield College, we value and promote diversity and work to create a college community that is inclusive.  We strive to be leaders and role models for others.

BC has great talent:

Alfredo Ramirez:


Just a few days ago, I received an email from Kris Tiner, BC’s Jazz Program Director, who shared incredible news about one of our Applied Music students, Alfredo Ramirez, who also plays clarinet with the Jazz Ensemble.

The email said

Alfredo is in Las Vegas tonight attending the Latin Grammy Awards. He plays with Banda Troyana, based in San Jose, and their recent album Tengo Ganas de Ser Fiel was nominated for Best Banda Album. The band has been touring quite a bit and recently performed on Univision. They didn’t win the Grammy, but as you know it is a huge honor to be among the nominees. Alfredo is very humble about his success, so be sure to congratulate him when you see him!


This is just incredible – Congratulations Alfredo!!! Along with the BC staff, faculty, and your fellow Renegades, I am so proud of you and what you’ve accomplished so far. Keep pursuing your dreams. It’s amazing to see the wonderful things you’re doing! And thank you Kris Tiner for the email and for the beautiful music you give us.

Rebekah Barton: 


One of our voice instructors in our Applied Music Program, Rebekah Barton, just won a metropolitan opera competition and is going on to the next level. It is very exciting and so hard to win!

Here is an email that Jen Garrett sent me:

The competition was the Metropolitan National Opera Council audition:  District level in Pocatello, ID on November 5.  Rebekah sang ‘Evven! Ne andro longs a’ and the judges picked ‘Porgi amor’.  She won the competition and the Northwest Regionals will be held in Seattle, WA on Jan 8.  We are very excited for her and hope she does well at the Regionals in January.  She also teaches Music Appreciation in Delano!


Veterans Day & Measure J from Paul Beckworth

I often flag emails worth sharing from various staff, faculty, friends of BC, and members of the community because they show just how awesome our community is and the great things we can accomplish. I’m sharing this one a tad behind schedule from Veterans Day.

Paul Beckworth wrote,

“My fellow veterans, Happy Veterans Day!  In 2010, all BC veterans had was window 6.  That was it, a window.  Three days ago, under the aggressive leadership of our college president, Measure J passed. This measure ensures an $8.5M Veteran Resource Center.  We have made great strides for veterans at BC in the past six years.  These things did not occur overnight, nor did they occur without struggle.  This is your doing.  Your persistence, your ability to improvise, adapt and overcome has gotten us to this moment.  There is much to be proud of.  You are the current veterans of BC who follow the footsteps of BC veterans as far back as the First World War.  Not a bad legacy.  Not bad at all.

Happy Veterans Day! – Paul Beckworth”

In only a few short sentences, Paul was able to accurately describe where our journey to improve Veterans services at BC began years ago. Thank you to Paul, our veterans, veterans across our country, including those stationed in other countries and overseas, and everyone locally who supported Measure J. It is our priority that BC will be a second home for all students, where they can feel safe, relaxed, and can focus on their education and studies.

And btw, it was so fun listening to Paul Beckworth during Vet Fest on November 2nd when Supervisor Leticia Perez donated the cart for our student veterans.  Paul could not advocate for Measure J but he said…”all I can say is that if I had a son, I would name him J.”  Lol …. so funny.  Supervisor Perez however, did not hold back.  She talked about the important of taking care of the BC facilities and passing Measure J.

BC Athletics

What a week for our Renegades who compete in the classroom AND on the fields and courts, as some seasons draw to a close, and old rivalries had big implications!

Renegade Football was named to the Western State Bowl at Long Beach City College Saturday at 6pm. LBCC is a strong football team with a lot of huge players, but like Coach Chudy says, “the only thing we can control is how hard we work,” and I know our student athletes work hard.

And btw, what are you doing on Friday, November 25th? BC is bringing back the Friday Night Lights to the Memorial Stadium with BHS meeting Liberty.  Stan Green from KHSD just confirmed this with Sandi Taylor.  Come spend Friday evening of the long Thanksgiving weekend with your family at Memorial Stadium watching great high school football.

Volleyball! My oh my…Coach Carl Ferreira and an amazing group of women that form BC Volleyball won their 13th match in a row to win the Western State Conference-East. “It’s been years since we’ve won a conference title, I’d have to look in my archives,” Coach Carl said, “But it’s been many years.” The Renegades are seeded #11 and will play #6 El Camino College on the road in the first round of the playoffs November, 22nd.  Check out


Wrestling:  Pedro Sarabia, Julio Fuentes, and Zack Mitchell also won conference titles last weekend when BC hosted the Southern California Wrestling Alliance championships. Sarabia and Fuentes are both top seeds in the state, and are expected to place high in December’s state championships.

“But first we have to get there,” Coach Clark said, “and that involves placing at the regionals and then getting through ‘The Brawl’ tournament at East Los Angeles College.”

The Women’s Soccer team also qualified for the play-in round of the postseason and they headed to Mt. San Jacinto College Wednesday and made a great showing, but saw their season end with a 2-0 loss. “We took more shots on goal and played a great game,” Coach Scott Dameron said, “so I’m disappointed with the outcome for the right reasons in that we didn’t win…the effort and the heart were there.”

And a congratulations to the Women’s Cross Country Team for qualifying to compete in the State Championships in Fresno Saturday! Way to go Coach Pam! She’s had several runners, including Freshman Alyssa Morales, who have made great improvements over their high school times because they bought into the Renegade Way and Coach Pam Kelley’s methods. Good luck!

Jennifer’s Wedding

Remember when I said I couldn’t wait to share a picture of Jennifer’s big day? Last weekend, on November 12th, I had the joy of attending as Jennifer and Mark tied the knot. As promised here are a few pictures, one of me and the lovely bride and one of the whole BC crew in attendance.



It was a beautiful wedding and I found myself in tears many times during the wedding and the reception/dinner.  Jennifer’s brother officiated the wedding which was short but powerful.  Jennifer looked so beautiful and her gorgeous hair was done exquisitely.  As Jennifer appeared in the distance for the first time enveloped by beautiful green trees, shrubs and grass, a beautiful vision, there was a spontaneous response from the group.  And Mark Serratt was just completely focused on his bride-to-be as she slowly walked towards him.

BC, let’s toast our favorite red Jennifer Marden, now Jennifer Serratt!

Bakersfield Marathon:


I’m always excited whenever the Bakersfield community has an opportunity to visit our campus on the hill.

Last weekend, during the Bakersfield Marathon, over 2,000 runners ran through the BC campus before heading down beautiful Panorama Drive. A crew of volunteers were on hand passing out water and adding to the excitement as runners passed through. Pictured in the yellow shirts is Francis, Mike, Mary Jo, and Tom – missing from the photo is Melissa. Thank you for all your help at the BC water station!  And Mary Jo Pasek, you are the best!



Did you have a chance to see the “supermoon” on the night of November 13th? I had the lovely chance to see it from Napa while chairing an IEPI team event. Napa was so beautiful and I enjoyed walking and taking in the beautiful locale Sunday night and enjoying the Supermoon.  My dad Paul, who passed away in 2006, loved Napa.  So it was an opportunity to think and feel.

BC’s Nick Strobel tells us in his article at the Bakersfield Californian that you’ll have a second chance next month. He starts his article with

If you missed this month’s “supermoon” on the night of Nov. 13-14, you’ll have another chance to catch a supermoon next month, on the night of Dec. 13-14, when the full moon will occur just one day and 39 minutes past perigee (closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit). This month’s supermoon received so much attention because the full moon occurred within just two and a half hours of perigee and this month’s perigee was especially close.

and I loved his ending

One final thing is not space-related, but a big thank you to all who supported Bakersfield College by voting in favor of Measure J. We at Bakersfield College really appreciate your support. Thank you!

Here is a better picture of the supermoon by Agencia Gazeta via Reuters of the supermoon as seen over Lake Morskie Oko in the Tatra Mountains near Zakopane, Poland

agencia Gazeta via Reuters Nov 14 2016.jpg

Mark your calendars for next month! Find the date at

Rad Tech Accreditation


This week, our Radiation Technology department had its accreditation visit. As expected, our phenomenal department did great! We are proud of our students, faculty, and staff that make our Rad Tech department so wonderful!  And Nancy Perkins, you rock!  The administrative team, Cindy Collier, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg and I sat at the back just so proud of the program.

10th Annual Kern County Energy Summit

Kern Energy.JPG

The Kern Economic Development Corporation (Kern EDC) held its 10th Annual Kern County Energy Summit on Wednesday, November 16, 2016. Local industry leaders in the petroleum, utility, and renewable sectors joined with policy makers and economists to discuss challenges and opportunities facing the energy industry.

kern-energy-2 This year four speakers addressed local planning outcomes, an outlook on renewable goals, the business incubator model successfully implemented in Los Angeles, and an overview of the effects of legislative outcomes on the energy industry.  The Keynote Address was delivered by Chairman & CEO of Southern California Gas Company, Dennis Arriola, who discussed the benefits of natural gas and innovative opportunities to meet state energy needs.  A group of Bakersfield College faculty and staff attended the summit and were honored to share a table with Mayor-elect Karen Goh. Thank you to Tom Gelder, Antonio Alfaro, Martin Perez, Jason Dixon, Kelvin Abaa, Yadira Guerrero, Liz Rozell, Rozanne Hernandez, and Roger Fessler for representing BC!

The Kern Economic Development Corporation was established in 1988 in response to a lagging economy to ensure regional economic stability. The official website states, “Kern EDC’s mission is to stimulate a diversified and strong economic climate in Kern County, through recruitment of new business opportunities and assistance in the retention and expansion of existing businesses.”

President and CEO Richard Chapman leads the charge and brings an unrivaled level of passion and foundational knowledge to his position in Kern County. Vice President, Cheryl Scott, has a knack for connecting people which has earned her the nickname, “Dot Connector.” Cheryl is a fabulous woman who understands our community and region, and volunteered many hours in support of Measure J.  Cheryl Scott, you are a rock star! Thank you to KEDC, Cheryl Scott, and Wayne Kress for all the backing and support for BC and Measure J.

Learn more about the KEDC by visiting and watch Wayne Kress the Chair of the KEDC Board speak at the Measure J Open House:


Bakersfield, we all know that

Life Is Not Measured By the Number of Breaths We Take, But By the Moments That Take Our Breath Away

and we are so fortunate so have so many moments that take out breath away in Bakersfield.  We have so many moments that take our breath away at Bakersfield College. We Are BC! We Are Bakersfield!



That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — the luckiest and happiest college president ever.

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10 thoughts on “Bakersfield has talent

  1. Tom Moran November 19, 2016 at 7:45 am Reply


    Thank you for another wonderful, well-written, inspiring blog post.

    Thank you, too, for your courageous, vocal, and unflagging support of our Dreamers. Now, more than ever, each of us must stand and speak our truths.

    • SonyaChristian November 19, 2016 at 8:06 am Reply

      Thank you for the note Tom. I agree we must each stand and speak out.

  2. Nick Strobel November 19, 2016 at 9:32 am Reply

    Another great wrap up of the week’s activities but 4am? Your travels were all in the Pacific time zone but your body clock is more like the eastern time zone. 🙂 I really appreciated being there at the college council mtg when Nan read our Diversity core value and hearing your comments after that. We do believe that education is the best way to transform the lives of all of our students.

    • SonyaChristian November 19, 2016 at 11:36 am Reply

      Thank you Nick for taking time to post a comment. I so agree with you… “education is the best way to transform the lives of all of our students.” I am so glad BC’s faculty and staff are focused on expanding our reach to rural Kern — Arvin, Lamont, Delano, Wasco, Shafter, McFarland.

  3. Drea November 19, 2016 at 10:09 am Reply

    What a wonderful post! BC is blessed to have such a dedicated CEO and Bakersfield as a whole is lucky to have such a strong and diverse administration, faculty, staff and student population working to achieve greatness.

    • SonyaChristian November 19, 2016 at 11:37 am Reply

      Andrea, you are such a great leader for our campus. Such a young faculty and with so much commitment! I am so glad to work with you.

  4. crunchyguero November 19, 2016 at 10:18 am Reply


  5. Wayne Kress November 19, 2016 at 11:00 am Reply

    Sonya, you are awesome! You are bringing BC to life for those of us in Bakersfield that are not involved daily with the campus. You bring meaning to our community of the importance of a strong and healthy BC. Thanks for all you do!

    • SonyaChristian November 19, 2016 at 11:38 am Reply

      Wayne, thank you for taking time this Saturday to post a comment. You do a lot for our community! Like I said, We are Bakersfield!

  6. Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg November 19, 2016 at 7:23 pm Reply

    Another event filled week for BC and President Sonya Christian. With barely a week past the historic vote on Measure J, BC demonstrates (again) why the taxpayers of Kern County were right to invest in its future. Talented students, excellent programs, dedicated faculty, community support and a visionary leader. BC is the community’s college, whether welcoming the Bakersfield Marathon, the BHS and Liberty football game in the classic Memorial Stadium, or the Condors. BC provides an affordable education and quality training for ALL students in Kern County. BC welcomes and respects their differences and commits to a learning environment that is safe and inclusive. It’s a good time to be at BC!

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