It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Good morning Bakersfield.  Have you bought your tickets for Winterfest!

I woke up to the headline in The Bakersfield Californian “Obama signs $12 Billion Water Bill” and a wonderful piece by Nick Strobel “Longest night of year, winter is approaching” in his column Stargazing.  Definitely a good way to start the morning.

But let me get back to Winterfest ….

Winterfest is coming

Excitement is building up around campus for the upcoming Winterfest celebrations! Did you ever think you’d see a Zamboni parked at Bakersfield College?  Thanks to the Condors and the upcoming Three-Way Chevrolet Winterfest and Outdoor Classic hockey game, we’ve got one! Construction has taken over Memorial Stadium and the rink is coming to life.  In an article this week titled, “It’s Twice as Nice Outdoors on the Ice,” Ryan Holt of the Bakersfield Condors had some awesome things to say about BC!

“We’re thankful they believed in our project,” Holt said. “Memorial Stadium was the spot. It’s iconic. I’ve never seen a community college with a stadium like that. It’s going to be perfect for hockey. Every seat is a perfect seat for watching the game. Winterfest, the Outdoor Classic and the Alumni game are “a way to highlight not only the Condors organization, but the city of Bakersfield,” Holt said. “That’s what we’re all about.”


See this whole article at

The Bakersfield Californian said, “It’s beginning to look like hockey at Bakersfield College” and I couldn’t agree more! Check out the article at


immigrationpoliciespanelLast week Thursday, an open forum with panelists, H.A. Sala and Win Eaton took place in the Levan Center on the topic of U.S. Immigration Policies. This discussion was presented by members of the Immigration Justice Collaboration, a group of over 20 local attorneys from different fields of practice, including immigration law. The panel discussed imminent changes in immigration policies, including how DACA may be affected, and basic due process and constitutional rights, among other topics of interest to our communities. Thank you to Dr. Manny Mourtzanos, Dean of Instruction, for moderating the panel and Manny De Los Santos for recording and live streaming the event.


International Ag Expo

On Tuesday (Dec 13, 2016) morning, I was on a quick field trip with the Ag faculty to check out the COS farm and do some planning for our Ag program.  The ride in the 16-year-old bus was enjoyable with Bill Kelly leisurely at the wheel when we headed north, and Chris McCraw putting pedal to the metal but definitely keeping it at the legal limit on the way back to get me to a meeting on time.  I love our Ag department!  Bill Kelly, Lindsay Ono, Bill Barnes, Greg Cluff, and Chris McCraw.  We missed Heather Baltis who could not go with us.

I learned that we cut back on our classes during the recession, and once had horse riding classes when Gay Gadella was with us.

Our ride in the bus took us past the home of the World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA. I was surprised to learn this global convention started at BC and moved to the Bakersfield Fairgrounds before going to Tulare, where it is now a global event. Wow!

The International Agri-Center now hosts this annual event boasting 2.6 million square feet of show space, and calculating an annual average of 100,000 attendees. Learn more by visiting


There’s a new chief in town

Join me in welcoming Lyle Martin as the new Bakersfield Police Chief. After serving as the assistant chief of police since 2008, Lyle was sworn in on Wednesday replacing Greg Williamson who is retiring. The Bakersfield Californian reports that “Williamson called Martin a ‘man of character,’ and said the city is in good hands.”
Check out the article at The Bakersfield Californian here.

I love this picture by Felix Adamo in The Bakersfield Californian of outgoing BPD Chief Greg Williamson and incoming Chief Lyle Martin.


The Bakersfield Police Department is a great partner of Bakersfield College.
Check out my past blog when I showcased the National Night Out on August 6, 2016.

ASTEP Student Appreciation

I attended the ASTEP Student Appreciation awards this week. If you haven’t heard, the African-American Success through Excellence and Persistence (ASTEP) program at BC is one that integrates academics, support services and African-American culture. ASTEP seeks to educate the whole student — body, mind and spirit — through an ethic of love. African and African-American histories and voices are deliberately and intentionally acknowledged and are woven into the learning experience, and this integration is seen as being empowering to students and foundational for their academic and personal success.  Students are full participants in their learning and growth. ASTEP aims to develop students into leaders and role models in their college and larger community.astep-mentors

The mentors of this program are fabulous people and we are lucky to have them with us at BC.

For example, here is Keith Wolaridge, President of the Panama Buena Vista District Board, supporter of Measure J, and leader of our community. And another great supporter of ASTEP is Joe Coughlin – local business owner of the delicious Coconut Joes. Check out my blog including Joe from September 24th. Also, our very own June Charles is a mentor, and her mentee took all three awards of the night. Congratulations!

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Dr. Paula Parks has greatly improved our student success numbers through this program.  You can see her dedication in this email that she sent me after the event.


Thanks for attending the ASTEP Umoja Community Mentor Appreciation and Milestone Celebration. The best part for me is hearing from the students what the program means to them and how much they treasure the support provided, including that from the mentors. They talked about how much the mentors encourage them and help keep them focused to finish the semester. I also loved hearing how much they enjoyed reading and discussing black authors in the English class as well as how much they learned about themselves in the student development class. They formed such a loving, supportive community, and I know they’ll do well next semester in English 1A, Student Development 2, and Library 1. The Mentor Appreciation and Milestone Celebration always end the semester on a high note for me. I just love those kids.

Thanks again,


Centennial High School Holiday Concert

Holiday festivities are one of my favorite things about the end of the year. I attended the Centennial High School Christmas Concert on Thursday, Dec 15th, to watch Gracie, Jennifer Marden’s daughter perform.  Gracie is a very talented young woman and sings with both the Chamber Singers and Concert Choir at Centennial High School.  I hope Gracie comes to BC and sings with Jen Garret’s group and goes to Sydney Australia in Summer 2018.  Friends, please mark your calendars and head out to Sydney with us to watch your Bakersfield Choir perform.  I guarantee you that this will be your best vacation ever!

Patrick Burzlaff is the Director of Choral Activities and the students are just so incredibly talented. Music programs are constantly in danger of being cut from shrinking schools budgets, but they’re important for the success of our young people and have been proven to improve academics. The College Entrance Examination Board found that students involved in public school music programs scored 107 points higher on the SAT’s than students with no participation. Check out all the facts at


Fire Tech graduation

On December 16th BC’s Firefighter II candidates graduated. Trained through BC we are proud of you. Outgoing Mayor Harvey Hall got his own hard hat.  And Mary Jo Pasek, thank you for the photos.


Thank you Tim Capehart, Director of Fire Tech, for your vision and hard work.  I enjoyed the field trip with you earlier this year.

Jean Fuller’s Holiday Gathering


Cheryl Taylor, Dick Taylor, Jean Fuller

Have I told you that I love Senator Jean Fuller?  The Senator is a great partner, friend, and alumna of BC! She earned her AA degree at Bakersfield College in 1970. After more than 30 years as an educator and Superintendent of Bakersfield City School District, she was elected in 2006 and right away was widely recognized as a leader.

I took this photo of Jean Fuller with Dick Taylor and Cheryl Taylor. Dick is the Director of Kern County Veterans Service Department. Born and raised in Bakersfield with a history of service in the Marines and traveling the world, Dick is an ally for local veterans and is a great advocate for our student vets.

We are Bakersfield!



Member of the California Board of Governors and self-described Social Entrepreneur Arnaldo Avalos is leading an effort to bring musical, cultural, and educational awareness to the central valley through PuebloFest.  As Arnaldo shared with BC’s student organizations and their advisors, PuebloFest isn’t like any other music festival; it’s a music festival with a purpose: non-profit and educational organizations can actually use the event to earn money for their organizations!  When BC’s soccer coach, Vayron Martinez, heard about the opportunity, he showed up in force with three of his student athletes even after the close of the season.

Be sure to use code “BCSoccer” when you purchase your tickets for PuebloFest online for a discount and to support your local BC team.  Children 12 and under are free and those ages 13-17 earn discounted admission.

This isn’t the first time Vayron has stepped in to encourage his athletes to contribute to the greater good through community involvement.  Check out this post on the BC Soccer Team volunteering for Measure J!

Buy tickets using “BCSoccer” code online:

Like PuebloFest on Facebook:

doc_erwinMidweek morning meeting with a great educational leader!

This week, I also had a small window of time to catch up with Doc Ervin, Bakersfield City School District Superintendent.

Get to know more about Doc in an article at the Bakersfield Californian from earlier this year:


Accreditation on a rainy friday

Kate Pluta said it best, yesterday at a gathering at BC doing a “soft launch” to our accreditation self evaluation work in anticipation of our site visit in October 2018 — “It is friday, it is after the semester ended, and it is raining.  But here you all are to participate in accreditation work.”  I love my colleagues at BC!  Enjoy a few photos


I love BC! We Are BC!

sonya at polynesian cultural center april 2 2015


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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5 thoughts on “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

  1. Nick Strobel December 17, 2016 at 8:51 am Reply

    Is the video from the immigration panel available online? We need to post it to the BC Dreamers website or your DREAM Act project page on the BC website. It was an excellent panel that included information about limits placed on executive branch by the constitution and the difference between regulation and executive action.

  2. Francis Mayer December 17, 2016 at 9:22 am Reply

    Vayron Martinez would get my vote for “BC Athletics Rookie of the Year”. Coach Martinez has been a breath of fresh air…he’s very transparent, open to ideas, and is a natural teammate. He also has an amazing “Coach Voice”. I’ll try to find some video of him doing it. Boy does he quietly get his athletes’ attention!!

  3. Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg December 17, 2016 at 9:24 am Reply

    This morning BC hosted a faculty hiring workshop. I encouraged the attendees to follow the president’s blog to learn about BC, our students and programs. This is a great resource and captures the progressive and dynamic culture of BC with Sonya Christian’s leadership. Prospective BC faculty are entering an academic community that will call upon their leadership and expertise beyond their discipline to help all students stay on their educational path and complete. What a good time to be at BC!

    • Dr. Michael H Murphy December 20, 2016 at 6:42 am Reply

      Thank you for this posting. Your Presidents Blog is what led me to decide to apply for a position at BC. Her continued sharing of all the accomplishments of students, faculty, and staff paints a wonderful picture of a higher education environment that is focused on engaging students and the community. This is such a great way to showcase a shared sense of leadership and high standards. What a fantastic opportunity to get a better sense of BC. No wonder you are leader in Community Colleges! I am grateful this Blog is here. It provides a personal window into a growing educational endeavor. It is easy to see why BC has such colleageality and a dedicated workforce that makes people want to be a part of that vision.

  4. Marlene Heise December 18, 2016 at 12:23 pm Reply

    Lovely update to a wonderful time of the year! There is always so much taking place on our BC campus, it is a “wonder” how it all happens. Great people, great place … thanks to all. Thankful for all you do!

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