Happy Holidays from BC!

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, December 24, 2016….Christmas eve.

Playing Christmas songs while I blog.  Let me share with you one of my favorites.

And then I saw that The Bakersfield Californian published the joint Community Voices piece by President Horace Mitchell, Superintended Bryon Schaefer and myself.  So happy!  Here is the link http://tinyurl.com/z3b8krg.

Here is the opening paragraph of the article:

Kern County’s educational partners have never been more connected, more efficient, more effective, or more collaborative than now. Students have even greater access to college, and more students are college and career-ready as they leave the KHSD. College transfer rates from Bakersfield College to CSU Bakersfield have increased significantly, and collaboration with business and industry has strengthened and expanded to create a strong and educated workforce…….

and the closing

The partnership between the Kern High School District, BC and CSUB has built trust among all levels — administration, faculty and staff. We are one educational community dedicated to securing the academic, career, and life success of our students. Together, we can create a flourishing future for our community by engaging our young people through intentional student support and guided pathways.


Together we can create a better Bakersfield, a better Kern County. And through education, anything is possible. This is our commitment and our promise to you!

It is a good time to be in Bakersfield!

The week at BC was also festive – yet busy and exciting! It was a beautiful sight to walk into the doors of the admin building and see a large decorated Christmas tree in the lobby. What a great way to start each day.



Saturday, December 17th, was jam packed with activities….started in the morning with a faculty recruitment workshop for the community hosted by Dean Corny Rodriguez and Dena Rhoades, BC’s HR manager followed by a mini retreat with me, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg (VP of Instruction) and Zav Dadabhoy (VP of Student Services), after which I rushed to Cathy Abernathy’s Christmas party which is always fun and then ended with the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra performing with the Bakersfield College Chamber Singers.  What a day!

Faculty Recruitment Workshop

Thank you Dena and Corny for putting together the Recruitment Workshop for community members interested in becoming BC faculty!  Attendees learned the ins and outs of the hiring process and how to best get their  application seen! In fall of 2017, 55 new full-time faculty will join the BC community. The recruitment has been planned in phases to accommodate the high number. Positions for phase 1 and 2 are posted and some screening committees have already met. New and replacement positions range from the disciplines of agriculture and welding to biology to psychology. Openings are always posted on https://careers.kccd.edu/postings/search.

You don’t see Corny in any of the pictures since he took them and sent them to me.  Next time team, let’s make sure we get a picture of him.

I love the photo I snapped of Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg and Dena Rhoades relaxing and working in Nan’s office after the workshop. fr_nan-and-dena-rhoades-on-a-saturday-in-december

Joyful Celebrations with friends of BC!

On Saturday evening, I met so many wonderful people at Cathy Abernathy’s Christmas Party. Familiar faces such as Jay Rosenlieb, Karen Goh, JP Lake, among many others were fabulous to see but I’d like to especially point out two special individuals I chatted with that evening. robert-reader-and-sonya-christian-abernathy-christmas-party-dec-17-2016

The first is Robert Reader, faculty emeritus at Bakersfield College. I recalled a few days earlier at the Trustees meeting on December 15th when the board approved a list of faculty emeriti, Trustee and Congressman Bill Thomas spoke fondly about Robert who still held the record for triple-jump on the BC campus. I shared this story with Robert who then got all nostalgic and shared with me stories about Bill Thomas when they were faculty together at BC…how they rode go-karts with no motor. So fun!  Robert now stays busy with photography and his collection has some of the most vibrant and breathtaking photos I’ve seen. Check it out at robertreaderphotography.com.

billie-jo-medders-and-sonya-christian-abernathy-christmas-party-dec-16-2016Billie Jo Medders, was also a treat to see. She was in charge of Congressman Bill Thomas’ office in Bakersfield and helped me out when I was a rookie faculty in the early 1990’s.  Billie Jo told me that when she googled her name, my blog from April 19th of this year came up. Back then, I mentioned that I had never met her! Check it out at https://sonyachristianblog.com/2016/04/09/bc-and-the-community-relationship-runs-deep/


Home for the Holidays

 That evening I couldn’t miss the Home for the Holidays Christmas Concert with the Bakersfield College and the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra. Everyone’s favorite Christmas classics were performed, such as “Merry Christmas Merry Christmas” from the popular seasonal comedy Home Alone. I’m continually amazed by the level of talent our student performers display. I was so proud of our students and thank the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra for inviting our students to perform. Monty Byrom was his usual wonderful self with the swagger and great voice and all….  Ken Burdick and Monty performed “Drummer Boy” in a David Bowie-Bing Crosby style and it was fabulous.  You must listen to it.

Our very talented choral director at BC, Jennifer Garrett, conducted “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” that brought me to tears. And one more favorite of mine was the Nutcracker. What an incredible ending to a wonderful day.


Jen Garrett conducting the BC Chamber Singers at the BSO Home for the Holidays Dec 17th

 Education Roundtable at BC hosted by CSUB-BC-KHSD


On Wednesday, December 21st, BC hosted an Education Roundtable with CSUB and KHSD.  The morning consisted of two parts – the first being presentations from Kern Tax CEO Michael Turnipseed, CSUB President Horace Mitchell and Kern High School District Superintendent Bryon Schaefer, which shared educational partnership accomplishments and a continued commitment to move forward jointly to improve student success and persistence through the education pathway.


The second portion of the morning consisted of a roundtable discussion facilitated by Dr. Kristen Barnes of the Kern Community Foundation, our very own Dr. Janet Fulks, Vickie Spanos of KHSD, and Dr. Jacqueline Mimms from CSUB. These women focused on developing strategy for the collaborative direction ahead as a College Promise is made to students and members of the Kern community.


Janet Fulks (BC), Vickie Spanos (KHSD), Jacqueline Mimms (CSUB)

It was such a delight to have three of KCCD trustees attend this event.  Trustee and President of the KCCD Board Kay Meek, Trustee and Congressman Bill Thomas, Trustee Romeo Agbalog.  Also, really enjoyed having incoming Chancellor Tom Burke at the event and mayor elect Karen Goh.

Distinguished guests in attendance included Mayor-elect Karen Goh, CSUB President Horace Mitchell, KHSD Superintendent Bryon Schaefer, and Kern Tax CEO Michael Turnipseed. From Chevron: Adam Alvidrez.


From Bakersfield City School District: Rob Arias. From CAPP: Emerson Case. From CSUB: Jacqueline Mimms, Jennifer Sanchez, Evelyn Young Spath, and Kim Flachman. From KCCD: Bonita Steele, Leticia Garza, and John Means.

From KCSOS: Sarah Brooks, Lisa Gilbert. From KHSD: Vickie Spanos, Brenda Lewis, Jose Morales, Roger Sanchez, Ryan Geivet, Kenny Seals, Christy Fraley, and Ben Sherley. From Panama Buena Vista School District: JP Lake, Keith Wolaridge. From Kern Economic Development Corporation: Cheryl Scott, Richard Chapman. Assemblyman: Vince Fong. Representatives: Romeo Agbalog (Jean Fuller), Lauren Skidmore (Vince Fong), Michael Bowers (Andy Vidak). Kern County District Supervisor: Leticia Perez.



From Kern Community Foundation: Kristen Barnes, Alyse Braaten. From Kern Taxpayers Association: Michael Turnipseed. From Shafter Education Partnership: David Franz.

From Klein Denatale Goldner: Jay Roselieb From Bakersfield College: Cindy Collier, Emmanuel Mourtzanos, Janet Fulks, Jennifer Achan, Marlene Herse, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg,  Grace Commiso, Nick Strobel, Rich McCrow, Stephen Waller, Steven Holmes, Steven Watkin, Anna Levan, Danyel Owens, Jennifer Marden, Shanell Tyus, and Renegade Promise Program Student Magdalena Pantelon.


We collected great feedback during the roundtable discussion and will use the great synergy and sharing to fuel us as we continue work on submitting our California College Promise Innovation Grant.

The workgroup will reconvene at our next College Promise Education Roundtable breakfast on Wednesday, January 18th at 8:00 am in the Fireside Room at Bakersfield College.

President Mitchell, Superintended Schaefer will come back on March 8th at 10:00 a.m. for a College Promise Education Press Statement at 10:00am in the Levan Center at Bakersfield College.

Thank you Cara Jackson and Jennifer Marden for uploading the photos today.  I asked them to send me a photo.  Here it is.


Star Wars Rogue One

On Sunday I watched the latest Star Wars movie Rogue One.  Of course I loved the movie and did not like reading NYTimes film critic A.O. Scott’s scathing review of the movie.  My favorite chatterer was the droid K-2SO known as Kaytoo to his friends. He is part of the Rebel Alliance team tasked with stealing the plans to the original Death Star to stop it from becoming fully operational.

In January 2016 the theme of Opening Day was The Force Awakens.  Manny de Los Santos did a phenomenal piece of work with this video.  Enjoy this blast from the past.  Thank you Manny!

Preparing for Jan 2016 Opening Day

The Force is with BC!


Family Literacy Night 

Education in Kern County is on a roll. From elementary school to college and career training opportunities, the educational leaders of our communities care about students. I received an email from Bernadette Towns, BC Child Development Professor, who shared with me Family Literacy Night.

literacy She says,

Students were invited by Hort Elementary to participate in their Family Literacy Night. They went for two hours in groups and set up fun literacy activities. Some of the students modified games like Jenga writing a sentence on each piece then having students read the sentence when they pulled the piece out. Other groups of students invented new literacy games. One student even dressed up like a book character! The students provided enough activities to fill four classrooms for the families to experience.  There were approximately 450 participants including Parents and children that night. The event was a huge success! So much so that the next day the contact from Hort Elementary emailed me thanking me for bringing the students out, applauding how prepared our students were and  declaring the fabulous accolades our students received from both staff and families that attended that night. She even asked if next semester the Elementary Education students could come and do a Math/Science Night on March 14! I have been here at BC for 16 years and I can say that night was one of my most memorable. I was so proud of the activities our students came up with and how well they represented Bakersfield College.

 Congratulations Coach Dahl

In case you missed it, Bakersfield College women’s basketball took a win against Monterey Peninsula tournament which counted as Coach Paula Dahl’s 300th win.  This is a great picture of Coach Dahl on the www.gogades.com website


We have been so fortunate to have her with us for 23 seasons and hopefully many more. Check out the article at http://www.bakersfield.com/sports/bc-downs-monterey-peninsula-for-dahl-s-th-coaching-win/article_08f2a705-39a1-54fa-b55a-9fc8bd3296c6.html

 Executive Office Team

I am the luckiest and happiest college president in the whole world! Because of my community, my students, and my colleagues. Each year, a survey is sent out to evaluate and review each area of the college and as I read through the comments of the fantastic team working within the offices of the President and the three Vice Presidents, I knew I had to share a few of my favorites.


  • “One never leaves this area without the answer to their question (or where to find it.) They are able to navigate the greatest of challenges, which often puts one at ease!”
  • “The President’s Office is unique team and produces work that hasn’t been seen before. Seems to all have support for each other and cares about the college community and assisting in any way- so the needs are met in a timely manner.”
  • “Classified staff provide great service, very helpful, and their personality and people skills reflect very well on the college.”
  • “These Ladies are TOP Notch! Very friendly, engaging, professional, and knowledgeable.

Chris Glaser the young man in the picture above pulled together this video.  Check it out.

 Winterfest is now open!

If you don’t already have plans to go, make sure to check out the schedule and stop by Winterfest at Memorial Stadium! Enjoy public outdoor ice skating, zip line, bounce house, obstacle courses, snowman building, and more! There’s no better time to come back to Bakersfield College.

 Hours are:

Sat., Dec. 24: NOON-6 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 25: CLOSED
Mon., Dec. 26: 4-9 p.m.
Tue., Dec. 27: 4-9 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 28: 4-9 p.m.
Thu., Dec. 29: 4-9 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 30: NOON-9 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 31: NOON-9 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 1: NOON-9 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 2: 4-9 p.m.
Tue., Jan. 3: 4-9 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 4: 4-9 p.m.
Thu., Jan. 5: CLOSED
Fri., Jan. 6: Condors Public Open Practice, NOON-1 p.m.; Winterfest, NOON-4 p.m.

I received a text from Manny De Los Santos. It said “Winterfest with my girls!” So fun to see the good looking, talented Manny with Elsa and Anna. You don’t want to miss this fantastic once in a lifetime outdoor event!


All of us at BC kept stopping by the Memorial Stadium to watch the ice rink take shape.  This short video is from my iphone on Dec 21st when the ice rink had just been opened for the Condors to practice.

Merry Christmas all




That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — the luckiest and happiest college president ever blogging from Tom Bradley International at LAX heading to Toronto.

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One thought on “Happy Holidays from BC!

  1. […] Room for the first of three College Promise Education Roundtables. Check out my Dec 24, 2016 blog https://sonyachristianblog.com/2016/12/24/happy-holidays-from-bc/.  The third will most likely be on March 8, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. with a potential […]

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