A new year filled with new opportunities

Let’s welcome the newest addition to the Shannon Musser family


Shannon, we love you!

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, January 7, 2017.  A great day to be a Renegade

Having a great cup of coffee and blogging about yet another great week at the best college in the nation.  BC, established in 1913, where so many found themselves, where so many records were set, where the whispers of the past mingle with the hopes for the future.  I love BC!  Thank you for bringing me back as the 10th President of this eminent institution.

jeff-tkacWoke up this morning to both wonderful, and painfully poignant, pieces in The Bakersfield Californian.  Have I told you recently what a gem we have in this century-old locally owned newspaper?  We should help preserve this treasure in our community.

The passing of our City Councilman Jeff Tkac.  I remember feeling his positive energy at the swearing in of our new Mayor Karen Goh.


We also recently lost a young woman Jai Bornstein.


I appreciated how our Bakersfield community, KGET, TBC and others have sensitively and courageously attempted to discuss these tragedies without judgement.  I am proud to live in Bakersfield. #WeAreBakersfield


Now moving on….. The front page of the Sports section was about Winterfest at the Memorial Stadium.  Check out this piece by Mike Griffith:  http://tinyurl.com/hy5ojne

Hosting Winterfest at BC has been an incredible experience. I have seen students come back to the campus during Winter break for the festivities and I’ve seen the community flock to our beautiful campus on the hill for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of outdoor skating and hockey at Memorial Stadium!


Thanks to the Bakersfield Condors for this beautiful photo

I’ve had the joy of seeing Facebook posts like this one and it’s great to know how much everyone has enjoyed these events.


History was made once again at Memorial Stadium when we had The Great One, Wayne Gretzky and Lucky Luc Robitaille on Friday for the Celebrity Game and the excitement continues tonight for the grand event. Will I see you there?

Check out this intro of Wayne Gretzky.  Video from Lily Agbalog.

Yesterday evening, there was great energy in the Memorial Stadium…. music, food, lots of families out to enjoy ice hockey outdoors.  It was wonderful to have two of our trustees there.  Thank you Trustee and Congressman Bill Thomas and Trustee Romeo Agbalog for coming out with your families.  Don’t you think the Congressman looks like Dr. Zhivago? Well…..maybe the hat 🙂


Bill Thomas, Romeo Agbalog, Lily Agbalog, Sharon Thomas

Now I have the Dr. Zhivago movie on my mind….  Here is the beautiful and haunting music from the movie.  check it out

Do you know Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Well David Boreanaz was #24 on the Robitaille team yesterday.  Now you know why I ended up buying the $200 VIP ticket.

Here is the national anthem by Amy Adams captured by Channel 23

We had visitors from all over the state come to the Memorial Stadium last evening.  Here is a text from Paul Beckworth: ”

I am the hockey game at BC watching Wayne Gretzsky. Sitting next to me is a couple who drove all the way from San Diego for this game. Good job BC and BC Athletics!


Paul Beckworth with a couple who came from San Diego for the Celebrity Ice Hockey at Memorial Stadium

The community was out there in full force.  Here you see Cheryl Scott with family and friends and the  Kirschenman family with Wayde on the far right who played football for BC.  Thank you Mary Jo Pasek for all the pictures.  And thank you for making this happen at the Memorial Stadium along with Sandi Taylor.

And here is Wesley Barrientos with his daughter Bianna Leon-Martinez.  So wonderful!


Wesley Barreintos, Brianna Leon-Martinez


Sandi Taylor did a great interview with Channel 17 and I was so happy to get this message from Trustee Kay Meek: “Sandi Taylor just did an AWESOME job on 17 news really got the word out about BC!  So Great.”  Here is Sandi with Vickie with the Channel 17 person.

And then you have Linda Snoddy, a BC student who played the bagpipe to open the event, with Wayne Gretsky.  And the last picture of Gretzky is from Channel 23.  Life is good!




It was such a grand evening at the Memorial Stadium.


Congratulations to Mayor Karen Goh

karengoh01“It’s been 16 years since a new Bakersfield mayor has taken the gavel — but it happened Tuesday evening when newly elected Karen Goh was sworn in as the 26th mayor of the ninth largest city in California.”

A nice opening sentence in Steven Mayer’s article on Bakersfield.com. I hope you’ll check it out at http://www.bakersfield.com/news/karen-goh-installed-as-mayor-of-bakersfield/article_53a9f9d9-551b-5819-86ad-74005e3a2bb1.html.

Karen is a true supporter of Bakersfield College and we’re lucky to have her so involved in our community. Congratulations Karen! The BC community wishes you nothing but the greatest success as mayor of our city.

Keith Woolaridge: What my mentors did for me


keith-wolaridge-and-his-daughter-oct-22-2016Keith Woolaridge is another great friend and partner of Bakersfield College, but even more so, he is an advocate for our students and student success.  Keith is a mentor to many of our BC students in the ASTEP program organized by Dr. Paula Parks.

In a Community Voices piece earlier this week, Keith shared what his mentors did for him and how he “listened, assimilated, acclimated,” and how “for the most part it has worked out.”

I encourage you to read the whole piece at http://www.bakersfield.com/opinion/community-voices-what-my-mentors-did-for-me/article_67695f38-011b-5fad-9c6e-d053297f25fb.html

BC athletes are rock stars!

BC Basketball vs Barstow(M)-348-JPBI fully believe that involvement in athletics has the potential to be one of the best student success interventions around.  At BC, our entire athletics department works in unison to ensure that each of our Renegade athletes has a full schedule, adheres to his or her academic plan, regularly attends class, studies for exams, and still manages to show up for practice each day.  It was fantastic to see The Bakersfield Californian cover BC student, Jamar Hammonds who scored a 32 points in the Men’s Basketball game against San Diego Miramat.

Check it out at http://www.bakersfield.com/sports/hammonds-leads-bc-men-s-basketball-to-win/article_ecbd3e6c-c0ff-5977-9cba-7107c14afa87.html

So proud of our student athletes.  So proud of our coaches.

A new year brings new opportunities!

It’s no surprise that I’m proud of the talent among the BC student body and I have to share what our BC Chamber Singers have been up to. Recently, they were asked to do a performance for a man who owns a travel agency and was hosting a group for their last night in California. Choir Director, Jennifer Garrett told me,

He invited us to come sing. We performed tonight at his beautiful home in Northridge and he liked it so much and is so excited about our past concerts that he doubled his donation at the end of our performance. Plus fed everyone dinner before we left. It was an amazing and very prosperous night for us. We still have SO very far to go for Australia but we took a good step forward tonight. I’m still amazed that we had nearly everyone there tonight. It’s only January 2!

Other happenings

Our students get back to campus after Martin Luther King Day.  However, faculty have started returning to campus and are working on various campus projects like grants and preparing for the Winter Professional Development Institute.  I walked into my conference room this week during lunch and found the room packed with faculty and staff planning for the Winter Institute.  The energy was wonderful and I was drawn in to stay and spend time with them.  We have talent at BC!  I wish I had taken a photo….but alas I was slacking on my responsibilities.  Thank you everyone who came back to campus on January 5th to do this work.

And was the Rose Bowl something else!  The headline in the LA Times the next day : USC fights on and on –  and wins a thrilling Rose Bowl on a last-second field goal.

Check out the story by Bill Plaschke and particularly the 60-sec video embedded in the article.


Here are Plaschke’s opening sentences

They fought on, and on, and on, and on.

As a darkly clouded afternoon became a chilly night in Pasadena Monday, the USC football team fought Penn State  for a Rose Bowl  championship that seemed continually out of reach.

The Trojans fought through breathtaking Nittany Lions scores, limb-twisting Nittany Lions tackles, and a two-touchdown deficit with less than a dozen minutes remaining in the game.

They fought through deafening noise from thousands of white-clad Penn State fans, a brutal ankle injury to their most explosive player, and yellow penalty flags that constantly fluttered at their feet.

They fought with jabs from a kid quarterback, roundhouses from acrobatic receivers and knockdowns by giant linemen.

They fought and fought and then, in their final breaths they hit Penn State with a force that USC football lore will remember forever.

Here is a 2:33-video of that last epic field goal by Matt Boermeester, #39, who played football for Saddleback College.

And of course there is just no denying that Quarterback Sam Darnold is now a USC Rose Bowl legend.

Emails worth sharing

In an email detailing her struggles and accomplishments, Sheila Rae West, is a shining example of what “community” means on our campus.

She said,

Since I started back at school it has been challenging and I cannot explain how my mind works differently. I jumped into English 50/1a combination class. Professor Cynthia Hubble was my instructor. The first day of class I knew I was in right place with the right instructor. Her SI instructor told us about herself and I identified with her. Professor Hubble has been one those living angels who helped me and encouraged me.shiela

And she went on to say,

 Dr. Bligh just giving me a chance made a difference. The atmosphere of your class created a sense of being among a great teacher. After I found out you have a PhD I was so impressed. What a huge accomplishment. You are a great example of dedication and hard work for your education. I learned so much and the way you explained the math and the desire you had for us to learn the right way. Step by step on the white board and in your book. I utilized the math area we would attend and the students you chose were very helpful. Your heart of compassion and your service outside school shows the good in you. People like you are what I need to see because most of my life I saw cruelty, crime the dark side of life. I am enrolled in B65 for spring and my confidence is back. I appreciate you so much and Happy New Years.

Thank you Dr. Kimberly Bligh, thank you Cynthia Hubble and to all BC faculty. Your work is important and it changes lives. And thank you Sheila for sharing your story. Students, just like you are the inspiration for all that we do. We are so proud of you.  #WeAreBC




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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6 thoughts on “A new year filled with new opportunities

  1. Nora Dominguez January 7, 2017 at 9:08 am Reply

    Keep up your amazing and tireless work at the helm. BC will continue to be a bright beacon of academic light on the hill in 2017 and beyond.

    • SonyaChristian January 7, 2017 at 10:48 am Reply

      Thank you Nora for taking time to comment on the blog. You are a great supporter of education and a great supporter of BC. and thank you for all your help with Measure J!

  2. Janet Fulks January 7, 2017 at 9:26 am Reply


    Janet Dr. Janet Fulks Dean of Institutional Effectiveness Bakersfield College, 661 395-4381 ________________________________

    • SonyaChristian January 7, 2017 at 10:49 am Reply

      I agree. #WeAreBC!

  3. Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg January 7, 2017 at 9:28 am Reply

    I second Nora’s comment. BC is thriving. Our community friends are engaged in supporting events, our students and our programs. Community support for Measure J means that we will be able to maintain and improve jewels like Memorial Stadium for even more community events.

    • SonyaChristian January 7, 2017 at 10:49 am Reply

      I agree. #WeAreBC #WeAreBakersfield

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