Renegades everywhere…. transforming lives

Good morning Bakersfield….It is Saturday, February 25, 2017….a good day to be a Renegade!

Before I get into my past week, let me pause for a moment to remember Chef Ray.

Chef Ray will be deeply missed 


Ray Ingram.

The entire Renegade community was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Raymond Ingram on Wednesday. Ray was a valued member of our Culinary Arts faculty and taught baking and pastry classes at Bakersfield College for over 10 years. He was and will continue to be a well-respected colleague. His classes were always full and he touched the lives of well over 1,100 students. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this time.

I love this piece in the Bakersfield Magazine in 2015 about Chef Ray.  Check it out

BC’s new Public Health Sciences Degree


Sarah Baron. Photo by Henry Barios, TBC

Did you read Harold Pierce’s article on Saturday, Feb 18th on our new Public Health Sciences degree?  If not, it is a must read



Talking about Harold Pierce, I must pause to say that we have great journalists in our community.  And it is a gift to society at large when the press is free and engaged!

Back to our Public Health Sciences degree…..Bakersfield College has been in a growth phase the last three years with student enrollments increasing significantly year after year.  This has resulted in opportunities for us to hire new faculty.  In addition to deepening the numbers in our regular programs, we also have expanded to offer new programs to meet the needs of our community and the region.

The Public Health Sciences is a fast growing area with various job opportunities.  It gives students a bigger variety of options than just direct patient care.  Kern County struggles with public health issues that impact us both individually and as a community as a whole.


We have two extraordinary individuals who are in charge of this program: Cindy Collier, Dean of Allied Health and Sarah Baron, Lead faculty. #WeAreBC


New Pilot Recycling Program to Reduce Campus Waste

This week, we started a new pilot program on Wednesday in the BC Cafeteria to cut waste and increase recycling. Bakersfield ARC (BARC), the City of Bakersfield-Public Works Department Solid Waste Division and the Sustainability Coalition Team representing the 2016-17 Leadership Academy partnered up to help build momentum around sustainability practices.

Representatives were on hand to provide information, and those who stopped by the booth to participate in a brief survey received a promotional gift!  At BC, we’re focused on sustainability and creating a better BC for our future generations. To learn more about BC’s core values, including sustainability, check out

The person who made all this happen is Tarina Perry.  Way to go!

Congratulations to Bryan Hirayama

bryan_hirayamaI saw a post on Facebook by Bryan Hirayama where he shared some great news.

Honored to be the 2017 Western States Communication Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award Recipient. Big thanks to my dear friend and forever colleague Bradley Adame Ph.D for his instrumental role in making this possible and Elissa Adame Ph.D for putting up with us. So glad we were able to celebrate this together.

Bryan is one of BC’s Communication Faculty and I have so much respect for the great work he does.  Bryan was the pioneer at BC to teach at Kern Valley Prison.  He started a reflections on prison education blog that you must check out

Here is a post from Bryan or as his signature line reads Professor H:

Often times when things are going well and nothing looks like it is going to disrupt the momentum, people have little to say. It sometimes easier to highlight the bad because of the potentially disasterous chain of events that unfolds because something went wrong. These first couple of weeks teaching behind the walls in the cold uninviting halls of the education wing on three different yards has been uneventful. Not because the students haven’t been great and the work isn’t awesome but because it seems like people half expect an exaggerated version of the television show “Locked Up”. No, the students aren’t violent towards me. No, they aren’t hitting me up to smuggle in a phone. Yes, they are smart. No, not just smart for someone in prison. Just smart. From what I am told, prison is an unpredictable environment. Without a moments-notice something can kick off. I have had only a small glimpse into this world. And although the days I spend in the classroom with students is as about routine as it gets for a professor, I do not question or turn my back to the idea things can change quickly. However, for now, I don’t know what to say other than the semester is off to a great start and sky is the limit for these students pursuing what many believe is part of the American Dream; A dream, from my perspective while working with these students, is alive and well.

Thank you Bryan and congratulations from all of us at Bakersfield College. We are so proud to have you at BC!

BC at the 7th Annual Military Order of the Purple Heart

Bakersfield College was honored as the Veteran Support Organization of the Year at the 7th Annual Military Order of the Purple Heart Dinner, held Saturday, February 19th, at the Doubletree Hotel in Bakersfield.  Dr. Zav Dadabhoy accepted the award on behalf of Bakersfield College.


Dr. Nicky Damania, Mrs. Jackson, and Sergeant David Jackson

The award was presented by Bakersfield College Student Life intern, and retired Army First Sergeant David Jackson, who is one of the leaders of the MOPH.  Every year the award goes to a county organization who has contributed to the advancement of veteran services and Bakersfield College was the recipient.  In his thank you speech, Zav spoke of the commitment and responsibility Bakersfield College has to its veterans.  He spoke of the dedication to our college’s veterans as best shown in our new Veteran Resource Center to be built, which is first on the list of buildings to go up as a result of our community’s support for Measure J!  Speaking of BC Veteran Services, Dr. Dadabhoy ended his short speech with a hearty and heartfelt, “You aint seen nothin’ yet!”

img_1951It was a great night to be surrounded by Purple Heart recipients, and Vietnam War veterans, who were spotlighted on this evening.  The keynote speaker of the evening was Vietnam War veteran, Lt. Col. (Retired) Dick Rutan, who is one of the originators/pilots of the Rutan Voyager, the first aircraft to fly around the world without stopping or refueling.  The flight took nine days, 3 minutes, and 44 seconds.  His Voyager now sits in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.  Lt. Col. Rutan spoke of his time over the skies of North Vietnam and of the commitment to the flag and to his fellow warriors.  His stories of commitment to his brothers-in-arms and his commitment to flight engaged the audience completely.  Such a glorious time.  

Here is a great picture of the BC gang with several dignitaries including Mayor Karen Goh.


Paul Beckworth wrote,

It is so humbling to have Bakersfield College honored as the veterans support organization of the year while being surrounded by such men as Lt. Col. Rutan, and the dozens of Purple Heart recipients in the room.  We will live up to the legacy of such men in our commitment to Kern County’s student-veterans.


Paul Beckworth and Armando Trujillo are the reason why we received this award.  And there is so much more work to do.  Earlier this week I received a great email from a faculty from another CA Community College inquiring about the Guided Pathways work.  and she signed off saying Si se puede.  What a great call to action statement.  So my dear community members, we can do much more for our veterans. Si se puede!

BC is truly fortunate to have individuals like Paul and Armando in charge of our student veterans.  It is because of things like the talent, dedication, and endless hours of work that they put in to support our students that I constantly say that I am the luckiest and happiest college president ever.

13th Annual KCBCC Gala and Board Installation Program

On Thursday evening at the Petroleum Club, BC was well represented at the Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce Annual Gala. The KCBCC is a fantastic organization, serving as an advocate for the creation, development, and general economic growth of low and moderate income communities and African American businesses in the Kern County Area.  Dr. Paula Parks, BC’s ASTEP coordinator, was installed on the 2017-18 CCBCC Board of Directors.  


Pictured here is Clinton A. Lewis Sr, his wife and BC’s Director of Outreach, Steve Watkin. Clinton was recognized during the event as the Distinguished Businessman of the Year – Congratulations Clinton and Wingstop Restaurant, inc.

Thank you to all who attended from Bakersfield College, including Zav Dadabhoy, June Charles, Mandelyn Hobbs, Julian West, Debra Strong, Odella  Johnson, Valarie Robinson, Tonysha Miles, and Jada Wells.  You see the whole group here in the picture along with Patrick Jackson from NAACP.



Congratulations to Tracy & Dave!

Join me in congratulating Tracy Hall,  on her beautiful wedding on the gorgeous bluffs overlooking Pismo Beach. It was meant to be when on a rainy and blustery day the clouds parted and the sun came out to shine for the wedding and the radiant couple. Tracy looked so beautiful as she and Dave said their vows. Congratulations and wishing you many years of happiness and love, Dave and Tracy!


Lincoln Day Event

Tuesday (2/21) evening I attended the Lincoln Day Republican event as a guest of Senator Jean Fuller.  The event started with a private reception that was jam packed, followed by a dinner at the Double Tree Inn.  I had a great time sitting next to Lily Agbalog who is great fun and the kindest soul I know.  Senator Jean Fuller’s speech was from the heart as she talked about how a little girl from Shafter was able to become a senator because of the support from the community.  Jean Fuller is the very best!

Trustee Romeo Agbalog and Trustee and retired Congressman Bill Thomas were there as well.  All of the speakers recognized the work of Bill Thomas and the legacy that he has left not only in Kern County but also in Washington DC.  There was definitely a celebration about the political leaders from our area.  One of the speakers Devin Nunes said: “Think about this, we had a chairman of Ways and Means from the Central Valley(Bill Thomas); the majority leader is from the Central Valley (Kevin McCarthy); the chairman of the intelligence committee is from the Central Valley (Devin Nunes).”


I understood that every year there is an essay writing contest and the winner gets to read their essay at this event and also gets an award of $2000.  This year’s winner was Sophia Caputo and here is her essay.


Sophia Caputo

“We have but a short life to live here my dear friend. But let us make it long by noble deeds.” (Goodwin, Team of Rivals, Chase 117)

November 8, 2016. Having spent what seemed like an eternity building up to the day, tension was running high, and most Americans eagerly sat in front of their television, waiting for a candidate to reach 270 electoral votes.

And then he did.

Social media exploded in protest and in celebration. It became apparent that the United States was far from “united” in the decision, with some joyously ecstatic, some terrified and endlessly caustic.

Over 150 years ago, our country was bitterly divided; so divided that we almost were no longer the United States of America. With numerous threats of secession, President Lincoln, ultimately, was faced with one job during his term: preserve the Union. In the midst of the fight against slavery, Lincoln saw each battle during the Civil War not as one to end human injustice, but as a fight to hold true to the great country that was (and still is) America. His love for America and the living spirit of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence kept him steadfast in his conviction that such a precious experiment was not to be wasted. He believed that the Constitution was a verb, that we must “constitute” self-government and the blessings of constitutional government, that to lose the Civil War was the end of the “American experiment”. And while he valued the Constitution, Lincoln ultimately viewed American exceptionalism through the prism of the Declaration of Independence.

According to the Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia, Lincoln “had a natural affinity not for the Constitution […] but for the Declaration of Independence”; he believed that Americans were held together by the Constitution, yes, but only because it offered technical prose to the lyrical truths of the Declaration of Independence.

Lincoln understood that the war was about more than slavery; he fought for the Jeffersonian creed, for the constituted nation in the spotlight of the world. All eyes were on us, because self-government was still a heady but fragile experiment. Lincoln fought for the North because it was the fight for our country. Above all else, he saw the necessity in enduring through the war to preserve the Union, to preserve the “American experiment”.

“Washington was a typical American. Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his county—bigger than all the Presidents together” (Tolstoy).  What made President Lincoln so “big”, what made him truly extraordinary, was his sole desire to preserve the Union, to fight for the Constitution and the Declaration–the country he so desperately believed in. Now, in 2017, we can take a page from Lincoln’s book and remember that, to succeed in the American experiment, we must hold fast to the Constitution, but ultimately, we must never lose faith in our Declaration of Independence, the “immortal emblem of humanity”.


Achieving the Dream

On Wednesday, I took the 6:00 a.m. flight to San Francisco to join the BC team that was already there to attend the annual Achieving the Dream convention.  It seemed as it the number of attendees was more than ever.  Bakersfield College was there in full force with speaking responsibilities for 5 sessions.  Our sister colleges from Kern CCD were also there. Val Garcia, the VP of Student Services at Porterville College participated in a panel titled How does the Integrated Services Model Influence College Persistence and Retention Rates? Presenters in that panel included: Adolfo Levia–MDC, Abby Parcell, Edie Blakley–Clark College, Val Garcia–Porterville College.

Early High School Engagement: A Plan That Produces Student Success.
Presenters: Steve Watkin–Director of Outreach, BC; Grace Commiso–Dean of Counseling and Advising, BC;  Lesley Bonds–Director of Student Success and Equity, BC.


Steve Watkin, Lesley Bonds, Grace Commiso

Session Description: This workshop provides a model for community colleges who want to establish a systematic college-wide engagement and communication model that works directly with high schools. Bakersfield College has scaled up outreach, communication and matriculation to all 49 feeder high schools in its service area providing personal contact with students, better placement for success through multiple measures and effective partnerships with high school colleagues. This systematic model constructs a platform for high school students to complete the four California Community Colleges matriculation requirements: Orientation, Assessment, Counseling/Advising and development of an Educational Plan focused on completion of essential milestones (English and Math). This data-driven model is designed to strengthen collaboration with high school partners with the ultimate goal of effectively engaging potential students, properly placing them for success, improving retention and student success.

Transforming the Remediation Pathway for Success; A Holistic View of the Student Pathway. Presented by: Kimberly Bligh, Faculty Department Chair, Academic Development, BC;  Jessica Wojtysiak, faculty, Academic Development, BC; and Keri Kennedy, Counseling faculty, BC.  I did not have a picture but found this tweet from Lesley Bonds.


Keri Kennedy, Kimberly Bligh, Jessica Wojtysiak, Erica Menchaca



Session Description:  BC has overhauled its placement practice using extensive multiple measure practices; has redesigned traditional courses to offer numerous acceleration and compressed options in math, English, and reading; has offered an intensive summer academy for first-time students; and has provided intrusive academic and counseling support to the most at-risk students. During this session, participants will hear how intake, on-ramping, acceleration, and intrusive support practices have improved student outcomes at BC and will evaluate whether any of these approaches is right for their institutions. Small teams are encouraged to attend given that these interventions and practices can be adapted to fit most colleges.

I did three presentations.  The first was a session with the Achieving the Dream (ATD) leadership coaches and data coaches discussing the evolution of student success work and the role ATD played in this evolution.  The CEO, Karen Stout) of ATD is just fabulous… it is so fun to work with her.

Plenary Group Dream 2017 Feb 23 2017.jpg

Sonya Christian, Karen Stout, Sunny Cooke, Stephen Covey, Eileen Baccus, Rusell Lowery-Hart


The second session was a lunchtime plenary responding to the recent book by Stephen Covey, Speed of Trust.


Sunny Cooke, Sonya Christian, Stephen Covey

Here is an excerpt of few of my comments:

Trust provides the safety net to make bold moves:  Trust means flying high on the trapeze and performing complicated moves because you know the wires and net are strong. Trust is climbing Mount Everest in a blizzard because you know that there is an expert team of climbers with you.

In other words, an environment of trust provides us the confidence to attempt the impossible.  And if even the results is only a fraction of what was envisioned it is still far greater than what could have been achieved with less boldness.

Working in community feeds the trust account: There is an intensity of work and a chemistry that sets in, due to the connectedness of people which is satisfying to the human soul and the human spirit.  This connectedness results in the group developing a shared approach with the agility and speed that trust bring.  Many of us have experiences the process paralysis at our work in the college which is strengthened when there is a lack of trust.  But the process of collaboration and working in community along with the speed and agility of trust is the “magic potion” that is hugely satisfying on the emotional level and still results oriented on a pragmatic level.

It brings out the best in us: In an environment of connectedness and an environment of trust, each individual goes the extra mile to help with the accomplishment of this large impossible goal.  Setting the goal high in itself is inspiring, and the environment gives individuals the resolve and the endurance to make it happen.  And when the goal is accomplished the results contribute hugely to the trust bank account.

Here is Lesley Bond’s tweet

Lesley's tweet Speef of Trust Feb 23 2017.png

The third session was a spotlight on the CA Guided pathways project.  I was so happy to see the entire KCCD gang attend to support me: the BC group, Heather Ostach and Cory Marvin from Cerro Coso and Val Garcia and the team from Porterville College.  #WeAreKCCD!

Here is a great picture of the two researchers at work at ATD.  Two of my favorite people having a great time — Craig Hayward and Davis Jenkins.


Here is the video of the student who won the award for his poem “I am From”.  Friends, let me introduce you to Enrique Sepulveda.

The fabulous BC team that attended Dream 2017

BC Group Dream 2017 Feb 23 2017.jpg

Kimberly Bligh, Jessica Wojtysiak, Paula Parks, Erica Menchaca, Keri Kennedy, Jennifer Achan, Pedro Ramirez, Lesley Bonds, Grace Commiso

Life is good my friends.  It is a great time to be in California’s community colleges.  And a fabulous time to be at BC.  



That’s all for now.  

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya —
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

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2 thoughts on “Renegades everywhere…. transforming lives

  1. DAVID L GALLAGHER February 26, 2017 at 1:03 pm Reply

    great blog, thanks, Dave. #30 grandpa.

    • SonyaChristian February 26, 2017 at 9:41 pm Reply

      So happy to see your comment Dave. and I so enjoyed seeing you at Kennedy’s games. I do invite you and your family to continue to attend the games and also check out other events at BC like our music program.

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