Inspiration All Around Us!

Good morning Bakersfield, it is Saturday, March 4th and a fabulous day to be a Renegade.

Had a crazy long week and am so happy to be back in my own bed at home, sipping coffee, hearing the “hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo” of the barn owl in the back yard.

Sunday through Thursday I was chairing an accreditation team – actually, both the district team and the team for one of the colleges within the district.  Lesley Bonds was also on the team.

The Accreditation Process in the United States is truly remarkable.  It is a peer review process of assurance of institutional quality and integrity.  Larry Braskamp wrote about the peer evaluation process in his essay, on Being Responsive and Responsible in the CHEA publication.

“Faculty have had a remarkable history of being able to run their own affairs, i.e., the academic community itself has determined the standards held for the faculty and has judged the quality of their work. Accreditation is one manifestation of this position, since it serves as a mechanism for peers, mostly within the academy, to judge the worth, value and merit of academe. Despite this, the work of the faculty (academics) has never been totally isolated from the larger society. Being accountable-responsive and responsible-has always been embedded in the social contract between society and higher education.”

Site visits are an incredible experience.

Driving Back to BC!


After the site visit Lesley and I were driving back to Bakersfield when a truck in front of us dropped several large sheets of thick glass on the road.

The first picture is Lesley holding a piece of glass that was stuck in the groove between the windshield and the hood of the car.  The second picture is Lesley checking  out the tire pressure.  The third picture is with Florenzio who was definitely a talker and very charming.

Florenzio, our mechanic was from Beliz. When he learned we were heading back to Bakersfield, he was excited that we might know something about the dairy industry. He shared with us a cultural tradition: El pajarete. As I understand, el pajarete is an early morning drink made from fresh cow or goat milk, tequila, a bit of powdered chocolate, and sometimes instant coffee.

College Council and leadership Academy:

Friday morning I spent at College Council and was so happy to be back on campus and see the faces of the folks I work with.  We have several substantive items on the agenda and each with ha task group with substantive, collaborative, and rigorous presentations.  Have I told you recently that I am the luckiest and happiest college president ever?

One if the items presented and discussed was SB 769 which is the follow up to SB 850 the legislation that was passed in 2015 to allow 15 community colleges to offer a baccalaureate program.  SB 769 will expand SB 850 to include more colleges or have the same college offer more degrees.  Bakersfield College had several candidates on the list last time when we finally decided to pick Industrial Automation.

Right after College Council I hopped in the car and headed out to Delano where Rich McCrow was hosting the Leadership Academy of the Kern Community College District.  This year’s cohort of the Leadership Academy is just a very engaged and action oriented group.



When I walked in Chelsea Esquibias was presenting on the Inmate Education program.  Did you know that BC has the largest Inmate Education Program in the country?  I did not. Now with the passage of Proposition 57 it is even more critical that we develop the skills essential to find a job for those who are transitioning out of incarceration.  Prop 57 was on the November 8, 2016 ballot that supports increasing parole and good behavior opportunities for individuals convicted of nonviolent crimes.

Rich McCrow is the lead administrator for BC responsible for this program and he has done an outstanding job developing an effective program in collaboration with faculty and staff. 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 his January 22, 2017 blog signed as Professor H

The semester is off and running. I meet my last group of new students tomorrow and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t eager to get back to work. Two of the yards I am teaching in this semester are new and one I taught in last year at this time. Seems to me that I am going to encounter the usual suspects every semester. Regardless of whether or not they have taken a class from me in the past or not, the similarities between them are obvious. These bright, dedicated, and knowledge-seeking students want more than the government issue. Students are walking in with the nostalgia every professor hopes and dreams of with a new crop. Eyes wide open, pencils freshly sharpened, and whatever paper they could scrap together, the feeling in the area is something good is on the horizon. I feel so honored to be a part of this work and witness the changing of the tide. Here is to another great semester inside. I will keep you posted as we move along.

After Chelsea we heard from Trustee Romeo Agbalog and Trustee Bill Thomas.  It is a real treat having our trustees engage with activities on our campuses.

Romeo Agbalog and Bill Thomas March 4 2017.jpg

Trustee Romeo Agbalog, Trustee Bill Thomas

Both trustees had their beginnings at a community college. Trustee Agbalog at the Delano Campus of Bakersfield College and Trustee Thomas at Santa Ana College. Trustee Agbalog talked about the intentionality and leadership of individuals in Delano that resulted in an Elementary School, a high school, and a college all being located on the same street– Heitt Street.  Only place you can go from Kinder to college.  He inspired the group by telling them leadership was not about a position or title, but the engagement and the actions of the work.  Trustee Thomas shared the history of the Kern Community College District and engaged in Q&A about the financing.  The two trustees were well received by the Leadership Academy cohort.

After a great lunch, we heard from a panel that talked about our partnership with Delano and what is working and what not so well.  Some of them were operational issues and some policy.  Since there were many of us listening to the issues (John Means, Vice Chancellor of Ed Services, Trustee Bill Thomas, Trustee Romeo Agbalog, Director Rich McCrow and myself), I think we will get these issues resolved!


Paul Chavez, Martin Lonza, Marleni Florez, Vanessa Renteria, Elma Barraza

Here are the panelists:

Paul Chavez, Director CTE & Dual Enrollment, Delano Joint Union High School
Martin Lonza, Principal, Wasco Independence High Schools

Marleni Florez, Asst. Director, Wasco Adult Ed Programs

Vanessa Renteria, Assistant Principal, McFarland High School

Elma Barraza, Assistant Director, Operations, Fresno Pacific University(Bakersfield)

Rich McCrow and the Delano gang did an outstanding job hosting the Leadership Academy.  Victor Diaz brought me to tears with a fabulous introduction.  And I loved that Victor and Tarina distributed the link to my blog.  Thank you!  I got to meet Matt Wanta, Director of Nusring, from Cerro Coso and Elmer Aguilar, Program Manager of the SSSP/Equity.  Both incredibly motivated and committed to student success.  Also enjoyed getting to know Deanna Campbell, Director of the Mammoth and Bishop centers of Cerro Coso Community College.  Just an incredibly smart and engaged individual.  Deanna invited us to have a retreat up at Bishop or Mammoth and I’m taking her up on it – the Exec Team of BC will be doing out summer retreat up there.  Thank you Deanna.

Here is the list of participants in this year’s Leadership Academy:

Chris Dison, Christine Morales, Gustavo Enriquez, Raquel Lopez, Reese Weltman, Tarina Perry, Tracy Lovelace, Victor Diaz, Zenaida Tutop, Matthew Wanta, Rebecca Rock, Elmer Aguilar, Patricia Serrato, Cathi Jacob


BC Kicks off Women’s History Month:

Erin Miller and WHAM (Women’s History And More) got the show on the road with a great presentation on March 2nd at the Levan Center on slavery, race, sexuality and stories to go along with the topic of African American enslaved women crossing the Middle Passage. Jennifer L. Morgan, a professor of Social and Cultural Analysis from New York University visited with the intention of discussing what it meant to be one of the women on the ships.  Professor Morgan is the author of the book, Laboring Women: Gender and Reproduction in New World Slavery, published in 2004 and she wanted to pursue the topic of enslaved women because of family ties, African American history, and share these stories. She stated that her speech was intended to, ” show how they were treated, how from scraps of archives and evidence we learn that women suffered the horrors of the middle passage, and struggled with the knowledge of how to express it.” The Middle Passage refers to travel from Africa to the Americas in the 1600-1800’s and includes the Caribbean, and Latin America. Professor Morgan mentioned in her speech that enslaved women were mistreated by serving as “bedfellows for Englishman on board, thrown overboard to serve as examples for others on board, and even had to give birth while in the depths of the ship.”.  Here is a “copy and paste” from Olivia Garcia’s Facebook page:

In the words of BC history professor Oliver Rosales, “it was a great evening for history at BC.” Students, faculty and staff were treated to a thoughtful dialogue on “Women in the Middle Passage: Gender, Slavery, and the Problem of Writing History,” presented by Dr. Jennifer Morgan, a historian who teaches at New York University. The Levan Institute was jam-packed. Special thanks to WHAM organizers, history professors Erin Miller and Tina Mendoza, and Jack Hernandez of the Levan Institute. #bc #history


Thank you to Cara Jackson for the photos!  And Olivia Garcia, I got some of the photos from your Facebook post.

Fernanda Martinez our student reporter from the Renegade Rip did a great coverage on the lineup for WHAM.  Check it out

So proud of our Renegade Rip and our student journalists!

National Engineers Week

In celebration of National Engineers Week, the Bakersfield College Engineering and Industrial Technology Department partnered with the local chapter of the American Society of Petroleum Engineers to host an Engineering Day for approximately 500 high school students from across Kern County last weekend.

These students had the opportunity to get a glimpse into college life, find out about various STEM majors, learn about career possibilities for each major, and query BC faculty. This year, the BC Baccalaureate Industrial Automation students provided demonstrations of two interactive class projects. Additionally, community organizations such as Chevron, Summit ESP, AERA, California Resources Corporation, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society of Safety Engineers, Taft College, and the Society of Petroleum Engineers provided high school students with information about careers in engineering throughout Kern County.


Thank you to all the faculty and student presenters who supported the event, as well as the fabulous planning staff – Yadira Guerrero, Mary Jo Pasek, Steve Watkin, Ashlea Ward, Martin Perez (BC) AND Allison Escovedo (EB Resources) and Pam Willis (Aera Energy).

Financial Aid Awareness Week

Visitors, guests, and even some students walk through Bakersfield College campus each and every day and give little heed to the large building located in the center of campus that has the ability to change lives. Just past the large glass doors, is an area full with information. It can be overwhelming to say the least. However, it’s there that students are fortunate enough to take part in one of the many workshops that BC’s Financial Aid offers to all BC students.

This week, February 27th – March 3rd, 2017 is dedicated to Financial Aid awareness. And it’s during this week that the campus especially goes all out to help all of BC students get the most out of their budgets. For example, on Tuesday February 28th, a “Cash Course Management” workshop took place where the Financial Aid team shared tips about when to start the FAFSA process and even had a time set aside where they were able to walk the students through those steps and give them help on their paperwork. They discussed the various types of grants, scholarships, and loans that are available to the college student today and how each one of them has their own pro’s and con’s, or special requirements.

The underlying theme of the week was that each one of us has the power to have financial stability in life. It’s ok to ask questions, in fact it’s the best thing you can do. Students on campus every day are encouraged to ask, explore, debate, and question. It is not only important to have that sense of determination with your studies but to have them with your finances as well. If there is something that you are not familiar with, look it up, seek out the information you need.

Take advantage of their knowledge at the Financial Aid office and allow them to help you help yourself! The struggles are real with finances, the cost of classes, books, supplies, and even how much to spend on food – why not make a budget so that instead of worrying about money matters, you can focus on academic matters.



It’s a great time for BC Track! The first conference meet held was in Ventura on Feb. 24th, and had three double winners for the Renegades. Coach Kelley and her staff have done a great job preparing our track teams despite the cold rainy weather, weather that even forced the cancellation of a track meet in southern California.


In just the third meet of the year, two freshman and a sophomore led the Renegades to a second place finish for the men and a third place finish for the women.


Cesar Patino

Freshman Cesar Patino won the 1500 meters in 4:03.02 which is on pace with state championship times. He also won the 800 meters (1:59.35) and was second in the 3,000 meters (9:06.51).

Sophomore Jacob Bookout won the high jump at 6’5”, triple jump at 42’7” and was second in the long jump at 21’ 7”.

Freshman Jasmine Green won the 100 meters (12.79), 200 meters(26.72) and ran on the winning 4×100 relay team (50.57). Green also placed 2nd in the long jump 16’ 3”.

Check out more at

More on athletics

After playing what is likely the toughest pre-season schedule, Coach Painton‘s baseball team is 2-0 in conference play. They play  are at home tonight at 6:00pm against West Los Angeles College. Offensive leaders include Harry Tyler with a .310 batting average and Tyson Brewer with 5 extra base hits and 10 runs batted in.

Coach Hill‘s Softball team (8-6 overall, 4-1 WSC) put up 50 runs and 50 hits as they beat Santa Monica 25-5 and 25-1 in WSC action Tuesday at Santa Monica.

Alexis Solis led the Renegades with a total of 3 homeruns and 16 RBI for the day!

Jefferson Elementary Classes Visit BC!

img_0229Tuesday was an exciting afternoon for the 4th and 5th graders visiting campus from Jefferson Elementary. Two classes of 4th graders and one class of 5th graders traveled through the halls of the various campus buildings to catch a glimpse of what college really looks like. I’m told they were so enthusiastic and even waved at students in their classrooms saying, “Hello smart people!” In addition to the campus tour, the children were treated to a special showing by Nick Strobel at BC’s Planetarium.

Judy Dudley, a tutor at Jefferson Elementary sent over a packet of thank you cards, drawings, and notes for Dr. Strobel. They are just too cute – I have to share a few.

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Jennifer Garrett Visiting Liberty

I often say I’m the luckiest college president in the world. It’s true! It’s true for many reasons, but one is I get to work with the most incredible staff and faculty in the world. Jennifer Garrett, BC’s Choral Director often visits various High Schools to share all the upcoming and exciting things happening in our music programs. I know she is an inspiration to our future Renegades!

BC at Condors Game

Last Friday night, the Bakersfield Condors graciously invited the BC family to their home game at Rabobank against the Ontario Reign.  What an exciting game!  If you missed it, the Condors made an incredible comeback to win in the third period.  The energy at the games is always fun and contagious!  We are so grateful for a strong partnership with the Condors and love everything they do for our great town during games and in the community.  Thank you Matt Riley for being a friend of Bakersfield College.  And thank you Mary Jo Pasek for making this happen.

Flying Saucer cookies from BC!

On Facebook, there is a group called “Kern County of Old,” where in last July someone posted about these great cookies they used to have at Bakersfield College.  The story goes that Valentina Valena (1909-2002) came up with this recipe while working in the BC cafeteria.  Valena had worked at one of the first directors of the BC kitchen while the college was meeting at Kern County Union High School (now known as “Bakersfield High School”).  By the time Valena retired after 40 years with KHSD and BC, she had made a simple oatmeal cookie that people remember to this day.  What an amazing little bit of BC history!


Here is the post on Facebook, but make sure to see some of the comments where people have posted tips and updated versions of the recipe.


Thank you Fred Misono from the Bakersfield West Rotary Club for sending me the link to the Facebook post.

Check out my June 4, 2016 post where I met Fred Misono for the first time when we presented Measure J to the Rotary Club.  He made the visit so much fun.  Click on the link and enjoy Fred Misono!


Susan Wiggins

It’s wonderful to hear stories about BC and our alumni. It seems like every person is connected to our campus in one way or another. If you’re not an alumnus/a yourself, a family member, friend, or their family has a connection to the Renegades and it’s wonderful to see how alive “The Renegade pride” is in our community.

Have you seen Robert Price’s article about Susan Wiggins? What an amazing article about an even more amazing woman. We have incredible people in our community – people who are dedicated, fearless, kind, and able to accomplish anything. Check out the article about Susan here:

Both photos are file photos from The Bakersfield Californian website.

Susan, you’re an inspiration! And I just can’t wait to see what our current Renegade students will accomplish in their futures too.  And thank you Bob Price for this great article.

Summer Bridge 2017

I can’t wait for our third year of Summer Bridge to roll out.  This program has become a key student success strategy for Bakersfield College – to have an on-boarding process for our incoming students through a one-day orientation.  Summer Bridge in most colleges and universities is conducted by Student Affairs with some level of engagement from instructional faculty in various disciplines.  What makes BC’s summer bridge different from others is that faculty in various disciplines are core to the architecture of the program.

Kimberly Bligh has started the orientations with the faculty for Summer 2017 as they gear up to welcome our new students.  Here are some cool photos.


Got this message from Kimberly Bligh:

“Gathering faculty leads…  training , team building, organizing, getting them to own their role as mentors of mentors… love my job!”



william-velasquez-and-sonya-christian-march-4-2017As I was rushing from College Council to get in the car and drive to Delano, William Velasquez, one of our new IT people stopped me just to introduce himself and say how much he loved working at BC.  wow…. i loved it.  So, I had to do a selfie with him


Talented, smart, focused, dedicated, and fun faculty and staff at Bakersfield College.  Thank you for having me as your president!



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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3 thoughts on “Inspiration All Around Us!

  1. Nick Strobel March 4, 2017 at 12:40 pm Reply

    I enjoyed giving the Jefferson kids the show but what was even better was getting the packet of pictures a few days later. Also thanks for posting the story about Susan Wiggins. I had missed that one and it’s a great article.

  2. […] Check out my previous blog post about this event in Delano at […]

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