Another Incredible Week at BC

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, September 30th.  A great day to be a Renegade.

I was exhausted last night after a hectic fast paced week at BC.  For example, just on one day we had the Vice President of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, Tom Epstein, visit in the Levan Center; Senator Jean Fuller talking to our students in the Fireside Room with several dignitaries attending including Trustee Romeo Agbalog; the California Academic Partnership Program (CAPP) community partners meeting in the SGA Board Room; and Trustee Bill Thomas moving Measure J implementation along with individuals from AEComm.  And as Jennifer Marden would say….That’s how we roll at BC!

Tom Epstein Visits Bakersfield College

Tom Epstein with Bakersfield College Student Government Leadership

Vice President Tom Epstein with BC Student Leaders

We were honored to have Board of Governors (BOG) Vice President Tom Epstein visit our campus on Monday to learn what makes the student success initiatives at BC some of the best in the California community college system.


Tom Burke, Tom Epstein, Sonya Christian, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Zav Dadabhoy

Epstein was a big hit among the faculty, staff and students with his down to earth, humble approach in interacting with campus.  He is incredibly sharp with a keen eye to picking out “policy fixes” and “systems fixes”.  And I so enjoyed seeing his interaction with Senator Jean Fuller and Trustee Bill Thomas.  As it turns out Jean Fuller was on the committee that appointed Tom Epstein to his seat on the BOG.  And Tom met Bill in Washington DC when Bill was the Chairman of the Ways and Means committee.  There was genuine warmth and collegiality in these interactions.

Jean Fuller Tom Epstein Sep 25 2017 Cropped

Senator Jean Fuller, Tom Epstein

Tom Epstein, Sonya Christian, Bill Thomas

Tom Epstein, Sonya Christian, Bill Thomas touring the campus


The morning began with our fabulous student leaders’ thoughtful presentation about their experience with BC’s implementation of guided pathways.


SGA President, Dezi Von Manos and SGA Officers, James Tompkins, Alex Apatiga, Jose Cortez, Rayven Acosta Webb, Lawrence Salcido, and Emmanuel Limaco introduced the four pillars of the Guided Pathways project.

In the photos below you have both Tom Burke and Tom Epstein joining the conversation.


i-thzd8zl-x4One of my favorite quotes came from Rayven, who said

The ASL program has taught me that I have not suffered from hearing loss but blessed with Deaf Gain…Deaf can do anything; I can do engineering.

So proud of you Rayven!

Two of our leading data experts on campus, Craig Hayward, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Janet Fulks, Biology Faculty and Data Coach Lead, shared with our guests BC’s focus on several key momentum points focused on student success and completion, including attempting 15 units in the first semester, completion of transfer-level English and math and at least nine units in the student’s core pathway within the first year of completion.

Research indicates that students who are enrolled full-time are more likely to complete their education.

Fulltime Student Enrollemnt Completion Graph image

Craig and Janet also shared some of BC’s initiatives that have helped increase transfer rates to Cal State Bakersfield and the CSU System in general.

BC Students Transfer to CSU Sytem Graph

Academic Senate President Steven Holmes also took some time before one of his classes to explain how we’ve added faculty to meet student demand, while Steve Watkin and Ashlea Ward outlined our assessment and orientation process.

Counseling Dean Grace Commiso and Academic Support Services Director Maria Wright shared pathways and completion coaching philosophies at the core of our student support initiatives. A team of coaches from our Arts, Humanities and Communication meta-major then went through a detailed, holistic look at how they reach out to each of the 1,972 students in their group.

Below is a graphic representing the cyclical nature of our student support services.

Cyclical Nature Cycle Graph of BC Students

After the presentation, Kimberly Bligh led Mr. Epstein, district trustee Bill Thomas and several of us through an abbreviated tour of campus, describing its history and evolution. As the lead for Summer Bridge, Dr. Bligh knows the campus like almost no one else, having led over 1,000 incoming students and over 90 faculty and staff around campus this past summer.

Steven Holmes, Sonya Christian, Tom Epstein, Kimberly Bligh, Bill Thomas

Steven Holmes, Sonya Christian, Tom Epstein, Kimberly Bligh, Bill Thomas

TomEpsteinVisit2It was an honor to have Mr. Epstein on our campus. He recently retired after 15 years as vice president of public affairs of Blue Shield of California, where he led government relations, corporate communications, philanthropy, and corporate social responsibility.  Prior to joining Blue Shield, Epstein was vice president of communications for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and served in the Clinton White House as a special assistant to the president for political affairs.

Thank you Lesley Bonds for taking the lead in planning the day. You are a rock star!


Lesley Bonds

Jean Fuller


Senator Jean Fuller with Bakersfield College Student Leaders Sep 25 2017.jpg

Senator Jean Fuller and Bakersfield College Student Leaders

To continue the action packed day, we had the pleasure of having a fellow Renegade on campus. Senator Jean Fuller attended the BCSGA Legislative Affairs Power Lunch. It was the first Power Lunch for the Fall Semester and kick off for the year! Senator Fuller enjoyed her time here as she reminisced about her path from Bakersfield College to becoming a State Senator.



Senator Fuller’s story was very empowering. She told of the path she chose taking her where she is today and then spent her remaining time answering questions prepared by the BCSGA Legislative Affairs Department as well as questions submitted by the students in attendance. She answered questions regarding our Bakersfield College community, our city, and important legislation, such as DACA.

Overall, it was a great experience and we enjoyed having her here. We look forward to the next BCSGA Power Lunch on October 23rd. The scheduled speaker is Assembly Member Vince Fong. Be sure to save the date!

Thank you to the fabulous Dr. Nicky Damania and Danyel Owens for putting in so much time and passion into our students.

California Academic Partnership Program

On Monday, members of the California Academic Partnership Program committee in Kern County met with representatives from the CSU and CCC Chancellor’s Office to review the collaborative work between the Kern High School District, Bakersfield College, CSU Bakersfield and Kern Foundation. The purpose of the meeting included an overview of outcomes from the current work and discussion about designing the new requests for statewide CAPP grants.


Brenda Lewis at CAPP Sep 25 2017

Highlights of the outcomes included:

  •        work on multiple measures
  •        dual enrollment
  •        accelerated, compressed and stretch remediation
  •        transfer collaboration
  •        increased baccalaureate attainment

The intertwined graduation promises of CSUB, BC and Taft and the overarching Kern Pledge are collaborations designed to increase Bachelor’s degree attainment in Kern County. Compared to the state average Kern County has less than half the number of Bachelor’s degrees which influences the areas economic potential, poverty rates and social mobility. The CAPP committee works on a variety of detailed projects, bringing together movers and shakers from each system to inform, align policy and advance outcomes of education.

I can’t share enough about this important afternoon without also mentioning the incredible lunch provided by BC Food Services and Chef Eric Sabella. The kebabs were amazing and I can’t wait to have them again!



Measure J planning underway

AEComm1On top of everything else that was happening on Monday, Trustee Thomas was on campus to lead members of AEComm, including Domingo Camarano, Diana Johnson, and Lauren Maciel through a spontaneous tour of the campus to discuss a few of the renovations we have lined up thanks to Measure J.

Along with Bill Potter, Trustee Thomas showed the group the future locations of the new Campus Center and Veterans Resource Center while outlining important changes we’ll be making to our Science and Engineering building and athletics facilities, including disability and parking modernizations to Memorial Stadium and the addition of a new field house for our women’s sports teams.


We must bring the BC campus into the 21st Century, and we’re grateful that YOU, Kern County, voted yes on Measure J. THANK YOU for supporting Bakersfield College!


Bakersfield College in the middle of preparing for our accreditation visit

We have an incredible team across campus working on our 7-year accreditation Institutional Self Evaluation Report (ISER).  The team leads for this work are Professor Jason Stratton, Dean Liz Rozell, Professor Jessica Wojtysiak, Dean Bill Moseley.

forum levan center 2

On Tuesday September 26th, BC held our first Accreditation Forum of the semester at the Levan Center. The forum focused on Standard I of the ACCJC Standards for Accreditation. These standards address the mission, academic quality and institutional effectiveness, and institutional integrity of the school. The event was co-hosted by the ISER leads and the AIQ committee.

forum levan center 1

The forum began with a welcome from Liz Rozell and Jason Stratton, ISER Co-lead. Manny Mourtzanos and David Koeth discussed Standard 1A. Kim Nickell and Janet Fulks addressed Standard IB, and they were followed by Nicky Damania and Jennifer Johnson on Standard IC. Each of the presenters worked to engage the audience, providing time to solicit feedback and address questions. Jessica Wojtysiak, AIQ faculty chair, and Jason Stratton, ISER co-lead, attended the broadcast of the forum at the Delano campus.  Thank you Bill Moseley and Matt Jones for taking care of the technology.

forum delano

The next accreditation forum will take place on October 12th. The forum will cover Standard II and be co-hosted by the curriculum committee.

Farewell to Tracy

Tracy Hall-Powell, Administrative Assistant to Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg celebrated her last day at Bakersfield College and is embarking on a new adventure in Washington State. We gathered on Thursday afternoon to wish her well and let her know how much we will miss her.

Thank you to everyone in the executive suite for planning the celebration and to BC Food Services, who  provided a lovely cheese and fruit platter. The room was filled with smiley face cookies, lovely floral arrangements, and best of all, friends and colleagues.


Tracy started working at BC in April 2014, just a few weeks prior to our Centennial Commencement Ceremony. From the start, Tracy has embraced the BC spirit and is leaving an indelible imprint on BC and those of us who had the pleasure of working with her.

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AHC Pathway Fair

On Tuesday, BC’s Arts, Humanities and Communication (AHC) team launched a Pathway Orientation Fair for students who are majoring in Art, American Sign Language, Communication, English, Journalism, Music, Philosophy, Spanish and Theatre. Approximately 400-500 students had the opportunity to talk with faculty from their discipline, as well as meet with staff from Financial Aid, Academic Support Services, Counseling and Student Life. My sincere thanks for the many faculty and staff who volunteered their time to participate in this wonderfully successful event.

Kern County Student Leadership Conference

On Friday morning, we hosted 800 middle school students from around Bakersfield and Kern County to inspire our young people to think about and consider college in their future! Thank you to everyone involved, including the Conference Committee, John Harte, Jovi Mongold, Fruitvale School District, Wall St. Alley T-Shirt, BC Drumline, BC Cheer, Centennial High School, BC Outreach, M&O, and the events office!

Renegades at the Kern County Fair

DSC_6844On Thursday, the Office of Student Life hosted Renegades at the Fair.

In its third year, this has now become a Renegade Tradition. Students who bought the BCSGA sticker received a free ticket to the fair and a parking pass and in partnership with the Kern County Fair, Student Life was able to sell discounted tickets to the BC and Bakersfield community.

Spending the day at the fair is a great way to see the energy and pride that BC has with its community. This time last year we were passing out information on Measure J. Have I said THANK YOU KERN COUNTY?


This year, we thanked the fair patrons for their continued service and passed out a “fair” amount of BC Swag. Looking forward to next year’s Renegade’s at the Fair!


The three legendary individuals at BC

I loved hanging out with Jerry Ludeke, Jack Hernandez and Bob Allison earlier this week.

Sonya Christian, Jack Hernandez, Nan Gomez Heitzeberg, Bob Allison, Jerry Ludeke Sep 28 2017

Sonya Christian, Jack Hernandez, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Bob Allison, Jerry Ludeke

Outreach to K-12

Dr. Debbie Rosenthal was briefing me on her continuing outreach work with Standard Middle School.  Debbie excitely shared with me that two of her BC students who are helping with the outreach told her that they wanted to become teachers.  Enjoy the photos



Pre-Med Club Bake Sales

I recently shared that the BC Pre-med club has started their meetings again this year. The club was re-instated in the fall of 2001 in an attempt to help students interested in all health professions achieve their goals through attending pre-med conferences, internship opportunities ,and volunteer work. They were out on campus raising money for educational field trips by hosting a bake sale. Make sure to swing by if you spot their table!

BC Pre-Med Club Student at Bake Sale

Saturday Kayak Outing with Friends of BC

A few years back, Tom Gelder and his wife offered kayak lessons as part of the auction items during Sterling Silver. I’m happy to share these pictures from last Saturday where Jeff Gutierrez and Jeff Green were out on the water. It looks like they had a blast!

Earthquake: Evidence of a Restless Planet

planetarium1Courtesy of a grant from Chevron, the William M Thomas Planetarium is hosting a geology-theme show for the fall schedule, “Earthquake: Evidence of a Restless Planet” coming up on Thursday, October 5, from 7:30 to 8:30 PM. Narrated by Benjamin Bratt, the show begins with an all digital, recreation of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake, followed by a scientific treatment of the event—including views of the underground fault plane and the propagation of seismic energy waves based on supercomputer simulations. The show ends with a look at the modern building strategies used by scientists and engineers for a safer and better prepared future. For details and ticket information, visit the Bakersfield College website.

Free Community Swimming Lessons

images pool

Bakersfield College Pool

This week, Matt Moon, BC’s head Men’s and Women’s Swimming Coach sent an email about the upcoming community swim lessons. In the email, Matt said:

Ten people drown each day in the United States, 70% of African American children, 60% of Latino children, and 40% of Caucasian children have low or no swimming ability, and participation in formal swim lessons can reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%. These are some of the statistics dealing with water safety in the United States and the Bakersfield College Swimming Team wants to help!

We will be hosting our annual Free Community Swimming Lessons on October 7th from 8:00am-2:00pm. The swim lessons will be running on a continuous 30 minute cycle so we are able to get as many kids in the water as possible. The focus of the lessons will be on water safety but if your child already knows how to swim they are more than welcome to get a lesson to improve their technique. Please help spread the word and take part in a great opportunity to make Bakersfield a water safe community.

During the swimming lessons the Bakersfield College Swimming team will be taking part in a 6 hour relay. The 6 hour relay will showcase each athlete swimming a portion of the time, so feel free to stick around after the lesson and watch your BC swimming team complete the relay. Donations are greatly appreciated!

For details, visit the event’s page on the BC website!

Kern Shakespeare Festival 2017

BC_33rd-Annual-Kern_Shakespeare_FestivalIt’s always a pleasure to invite our community to the BC campus for arts and performances. The Bakersfield College Performing Arts Department is proud to present two plays for the 33rd Annual Kern Shakespeare Festival: William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Top Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead.
Tickets are $12 for general admission and $8 for Students, Staff, Seniors, and Veterans. Advance tickets are available at, and tickets will also be available at the door. All shows begin at 7:30pm in the Edward Simonsen Outdoor Theatre, with doors opening at 7:00pm.

Stefani Dias at highlighted the Kern Shakespeare Festival in her article No holds Bard at Kern Shakespeare Festival where she states “Of course, Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” is a natural companion to its festival mate, “Hamlet”. Thank you to the staff for advertising this thrilling event. I can’t wait to see you there!

HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK – Directed by Brian J. Sivesind
September 29, October 3, 5, 7 at 7:30pm
“Conscience does make cowards of us all.”
Overcome with grief in the wake of his father’s death, Prince Hamlet’s mourning is interrupted by the unpalatable marriage of his widow-mother to his father’s brother. Hamlet’s woe turns to vengeful anger when his father’s ghost appears and reveals the uncle and newly-crowned King of Denmark to be the murderer. Prince Hamlet struggles to decide his next move: avenge his father’s foul murder or succumb to the anguish of his circumstances.

September 30, October 4, 6 at 7:30pm
“Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”
Acclaimed as a modern comic masterpiece, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is the fabulously inventive tale of Hamlet as told from the worm’s-eye view of the bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare’s play. In Tom Stoppard’s best-known work, this Shakespearean Laurel and Hardy finally get a chance to take the lead role, but do so in a world where echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, where reality and illusion intermix, and where fate leads our two heroes to a tragic but inevitable end.

The 33rd annual Kern Shakespeare Festival features the following performers:
Colter Allison, Martin Arroyo, Brittany Beaver, Allan Bexton, Anthony Brooks, Stephen Bush, Josh Carruthers, Kara Coughenour, Decymbr’ Frank, Cody Ganger, Kevin Ganger, Amy Hall, Josue Jimenez, Tevin Joslen, Bob Kempf, Crystal Lara, Ryan Lee, Nolan Long, Shelbe McClain, Randy Messick, Ethan Monge, Sammy Noriega, Daniel Ochoa, Brian Purcell, Cheyenne Reyes, Brian Sivesind, John Spitzer, Nancee Steiger, Jose Tenorio, Blanka Trujillo, Salvador Vidaurri, Carlos Vera, and Spirit Wright.

Here is an email from Dr. Manny Mourtzanos, Dean of the Arts who sent this picture from yesterday’s Opening Night with an email encouraging the community to attend. Let’s hear from Manny:

Hamlet Sep 29 2017.JPG

Looking for great live theatre? Look no further than BC! The Theatre Department launched the 33rd Annual Kern Shakespeare Festival on Friday evening with the opening of “Hamlet”, along with “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” on Saturday. This year’s cast and crew members are packed with student talent and supported by our faculty Brian Sivesind (Claudius, Director) , Bob Kempf (Gravedigger, Director), and Colton Allison (Ghost of Hamlet’s Father). We even had the privilege of welcoming back retired Professor of Theatre, Randy Messick, in his role as Polonius . I should also mention that the scenic & lighting design by Kevin Ganger and costume design by Leslie Aldridge are remarkable. Well done, Theatre Department and students. We are so proud you. My gratitude to the numerous faculty and staff who attended opening night. Thank you for supporting our students! These shows will continue to run until October 7. I hope you’re able to attend.

Tailgade: The 2017 BC Alumni Association BBQ

The BC Alumni Association will be hosting a barbecue from 3-6 p.m. before the Renegades football game against Moorpark College. You can purchase a New York steak lunch prepared by Fred’s BBQ Factory for:

  • Adults: $25
  • Students with any school ID: $15
  • Kids 10 and under hot dogs: $10

Local ska/cumbia rock band Mento Buru will be performing, and beer and wine will be available for purchase for anyone over 21.

Purchase Tickets Today!

Tailgader Homecoming Sep 30 2017

As Seen on Facebook


Sep 2017 CTE Auto

Yuki Takeuchi-Chan

Sep 30 2017 post by Yuki Takeuchi Chan

Mary Jo Pasek on the traveling Kaiser Pemanente troope

Mary Jo Pasek Facebook Sep 30 2017

Jennifer Garrett

Jennifer Garrett Sep 27 2017

Renegade Athletics

Renegade Football: On September 23rd BC played at LA Harbor College and we won 47-6.  (Yes!!)  My cousins, Jeff Declase and his wife Toni, who were visiting California from Melbourne Australia, came to the game.  My daughter joined us as well.  It was wonderful enjoying family and seeing the Renegades powering through the game.  It was a treat seeing Peter Reyes there.  For those of you who do not know Peter, he is the legendary flag carrier for the Renegades.  Over 30 years of running in with the BC flag leading the students onto the field.  Here are some photos.

Sonya Christian, Eisha Christian, Toni DeClase, Jeff DeClase Sep 23 2017

Sonya & Eisha Christian; Toni & Jeff Declase


Sonya Christian, Toni DeClase, Jeff Declase Sep 23 2017

Sonya Christian, Toni & Jeff Declase

Trevor Horn, Ken Calvin, Vance Palm, Francis Mayer Sep 23 2017

Trevor Horn, Ken Calvin, Vance Palm, Francis Mayer

Robinson names SCFA Defensive Player of the weekSophomore Bobby Robinson was named the Southern California Football Association, National Northern Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his outstanding performance in BC’s blowout win over LA Harbor in week four. He joins freshman Cam Roberson as BC’s two POTW honorees for week four.

Here’s what the SCFA release said about Robinson’s performance:

Bobby Robinson was a disruptive defensive presence from whistle to whistle in Bakersfield’s 47‐6 win at LA Harbor. Robinson marred the Seahawks’ lone TD by blocking the extra point in the first quarter, returning the momentum back to the Renegades who never relinquished it again. Robinson made sure of that by punctuating the win with a 100 yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Bobby Robinson provided the first and last word in big defensive plays in BC’s win.


Cross Country:

The BC women’s cross country team finished third at the Bakersfield Invitational on Friday.   Lourdes Cruz paced the Renegades, finishing in seventh place overall, with a time of 20:25.  BC had two other runners finish in the top twenty.  Tori Wiley, with a time of 22:45, finished in fourteenth place and Natalie Estrada finished seventeenth with a 23:06 time.

Womens Cross Country Sep 26 2017.jpg

The Bakersfield College men’s cross country team finished second in the Bakersfield Invitational on Friday.  The Renegades had three top-ten finishers, led by Marcos Mulato, who finished third overall, with a time of 21:38.00.  Harrison Wykoff, 21:50, finished sixth and Angelo Benitez, 21:54, finished seventh.

Mens Cross Country Sep 26 2017



Sonya Christian Sep 23 2017 at LA Harbor CollegeThat’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 “Another Incredible Week at BC

  1. Michael Carley September 30, 2017 at 6:14 pm Reply

    That chart on the importance of attending full-time is great, but it actually understates the issue. To graduate on time, students need to take 15 or more units if possible. According to the ESS data we compiled last year, BC students who take 15 units in their first term are almost twice as likely to get a degree, certificate, or transfer within three years than those who take 12-14.9 units, If their circumstances don’t permit 15, we need to be realistic and forthright with them about how that will Impact their time to completion and how to manage financial aid rules, which limit the number of semesters in which aid can be received.

  2. Andrea October 5, 2017 at 3:04 pm Reply

    Wow!! This blog was jam packed! There are so many things happening on this campus each week it is really inspiring and gratifying. Thank you Sonya for caring enough to take the time to construct a meaningful list of highlights on campus. I can always catch up on the events here and its fabulous!

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