BC is in the SouthWest!

Good morning from Portland, OR ….yes, two months in a row.

Portland morning walk Feb 3 2018.jpg

Walking in downtown Portland, to get a bagel and coffee, with dawn breaking the air cool, crisp, and clean.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take,
but by the moments that take your breath away.

Another hectic week at the best community college in the nation.  Let me start with the activity at our more recent outreach location, the BC campus int he southwest part of Bakersfield.  BC has always offered general education courses in the southwest. However there is still significant unmet need.  So due to persistent requests from the community, we have increased the number of courses we are offering in this location…the corner of Stockdale Highway and Buena Vista.


27459827_10155314015884352_5115116001192028854_nYesterday, the BC team held an Express Enrollment event for students and residents in the southwest. Did you know Bakersfield College has morning, afternoon, evening, and weekend classes in 93311? Located across from Target on Stockdale Hwy in the Fresno Pacific building, BC has classrooms on the second floor which are able to hold up to 60 and 35 students.

Dezi Von Manos, BCSGA President said, “This is an awesome opportunity for my peers who still need to enroll in courses for this spring, especially if they are living or working in the south and northwest area, or if they need that one night or weekend course to catch up.”

It was exciting to see the photo of the BC balloon flying in the sky. Here is the view from the Target parking lot.




Manny Mourtzanos

Back inside the building, students were assisted by staff and faculty from Outreach, Counseling, and Financial Aid to get enrolled into the classes they need. It was great to see Manny Mourtzanos on air sharing all the fantastic news surrounding BC SouthWest.

bc sw reg

Thank you to the teams from outreach, financial aid, counseling, IT, and marketing who made this event a success. Still need classes or want to learn more?
Visit https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/southwest

BC Performing Arts

I am so proud that January has been the month of awards for BC’s Performing Arts. Both a Commercial Music student and two of our Music faculty received awards last month.

Sandy Feldstein and Eddie Garcia

Sandy Feldstein and Eddie Garcia

Commercial Music student Heriberto (Eddie) Garcia was awarded the President’s Innovation Award from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM). The award covered travel and attendance costs for Eddie to attend the NAMM annual convention in Anaheim, January 25-28. Having recently received his Certificate in Commercial Music from BC, Eddie was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet fellow students and potential employers in the music products industry. To the side is a photo of Eddie with Sandy Feldstein, legendary music publisher and music technologist.

Eddie was one of four students from California to receive the award. He was chosen from a pool of over 100 applicants, and was joined by students from national institutions such as Manhattan School of Music, University of Texas, and Berklee College of Music. Read about the event on the NAMM Foundation site.

Ottum Student Award 2




On the heels of Eddie’s award, Dr. Josh Ottum and Dr. Jennifer Garrett received awards at the Kern County Music Educators Association’s annual “Grand Night for Music” on January 30, 2018, at the Rabobank Theater. Jennifer was awarded the honor as Choral Educator of the Year and Josh was awarded the honor as 2018 College/University Educator of the Year. Josh says he is “thrilled to have received this award and I take great pride in the development of the Commercial Music program at BC.”

The Kern County Music Educators Association (KCMEA) is an organization of music advocates and music educators from the local area that provide services to music educators and music students in Kern County. KCMEA offers workshops and professional development clinics to its members and holds various musical events. It is a true honor bestowed on our faculty from such an influential musical organization.

Congratulations to our talented faculty and student for their awards. This is recognition of the high caliber faculty and the rigorous supportive learning environment that we provide at BC.




My phone was burning up with text messages from friends with photos of John and Jen. Thank you Lauro and Arlene Braganza for supporting our music programs at Bakersfield College.

Do you have your tickets?

Chamber Singers-Poster-3_preview

BC’s Chamber Singers are headed to perform in the Sydney Opera House with your support. Our choral music programs continue to amaze audiences right here at home and around the globe. From touring Europe in 1965 to Carnegie Hall in New York and again to Rome in 2015, we never quite know where our BC Chamber Singers are headed next – except for now!  They’re headed to Sydney but still need your support to make it happen.

When the lights dim and the curtains open on this concert on March 10th, we are in for an experience of true local talent. Performances by Monty Byrom and Lydia Ranger are not to be missed. Email me today to purchase your $100 ticket or two. Even if you are out of town, make that donation to help our students with the Sydney trip and an experience of a lifetime 🙂

Thank you to everyone who attended the Ron Saylor event.  Thank you Tom Moran for sending me these great photos.

Here is the Facebook post from Jen Garrett

Thank you to magician Ron Saylor and his assistant Katie and all who came out tonight to support our “A Night of Magic” fundraiser. Everyone that came tonight had a great time and we appreciate all of the support to help us raise the last of our money for our Australia Tour to sing in the Sydney Opera House. We couldn’t do it without you. Our Broadway Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser is one month from tomorrow on March 3. You do NOT want to miss this! Tickets went on sale and are already going fast. Get your tickets by Valentine’s Day for a discount price of $15 and $20 after the 14th. No rest for the weary!

Ron Saylor 3 Group Picture by Tom Moran


Tom Moran and family with Ron Saylor

Leadership Academy

On January 28-29, members of the KCCD Leadership Academy, including four members from Bakersfield College, joined Chancellor Tom Burke, Vice Chancellor of Educational Services John Means, Vice Chancellor of Human Resources Tonya Davis, Cerro Coso President Jill Board, and BCSGA Senator James Tompkins in Sacramento for the Annual Legislative Conference sponsored by the Community College League of California.

Leadership Academy

BC contingent of the Leadership Academy. Pictured left to right: Mindy Wilmot, Michael McClenic, Heather Barajas, and Keith Ford.

The team attended breakout and general sessions that discussed the latest trends in higher education and how the current legislative proposals could affect our colleges. Presenters included chancellors, presidents, trustees, and other advocates for the community college system (including BC’s own Craig Hayward), while the Closing Keynote was delivered by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.


Back row (l-r): James Tompkins (BCSGA); Steven Alexander (DO); Chancellor Tom Burke; Keith Ford (BC); Stephanie Olmedo-Hinde (PC); Michael McClenic (BC); Mike Barrett (CC)
Front row (l-r): President Jill Board (CC); Heather Barajas (BC); Cammie Ehret-Stevens (DO); Nikki Gardepe (CC); Mindy Wilmot (BC); Vice Chancellor, Human Resources Tonya Davis

The KCCD contingent was split into various teams on January 29 to conduct brief meetings advocating for our district with Assemblymen and Senators, or with members of their staffs, who represent the constituents in the district’s vast service area: Assemblymen Jay Obernolte – District 33, Frank Bigelow – District 5, Vince Fong – District 34, Devon Mathis – District 26, Tom Lackey – District 36, Rudy Salas – District 32, and Senators Andy Vidak – District 14, Tom Berryhill – District 8, Jean Fuller – District 16. Topics discussed included the proposed state budget, the Community College Promise, DACA Work Study, and the Baccalaureate Pilot Program. See more photos at BC’s Smugmug page.

On Friday, Debbie Martin, CFO of KCCD invited me to present to the Leadership Academy on a President’s approach to budgeting.  This group of KCCD employees were engaged and had a lot of fun.  Here is a group picture of the cohort with Debbie Martin.

KCCD Leadership Academy Feb 2 2018 when I presented on budgets.jpg

State of the County

On Wednesday, January, 31, 2018 the County of Kern and the Kern Economic Development Corporation partnered to present the 20th Annual State of the County Dinner & Address at the DoubleTree Hotel to a sold-out crowd. County Supervisor, Mike Maggard, gave the keynote address and touched upon the various industries that make up Kern County’s economy and focused on the positive efforts being made county wide. Maggard noted that Bakersfield College is a driving force in helping students afford and realize their dreams of higher education.

State of the County 2018

Mike Maggard, Incoming Chair of the Kern County Board of Supervisors

James Burger of The Bakersfield Californian said BC was highlighted for its “record for helping offer a middle class life to disadvantaged students.” See the article here.




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One highlight of the evening was the showing of a video covering the Inaugural Kern County STEMposium. The day-long STEMposium was the product of the Kern Economic Development Foundation and was held at Bakersfield College in May and was an opportunity for students to showcase their STEM related projects and connect them with local business representatives. Check out the video.

To get the scoop on this years upcoming STEMposium in April, visit http://kedf.org/stemposium/

Cheer Team Honk for HeartsRenegade Cheer Team

I loved seeing the BC Cheer Team on KGET promoting people to “Wear Red Tomorrow.” National Wear Red Day is a day in February when we wear red to show support for the awareness of heart disease.  Thank you to Heather Foss and the BC Cheerleaders for sharing their BC spirit and love for Renegade Red with the community.




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Black History Month Kick-Off

Black History month is here! To kick off the events and activities the Community Empowerment Organization Choir came to Bakersfield College to perform. The group performed a mixture of jazz and blues with incorporated gospel music. The band consisted of two singers, Marshelle Taylor and Savannah Andrews, pianist James Tyson, saxophonist Eugene Lothridge, and drummer Lamar Brooks.




The music from the band captivated BC students, staff, and faculty. The college Campus Center was filled with individuals enjoying the free music and learning about the upcoming events planned for Black History Month. It was also a great surprise to see the fabulous Steve Watkin on the news. Check it out here. And see the article at The Bakersfield Californian.

Steve Watkin

To see all the photos from the afternoon, visit BC’s Smugmug.


Thank you to Manny DeLosSantos here in action.

Congratulations to the Amazing Cindy Collier

We gathered on Thursday to see the incredible Cindy Collier off with best wishes as she moves to the District Office as Vice Chancellor for Workforce and Economic Development. This is an exciting time for Cindy and for Kern Community College District.






When planning the event, the fantastic Stephanie Baltazar reached out to our own Chef Suzanne and Chef Alex who didn’t hesitate to jump on board. They coordinated the food, and students prepared the appetizers and desserts which were so fresh and beautiful. What an incredible contribution by the Culinary Program at BC.




Anita Karr, Executive Secretary, brought a personal touch to the display table with a custom cake to highlight the legacy Cindy leaves behind. Of course, we cannot forget Manny and the wonderful  video he put together, after being tasked with capturing the live shots.

And a final thanks to Jennifer Johnson, the staff and student employees of the CTE department, Tony Cordova and Liz Rozell for contributing to make the event a memorable one.

Panorama Invitational 2018

Nan and I walked over to the Wylie and Louise May Jones Gallery after the Foundation Board of Directors meeting on Thursday.  As we walked into the galley we were greeted in a warm professional manner by a student Crystal who was graceful and attentive to every detail in the gallery.  It was wonderful seeing the proud faculty who put in hours to get a show ready for the public.  Here you see photos I snapped of Nan with Jeff Huston, Ronnie Wrest, and Jamee Eaton.

The Panorama Invitational has been an annual event for over 15 years, here at Bakersfield College. It showcases the artwork of Kern County high school students. The art show has a variety of art from students in grades 9-12 showcasing a wonderful range of 2-dimensional, 3-dimensional and multimedia pieces.




Before the show, BC Faculty Jeff Huston and Ronnie West were super excited to be a part of this annual event and shared how proud they are of these students who were selected to be in the show. They both mentioned that they remembered their own first shows, when their art was selected to be displayed at an event, and how excited they were. They were delighted to pay it forward and possibly give these students a pathway to a career in Art.

Luis_Ramirez with Daughter Artist Vanessa

Luis Ramirez and his daughter, Vanessa Ramirez

On Thursday February 1st 2018, we had an amazing turn out with family and friends, admiring the exhibition with marvelous works of art from our local community high school students. We also had the pleasure of meeting the proud father of a local art student from Centennial High School, Vanessa Ramirez. She painted a portrait of her father, Luis Ramirez,Vietnam veteran from the 1969 infantry division — he was so proud of his daughter. Also present was Arlene Leyva from South High School whose art was shown at the exhibition. I was so thrilled to see all these talented students from our great community and sharing their work with us.

BC Student Brayden Mcdonel

BC Student Brayden M.

I would like to say thank you to all the students for their works of art that they shared with us, with a special thank you to our BC Faculty Jeff Huston and Ronnie West for putting on such a wonderful exhibition. The Annual Panorama Invitational at Bakersfield College is a treat for the community and inspires these young artists.

Fun Images

Nick Strobel tracking “totality” on the Parnorama bluffs.  His post on Facebook

Total lunar eclipse this morning. Pics start at 4:11 am before totality and end at 6:17 am after totality. The previous “super blue blood moon” triple header like this happened in 1866.



I loved this photo that Manny de Los Santos snapped of the current Vice President Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg and the incoming Vice President Liz Rozell.

Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Liz Rozell Feb 1 2018.jpg

And I was happy to see Monica Hyuck on campus as Nan and I were walking to our cars from the Art Show.  So I snapped this picture of Nan with Monica and Bradley Cramer.

Nan Gomez Heitzeberg, Monica Hyuck and Bradley Cramer.jpg



Earlier this week I had breakfast with my daughter and she made me a bitmoji.  I tried to find one with bangs and a braid, but could not.  So for you youngsters, Nicky Damania and Lesley Bonds, here I come…

Sonya Christian Bitmoji Stoked





Sonya Christian Bitmoji Oh Happy Day


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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8 thoughts on “BC is in the SouthWest!

  1. Michael O’Doherty February 4, 2018 at 7:54 am Reply

    Just landed in San Francisco. Heading home after meeting our newest grandchild Emma.
    New babies are such a miricle.

    • SonyaChristian February 10, 2018 at 8:01 am Reply

      Congratulations to the proud grandpa!

  2. Andrea Thorson February 4, 2018 at 9:35 am Reply

    Great post! Thanks for the catch-up!
    Nan and Cindy will be deeply missed.

    • SonyaChristian February 10, 2018 at 8:01 am Reply

      Thank for taking time to comment Andrea. Two legends of Bakersfield College — Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg and Cindy Collier

  3. Nick Strobel February 4, 2018 at 11:41 pm Reply

    So you talk about our Southwest campus right below the Portland pics, so we’re wondering if Portland is going to be the Northwest campus—truly distance education. 🙂

    • SonyaChristian February 10, 2018 at 8:00 am Reply

      Ha ha….. Let’s do it Strobel. For an astronomer, that is no great distance!

  4. Anne McGrail February 5, 2018 at 5:10 pm Reply

    Wish we could have seen you when you were up in PDX! Only 100 miles south and we could have had coffee…. 🙂

    • SonyaChristian February 10, 2018 at 7:59 am Reply

      I was there for a day and a half that was fully scheduled. Would love to see you. Perhaps this summer….

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