BC’s 105th Commencement

Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, May 18, 2019… A great day to be a Renegade.

A Record Breaking Celebration

Congratulations to the Bakersfield College Class of 2019! On May 10th, we had a record breaking historical evening. Our college has grown so much over the century. In 1913 we began with thirteen students and this year we have almost thirty-three thousand students.

This year we celebrated the highest number of eligible graduates to obtain a degree in our college’s history, with more than 2,746 students eligible.

President Sonya Christian with a 2019 BC graduate for the honorary handshake and photo.

We gathered to honor the second graduating class of BC’s Industrial Automation Baccalaureate degree, over 90 high school students from the Wonderful Agriculture Career Prep Early College partnership, the first graduate of Delano’s HVAC program, and most importantly, the diligence and commitment of every graduating Renegade.

Here is a little more about the class of 2019:

  • 2,161 graduates are transferring to a four-year college or university to continue their education
  • 614 earned an Associate of Arts degree
  • 697 earned an Associate of Science Degree
  • Over 2,011 guaranteed their ability to transfer to a four-year university by obtaining an Associate of Art or Science for Transfer
  • Over 878 have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above and 10 have a grade point average (GPA) of 4.0 or above.
Graduate smiles from the floor level of Rabobank Arena

Prior to our class entering the Arena, the processional is led by the Mace Carriers who serve as marshals for our processional. This year, Mr. William “Bill” Kelly and Mr. Fred Smith led the charge.

Fred Smith and Bill Kelly

Following the Faculty, this year’s Platform Party was compiled of leadership at the college, district, and within the BC community. Among the members this year were Trustees Romeo Agbalog, Kyle Carter and Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, KCCD’s Gary Moser and Tonya Davis, Vice Presidents Liz Rozell, Mike Giacomini, and Zav Dadabhoy, Senator Emeritus Jean Fuller, SGA President Ashley Harp, Early College representative, Emily Perez and Senior Vice President of Wonderful Education, Noemi Donoso. Additionally from Bakersfield College, Academic Senate President, Steven Holmes, Alumni Association President, Becki Whitson, Deans Emmanuel Mourtzanos, Grace Commisso, and Cornelio Rodriguez, and Steve Watkin, Cynthia Quintanilla, Norma Rojas-Mora, and Paul Beckworth. It also included the 2019 Samuel McCall award winner, Professor Jordan Rude who, during his honorary remarks congratulated students by saying,

Acknowledge and appreciate the level of sacrifices you have made, and celebrate with the same level of enthusiasm! Find those people who shared sacrifices with you, and celebrate with them! You owe it to your former and future selves, and to those that sacrificed for you to celebrate tonight.

Jordan Rude, May 10, 2019
Professor Rude sitting on stage during the processional
Graduates filled the arena

Special thank you to Boy Scout Troop 712 for presenting the colors and to John Gerhold for leading us in the national anthem.

John Gerhold leads us in singing the National Anthem

This year, the Early College partnership with Wonderful Agriculture Career Prep more than doubled in size since last year. We had 47 graduates from Wasco High School and 43 from Wonderful College Prep Academy who received their associates degree. What an incredible accomplishment and thank you to Dr. Noemi Donoso of Wonderful and Senator Jean Fuller for being on stage to congratulate these and all of our graduates.

The Early College graduates from both Wasco High School and Wonderful College Prep Academy with leadership including Trustee Romeo Agbalog, President Sonya Christian, and Wonderful’s Noemi Donoso.

I’d like to share some additional photos from Commencement:

The full ceremony is available on YouTube:

The full ceremony is available on BC’s YouTube
2018-19 SGA President, Ashley Harp

Commencement is a big deal at BC and it could not happen without the work of the Commencement Committee. Thank you to Karimeh Amin, Tamara Baker, Christopher Blakemore, Paul Beckworth, Lesley Bonds, Ed Borgens, Eric Carrillo, Nicky Damania, Victor Diaz, Christopher Glaser, Christy Haycock, Beth Hilbe, Jackie Lau, Aricia Leighton, Jaime Lopez, Gabriele Martin, Robby Martinez, John Menzies, Norma Rojas-Mora, Rachell Morehouse, Julian Navarette, Michelle Pena, Jack Pierce, Cynthia Quintanilla, Bernadette Quintero, Kristin Rabe, Corny Rodriguez, Monika Scott, Jennifer Serratt, Pearl Urena, Imelda Vasquez, Dylan Wang and Steve Watkin for your hard work to make it happen. Also, thank you to the Rabobank staff for your contributions and assistance to make everything happen.

BC Crew helping out on Friday night at Rabobank

Delano’s Pre-Commencement

Delano Campus students got the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments at their own pre-commencement ceremony early on Friday morning. The Delano celebration began in 2015 to give our rural students an opportunity to be recognized in the same intimate setting where they completed most of their coursework. About 30 students participated in this year’s festivities.

Keynote speaker Bryan Osorio is the youngest member of the Delano City Council at just 23 years old. A graduate of Cesar E. Chavez High School in Delano before earning a Bachelor’s Degree at UC Berkeley, Osorio spoke about the importance of education in his life and how providing opportunities for people in rural areas to pursue an education can transform communities.

Trustee Agbalog addressed the graduates in Delano

Many of our students in rural communities face transportation barriers to completing their educational objectives in a timely manner, which is why BC is continuing to expand course offerings and student services at the Delano Campus, while also expanding to Arvin, Shafter, Wasco, and other outlying areas of Kern County. Combined with our expansion of Early College, Dual Enrollment, and Concurrent Enrollment opportunities, BC is doubling down on our commitment to increase educational attainment for all of Kern County.

Rural Initiatives Executive Director Abel Guzman urged students to continue their education as far as they go, while not leaving behind the communities from which they came.

Dedicated faculty and staff at the Delano Campus

Thank you to the Rural Initiatives team and staff at the Delano campus for organizing the 4th Annual Delano Pre-Commencement Ceremony. I’d also like to thank our amazing faculty who go above and beyond to support our students at the Delano Campus and other rural communities.

Trustee Agbalog with Martha Avina (center), a mother, grandmother, and new BC Delano campus grad with degrees in communications, human services, administration of justice, and sociology, with her daughter and fellow graduate Rocio Avina (right) who is CSUB bound this Fall.
Trustee Agbalog with Raquel Lopez and Rich McCrow

Industrial Automation Baccalaureate Class

BC also honored its second graduating baccalaureate class during the Industrial Automation Pre-Commencement Ceremony in the Potato Room of the Rabobank Arena Convention Center.

The graduating class of 13 Renegades, faculty, Trustees Romeo Agbalog and Nan Gomez Heitzeberg, Vice President Liz Rozell and Sonya Christian

This year’s graduating baccalaureate class included 13 students, and each of them is poised to begin an amazing career in one of the most highly-demanded job fields around the world today. This year’s keynote speaker was retiring Vice President of Instruction Liz Rozell and it was great to see Renegade alum, Richard Van Horne.

Michele Bresso, Richard Van Horne, Kimberly Bligh, Cynthia Quintanilla

I was honored to lead the ceremonial hooding ceremony for these incredible 13 graduates. Congratulations to:

Trustees Nan Gomez Heitzeberg and Romeo Agbalog congratulate the graduates alongside President Christian
  • Sabrina Cardenas
  • Adrian Chavez
  • Lawrence Coulthurst
  • Eric De La Rosa
  • David Guito
  • Seth Hancock
  • Chad Hildalgo
  • Wendyam Kere
  • Isaiah Lopez
  • Edwin Marroquin
  • Shaun Powelson
  • Aaron Thomas
  • and Daniel Vargas
Graduate, Shaun Powelson
Graduate, Seth Hancock
Graduate, Sabrina Cardeenas
Graduate, Lawrence Coulthurst
Graduate, Adrian Chavez
Graduate, Kere Wendyam
Graduate, Isiah Lopez
Graduate, Eric De La Rosa
Graduate, Edwin Marroquin
Graduate, David Guinto
Graduate, Daniel Vargas
Graduate, Chad Hildalgo
Graduate, Aaron Thomas

I would like to thank Aubrey Priest, Michelle Bresso, Manny Fernandez, Jason Dixon, Roy Allard, Tom Rush, Liz Rozell and everyone who participated in our second Industrial Automation Pre-Commencement.

Veteran’s Pre-Commencement

Graduate with Paul Beckworth

Our graduating veterans also celebrated their achievements with their own pre-commencement ceremony in the Breckenridge Room of Rabobank Arena and Convention Center.

Twenty students participated in this year’s Veterans Pre-Commencement Celebration. Our veteran students put their lives on the line to serve this country, and they were honored to have all of their accomplishments recognized now that they’ve managed to find success in civilian life.

Armando Trujillo congratulates the graduates

BC’s own Armando Trujillo was the keynote speaker, and he inspired students to continue making and achieving milestones in their lives. Our veteran student population tends to be older than the majority of our students and feel the need to play catch-up with their peers, but it’s important for them to look back on all they’ve already accomplished in order to find the motivation to push themselves forward.

BC is dedicated to supporting our veteran students, and we demonstrate our commitment with Vetfest and a multitude of other events we host on campus throughout the year.  And, of course, we cannot forget the Vernon Valenzuela Veteran Resource Center being built as we speak.I’d like to thank Paul Beckworth, Bernadette Martinez, Adeana Williams and everyone who helped organize this year’s Veterans Pre-Commencement Ceremony, and congratulations to all our graduating vets for the 2018-19 academic year.

African American Pre-Commencement

The African-American Initiatives team continued their tradition of celebrating the graduates in their cohort at the 5th annual African-American Pre-Commencement in the Truxtun Room of Rabobank Arena and Convention Center.

Group Photo from the African American Pre-Commencement

This year’s ceremony featured approximately 30 graduates celebrating their accomplishments with their families, as well as the faculty and staff who supported them during their time at BC. Keynote speaker Valerie Robinson spoke about the importance of learning and family throughout their life’s journey.

Pastor Dwayne Cantrell gave the invocation

Mikeisha Lowder was the student speaker, and she shared her BC journey with those gathered. She said she struggled academically and was referred to a DSPS counselor, who connected her to services and referred her to English professor Dr. Paula Parks. Lowder joined the Umoja Community African-American Success Through Excellence and Persistence program its first year.

LoShe thanked Dr. Parks and her Umoja family as well as her fiance for supporting her.

The Umoja Community program provides coursework with a cultural focus, mentoring, counseling support, academic and cultural trips, and academic advising. Umoja also has a Club component.

Executive Director Steven Watkin advised graduates to never stop learning and to lean on the support of family and friends when they need it.

I’d like to thank African-American Initiatives, Admissions and Records, Financial Aid, Student Affairs, the Office of Student Life, and the Umoja Community for their support in organizing this year’s African-American Pre-Commencement.

Lavender Pre-Commencement

BC honored its graduating LGBTQ+ students during our 2nd annual Lavender Pre-Commencement Celebration, held in the Caliente Room at the Rabobank Arena and Convention Center.

The Lavender Celebration Group Photo

Approximately 30 students participated in the ceremony, which was organized by the Office of Student Life, Helen Acosta, and BC’s SAGA club. The Lavender Pre-Commencement tradition started at BC in 2018, but it was founded at the University of Michigan in 1995 by Dr. Ronni Sanlo to acknowledge the accomplishments of 3 LGBTQ graduates. Lavender ceremonies have since expanded to hundreds of colleges and universities across the country.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Jim Merrick, a local high school teacher who faced discrimination from 15 of his students’ parents for speaking out against homophobic remarks made by a member of the Kern County Human Relations Commission in 1998.  

Lavender graduates got the opportunity to thank those who have helped them succeed at BC. Students from this year’s graduating Lavender class have changed our campus forever, whether it was Chad Hidalgo starting the Extra Life at BC event which has raised $3,700 for the Lauren Small Children’s Center, or 2018 BC President’s Leader of the Year winner Emmanuel Limaco, who obtained a Fellowship with the Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance.

Helen Acosta and Nicky Damania pose with a graduate

Acosta advised graduating students to savor their remaining years in college or first few years in the job market.

“The first years while you struggle to find your footing are frustrating, but later, you will be glad you stuck with it and you’ll find a beautiful life with people who care about you,” Acosta said.

Thank you to everyone who organized the Lavender Pre-Commencement, and congratulations to all of the Lavender graduates.

BC’s First HVAC Graduate

BC’s brand-new HVAC program, located on our Delano campus celebrated a milestone on Friday with our first graduate, Felix Dominguez. Special thank you to Assemblymember Rudy Salas for securing funds to make this program possible.

Felix Dominguez, BC’s first HVAC graduate!

Thank You to our Community Partners

Commencement Sponsors on billboard
2019 Commencement Sponsors on Rabobank Billboard

Each year, our graduation ceremony is traditionally held on campus at the beautiful Memorial Stadium. This year, because our community voted YES on Measure J in 2016, campus construction is taking place and renovations on the stadium have begun. Our celebration at Rabobank would not have been possible without generous contributions and support from our community partners.

Platinum Sponsor: Dignity Health
Gold Sponsors: Aera Energy, California Resources Corporation, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, and S.C. Anderson.
Bronze Sponsors: Adventist Health and Rodriguez and Associates

Fun Photos: Behind the Scenes

On Thursday evening, the M&O Crew got together to stuff the programs with an insert that featured our evenings sponsors.

M&O Crew prepares programs for the 2019 Commencement Ceremony
M&O Crew prepares programs for the 2019 Commencement Ceremony

Industrial Automation Corporate Tours

Industrial Automation students, faculty and BC staff had the pleasure of touring four distribution centers and processing facilities recently. We toured the Target Distribution Center, Ross Distribution Center, Bolthouse Farms, and the Wonderful Company. The scale and innovation these companies incorporated into each facility to serve their global customer base was amazing! BC is so fortunate that these companies took the time to make our experience quite memorable. 

Industrial Automation at Wonderful
Industrial Automation at Ross
Industrial Automation at Target

Fun Photos: No Heel Monday

Jennifer Serratt caught me red handed working in the office on Monday with the comfiest of shoes. Of course, they are my Renegade Red Moccasins.

Renegade Swimming Pulls In All-American Awards and National Rankings

Renegade Athlete Swimmer

After wrapping up the 2019 season, the Renegade Men’s and Women’s Swimming programs have hauled in a number of All-American awards and national rankings; listed below:

Men’s All Americans and National Rankings:

  • 100 Breaststroke (Ranked 6th in CCCAA) – Tanner Lopes
  • 200 Free Relay – Andre Gallegos, Bronson Pearce, Esteban Robles, Kenneth Hardin (Ranked #9 in the CCCAA and #14 Nationally)
  • 400 Free Relay – Andre Gallegos, Bronson Pearce, Esteban Robles, Kenneth Hardin (Ranked #13 in the CCCAA
  • 200 Medley Relay – Kenneth Rodriguez, Tanner Lopes, Jason Frando, Esteban Robles (Ranked #15 Nationally)
  • 400 Medley Relay – Kenneth Rodriguez, Tanner Lopes, Esteban Robles, Bronson Pearce (Ranked #15 Nationally)

Women’s All Americans and National Rankings:

  • Daran Towns – 100 Free (Ranked #3 in the CCCAA and #7 Nationally), 200 Free: (Ranked #5 in the CCCAA and #11 Nationally), 500 Free (Ranked #6 in the CCCAA and #10 Nationally)
  • Bailey Pike – 1650 Free (Ranked 13th in the CCCAA)
  • 200 Free Relay – Daran Towns, Alexis Gallardo, Blaire Williams, Bailey Pike (Ranked #15 in the CCCAA)
  • 400 Free Relay – Bailey Pike, Alexis Gallardo, Blaire Williams, Daran Towns (Ranked #14 in the CCCAA)
  • 800 Free Relay – Alexis Gallardo, Bailey Pike, Daran Towns, Blaire Williams ((Ranked #11 in the CCCAA and #15 Nationally)
  • 200 Medley Relay – Alexis Gallardo, Blaire Williams, Ingrid Villanueva, Daran Towns (Ranked #9 in the CCCAA)

Track and Field Qualifies Five To CCCAA State Championships

The Renegade Men’s and Women’s Track and Field teams competed at the SoCal finals this last weekend at Riverside City College with five (three women and two men) qualifying for the CCCAA Championships this coming weekend.

Renegade Track Runner

Top individual finishers for the Renegades included:

Women’s Triple Jump Finals:
4. Zaila Clark (qualified for CCCAA Championships)

Women’s Long Jump Finals:
2. Daizhiana Ebert (qualified for CCCAA Championships)

Women’s 1500m:
2. Gabby Lugo (qualified for CCCAA Championships)

Men’s Discus Finals:
3. Jacob Whitby (qualified for CCCAA Championships)

Men’s Hammer:
4. Jacob Whitby (qualified for CCCAA Championships)

Men’s 800m:
3. Justin Frando (qualified for CCCAA Championships)

Baseball’s Voda Commits to Missouri Baptist

Renegade Baseball sophomore outfielder, Sage Voda has signed to continue his academic and baseball career at Missouri Baptist University. He joins fellow outfielder Ashanti Ross as the second Renegade to commit to the Spartans from the current team. Voda, from Tehachipi CA, appeared in 35 games for the Renegades this season. In 2019, he collected 20 RBI’s, scored 20 runs, stole 6 bases and had one home run. Missouri Baptist University is an NAIA level school that competes in the American Midwest Conference. Congrats Sage and good luck!

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One thought on “BC’s 105th Commencement

  1. Nick Strobel May 20, 2019 at 12:35 am Reply

    Over 1300 graduates walking the stage at about 2 seconds per graduate naming them took 47 minutes 27 seconds. Whew! How was your hand feeling after all those congratulatory handshakes?

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