Compassion through Education

Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, February 22, 2020… A great day to be a Renegade.

Today there are numerous BC activity happenings … Baseball, our Chamber Singers are performing at CASMEC (California All State Music Educators Conference) where they were selected through a blind audition process, and the BC Foundation hosts our annual Sterling Silver. Just another normal day at the Home of the Renegades.

I am so proud of our Chamber Singers and their tireless leader Dr. Jen Garrett, the way they move audiences with the power of music. Over the years, the BC chamber singers have accomplished so many incredible things, becoming not just part of what BC does, but a defining part of what Bakersfield College is.

I don’t have a video of their performance… but here is BC’s Men’s Choir performing the national anthem for Coach Paula Dahl and the basketball team.

Men's Chorus with Coach Dahl.

Compassion’s Grace

Sonya and Jack Hernandez.

by Jack Hernandez

Under warm blankets
this night I think
of those sleeping
in streets knifed
by cold winds
chilled by fog
thick as frozen smiles.
They lie outside
on hard cement,
inside my womb
like room I ask
how we can come together
through compassion’s grace.

Project HireUp Event

Bakersfield College hosted a meet-and-greet luncheon event at the Launchpad for students of BC’s Project HireUp and their potential future employers. Project HireUp is a collaboration between Bakersfield College, the Mission at Kern County, Bakersfield Homeless Center, the faith-based local non-profit City Serve, and industry partner Adventist Health. The program supports homeless students so they can continue their education, and provides opportunities for internships and employment after successful completion of the program. 

This spring, the first cohort of students has been taking non-credit courses at Bakersfield College’s Job Spot location and will soon graduate with a certificate in Basic Office Skills that has prepared them for employment with one of the project’s industry partners. At the meet-and-greet luncheon, on Wednesday, February 12, students arrived dressed to impress, and the room buzzed with nervous excitement as they prepared for the opportunity to network with employers. All were impressed by the students’ confidence, charm, will, and drive. 

Sonya and Maria.
I was able to get a picture with Maria Herrera.

Thank you so much to all of our supporters in the community and for those that attended the event: Maria Herrera, Central Valley Deputy Regional Director, External Affairs, Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, Laura Joseph, Administrative Director, Human Resources, Adventist Health, and Andu Yohannes, Human Resources Manager, Stria. I would also like to thank the many BC Staff and Faculty that made this event a success including Endee Grijalva, Tony Cordova, and Stephanie Baltazar.

L-R: Tony Cordova, Stephanie Baltazar, Freddie Rodriguez, me, Maria Herrera, Dave Teasdale, Norma Rojas-Mora, Robin Robinson, Endee Grijalva

Umoja Conference

Umoja Community Club’s Second Annual Black History Month Program was an uplifting celebration of culture. Themed “Hustle and Motivate: It’s for the Culture,” the event was an appreciation of Nipsey Hussle’s music, community activism, and work ethic.


More than 180 students, faculty, staff, and community members participated. Highlights included energetic African drumming and dancing by Dramane Kone, and a keynote by Terrance Minnoy. Umoja Community Club is a student organization affiliated with the Umoja Community Program, coordinated by Dr. Paula L. Parks.

Dancer with arms out and foot up.

Chancellor Tom Burke gave the welcome, encouraging the high school students in attendance to attend BC, “an educational oasis,” where they can get a quality, affordable education before transferring.

Speaking at podium with UmojaASTEP sign behind him.
Tom Burke

Nzingha Dugas, Executive Director of the Umoja Community state-wide organization, performed the opening ritual and explaining to students that “Black is what is inside us;” it’s our spirit, not our braided or natural hair or our African inspired clothing. 

Dancer jumps about 3 feet above stage.

MC’s Dujour Sams, Umoja Club president, and Sha’ron Bradley, Umoja Club vice president exhibited grace, humor, and leadership in setting the ground rules and introducing all the speakers.

Man in jacket speaking on stage.

Wearing a colorful headdress, West African drummer and dancer Dramane Kone kept the audience clapping their hands and tapping their feet to the beat of the drums. At one point he invited students on the stage to learn African dance moves. 

Dancer flipping long braided hair while drummer plays.

Entering to the chorus of Hussle’s “Grinding all my Life,” keynote Terrance Minnoy, author of Indifferent Strokes, engaged the students with stories of his 2015 stroke and complete recovery tied into life lessons, Umoja values, and pride in African American culture. “It’s part of our culture to embrace challenges and adversity,” he explained.

Dancer with drummer.

A native of Bakersfield, Minnoy encouraged students to see what they can learn from any negative experience. In order to be a person of value, they should give to others. He challenged them to create goals, execute them, and face challenges head on. “I wouldn’t change what I went through.” He said the struggle just “strengthened his why”. 

Dancer circling with foot up.

Workshops led by distinguished community members rounded out the afternoon. Toure’ Tyler addressed the male students on conducting themselves with dignity and making good decisions, Vicki Kemp shared with the women about confidence and persisting, Darius Riggins helped students on choosing a major, Nzingha Dugas involved students in a discussion on leadership, and Dr. Parks moderated a panel of Umoja students on making the transition to college.

Speaker on stage.

The closing ritual was beautifully conducted by Myia Williams, a regional coordinator for the Umoja Community region 7 that includes BC.

The support of the Umoja state-wide organization as well as the energy and participation of the students, the African drumming, and the wisdom shared by all the presenters completely embodied the creativity and persistence of African American culture.

CSUB On-site Admissions

in CSUB and Finish in 4 t-shirts.
BC’s Counseling Team

The CSUB Admissions Team provided on-the-spot admission decisions for BC students that had a Fall 2020 application for admission on file. A total of 101 prospective transfer students were served, and in the end, 89 were admitted to CSU Bakersfield, Fall 2020! 

Congratulations to all of these outstanding students! “Thank you” to our incredible BC Faculty and Staff for teaching, motivating, and mentoring our students to strive for success through graduation and transfer! 

Early College at the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce

Last Friday, the BC Early College team attended the GRC Meeting at the Greater Bakersfield Area Chamber to share the innovative and exciting Early College collaboration taking place between BC and high schools across the county. Jean Fuller and our new Early College Program Manager, Nicole Alvarez, shared our growing participation numbers as well as the program’s continued success. After the presentation, Senator Fuller, Trustee Romeo Agbalog and I answered Chamber members’ questions in a productive Q&A session.

Jacob Panero, CEO of Varner Brothers, with Senator Fuller
Jean Fuller presenting.

Thank you to the Chamber for inviting us and for supporting our efforts with this program. It is with community support that we will be able to spread the word about this solution to low degree attainment in Kern County and throughout the state of California. 

Panel in front of Early College slide.
Jean Fuller presents graph to audience.

Renegade Student Spotlight: Miguel “Caveman” Contres

Few things are more frightening than going toe-to-toe with an opponent who is trying to beat the life out of you over the course of 8 rounds. But these are the moments that BC student and 21-year-old professional boxer Miguel “Caveman” Contres lives for.

Contres in corner with mouthpiece.

When he’s not at the gym or the boxing ring, Contres is fighting to earn his associate’s degree in business right here at BC. He’s in his third year as a BC student and is currently enrolled part time. Contres believes that knowledge is power and is choosing to pursue business because he feels that his boxing career is going to create plenty of business opportunities.

Contres started boxing at the age of 8 through the Bakersfield Police Activities League. He won 60 amateur fights and 3 national titles before turning pro at the age of 18. He’s currently undefeated in his boxing career, with a 10-0 record and 6 knockouts as a lightweight.

Contres facing opponent in ring.

Contres follows a strict training regimen in the classroom and in the gym to maximize his academic and athletic success. Every day, he starts his strength and conditioning at 6 a.m. before hitting the books between 9:30 and 11 a.m. After lunch, he has boxing practice between 2 and 4:30 p.m., which gives him a couple hours to finish up his homework in the evening before he goes to sleep.

This Week at BC: Veterans Services

In the latest edition of our weekly video featuring different departments around the Home of the Renegades, Marketing and Public Relations student interns Ramon Carreido and Juan Reyes went to the Vernon Valenzuela Veterans Resource Center to learn more about all of the services available to veteran students. Thank you Jenny Frank for taking the time to speak with Ramon and Juan for this week’s video, as well as the whole Veterans Services staff for all they do to help Renegades transition into civilian life.

Mental Health Screening

The deadlines and stress of college coursework can take a significant toll on our students’ mental health, and many of our students are at a crucial point in their lives as young adults where they are still trying to figure out who they are. To remind our Renegades they are not alone, the Office of Student Life hosted a free mental health screening in Levinson Hall on Wednesday to get students the help they need.

Students at the Office of Student Life table.
2 students at the table offering pens and candy.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students nationwide, a reality that is avoidable if we make sure that every single person feels safe and supported on our campus. In addition to the mental health screenings, Student Life also gave out tips to help students reduce their stress levels as they approach their midterm exams.

Thank you to all the folks at Student Life and the Health and Wellness Center for making sure that our students do not feel lost in their educational journey.

Emails Worth Sharing: Introducing the Grapevine

I was so excited to hear some good news from Keri Wolf, who announced that the Grapevine Literary Journal is returning and will be ready to accept submissions. Read the full email below:

Screenshot of the website with purple grapes in the background.

Dear Colleagues,

BC’s online literary journal is back online! Since the last publication in Spring 2018, we have built a new website, digitized past Roughneck Review issues into easy-to-read PDFs, changed our name from Roughneck Review back to The Grapevine Literary Journal, a historic BC favorite, and we are ready to accept new submissions!

This is not just a journal for the Humanities. We accept exceptional student work in ALL disciplines: essays and poetry, art and photography projects, musical performances, inspiring presentations, great STEM papers, and all other work created by students in BC courses. Give an outstanding student the gift of being published and let them know about this exciting opportunity to be published in The Grapevine.

 It’s very easy for students to submit: Just visit our new website,, and fill out the submission form under the “Submissions Process” tab. The deadline to submit work for consideration is March 21st, 2020 at midnight.

We are delighted to announce that the Levan Center will award an annual $1500 prize for the best submission and a ceremony will be held this Spring to acknowledge all published submissions during our annual Celebration of Work ceremony.

Thank you for supporting our students by sharing the opportunity to be published in The Grapevine. Special thanks to Naomi Rutuku for her tireless work in the enormous task of creating our new website! We are also grateful to The Levan Foundation for their ongoing support and assistance.

Epic Proportions Tour

The Epic Proportions Tour returned to the Panorama Campus, bringing world class musical talent along with them to get the CSS Lawn rocking on Wednesday afternoon.

The tour offers up-and-coming musicians and songwriters the opportunity to promote their art and perform at college campuses, high schools and military bases around the country. The tour also makes stops at major music festivals such as SXSW and the Vans Warped Tour. Founders Gabe Kubanda and Peter Sotos teach the touring artists how to survive in the music business and build upon their success.

Rapper Benji Patterson was excited for the chance to entertain our Renegades while on the tour of his dreams, captivating the crowd with amazing stage presence and conscious rhymes. Tour founder Gabe Kubanda followed up with a set of acoustic pop music accompanied by a backing band.

Thank you to the Epic Proportions Tour for bringing talented musical artists to our campus for our students to enjoy.

Community Voices: What It Means to Be a Teacher

Photo courtesy of Bakersfield Californian

Bill Chapman, a professor in BC’s Education Department, wrote a moving piece for the Bakersfield Californian looking back on his accomplishments in 31 years of education. The piece also raises awareness of BC’s Education Pathway, which includes degrees for Renegades who are interested in early childhood education or teaching in elementary schools. One paragraph in particular stood out to me as a beautiful summary of why it’s so important for us to nurture and develop the next generation of teachers:

As I teach these future educators, I see the enthusiasm of these students, eager to teach, eager to be in the classroom and ready to tell their own stories. Being a faculty member at Bakersfield College gives me comfort in knowing there is a coaching community invested in the completion and success of future educators.”

I’d like to thank Bill Chapman for sharing his passion for teaching with Bakersfield Californian readers. For more information about the Education Pathway, visit the Bakersfield College website.

Seen on Facebook: BPD on Campus

It’s great to see community partners like the Bakersfield Police Department join faculty in the classroom for enriching presentations. 

My forensic evidence class were listening to 2 forensic lab techs from the BPD today.

Renegade Athletics

Next Level Gades 

Amy Packard from Renegade Women’s Soccer has signed to continue her academic and athletic career at Point Park University located in Pittsburgh, PA. Amy has played the last two years for Coach Scott Dameron here at BC and we wish her all the best at her new school. She is now the fifth Renegade Women’s Soccer student athlete to commit to the next level!

Next Level Gades Amy Packard.

Seven Renegade Football Student Athletes Make SCFA Scholar Athlete Team

We are proud to announce that seven of our Renegade Football student athletes have been named to the 2019 Southern California Football Association (SCFA) Scholar Athlete team. 

2019 SCFA Scholar-Athlete Team.

The seven include: Zach Hartsfield, Braden Wingle, Adarian Rowel, Daniel Kraskey, Connor Whitbey, Zach Hernandez and Paxton Winders. To make the team, student athletes have to complete the following requirements:

  1. Participate as an active member of a SCFA football team, with two seasons of participation at the collegiate level, or until forced out of competition by season-ending injury.
  2. Successful completion of a minimum 36 units-27 of which must be in academic (non-PE or sport activity) courses.
  3. Achievement of a minimum 3.0 (B) overall grade point average

Congrats to these football student athletes. We wish you all the best!

Kern Schools FCU Renegades of the Week – Feb. 9-15

Renegade Athletics is proud to announce this week’s (2/9-2/15) Valley Strong Credit Union Renegades of the Week:

Renegades of the week.

Daizhiana Ebert, Women’s Track and Field – Daizhiana was first in the long jump (5.36m) and was a member of the 4 x 100 (51.08) and 4 x 400 (4:10.20) both of which placed 1st. The 4 x 400 time is currently ranked 1st in So Cal, 4 x 100 is currently ranked 3rd in southern California and her long jump distance is ranked 2nd in So Cal.

Justin Frando, Men’s Track and Field – Justin ran a sub 50 split on the 4 x 400 (3:24.51) relay which placed first by a distance of 15 yards. That time was good enough for a 3rd place ranking in Southern California, only 1.5 seconds off the leaders. He is currently ranked 4th in Southern California in the 800m.

Athletics Photos

Renegade Athletics updates from this past week:

Athletic Events ‘On the Hill’ this Coming Week

Be sure to put on your Renegade Red and cheer on our student athletes as they compete this coming week. If you can’t make it in person, check to catch the livestream. Events include:

  • Tue. 2/25 – Men’s Tennis vs Santa Barbara at 1pm
  • Sat. 2/29 Women’s Tennis vs Porterville at 10am

That’s all for now.

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.

the luckiest and happiest college president ever

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One thought on “Compassion through Education

  1. Michael O'Doherty February 23, 2020 at 8:28 pm Reply

    Really good synopsis 😁

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