BC faculty & Staff — peacemakers, healers, restorers

The eastern sky, friday morning, was unusually soft given that it was bringing in a scorching hot day of triple digit temperatures. Here is a photo gallery from 5:00 a.m. friday morning to 5:40 a.m.

Softness is what I seem to be seeking these days in every context of my life. So, I enjoyed getting this Dalai Lama quote in a text from a colleague. Yes, we need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers.

Good morning Bakersfield
It is Saturday, July 11, 2020 … a great day to be a Renegade

I finally watched the musical Hamilton on Disney Plus yesterday. Whoa! Lin-Manuel Miranda… what a genius! I read Ron Chernow’s Hamilton in preparation to watch the show on stage. Then COVID happened and what a delight it was to be able to watch the original cast with Miranda himself playing Hamilton. Check out this one-minute youtube clip from Hamilton with Aaron Burr performing Room Where it Happens.

A Message About International Students

As someone who came to the United States as an international student, I wanted to take a moment and talk about how important the F1 Student Visa program is for our country’s economic strength and the holistic wellbeing of our world.

The United States is home to some of the best institutions of higher learning, and thousands of people come here every year to take part in groundbreaking research and engage with a diverse range of perspectives. International students are some of our country’s most successful entrepreneurs. Approximately 25 percent of the 91 start-up companies worth more than $1 billion had a founder who came to America as an international student, and international students contribute $41 billion to the economy every year.

Important political leaders from around the world came here to study. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, two former UN secretaries-general, and many world leaders have studied at our universities. This is the best way to build global understanding and fellowship and also to inspire communities around the world on the value of democracy and a free society.

Within the next few weeks, I hope that we can find some common ground to keep our international students in the US while safely preventing the spread of COVID-19.

This issue has really gotten to me so much it has put me in the space of the Hamilton inspired phrase #ImmigrantsWegettheJobDone.

Check out Lin-Manuel Miranda at the White House in 2009 (yes, several years prior to the play premiering off-Broadway) while he was working on the lyrics and music for Hamilton based on Ron Chernow’s book. A key line for me was “Another immigrant coming up from the bottom.” Check it out.

Commencement & Paint the Town Red

Marketing Director Norma Rojas delivers BC swag to help Paint the Town Red

Our 106th Commencement will be broadcast tonight, July 11, at 6 p.m. on KGET Channel 17, or at 7 p.m. on Telemundo Valle Central Channel 13 (with antennae, 17.3). This event will also be live-streamed on social media as well.

I look forward to sharing snippets from this broadcast with you in future blog posts – our team has done a phenomenal job putting together a great show to celebrate our amazing graduates! Thank you Norma Rojas-Mora for leading this work along with Nicky Damania.

This week, we celebrated our Early College graduates from Wasco High School and the Wonderful College Prep Academy. I will be sharing videos from that celebration starting in next week’s blog as well.

Also this week we were very busy delivering yard signs and flags to Paint the Town Red in support of our graduating class of 2020.

On Memorial Hospital Facebook: The sun is shining on the graduating class of 2020! ☀️ We’re excited to congratulate this year’s Bakersfield College graduates! We wish you the best and know your futures will be bright!

Ken Keller, Robin Mangarin-Scott

And here is Adventist Health celebrating the class of 2020

Community Voices

Outgoing BCSGA President Samantha Pullido wrote a piece in the Bakersfield Californian about why Bakersfield College is the best college.

“I want to thank each and every person from BC — from the department assistant who answered all my questions, to each faculty member, each counselor and all the individuals who made sure I was set up for success and on the path to achieving my goals. While I am going to miss my BC family, I know I have been equipped with the skills and educational foundation I will need to succeed on the next step in my journey. Why? Because BC is the best college.”

Thank you for your kind words, Samantha. And I want to wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors at Cal State Berkeley – I look forward to seeing what amazing things you will do during your time there and beyond.


This week, I am sharing three videos from strong women that were part of our June 15 program.

Jennifer Achan, BC Financial Aid Director:

Kimberly Mallory, Medical Administrator:

And this video of Maya Angelou‘s poem “Still I Rise.” Thank you, Valerie Urso, for your work in putting together this wonderful video:

Please visit our Juneteenth website for all the videos from each day of programming, as well as additional information and resources, and testimonials from Bakersfield community members and BC faculty, staff and administration.

Celebrating Corny & Sandi

I wanted to share a few more videos from our retirement celebration for Corny Rodriguez and Sandi Taylor.

Here is my introduction from the event:

And photo roll for Corny Rodriguez:

Photo roll for Sandi Taylor

You can see all the videos from this celebration on the President’s Events website. (Click on “Staff and Faculty Events.”)

Express Enrollment

The Office of Outreach helped approximately 300 students with registering in classes at BC during our express enrollment event on Wednesday. Thank you to Ashlea Ward for helping organize the event, the Marketing team for helping promote the express enrollment on social, and all of the counselors and ed advisors who got our students ready for classes in the fall.

Be Red Cross Ready

The Levan Institute’s series of lectures with the American Red Cross was a huge success this week. The American Red Cross spent three days teaching people in the community some survival essentials for COVID-19, earthquakes, wildfires and extreme heat.

The Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning provides essential courses for all members in the community to enrich their understanding of the world. The Levan Institute course offerings for Fall 2020 will be announced on Sunday, July 19th. For more information, visit the Levan Institute website.

Thank you to the Red Cross and Suzan Pinza of the Levan Institute for putting together these important workshops.

Measure J Update

This week, I was elated to find out that one of the interns working with AECOM on Measure J construction projects is a former BC student.

Bryson Zuspan, a senior at San Jose State studying civil engineering, will be one of two interns helping AECOM on the new Campus Center, Science and Engineering building and other renovation projects. Diana Johnson, a Vice President with AECOM, shared this message from Bryson:

“Before transferring to SJSU, I spent a great deal of time at Bakersfield College figuring the right path for my career. As luck would have it, I have the opportunity to work at AECOM and be a part of a project for my old community college. It feels great to give back to the institution that taught me so much and gave me the resources to become successful in university.”

Thank you to Bryson and AECOM for giving back to the Home of the Renegades!

I also wanted to share these photos that our Astronomy faculty Dr. Nick Strobel took of some of the construction on campus:

Renegade Student Experience

Ramon Carreido, a student worker in the BC Marketing Department, has launched a new podcast offering a student perspective on everything that’s going on at BC. For the first episode of the Renegade Student Experience, Ramon talked to his swim coach Matthew Moon about the swim team’s recruitment process and how they reacted to the season being shortened by COVID-19.

Thank you Ramon and Coach Moon for sitting down to have this conversation. I look forward to more conversations between Ramon and other BC faculty and staff in the future.

Fun Social Media

Our Director of Rural Initiatives and the Delano Center, Abel Guzman, had a nice July 4th holiday with his family:

Dean of Instruction Billie Jo Rice walked the Golden Gate Bridge with her mom. Good job, ladies!

Closing Week

On Monday of Closing Week, we looked back at all of our past Presidential Leadership Award winners:

On Tuesday, we heard from Academic Senate President Steven Holmes:

Also on Tuesday, we shared a message for our students from BC Faculty and Staff:


Please see our Closing Week website for all of the videos from this year’s celebration. You can also see videos from previous year’s closing and opening days on the President’s Events website.


Blake van Uden Headed to New Mexico Highlands University

Blake van Uden from Renegade Men’s Basketball announced this week that he is headed to play basketball and continue his academic career at New Mexico Highlands University located in Las Vegas, NM. Blake played the last two seasons for Coach Rich Hughes, coming all the way from New Zealand to become a Renegade. Blake’s father also played basketball at BC, making the van Uden’s a multi-generational Renegade family. We are excited for Blake and thank him for his contributions to Renegade basketball and our campus this last few years.

Keep Your Zoom Game Updated with New Backgrounds

Elevate your Zoom game on your next video conference call with these official Renegade themed backgrounds! You may also click here to save them to your desktop.

Click Here to learn how to use custom backgrounds on Zoom.

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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One thought on “BC faculty & Staff — peacemakers, healers, restorers

  1. Michael O'Doherty July 11, 2020 at 6:09 pm Reply

    I don’t understand the big issue about the international students? I’m a little confused over what is motivating this talk? It seemed to come out of left field. Is it just to incentivize the schools to open in the fall so there can be face to face classes?

    If the classes are not in person, but on-line, why would the student not want to go back to their home country and do the zoom meetings from there? You get to stay in your home countries and your getting the degree and contacts in this country, you wanted. It seems win / win to me??

    Washington would forget about it and go on to some other latest “Buzz” problem, and by next year the students are back into class as before. Honestly, most of the immigrants who attend elite colleges and universities overseas are from affluent families, so coming back will most likely not be an issue.

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