Wrapping up July – a fun week

The last week in July is always a very special week for me…. the last hurrah before administrators start tuning back in to get ready to welcome our students back to another academic year. Spent the last week on the coast enjoying cooler temperatures and some quiet time. Here are a few photos for you.

Neo in the car heading to the coast. July 27, 2020
July 29, 2020

Good morning Bakersfield
It is Saturday, August 1, 2020…A great day to be a Renegade

Residential universities and COVID-19

On Tuesday, PBS Newshour correspondent Hari Sreenivasan took a deep look at how residential universities are managing the stay-at-home orders that are keeping thousands of students away from their campuses. According to the report, many students are struggling without a supportive community of peers, with a lack of a quiet study area, and with new family responsibilities at home as a result of others sheltering in place along with them. Sreenivasan also talks to Michelle Asha Cooper of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, who points out how the traditional residential experience is not accessible for many low-income and community college students who don’t get the kind of networking opportunities afforded to those within the residential system.

Honoring John Lewis

BC partnered with Danny Morrison to present a program on John Lewis, the late civil rights leader and US Congressman, and his legacy of “good trouble”. Steve Watkin gave the opening remarks for our hour-long celebration of John Lewis that live-streamed on social media on Wednesday via Danny Morison‘s facebook live. Danny gave a moving retrospective of how John Lewis influenced his own social justice work. Julian West read John Lewis’ speech from the March on Washington in 1963, and Traco Matthews read Lewis’ 2015 speech from the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. 

Several BC faculty and staff, including including Oliver Rosales, Keith Wolaridge, Allen Bolar and Paula Parks, gave historical context to John Lewis’ life. BC students Zariyah Hall, Sha’ron Bradley and Blake Burton also spoke about how John Lewis paved the way for other young activists to follow in his footsteps.

I’d like to thank all of the community leaders who contributed to the John Lewis presentation, including Michael Bowers and Cindy Pollard.

I’d also like to thank both of the amazing musical performers who bookended our presentation – Nina Grae, who performed “We Shall Overcome”, and former BC student Jaimi Banks, who closed out the presentation with “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.

Finally, I’d like to thank the entire Marketing and Public Relations team at BC, who put together an hour-long video in just two days.

You can view the full video on the Danny Morrison Media Facebook page.


Last week, I finished sharing the videos from our first day of #LightACandle Juneteenth programming. Today, I’m continuing with videos from June 17.

English Professor Paula Parks opened our program with this moving retelling of her family’s history:

Music Professor John Gerhold then performed his rendition of “Stand By Me”:

Please visit the Bakersfield College Juneteenth website for an archive of all the videos and programming, as well as testimonials and other resources as we continue this important work.

Nick Strobel featured on podcast

Nick Strobel, was featured this week on the Experiences You Should Have podcast.

He spoke about the Perseids Meteor Shower that runs from approx. mid-July through mid-August. This year, the meteor shower will peak on August 11 and 12. To view the shower, find a spot with a dark sky, where you can see the little dipper.

Hopefully we can all get a chance to unwind and spend some time enjoying the beauty of the night sky in the next few weeks.

Umoja Community orientation

Due to the number of applications, Umoja Community African-American Success Through Excellence and Persistence (ASTEP) held a pop-up unscheduled information session on Wednesday.

Paula Parks

Umoja Coordinator Dr. Paula L. Parks discussed the philosophy of and benefits of the program, which is designed for motivated African-American students. Students are part of a supportive network that includes faculty, staff, and mentors. That encouragement will be even more important in a fully virtual environment.

Students who joined were excited about the prospect of being involved. “It’s a good program for me, especially since I’m just starting at BC,” said Donavan.

Available Umoja courses with African-American culture woven throughout include English 1a/Library taught by Dr. Parks and Faith Bradham, Small Group Communication taught by Mychael Phillips, and Statistics taught by Michael Little.

Students will also have the opportunity to participate in special activities that celebrate their culture and give them tools to persist.

“I like how it has a lot of support, and I like the unity,” said Ebony.

Next scheduled information session is Aug. 5 at 11 a.m. Students who apply at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/student/aai/umoja will receive the Zoom link to participate in the info session where they learn about Umoja and enroll in classes.

Former BC Choir Director honored

Selfie Sonya Christian and Joe Huszti Dec 4, 2015

Joe Huszti, former BC Choir Director, was just awarded the Howard Swan Award for Lifetime Achievement by the California Choral Directors’ Association. 

Big honor in the choral directing field!!

Please enjoy this video that Joe’s wife, Melinda, shared from the virtual ceremony:

More information on Joe can be found in the Archives Newsletter of Spring 2015, which tells of when the BC Choir under his direction won the choral music award at the Eisteddfod Music Festival in Wales in 1965.

I previously wrote about the BC Choir from 1965 reuniting 50 years after their historic victory. I invite you to take a look – there are some wonderful photos that choir members shared from their trip to Europe.

Congratulations on a well-deserved honor, Joe!

Thank you to Jerry Ludeke for tracking down this story from Joe and the BC Choir in our Bakersfield College Archive Newsletter.

Jerry Ludeke

BC, Wonderful Company partner for summer camp

This July, 72 middle school students from Delano, Wasco and Lost Hills were given the opportunity to join a two-week summer camp hosted in a partnership between Bakersfield College and The Wonderful Company. This was the first time this camp was held virtually, and focused on careers in agriculture.

During the first week the students participated in a class called Product Development, Marketing and Leadership taught by Bakersfield College faculty members Heather Baltis and James Selgrath. In this class, students created a new product along with all the branding needed to bring this product to market, including logos, slogans and a sales strategy focused on their product. Students learned the leadership qualities needed to successfully market a new product.

The second week students joined a class entitled Engineering and Careers in Agriculture taught by Bakersfield College faculty Travis Steele and counselor Jesus Oropeza.

During this week students learned about the field of engineering and robotics. These students constructed a robotic arm, given as a kit of basic parts that they were required to fully assemble, involving everything from placing gears in the gear box to wiring a motor to a computer chip.

After completing their robots, students created their own robotic challenges. These ranged from sorting fruit loops by color to balancing markers on end. The culminating project saw students compete head-to-head in a race to place paper balls into an empty water bottle.

All of these students will have the opportunity to enroll in Early College pathways in their 9th grade year at Wasco High School or Wonderful College Prep Academy.

Big thank you to the Rural Initiatives team who coordinated this camp, including Alma Feathers, Raquel Lopez, and Carolina Madrigal. And a big thank you as well as our innovative and amazing faculty Travis Steele, James Selgrath, Heather Baltis, and Jesse Oropeza.

Camp leads and mentors

Measure J Update

Even as we continue to shelter in place leading up to the start of the Fall 2020 semester, our construction projects funded by Kern County taxpayers via Measure J get closer and closer to completion. While the Campus Center is currently under construction, we are entering the final stages of designs for the Campus Center Annex, which will house administrative services.

Last week, we started construction on new signage around the campus and held a kick-off meeting for the design of the new parking and sports fields. Other projects in the design or planning phase include the combined gym fields house, the Welcome Center, the Agriculture Building, and the Delano Learning Resource Center.

New courses support online learning

This fall, Bakersfield College will be offering new courses that will support online learning – both for students and for teachers. EDUC B30: Introduction to Online Learning Environments and EDUC B31: Cultivating an Online Learning Community are new courses aimed at current and future teachers. EDUC B55: Bridge to Online Learning for Students is intended for students new to distance learning or who otherwise want gain skills for success in a online learning environment.

You can find out more about these offerings at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/news/2020/0728-now-offering-courses-to-support-online-learning-for-current/future-teachers-and. You can also check out the KGET piece about these classes.

I’m so proud of our BC faculty for quickly finding ways to provide these needed courses as online learning becomes more essential during this time of COVID-19.


Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh shared a message for our graduates:

Congressman Kevin McCarthy also offered his congratulations:

And please enjoy Part 3 of our graduate recognition:

All the videos from our 106th Commencement Televised Event are available on our 2020 Commencement Ceremony website.

Closing Week

Before we began on Tuesday, we were treated to a photo presentation looking back at the past year at Bakersfield College:

And these photos during our Tuesday stretch break:

Also on Tuesday, I presented the Nursing Department with a Presidential Leadership Award for their hard work in getting our students prepared to fight on the front lines against COVID-19.

And on Wednesday, Todd Coston provided our closing remarks:

All the videos from our closing week celebration can be found on the Closing Week web page.

Early College Celebration

Today, I’m sharing the final two graduate recognition videos from our Early College Celebration.

The second part of our graduates from Wonderful Company Prep Academy:

And the second part from Wasco High School:

Find out more about our Early College Program at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/earlycollege.

Corny & Sandi Retirement

During the Virtual Retirement Celebration for Corny Rodriguez and Sandi Taylor, we shared the videos from when they received President’s Lifetime Achievement Awards during our Closing Week celebration.

Corny Rodriguez:

Sandi Taylor:

Outgoing BCSGA President Samantha Pulido also shared this video announcing a new scholarship in their honor – the BCSGA Taylor Rodriguez Student Leadership for Equity Scholarship.

And finally, the Executive Office shared a farewell message:

Thank you again for your years of service, Corny and Sandi, and best of luck in all your future endeavors.

Spotted on Social Media

Great video by Dr. Jen Garrett about our Applied Music Program. Check it out.

Found this great visual representation on how distance and masks can keep us safe during from COVID-19. Lori Carter shared this on her Facebook page:

I love seeing the virtual transfer celebration continuing on the BC Twitter:

Mayra Diaz
Sociology and Spanish Major
CSU Bakersfield
Zach Hartsfield
Eastern Michigan University

The BCSGA Instagram shared this archive photo from the 1980s. You can see the front of the original CSS building and Fireside building as students walk around campus.

BC Nursing shared this photo of the 105th RN Graduating class from this spring:

BC Librarian Mindy Wilmot is preparing for this fall’s courses:


#NationalSoccerDay 2020

This last Tuesday – July 28, 2020 – was #NationalSoccerDay. While observing this social media holiday this year, we are proud of our men’s and women’s Renegade soccer teams and also very eager for them to return to action. This coming fall season of athletic competition has been postponed to the spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to the time when we’ll be able to cheer on our Renegades once more!


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 “Wrapping up July – a fun week

  1. ? August 1, 2020 at 9:39 pm Reply

    Great write up.

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