I hope you are all staying safe and enjoying a wonderful holiday – even though it likely looks very different from other years. It is a holiday season of pain and suffering for many as our nation continues battling the Coronavirus pandemic. But it is also, I think, a season of hope and unity.
On Christmas Eve, a friend sent me this article from David French in Time Magazine. In it, he describes how difficult it can be to get into the Christmas Spirit when there is so much going wrong around us.
“But times of great suffering are also times that can reveal deep truths,” he wrote.
He then discussed the Christmas hymn “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” which is based on the poem “Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
It ends with the line:
The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.
It shows us that even in the darkest moments, we must face the world together and find those glimmers of hope.
The bells of Christmas this year bring a reminder of the difficulties of this past year – but they also bring hope.
The poem begins:
No man is an island
Entire of itself.
Jack talked about how we are all connected – and we must recognize this connection both now, during the pandemic; and later, when we are past this difficult time.
“If this pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that we are all connected, all one with each other, our family, our friends, our neighbors, strangers and those of other nations. Yet, we too often stress our islands of individuality, forget that we are all linked as a community. In a philosophy class I taught years ago at Bakersfield College, a student from Africa, who later transferred to Stanford University, mentioned that when he first came to our country, he was struck by our emphasis on individuality in contrast to his home’s emphasis on community. The lesson for that day. The lesson for us now.”
After this year of pandemic and turmoil, I hope that we all come out with one positive idea – the idea of unity. I hope that everything we have experienced together over the past 12 months will in fact bring us together to face our new world and create a better tomorrow through unity.
The Christmas bells are tolling for each of us, to find our strength in unity and push through the end of a tumultuous year.
This week, we saw a sign how everyone and everything is connected on a cosmic level when we witnessed a truly once-in-a-lifetime event. In fact, it was once in many lifetimes. The Great Conjunction of Jupiter & Saturn is something that hasn’t been seen in our night sky for nearly 800 years. A conjunction occurs when planets appear very close to one another due to the way they line up with Earth in their orbits. Jupiter and Saturn align about once every 20 years, but haven’t appeared this close since 1623. And it hasn’t been viewable at night in nearly 800 years.
Our resident astronomer, Nick Strobel, shared these photos he took of the event:
Nick also wrote about the conjunction in his Bakersfield Night Sky column.
And check out this webcast of the winter solstice “Great Conjunction,” provided by the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California. You can read more at space.com.
Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, December 26, 2020…My last blog entry for 2020.
A great day to be a Renegade.
Becki Whitson — A Renegade Legend
Bakersfield College lost one of our greatest cheerleaders last week. Our hearts are heavy with the news that Becki Whitson passed away.
Becki was a BC alum, and she also was a faculty member in the Behavioral Sciences department for many years – and served as department chair for 7 years. She is perhaps best known as the former head cheerleading coach. I remember when she retired in 2017, KCCD Trustee Kyle Carter said, “Becki Whitson is Bakersfield College.”
Becki was always an ardent supporter of Bakersfield College, serving as president of the Bakersfield College Alumni Association for over 25 years. At Opening Day this year, she helped me announce the Renegade Alumni Council. Becki’s Renegade pride is evident in the way she speaks about Bakersfield College:
There will be a celebration of life on July 26, 2021, and I will share that information at a later date.
The obituary in the Bakersfield Californian starts with Both the choir and cheer team in heaven have gained a new member…. Read more at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bakersfield/obituary.aspx?n=becki-whitson&pid=197363311
Community Voices: Eileen Pierce
Eileen Pierce wrote this piece in the Bakersfield Californian about the importance of the tutoring program.
“BC’s tutoring program is vibrant, boasting nearly 100 thoroughly trained tutors to serve all BC students, even while running virtually. The tutors are all students themselves, so a student reaching out for help need not feel intimidated as might happen during a professor’s Zoom office hours. The staff is extremely involved in the entire appointment-making process and will carefully match a student with the best tutor. Drop-in and recurring appointments are available. Staff, several faculty and tutors are in the Zoom lobby over 40 hours a week, ready to greet potential tutees warmly and direct them to a breakout room with their tutor.”
Community Voices: Kayla Moore
Critical care nurse & BC RN program graduate Kayla Moore also wrote in the Californian about the importance of education.
“We hear a lot of talk about “gifts” during the holidays. This seems like the perfect time for me to thank our generous community — and the BC nursing team — for their gift to me: the gift of education. Their kindness has made a lasting impact on my life, and without it I would not have had the opportunity to complete my education and begin my career as a critical care nurse. I will never forget the generosity that was extended to me and I plan to pay it forward by contributing to scholarships in the future.”
Umoja Community Celebrates Kwanzaa
Umoja Community held a pre-Kwanzaa Celebration and acknowledged both students and mentors.
Kwanzaa is celebrated December 26 through January 1. It is a non-religious celebration focused on African values. Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1965, each day of the seven-day holiday has a theme.
Umoja students explained each of the Nguzo Saba (seven principles). Zariyah noted that “each principle is to reinforce a basic value of African culture that contributes to building the family, the community, and the culture.”
Then, all participants played a Kohoot game to test their knowledge of the seven-day celebration. It got competitive, with some faculty trying to win against some of the students, or a particular faculty member.
The winners were Hortense (first place), Mercedez (second place), and Umoja Librarian Ms. Faith (third place). While all three got all the questions right, it came down to speed in answering.
Mentors were also shown some love. In this virtual environment, the Umoja mentors were even more needed. Hortense appreciated the “uplifting emails every week to get me through the day to make sure that I stayed on track” from her mentor Ms. Kathleen Hicks.
The caring Umoja team that also includes Michael Little, Mychael Phillips, Gilbert Ayuk, Steve Agard, Melissa Gonzalez, and Coordinator Dr. Paula Parks is truly dedicated to students.
Steve Watkin, AAI lead, expressed appreciation from and offered the continued support of the administration. The administrative team, including the deans, are an invaluable support and much appreciated partner in the success of Umoja.
Dr. Parks added that the students are always part of the Umoja Community and should consider the whole amazing team part of their forever support system. She added, “I was so impressed last semester with how engaged, inquisitive, and kind the students were.” She gave a shout out to peer mentor Alexis, who went above and beyond to tutor and encourage students and to help them form a community.
Sha’ron said, “I would like to say a big thank to Dr. Parks. There have been times when I’ve been at my lowest. . . and I really appreciate you.” Dr. Parks is like “your second mom that you can just go to for anything. I want to say thank to her and Ms. Faith because I’ve cried in her office too.”
Kaleb’s ending comment reminds us of the importance of the program and its values. He said he remembered having a 1.3 gpa. “Now its almost a 3.0, and I only have one more semester until I graduate. I wouldn’t be where I am without the Umoja program.”
The Umoja Community program includes courses with an African-American focus, mentoring, counseling support to stay on track and graduate, and academic and cultural trips. Available classes for spring are the following: English b1b, Comm b1/Lib b1, Astron b2, Music b23, Math b22, and Psych b5.
Spotted on Social Media
Mary Jo Pasek shared this story & photo:
“Months before the picture with Santa my only sibling died in a tragic accident. My Mother and Dad did the best they could to hold it together. This was taken in early December at Dayton’s in St Paul. I was NOT having any part of this man. Nothing my Aunt or Mother could say made me smile. He simply looked so suspicious and all I wanted was my brother back with me. Along with this cute hat and fur piece I had a muff. Always decked out for the cold weather. A precious keepsake for me!“
Maria Wright shared this photo of her husband, Dr. Jamal Wright, receiving his degree on his birthday:
The Office of Institutional Effectiveness had a virtual holiday party:
Matt Jones continued his Daily Discern & Draw project with a measuring tape hockey player:
Craig Hayward shared this cozy Christmas scene:
Shannon Musser made holiday craft treats with her kids:
Bill Moseley and his wife Dominique celebrated their anniversary by taking their kids on a Christmas lights drive:
Athletics Opts-In to Compete This Spring
In order to maximize options for Renegade Athletics, this last week we opted-in to compete in the abbreviated Spring I and Spring II sports seasons under the framework of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Contingency plan. We know our student athletes are eager to get back in action and we hope they will have the opportunity to do so. As the Spring I and Spring II seasons of competition approach, the decision to compete will also come in accordance with the state of California and Kern County Public Health COVID-19 guidelines. Ron Stapp from the Bakersfield Californian wrote and excellent article on the situation this week. To read the article click here: https://www.bakersfield.com/sports/college/if-health-restrictions-allow-bc-taft-choosing-to-play-this-season/article_9069cd1a-44c4-11eb-b829-df1466691494.html
Renegade Athletics Team Store
There is still time to order your Nike Renegade Athletics gear from their official team uniform supplier – Eastbay. Items available for purchase include T-shirts, Long-Sleeves, Polo’s, Hoodies, Sweatshirts and more in both men’s and women’s sizes.
Show your Renegade pride and get that piece of Nike BC Renegade team gear you’ve always wanted. The store is open from now until Jan. 1, 2021. Items will ship once the store closes. All proceeds from sales will directly benefit BC Athletics.
BC Athletics Nike Team Store: https://eastbaystore.com/OFTS8558
Signing off with more performances from our choir
That’s all for now.
Until next time.
With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
the luckiest and happiest college president ever