Happy New Year 2021

Happy New Year

I am dedicating this first blog post of 2021 as a “Year in Review” of 2020 … certainly, a year for the history books. The title of each blog links to the post, so don’t forget to click the links and check it out.

Before we begin, here is a photo of the first light of 2021:

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, January 2, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

January: Getting ready for the year ahead

Jan 4, 2020: A look back as we look forward

For my first blog of 2020, I took a look back at the history of Bakersfield College. Did you know that BC had snow in 1987 and 2001?

Jan 18, 2020: #LetsDoThis2020

Spring 2020 officially kicked off with Opening Day. We gathered in the Indoor Auditorium for a day of updates about the college and a look at where we (thought we) were headed in 2020.

Here are my closing remarks from Spring 2020 Opening Day:

Jan 25, 2020: BC – an uplifting space for all

We welcomed our students back to campus, for what would end up being a truly unforgettable semester.

The Women’s March Kern County 2020 and Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast were also highlights of that week. I so enjoy getting together with our community members, and cannot wait until we are able to do so again.

February: Focusing on student success

Feb. 1, 2020: BC — Commitment to Quality Education

We started February with the news that BC had received the CIQG Quality Award. I was thrilled that our college was recognized for the transformational work our faculty & staff embarked upon years ago.

Feb. 8, 2020: Student Success Blossoms at BC

We kicked off Black History Month with representatives from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) converging on the Renegade Crossroads to provide an awesome transfer opportunity for our students.

Feb. 15, 2020: BC — the heart of the community

Our Assessment team traveled to the Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) Symposium at Monterey Peninsula College. I was the keynote speaker, and Bill Moseley presented during a panel discussion.

Bill Moseley speaks at a panel during the SLO Symposium 2020.

Feb. 22, 2020: Compassion through Education

BC held a meet-and-greet luncheon event for students in Project HireUp to meet 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. 

Students and Sonya raise hands in the air.

We also held the Umoja Community Club’s Second Annual Black History Month Program. 

Check out this video from the program:

Feb. 29, 2020: Celebrating Leap Year & showcasing Sterling Silver 2020

February 2020 was a leap year, so we had an extra day. I looked back at our beautiful Sterling Silver reception, where we recognized the great support we have received from our Bakersfield community. Honorees included the Greater Bakersfield New Car Dealers Association, Bill Kelly, Dr. William Baker Jr., and Rick Kreiser.

March: BC Goes Online

March 7, 2020: BC — always supporting our students & our community

In the beginning of March, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in California to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We began holding forums to keep our campus community informed about what would become a rapidly changing situation.

There were no cases in Kern County, and we were still able to meet and gather on campus.

That week, we enjoyed a theatre performance of the dramatic play “The Pillowman.”

March 14, 2020: BC faculty & staff — always ahead of the curve

We began holding daily Zoom updates about COVID-19, with Shelly Castaneda, Nicky Damania, and Cindy Collier taking the lead.

3 people sit behind a table with computer monitor and speakers.

Senator Emeritus Jean Fuller presented to the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on the Early College success stories and strides we have made in assisting, among others, our Latinx population in obtaining a college education. 

Jean speaking to the audience.

March 21, 2020: #BCGoesOnline

It was “Business Un-Usual” as #BCGoesOnline. Moving all of our courses, all of our student support, all of our employees into a virtual, distance environment was a massive undertaking. Our faculty and staff rose to the occasion – and we were able to shift all our work over the course of the week.

We started the week with a marathon session from our Academic Technology team to get our faculty ready to move all our courses online for the remainder of the spring semester.

By the end of the week – in fact, on Thursday, March 19, at 3 pm – we had physically closed our Panorama Campus. This closure came just hours before Governor Newsom declared a mandatory stay-at-home order for the entire state.

Here is my message to our campus community as we moved online:

March 28, 2020: Let the Times Guide Our Creativity

As BC began to navigate uncharted waters and proceed with a 100% online environment, I continually was struck by how our team was able to anticipate and quickly adapt as the situation evolved. I began using a quote from Wayne Gretzky to describe how the BC community was reacting: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays to where the puck is going to be.”

One of the first new initiatives that came out of Covid-19 was the Back to College program. Our team anticipated that rising unemployment would be a devastating effect of the pandemic, and created a 5-week program to help prepare students for new careers.

We also focused on how we could remain connected while we were physically apart.

Our faculty and staff put together this video message for our students to remind them they weren’t alone:

April: Staying connected, staying positive

April 4, 2020: It’s Still a Beautiful World

Rural Initiatives Program Manager Endee Grijalva and BC Office of Student Life staff members came together to assist our community through the “BC Do Good, Feel Good” campaign. 

April 11, 2020: Lean on BC

Greg & Mary Bynum generously provided a donation that allowed BC to purchase 500 Chromebooks for our students to use for distance learning.

We also reminded our BC students to #LeanOnBC during these difficult times.

April 18, 2020: A week of roses speaks Hope

Last spring, history professor Oliver Rosales hosted a series about California history on Bakersfield’s CW. “Our California Story: Community Stories and Digital Preservation in the San Joaquin Valley,” is a community engagement forum connected to the California History course students will enroll in through Bakersfield College. You can find all the episodes at https://sites.google.com/view/ourcaliforniastory/media.

April 25, 2020: Stayin’ in and staying connected

Disneyland’s annual Dapper Day was just one of the many events that were canceled in 2020, but our very own Dr. John Gerhold shared this song – which he recorded with his wife, Wendy, and his daughter, history adjunct professor Kelly Gerhold.

I also looked back at the student panel from my President’s Virtual Forum from March 31. We heard from Karen Cid Ibanez, Emma McNellis, and Maria James, who shared their tips and ways to support their fellow students during the time of Covid-19.

May: BC community heroes

May 2, 2020: BC – Responding to the unexpected

I was so proud when Bakersfield College helped with the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment PPE in Kern County. Darren Willis and our students at the Creative Design Center used our 3D printer makerspace to create face shields and other PPE. Cindy Collier presented Clinica Sierra Vista with 50 face shields on Wednesday, and we delivered another batch of face shields to the Bakersfield Family Medical Center.

Cindy Collier presents face shields to her daughter, Casey Wilkerson, a BC RN graduate & VP of clinical services at Bakersfield Family Medical Center.

And our Renegade community was busy with virtual events – Express Enrollment, Transfer Day, Industrial Automation Day, and a performance of the play “Metamorphoses.”

May 9, 2020: Celebrating our heroes — Moms, Nurses, …

For Nurses Appreciation Week, I shared an email from Former BC student Melissa Prendiz praising professor Milena Lilles.

I remember you would express to us students that your class was not an easy class but you wanted to not only prepare us for the nursing program but once we became a nurse – “people’s lives depended on us.” Little did you know you also prepared me for what we are facing now during this pandemic.

Nursing Dean Carla Gard also shared this video for our 4th Semester RN students:

May 16, 2020: Closing week — Spring 2020 pandemic semester

Check out this photo from 23ABC of jets flying over Memorial Stadium:

Closing Day 2020 looked different from any of our previous closing days. We shifted to an online program, and spread it out over several days. You can find all the videos on the Closing Week 2020 website.

Check out this fund video of Steven Holmes

May 23, 2020: Find our voice and raise it for others… Memorial Day 2020

Bakersfield College was awarded $5,000 for its project “Portraits in Their Own Words” through the California Humanities’ Humanities For All Quick Grant. This project is co-directed by BC faculty members Andrew BondShawn Newsom, and Kristopher Stallworth.

May 30, 2020: Memorial Day 2020

Jenny Frank, manager of Veteran Services and Programs, sent out a Memorial Day message to our Renegade Community. A short excerpt is below:

My friends, colleagues, fellow Renegades, as you lay your heads down tonight, remember these brave men and women, today and always. Tomorrow, as we rise, let us all strive to live our lives in a way that would honor their them. It is together that we will overcome any difficulties that face us. Together we will soon enjoy all the freedoms that have been gifted to us.”

Zav Dadabhoy, Armando Trujillo, Paul Beckworth, Sonya Christian and Jenny Frank at the VRC dedication

June: Coming together and fighting injustice

June 6, 2020: #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation

On the heels of the recent death of George Floyd and mass unrest across the country, Bakersfield College hosted a two week conversation and virtual celebration leading up to June 19 or “Juneteenth,” a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. You can find all the videos from our programming on the #LightACandle website.

BC also joined in the Bakersfield Prayer Walk, and began the #RealTalk series with Danny Morrison.

June 13, 2020: June – A Historic Month. June 12, 1967 Loving v Virginia, June 19, 1865 Black Independence Day

We continued our Juneteenth celebration and #RealTalk programming, and participated in the Bakersfield Unity Rally. Here’s my video message for the rally:

June 20, 2020: June 2020 — A month to remember

Our Juneteenth conversations culminated this week, as we aired our #LightACandle programming (please find all the videos on the #LightACandle website.) The #LightACandle programs aired on June 15, June 17, June 18, and June 19.

Here is Congressman and House Majority Whip, James Clyburn, who gave a brief history of Juneteenth and emphasized that communication is as much what we seek to understand as it is about what we are saying:

June 27, 2020: The universe is simpler than it appears

Covid-19 cases were spiking again, and Dr. Anthony Fauci  provided an important update on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cindy Collier shared this photo to remind us all to continue wearing our masks to combat this spike:

July: Celebrating our students & our BC community

July 4, 2020: July 4, 2020 — Celebrating Independence Day from our homes

Two of our Bakersfield College legends were honored as they start their retirements: Dean Cornelio Rodriguez and Athletic Director Sandi Taylor.

You can find more videos on the President’s Events website – click on the “Staff & Faculty Events” tab.

July 11, 2020: BC faculty & Staff — peacemakers, healers, restorers

As we got ready for the July 11 broadcast of our 106th commencement, we invited the Bakersfield community to help Paint the Town Red to celebrate our graduates.

July 18, 2020: BC faculty & staff always engaged in “good trouble”

We celebrated our graduates with a special televised commencement – but even though we were unable to have our traditional Memorial Stadium celebration, we still started off with the National Anthem, performed by Dr. John Gerhold:

Check out all the photos and videos from our 106th Commencement on the BC website.

And of course, we joined the nation in mourning the passing of Congressman John Lewis, who passed on July 17.

July 25, 2020: Let’s keep our community healthy! Wear masks. Do physical distancing. Regularly wash our hands.

The BC Executive Team created this video urging everyone to continue maintaining healthy & safe practices during the pandemic:

August: Campus coming together

Aug. 1, 2020: Wrapping up July – a fun week

BC again partnered with Danny Morrison – this time to present a program on John Lewis, the late civil rights leader and US Congressman, and his legacy of “good trouble”. The videos are all posted on the Bakersfield College website.

Here’s Julian West reciting John Lewis’ speech from the 1963 March on Washington:

Aug. 8: Hello August

I loved this photo celebrating our youngest Renegades – the graduates of our Child Development Center, who moved on to kindergarten. 27 families participated in a curbside graduation.

I was also able to check out Measure J construction on our Panorama Campus with Bill Potter:

Aug. 15, 2020: Bakersfield College – A blessing to our community

As we got ready for another online semester in Fall 2020, we restarted the President’s Virtual Forum series after taking a hiatus over the summer. For our first forum of Fall 2020, we heard from Bill Potter, Executive Director of Facilities & Planning; Cindy Collier, Interim Director – Health Center; Heather Baltis, Faculty – Agriculture; and Alisha Loken, Faculty – Nursing, as we discussed plans as Bakersfield College transitions into Fall 2020.

Videos from our COVID-19 forums are available on the COVID-19 resources page.

Aug. 22, 2020: 2020 Opening Week – BC coming together

Opening Day 2020 turned into Opening Week 2020 – and actually, some technical difficulties had us spreading the programming over 2 weeks. Check out the Welcome & Photo Roll video from Day 1:

You can find all the videos from the 5 days of programming on the Opening Week 2020 website.

Great video by our Academic Senate President, Steven Holmes

Aug. 29, 2020: Bakersfield College – A Peace Garden of Learning, Reflection & Renewal

I shared an update on our Peace Garden project with this 9:31-minute video from Opening Week, where we unveiled the Peace Garden project. (Start at the 6:56 timestamp, to hear the message from Dr. Naina Patel and the Gandhi committee.

And did you see this photo of our original 1922 Renegade Football Team? Thank you the BC Archives team for finding this!

September: Starting another semester online

Sept. 5, 2020: BC – two weeks into Fall 2020

In partnership with the McFarland High School counseling team, the BC Early College staff held 13 virtual workshops for the upper classmen and 9 workshops for incoming freshman students. After these workshops, BC welcomed over 200 new Cougar Renegade students who will be on the path to complete 60 college units by the time they graduate from high school.

Sept. 12, 2020: BC’s Education Department Shines

Bakersfield College has been awarded $1.3M to support the Education Pathway for future teachers as California continues to face a rising teacher shortage. Thank you to Dr. Kimberly Bligh, Education Department Chair, and everyone in the Education Department, for all the work you do!

Sept. 19, 2020: Finding our path to peace

Krista Moreland shared some information about International Peace Day with our Renegade community – especially poignant as we work on our Peace Garden project.

“Monday, September 21st the U.N. International Day of Peace will be observed around the world. This Peace Day was established unanimously by the U.N. in 1981 as a 24hr period for humanity to come together and commit to peace and compassion. Each year on this day, “The United Nations invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.”  

I was also heartbroken to hear of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Sept. 26, 2020: BC – the light of the heart’s hymn to life

Bakersfield College’s Rural Health Equity And Learning (HEAL) Collaborative hosted a webinar, focusing on the Central Valley in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the videos at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/conference/heal-webinar.

October: Thriving & innovating in a virtual environment

Oct. 3, 2020: Renegade Alums are everywhere. We are BC!

Bakersfield College and Kern Community College District announced a region-wide strategic partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The Kern County Board of Supervisors spoke about the project at their September 22 meeting:

Oct. 10, 2020: Fall 2020 – Midterm Notes

Outreach & Early College hosted the High School Counselor Conference over Zoom – and made sure to find time for some fun moments, including this virtual Cha Cha Slide:

I also announced the launch of a joint blog with Dr. Brijesh Bhambi of the Bakersfield Heart Hospital. Check it out at https://bhambiandchristian.com/.

Oct. 17, 2020: BC continues to be vibrant virtually

The Project HireUp: A Community Collaborative to End Homelessness video premiered on YouTube and Facebook. Great partnership with CityServ, Mission for Kern County, The Homeless Shelter, and Adventist Health.

Oct. 24, 2020: BC – We’ve got talent

Our facutly, staff and students were busy with a few new exciting online projects.

The 36th annual Shakespeare festival kicked off with the virtual premiere of “The Comedy of Errors”,  directed by Bob Kempf. The performers have adapted the slapstick of the Bard’s original “Comedy of Errors” into a Chaplinesque silent film with masks. 

The BC Chamber Singers hosted their annual BC High School Chamber Singers Festival with a Zoom event featuring Grammy-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre.

Bakersfield College, BC’s Latinas Unidas student organization, and the Latina Leaders of Kern County came together to host their first webinar in a series on race and diversity relations.

Oct. 31, 2020: Beautiful Bakersfield. Beautiful BC.

We welcomed Chancellor Eloy Oakley, senior administrators from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, and members of the Board of Governors on a virtual visit to BC to meet with students, faculty, staff, and members of the community. Visit the CCCCO Virtual Listening Tour page for more details about the Chancellor’s Office meeting.

I also asked the Women’s History Month Faculty Leads and the BC Pre-Law Club to put together a tribute to the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Thank you Judges Robert Tafoya and Susan Gill, Commissioner Cynthia Loo, and District Attorney Cynthia Zimmerman.

November: A time for thanks

Nov. 7, 2020: A Beautiful Day

The BC Cheer team and Drumline showed up to celebrate early voters on campus for a Get Out The Vote caravan.

Nov. 14, 2020: On Eagle’s Wings

On November 12, the construction crew on the new Science and Engineering building held their topping ceremony. The practice of “topping out” originated as a Scandinavian tradition of placing a tree to appease the spirits of the trees that had been displaced by construction. The practice spread across Europe and eventually the United States, where steel workers place a Christmas tree and an American flag on one of the last beams used in creating the structure of the building.

Nov. 21, 2020: At BC….The Sky Isn’t The Limit

I was so proud when the Campaign for College Opportunity recognized Bakersfield College as a Champion of Higher Education. Over the last five years Bakersfield College has seen an 800% increase in ADT awards, quadrupled Black student completion, and achieved enrollment-completion parity among Latino/a students.

Nov. 28, 2020: Thankful for BC. Thanksgiving 2020

Over Thanksgiving week, I was grateful for all the people that make Bakersfield College such a special place, as we geared up for a slew of events:

Becoming Us – a virtual choir concert,

the final installment of the Panorama Music Summit – featuring Virtuoso jazz and funk bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma,

and the ACCJC Webinar series on The Future of Learning – with conversations with thought spread over 4 days.

December: Looking back on the year

Dec. 5, 2020: BC – A beacon of light during difficult times

Seventy-five students participated in the CARE/CalWORKS Drive Thru Holiday Celebration, with a total of 166 children receiving gifts this holiday season thanks to the generosity of faculty, staff, and community members. Fifty-six BC employees participated in the “Adopt a Family” program. That does not include the amazing staff that donated to our Foundation’s account. CARE/CalWORKS also raised $1600 to support this program from generous direct donations to the BC Foundation and purchases made through Amazon Smile.  

Dec. 12, 2020: BC discusses the Future of Learning and more

The second week of our ACCJC conference featuring leaders in education, civics and policy wrapped up on Dec. 7 and 8, with hundreds of participants from across the state tuning in to #OccupyLearning. The conference was spread out over four days, with two one-hour sessions each day.

Check out this clip featuring Deep Springs Students Sam Clark and Connie Jiang,

Videos from all 4 days are available on the Bakersfield College website.

Dec. 19, 2020: Big week for America, big week for BC — Merry Christmas all

I was so excited that the COVID-19 vaccine was beginning to be distributed throughout our country.

My daughter, Eisha, shared this photo of herself receiving her shot:

Dec. 26, 2020: I heard the bells on Christmas Day – Christmas 2020

I was saddened to hear the news that former Renegade Cheer coach and Alumni Association President Becki Whitson passed away.

Becki Whitson

Thank you all for looking back on a truly remarkable year. We faced many challenges in 2020 – as individuals, as a college, as a community, and as a nation. And in many ways, we were able to join together in unity to support one another and work together to overcome the challenges we could, while showing compassion and comforting our friends and families through the ones we could not.

I am confident that in 2021, we will continue that spirit of unity and camaraderie.


Renegade Athletics Team Store – Extended One Week!

BC Athletics Nike Team Store

We have seen great success with the Nike Renegade Athletics Team Store, so it will remain open for one more week! Click the link below now to get your own 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. 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


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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2 thoughts on “Happy New Year 2021

  1. Jean Fuller January 2, 2021 at 10:32 am Reply

    The BC Team has certainly met the challenges of this difficult year as this record documents. I am proud to be an Alum! And I am so grateful for the support given to our students and community which is so desperately needed. Thank you “We are BC”. Jean

  2. Michael O'Doherty January 2, 2021 at 11:26 am Reply

    A fun recap of the year, it was nice to see another cute picture of Rick Kreiser, and a mention of the Nike Renegade Athletics Team Store.

    Just an FYI, if you go to the link and it says “the store has expired” just call the number showing. When prompted, Press 1 and they will take your order, but don’t wait do it now.

    Best quote I’ve seen so far – Kind of makes you think there has been bad times before,
    “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “It will be happier”
    –Alfred Lord Tennyson

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