Times that call for compassion and love

This has been a sad week with the tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan. On Thursday the bombing attacks outside of Kabul airport killed 13 U.S. service members and as many as 170 other people.

The news coming out of Afghanistan has been painful, and particularly so for our veteran men and women who have served in the region over the last 20 years, and for their families. I’m deeply proud that the Kern Community College District serves over 800 student veterans, and I hope that each of them knows they can turn to our veterans services teams at all of our colleges for any assistance they may need.

I pray for the safety of our military personnel and others who are in extremely dangerous situations. I pray for our veterans who have served in Afghanistan and returned…. I pray for peace and compassion.

On another note, last Saturday I tuned in to the We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert held in Central Park. The free show welcomed 60,000 vaccinated fans.

Andrea Bocelli’s rendition of “O Sole Mio” was breathtaking.

Here is Jennifer Hudson’s performance of “Nessun Dorma”.

And then Barry Manilow was unfortunately interrupted mid-song due to weather as hurricane Henri storm cells brought the threat of lightning. While the concert was much shorter than planned, it was wonderful to see people able to celebrate and gather in community once again after nearly 18 months of pandemic.

Saturday was also the harvest festival Onam, which is the official festival of Kerala, India. Onam commemorates the kind-hearted and much-beloved King Mahabali, who is said to return to Kerala during this festival.

Sonya poses with 20 Onam participants.
This photo was taken two years ago during the Onam celebration in Bakersfield

During the ten-day festivities, devotees ritually bathe, offer prayers, wear traditional clothes — women of the household wear a white and gold saree – participate in dance performances, draw flower rangolis and cook traditional vegetarian feasts called sadya. Sadya is served on banana leaves during Onam.

Check out this article from The Indian Express, which goes into more detail about the importance of this festival.

Good morning, friends…
It is August 28, 2021.
The sun shines bright over KCCD.

This week, the Pirates, the Coyotes, and the Renegades continue to 

Porterville College

PC Returns with new spaces, student excitement, and opportunities for vaccination

Hundreds of students returned to in-person classes at Porterville College this week for the first time in more than a year. Even after being away for a year and a half, as the students return in person, PC is ready for them. “We’ve done a lot to prepare for the return to campus over the past year. First, we addressed health and safety,” President Habib said before listing some recent changes at Porterville College.

New seating areas have been added all around campus buildings and foyers, including furniture with phone and other device charging stations. Our cafeteria has been modernized and we’ve added outdoor WIFI. There is also a lot of new comfortable outdoor seating.

Many students could be found at the Porterville College Bookstore browsing for textbooks, snacks, drinks, PC gear, electronics, and other school essentials.

“Today is our first foot-traffic day,” said store manager Beatrice Arellano. “It’s been really smooth. No problems at all. We’re happy students are back on campus face to face.” New store hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the store will stay open as long as students are there, Monday through Friday, said Arellano.

Outside of the bookstore, a group of freshmen basketball players enjoyed some of the seating in the Student Union. The team members said they liked the campus and were excited about their first year at PC and their first  basketball season. By the looks of this new team led by coach Amaurys Fermin, we’re exited for the season as well!

Inside the Student Center Conference Room in the cafeteria, Dr. Kunal Sukhija, Director of Kaweah Health Street Medicine and the Medical Society of Tulare/Kings County, helped administer a “pop-up” COVID Vaccination Clinic for students and staff.  He talked with a group of nursing students, residents and physicians administering vaccines to Porterville College students.

Out in the campus quad, students visited the Student Services Welcome Area, set up to provide information, games, and PC Swag between classes. It was also the perfect time to introduce incoming students to student clubs.

First semester Biology instructor Denise Jackson was also on hand to welcome students and provide program information. “I thought it would be cool to be here and welcome students,” said Jackson, “So I grabbed a few things and came out here.”

The “things” she grabbed made quite an impression on the Natural Science Department table.  They included porcupine poop, a huge bullfrog tadpole, a clam with calcite, a DNA molecule structure and a model of a human skull.

“We’ve been working hard all summer gearing up for the start of fall,” said Primavera Arvizu, vice president of student services. We offer support and counseling, technology, and financial aid for students.  We make sure they have whatever they need to be successful.”

Friends Benjamin Valencia-Andrade, Miguel Ruiz, Jonathan Carrillo and Marco Vilog, walked around together from booth to booth, getting information, asking questions and picking up free items.

Local radio station Hitz104.9 played music, and frequent announcements throughout the day reminding students to get their COVID Vaccination.

“I just hope they learn something about Porterville College that works for them that they didn’t know before they showed up,” said Vice President of Instruction Dr. Thad Russell.

For more Opening Week photos, visit https://photos.app.goo.gl/JogPqoAL6dKwQ2ZYA

Student Story: Marivid Sepulveda

Marivid Sepulveda comes to campus each day with a dream of becoming the best version of herself.  “Ever since I was 13 years old my dad always woke me up in the morning to go work in the fields, so I have a lot of experience in fieldwork… but I always thought ‘I wanna be the one doing the orders and the other stuff!’”

This first year Agribusiness major didn’t initially choose to attend college, but life has a way of steering you in new directions, “I didn’t always want to do this”, said Sepulveda. “[In my family] when you’re younger, they tell you either come to work in the fields, or hit them books. Right now, I could go work in the fields no problem for $12 an hour, but am I still going to be able to do that work when I’m 50? And that’s not enough to take care of my kids. Thinking about my future now, I’d rather be 50 years old and the one in the truck making the calls and making the orders… and making the money.”

Marivid is a single mother of three.  Not too long ago, she found herself without a place for them to live.  “3, 4 years ago, I ended up homeless, I was actually working with my daughter [holding her] in a baby seat.  She would have to go with me and she was only like 7 months old. When I would move the ladder for the oranges, I would move her with me. Ever since then, I just know I can’t let my kids down.”

It was that hard time in her life that had her finally say “enough is enough”. She saw an opportunity to change her life around at Portervillec College, not only for herself, but for her children.  She explains, “At Porterville college they set that plan and schedule for you, that I can see myself in two years actually graduating, when 5 years ago I didn’t believe I could ever do that. It’s a perfect opportunity now.  While my kids are at school, I’m at school too. My kids are my support.  They’re the ones telling me ‘Mom, you can do it’. It’s them that drives me.” 

Marivid is excited about our return to campus and says she appreciates the rules set in place to keep her and others safe. “I’m glad we have rules to keep us safe.  I’m here on campus, then go back home, study with my kids, then back here again hitting the books the next day.  I want to keep my kids healthy, myself healthy and everybody else healthy. I don’t want to get sick or my kids to get sick.  Nobody wants to miss out on school.  We’ve missed already so much.”

Marivid is grateful that PC is here to provide education for people like her.  She says, “I used to be a negative person, now I’m all about this. I was born and raised in Porterville. This is all me right here. My daughters are fueling my fire back. I feel like I should be here.  Like I’m meant to be here.”

Campus Quotable

“I want to express to you all how beautiful and welcoming the campus was today. The signage was great, instructions clear, new bathroom upgrades are lovely (yay for changing tables too!). It is clear to me that a lot of care and work went into making the campus welcoming and safe for everyone. Thank you to everyone involved. It was a beautiful thing to see.” – Karen Bishop, Professor and Chair of the Social Science Division

Improvements to campus include a redesigned cafeteria and Student Life Center (Pirates Cove), improved seating in building entryways, and more outdoor seating for students to enjoy between classes

PC Math

I was delighted to read this email from Melissa Long, English Professor, Outcomes Coordinator and AB705 Implementation Coordinator:

I want to highlight the terrific work our math department is doing and share with you the new Just Equations report, “Solving for Equity in Practice: New Insights on Advancing College Math Opportunity and Success,” in which Porterville College is featured prominently.  Please take a moment to read the article and commend our math colleagues for this accomplishment.

Cerro Coso Community College

CC offers private security courses

Complete two one-day courses in a weekend and you can advance your career opportunities in private security and receive your guard card.  Cerro Coso is offering classes back to back, ADMJ C050 Powers to Arrest & Weapons of Mass Destruction and ADMJ C054 Officer Safety and First Aid/CPR at the Bishop, Ridgecrest, and Tehachapi campuses in October. “Since the tragedy of 9/11 private security has been the fastest-growing field in America,” said Professor Dr. Jarrod Bowen.

“I have been a certified BSIS instructor since 2009 and I can say with confidence that the increase in salary and professionalism in the field of private security makes this training invaluable to anyone interested in a law enforcement future, private or public.

This program is authorized by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.  For more information on the program contact Department Chair Peter Fulks at 760-384-6166 or email him at peter.fulks@cerrocoso.edu.

Submit COVID-19 Vaccination Proof Online

Cerro Coso students and employees can now submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination on the KCCD Campus Pass App and on the website on the Covid-19 Resources page.

CC Welcomes Students Back to Campus

As first-and second-year students begin their in-person Coyote experience, student Ambassador Geraldine Valles and John McHenry and staff member Kim Carrasco greeted them the first two days of classes at the Ridgecrest campus with maps, class locations, and breakfast.  They also taught them how to download the KCCD Campus Pass App and scan various QR codes around campus. All designed to help them settle in to the new semester. 

Bakersfield College

Renegade Room Accepting Dine-in Reservations, To-go Orders

The Renegade Room, a public restaurant operated by students enrolled in Bakersfield College’s Culinary Arts program, is now accepting dine-in reservations and to-go orders for the fall semester. The Renegade Room offers gourmet, fresh restaurant style meals and service while students receive hands-on training in both the kitchen and front of the house customer service roles.

Starting September 8th, the Renegade Room will be open for Wednesday lunch service from 11:15 am to 12:30 pm. Beginning September 14th, Renegade Room will begin serving dinners on select Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30pm. Make your reservations early by visiting our website and booking a table. 

Menus are emailed weekly to patrons who sign up by contacting 661-395-4441 or email marah.meek@bakersfieldcollege.edu

BC’s Veterans Services Holds Information Sessions

Bakersfield College’s Veterans Resource Center held two information sessions for student veterans and military-affiliated students on Wednesday, August 25. The 2-hour programs provided students with information on support services and some of the most frequently requested resources.

Jenny Frank, BC’s Manager of Veterans Services and Programs was excited to see students face-to-face. She says, “We have many students who have never had the opportunity to step foot inside BC’s beautiful Veterans Resource Center and we want them to know we’re here and that this space exists for them.”

BC Student Life Hosts 2021 Welcome Week

The Office of Student Life at Bakersfield College hosted the first of two Welcome Weeks this past week.

Activities included Welcome Tents placed throughout the campus daily, Renegade Rollout where free donuts and student planners were handed out, Pizza with the SGA Pres & town hall meeting,  and inflatable Joust & Boxing on the CSS lawn. Next week’s events include Welcome Tents, The Student Involvement Festival, Distinguished Speaker Series with Criminal Profiler & Forensic Linguist James Fitzgerald, and a Live Band Event featuring Dancing Tommy.

Check out the photos from Week 1 below!

SGA President Edith Mata & Student Trustee Gian Gayatao at the Inflatable Joust & Boxing Event
The counseling team at one of the Welcome Tents
Staff hands out donuts and planners on Day 1

Poetry Corner

Photo of Rockport

Last week, I shared the fourth part of Jack Hernandez‘s poetry series “Rockport in June.”

Please enjoy Part 5:

On this warm day
the water flows
unhurriedly by,
my granddaughter
brings in a tiny
snail in a cup,
we feel the breeze
and talk of dinner,
not seeing the snail
inching free
toward the beckoning
ocean over which
birds sweep
beyond our grasp.

Chancellor’s Seminar Series

On Tuesday, I continued my Chancellor’s Seminar Series with “Caring for the Campus Community”. We heard strategies that each college is using to help guide their students, faculty, and staff through the difficulties of the pandemic.

Rich McCrow and Manny Mourtzanos shared from Bakersfield College:

Roger Perez and Primavera Arvizu spoke about Porterville College:

And Heather Ostash and Katie Bachman discussed Cerro Coso Community College:

Thank you to all our presenters and those who tuned in to hear the discussion. And as always, thank you to Todd Coston for provided technical support.

You can see videos from our past Chancellor’s Seminar Series at https://www.kccd.edu/chancellors-office/chancellors-seminar-series.

Fun Photos & Spotted on Social Media

I was honored to join Karen Ross, Secretary of California Dept. Of Food and Agriculture who was visiting Superintendent Aaron Resendez of McFarland School District. KCCD trustee and Kern County Farm Bureau Executive Director Romeo Agbalog and others joined the event that included a tour of Browning Road School, McFarland Junior High, and McFarland High School/Early College.


Here are a few photos from a recent Board Docs Refresher Training session. Thank you Danielle Hillard for leading this session!

Check out this sneak peak from Cerro Coso Volleyball picture day:

BC Nursing shared this photo of the Umoja Career Prep Academy Students:

Back to School Photos

I enjoyed seeing all the photos students, faculty and staff across the district have been sharing during our first week back to in-person instruction.

Here’s a great post from Porterville College President Claudia Habib:

Cerro Coso President Sean Hancock was ready to greet students:

PC’s Sarah Rector was ready to start the fall semester:

BC’s Olivia Garcia was happy to be back in her office:

Cerro Coso’s Heather Ostash was helping out with CC Rocks:

In the News

Community Voices: Welcome back, students

BC Chemistry Professor Deborah Rosenthal wrote this wonderful piece in the Bakersfield Californian about getting our students back on campus.

“Our community has many first-generation students with dreams of becoming engineers, biologists, physicians, physical therapists, science teachers, professors, pharmacist, researchers, etc. In the science field we need them on campus so we can guide them and instill confidence. I have a newfound excitement to be on campus this fall. I thank the community for trusting me with their children and I look forward to seeing students on campus.



That’s a wrap for now.
See you next Saturday!

The future is bright at KCCD.

a joyful and grateful Chancellor


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