Wishing you a beautiful and fun-filled 2022 from all of us at KCCD – #DareMightyThings

Hope is being able to see that there is light
despite all of the darkness — Desmond Tutu

I was sad to read about the passing of Desmond Tutu, a bold and fearless leader who always called it as he saw it.

In re-reading his life’s journey through all my news feeds, the day after Christmas, it put me in an elevated state of awareness during this week between Dec 26th and Jan 1st; a critical week as we sunset the current year and watch the sunrise of the new year. As I write this blog, I am overcome with a tremendous sense of anticipation for KCCD in 2022. There is so much movement and energy that is coalescing and gaining momentum across KCCD. Join us friends in this new year as we continue to #DareMightyThings.

KCCD Trustees

Good morning and Happy New Year Friends.
It is January 1, 2022
The sun shine bright over KCCD

I have been blogging for 9 years.

Today, as is the tradition for my New Year blog publication, I will go back and share past posts from each of the years since 2013. Full disclosure….. this is a long blog with link that will take you to the past. Take time to relax, click the links and sink into our stories.


My first post was on January 9, 2013 – “So…What’s it like being BC’s president?

“Let me tell you, being president of Bakersfield College is like being strapped to a rocket at the speed of light. So much is happening so very fast, and all the moving parts which keep the college going can be difficult to keep track of. However, I am glad to have been hitting the ground running and working with an amazing team of individuals who all have the ultimate goal – success for all Bakersfield College students – in mind at all times.”

Media Frenzy

So much has changed in the 9 years since I wrote these words – and yet, so much remains the same. I still work with an amazing team of individuals with a laserlike focus on student success and equity for all the students the Kern Community College District serves. 

2013 was Bakersfield College’s Centennial year, and I have loved looking back on my posts from that year and remembering all the ways we celebrated that milestone.

In March 2013, I wrote about “Planting 100 trees at BC to celebrate 100 years.” 

Sonya Christian and Janet Tarjan

“The Tree Foundation of Kern (http://www.urbanforest.org/) sponsored yesterday’s tree planting of the Centennial trees. The trees were donated by contributions from Trans West and PG & E. The purpose for the variety of trees selected is to create a shade walk on campus, beautify and create a selection of trees for an arboretum. The arboretum status will allow us to also hold industry tests for the professional groups such as California Landscape Contractors Association,  California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, and the International Society of Arborists.

It is always great to see our community come to its college and yesterday, March 23rd, they certainly did, with enthusiasm to plant the 49 trees.  The Ag department had the ground prepped ahead of time with the trees in their 5-gallon containers ready for the volunteers to plant.

Our group of five, Sonette Russell (Forestry major transferring to Humboldt State at the end of this term), her nephew Wyatt Wynn, Neeley Hatridge (faculty from the Communications department), Janet Tarjan (math faculty) and myself had responsibility for a tall beautiful Russian Olive tree.  I must confess that I did a lot more standing around than working with the shovel.”

On April 20, 2013, the 100th tree was planted at Garden Fest – the California Oak

The late Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall joined then-VP of Instruction (and now KCCD Trustee) Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg and myself in digging the hole for the California Oak. 

In June, I wrote about BC at ATD – when KCCD sent a delegation to the Achieving the Dream kick-off conference in Orlando. 

“Achieving the Dream focuses on equity and excellence and closing the achieving gap is a primary focus of the work.  By adopting a rigorous approach of studying the data by drilling down, interventions can be developed that are laser focused on a certain target population with the goal of improving their progression towards goal attainment.”

Our work with Achieving the Dream – and BC being named an Achieving the Dream Leader College in 2015 – is among my proudest achievements during my time as Bakersfield College president. 

In September 2013, the CCLC Came to Town as Bakersfield College hosted the Community College League of California. 

“In my introductory remarks, I talked about the leadership of people in Bakersfield, over the last 100 years, who believed in education being the right for all Californians. In 1913, the vision of this small rural community was to create a path to the higher education offered at Berkeley. Decades later, it was a Bakersfield legislator, Dorothy Donahoe, who initiated the work on the California Master Plan.

It seems fitting that the CCLC is promoting the same vision of equity that was articulated right here in Bakersfield in 1913. Joining us from CCLC were staffers Ryan McElhenny, Lizette Navarette, and Teresa Tena.”

Also from September – I had to share this photo that Tom Moran took of Jennifer Garrett and her daughters…. so cute!


On January 1, 2014, I wrote about BC’s Centennial Gala – A Night to Remember!

At the event, Mary Kay Shell and Jean Fuller were recognized as being among the 100 Stars of Bakersfield College.

On February 9, 2014, I reached my 100th post – and fittingly, it was a Happy 100th Birthday to Marian Triplett.

Her life story is amazing, from extraordinary beginnings: 

On February 6, 1914, Marian Naomi was born prematurely at home, the second-born twin of her sister Jeanne. Marian was small and weak, and her color was not good. The doctor thought she would not live, but her father, James Triplett, gave her a reviving teaspoon of whiskey, and a box in the home oven served as her incubator. According to family lore, the story spread that “twin triplets” had been born. People came from miles around to their home in Fullerton, California, expecting to find six babies.

To a lifelong dedication to learning:

“After her children were raised and her husband had passed away, Marian earned a librarian assistant certificate from Bakersfield College. She had always wanted to work in a library, and “Marian the librarian” went to work at the Beale Memorial Library and volunteered at the Emerson Junior High School library. An annual award was established in Marian’s name to honor an enthusiastic student reader at Emerson.

Finances and family postponed Marian’s higher education, but her love of reading has never diminished. Marian returned to Bakersfield College in her 70s and earned her own college degree.  Now, at 100, she still reads the paper every day. Not bad for a baby who wasn’t expected to live and a girl who couldn’t learn to read!”

In April, I wrote about the Eloquent and graceful speakers at a recent meeting – when three amazing women from BC spoke at a KCCD Board of Trustees meeting at Bakersfield College. Liz Rozell spoke in support of BC pursuing the opportunity to offer a baccalaureate degree in Industrial Automation (BC’s first baccalaureate class graduated in 2018!). I’d like to highlight her comments again here, as I reflect on the long road from vision to completion that BC undertook to provide this opportunity for our students:

“We can provide educational services in reaction to workforce data or we can be strategic in what we want education to look like in Kern County. It may very well play a part in driving the workforce development in our area. We need to be visionary rather than reactionary.”

On November 19, 2014, I wrote about the Kern Ag Summit.

“Bakersfield was built on agriculture, and it is important that we always remember how much of the area’s economy is reliant on the fertile fields surrounding our city. Last month, Bakersfield College led the effort (thank you Lindsey Ono, Chris McCraw, Leah Carter, and Mary Jo Pasek) to bring additional focus to agriculture, and to have a broad conversation on the issues and opportunities facing the southern San Joaquin Valley.  This was part of the Learn@BC! series for 2014-2015.

Thank you, on behalf of Bakersfield College, to Congressman Kevin McCarthy, our honorary chair and keynote speaker, for his time. Thank you, Senator Jean Fuller, for taking the time to talk about water issues and legislation.  Thank you, Congressman David Valadao, for helping our attendees understand more about the issues and trends affecting agriculture in the valley. Thank you to California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, for your time speaking to the group about upcoming needs of agriculture on a statewide basis.”

Selfie with California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross!
Kevin McCarthy at the Ag Summit


In April 2015, I had back-to-back posts about the Edward Simonsent Performing Arts Center. On April 24, I wrote about Reintroducing the new (sort of) Simonsen Performing Arts Center. The fully-renovated facility had a ribbon cutting on April 22, 2015.

“What you see here today, is what we call ‘timeless’ architecture. It’s borrowing from existing architecture around campus, and creating a ‘new’ form to an old vernacular – but not allowing it to compete for attention. Here, we basically emulated the inviting approach similar to the Administration and Student Union entries to develop this ‘grand entrance’ and approach into the building – expanding the lobby and spilling out into this quad.”

A few remarks from that day –

Harvey Hall

Nick Ortiz

Romeo Agbalog

Then, on April 29, I wrote about the BC Spring Choral Concert, which was held in the facility. 

Check out this performance of “Homeward Bound”:

And speaking of choral music at BC – on July 22, I wrote about BC Choir Reunion Celebrates Historic Victory’s 50th anniversary.

Nearly 3 dozen members of the 1965 Bakersfield College choir reunited to share memories and relive glory days from when they took first place at the prestigious Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in North Wales.

“The competition was the centerpiece of a trip of a lifetime for the choir’s 48 young men and women, a six-week European tour that saw the troupe perform in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France.

First, the choir succeeded in a sustained two-year effort to raise the $54,000 they needed to make the trip happen. (I highly recommend reading Herb Benham’s fantastic story in the Bakersfield Californian for more on what it took to even get to Wales in the first place.)

Then, it was off to New York and “across the pond” for a whirlwind schedule of performances in nearly a dozen different nations and territories, including a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition of their talents for Pope Paul VI at his papal summer residence Castel Gondolfo just outside Rome.

No pressure.  But even the tension of performing for a papal audience couldn’t have matched what those young men and women felt hitting the stage in Wales.

After competing against the top voices of Europe and collecting their championship (by just one point!), the crew capped off their victory on the way home with one final stop at the White House for some congratulations from — and a performance for — President Lyndon Johnson.”

BC Choir 1965
The BC Choir in competition in 1965. Photo courtesy Char Gaines

Such a long and proud history of choral greatness at Bakersfield College!

In August of 2015, BC held the inaugural New Student Convocation in the Outdoor Theater. 

“The official convocation ceremony kicked off at exactly 7:13 p.m. (19:13 in military time, symbolizing the year BC was founded) as our Renegade mascot marched down to the stage and rang the ceremonial gong.  Nicky Damania mentioned this to me and asked that I include this in my opening remarks.

The vibration of the gong symbolizes the beginning of our incoming students’ academic journey — and if they each work hard, they’ll hear the gong sound once again in their honor in the Counseling Center once they’re confirmed for graduation.”

One of my favorite parts of my time as BC President was spending time celebrating students. I’m very eager to be able to do more of that as KCCD Chancellor when it is safe to do so. 

In my first blog in September 2015, I shared the news that BC Drumline and Concert Band Director Tim Heasley had recently found the audio file to the BC Fight Song

The fanfare from Quo Vadis, which goes directly into the Renegade Fight Song, was arranged by Calvin Mueller. Cal Mueller was the BC Band Director from 1947-1967. It is thought that, for the fight song, Calvin used the tune from the 1944 film Meet Me In St. Louis, and the Quo Vadis movie from 1951, making the arrangement sometime between 1951 and 1953.”

We will fight fight fight when we’re winning

We will fight fight fight when we lose

Ere play ere goes ere the whistle blows.

We will fight where ere we choose.

We will fight fight fight in the morning,

We will fight fight fight in the night.

We are bound to win today, as we battle in the fray.

We will fight fight fight fight fight.

BC Sounds record

For my September 11, 2015, blog, I wrote about the Porterville College campus. I had visited the campus for the September 10 KCCD Board of Trustees meeting, and I shared some thoughts about what makes Porterville College so great:

“Communities aren’t defined by an insular silo approach to problem-solving.  They’re defined by individuals moving to take care of those problems.  And for decades, Porterville College has taken a proactive, can-do approach to tackling issues with studied persuasion and plenty of old-fashioned heart.

Among its many virtues, perhaps the aspect of PC that I’ve always treasured the most is the sense of intellectual curiosity exhibited by PC’s faculty and staff.  Nowhere is that thirst for new and exciting pursuits more in evidence than in Porterville’s exceptional CHAP program.”

BC Professor Oliver Rosales modeled Bakersfield College’s CHAP (Cultural and Historical Awareness Program) after PC’s. It’s one example of the many ties that link the KCCD colleges together. 

Porterville College
Courtesy Porterville College

On October 17, 2015, I wrote my 200th blog post: “Retreat Summer 2015 – Teamwork, Accountability, Wellness, Trust and Fun!

The BC administrative team retreated for 2 days over the summer break.

“I asked Karla Young, our new Student Success Program Manager to capture this two-day event.  Let’s hear from Karla:

Part of that year-round drive for excellence includes our summer Administrative Council Retreat, a much-needed annual opportunity for some connection and reflection throughout our BC family.

Over the course of the retreat, the entire management team at BC came together to reflect on accomplishments, develop work plans for the upcoming year, reconnect, foster leadership, and enjoy a friendly lip-sync competition.”

On Veterans Day 2015, I wrote about Veterans Day, Vet Fest and Remembering America’s Best

BC’s Third Annual was a greatest success with dignitaries who honored Bakersfield College’s student veterans.

I also shared the eloquent words of Paul Beckworth, who wrote this in his 2015 Veterans Day message:

After your years of service it is now your time, as Bakersfield College student-veterans, to move forward.  You have a great responsibility.   You have a great responsibility to you; A responsibility to use your military experience to better yourself, your family and your community.  You have a responsibility to get educated, and pursue your goals in a timely, productive manner.  It is indeed frustrating at times.  It isn’t easy.  If it was easy, everyone would do it.  But, you aren’t everyone.  You are the real 1%.  Only 1% ever served in the military.  If you are part of that elite percentage, then college is simply another challenge to overcome before the next challenge.  The fact that you are at Bakersfield College says this about you: You don’t fight to hold ground.  You fight to win.

Just came across this photo of Nan that I love. Enjoy!

And my friend Janet Tarjan

In December 2015, I wrote about Vision for the Valley, as BC hosted the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Vision for the Valley summit. 

Energy, Sustainability and the Economy panel

Nick Ortiz and our friends at the Chamber really outdid themselves, creating a half-day symposium that assembled some of our area’s most knowledgeable business, legislative and analytical minds to examine issues we all face every day (whether we think about them or not) — issues around energy, water, agriculture, housing, transportation and their interlocking impacts on Kern County’s economy…

As for the panels themselves…well, delving into “big think” topics like this can be an enormous challenge, but the summit’s roster of insightful speakers — under the well-orchestrated direction of moderators Richard Beene and Louis Amestoy of the Bakersfield Californian — crystallized the major points around these complex issues, making them all very relatable.”

I was so proud that BC was able to host such an important summit, and be at the forefront of discussions that greatly impact everyone who lives in our community. 


For my January 30, 2016, blog, I wrote about Engaging in Our Community: MLK Breakfast.

The breakfast on Martin Luther King Jr. Day – January 18 that year – brought the community together in harmony to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King and further his message. Many of our BC Renegades were in attendance.

“I am proud of our work at Bakersfield College, working with the community of Bakersfield, in our own way, letting freedom ring from Panorama Bluffs, through education and our work together, for we are speeding that day called for in Dr. King’s stirring words.”

I wrote my February 5, 2016, blog from San Antonio, where I was attending the AACC Guided Pathways Institute with several BC colleagues. 

Zav Dadabhoy, Lesley Bonds, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Kimberly Bligh, Sonya Christian

“Bakersfield College is one of the 30 colleges nation-wide selected to be part of the three-year AACC Guided Pathways Initiative.  Long days at the Pathways Institute ….. visionary and detailed work all at once.  There are two other colleges from California as part of the Pathways initiative — Mt SAC and Irvine Valley.  The goal of this initiative is to get students from High School to degree completion in the shortest amount of time while improving the quality of the learning.

My blog post also focused on the KCF event on BC’s campus to introduce the College Futures Foundation to key Kern County education partners. 

We are so lucky in the Kern Community College District to have amazing community partners that share our goals and vision, and work with us to support our students and provide quality education. 

The week of March 19, 2016, was A Whirlwind Week at Bakersfield College

Among the highlights:

BC Professor Paula Parks was named NAACP’s Educator of the Year. Janet Flulks, Nicky Damania, and Grace Comisso presented at the ASCCC Academic Academy in Sacramento. Janet spoke about how BC addresses equity with Making it Happen and Guided Pathways. Nicky and Grace shared insights from their work on the Students of Concern team.

Assemblymember Rudy Salas recognized BC’s good work, and named me “Woman of the Year” for the 32nd Assembly District – an honor I was truly humbled to receive.

On April 26th, the Board of Governors visited Bakersfield College, and I wrote about it in my April 30 blog

“It was a treat having two members of the Board of Governors, Arnoldo Avalos and Connie Conway, visit BC on Tuesday, April 26th.  Rather than doing a special series of presentations, we decided to fit their itinerary into what was happening at BC.  The morning started with them attending an annual event where we connect with leaders from high school and share with them the advances made on the goals set the previous year.  After that, they toured the campus and connected with faculty and students in the sciences, music, CTE etc. Thank you Joe Saldivar, Jen Garrett, Liz Rozell, Manny Gonzales, Clayton Fowler, Nicky Damania and others who helped.  And the fabulous Jennifer Marden who pulled all this together.”

In my June 11, 2016, blog, I enjoyed Celebrating our faculty, staff, students and the community

On June 9th, Mayor Harvey Hall, as chair of the Bakersfield College Blue Ribbon Committee, briefed the KCCD Board about the work being done by the committee in planning and ensuring a state-of-the-art campus and quality facilities for the next 50 years. 

And thank you to the senior advisor for Measure J — Congressman Bill Thomas.

I shared about how we celebrated our amazing students at the 2016 Commencement Ceremony on May 13th – BC’s 102nd.

We also celebrated our faculty and staff at Closing Day – check out our planning team:

My August 6, 2016, blog included a tribute to Jack Brigham, who passed away in July 2016.

A well-respected group of speakers took turns on the stage as they shared memories, pronouncing the love Jack had for BC, his students, and accomplishing the greatest common good. Brigham’s friend, Milt Younger, led the honors, praising his activism, philanthropy and passion for politics. Mayor Harvey Hall, Abdallah Ben Hamallah, Bob Severs, John Hefner, Cory Carter, Jorge Guillen, Dolores Huerta, Judy Sims-Barlow, Javier Valdez, Alex Dominguez, and Randal Beeman followed by describing how Brigham had changed their lives and motivated them to be better people. To ensure that Brigham’s legacy of inspiring young people in Kern County continues, a scholarship will be established in his name.

In my September 24, 2016, blog, I shared photos from the Yes on J team at the Kern County Fair:

I am eternally grateful for the numerous volunteers who put in countless hours working to get Measure J passed and secure #ABetterBC (and #ABetterKCCD)! Love love the title of this September blog – Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future; faith is the courage to dance to it today.

On October 29, I wrote about Moments that Take Our Breath Away“On Friday, October 28th, the Wonderful Academy opened its doors to their new location.  Lynda and Stewart Resnick have been great partners of Bakersfield College and committed to advancing the educational attainment levels in the Central Valley.  Trustee Romeo Agbalor, Rich McCrow, and Raquel Lopez represented KCCD and BC at this event.  There were many dignitaries to support the great work being done by Wonderful.”

On Nov 12, 2016 blog post, I am euphoric thanking Kern County for voting Yes on J!

After months of hard work, I am so grateful to our voters for supporting our community colleges! And I am grateful to the many volunteers who turned out over the past few months to get out the vote and spread the word about the great things that this bond will do for Bakersfield College and all of the college in the Kern Community College District. And a special thank you to my friend who reminds me everyday to Keep the Faith!

Bruce our Measure J election dog


The January 29, 2017 blog starts with the sentence “it has been a busy week at BC” which seems to be the case all the time 🙂

Loved attending the game when Coach Paula Dahl received recognition for her 300th game.

The phrase that struck me as I re-read my Feb 18, 2017 blog postUncommon accomplishments require uncommon commitment. Thank you Dr. Paula Parks for this phrase and your commitment to BC’s Umoja program. Jay Tamsi, President of the Kern Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, let me know that I was selected as Woman of the Year.

I was so thrilled to share in my April 29, 2017, blog, about the announcement of The Kern Promise.

So many amazing community leaders, political representatives, and industry partners joined together to pledge commitment to The Kern Promise – the held students complete their Associate Degree for Transfer within two instructional years through structured support, priority access to courses, and financial assistance to those who qualify.

Check out the incredible list of speakers, leaders and friends who joined me in signing The Kern Promise:

  • Tom Burke – KCCD Chancellor
  • Superintendent Bryon Schaefer – KHSD
  • President Horace Mitchell – CSUB
  • Trustee Bill Thomas – KCCD Board of Trustees
  • Karen Goh – Mayor of Bakersfield
  • Leticia Perez – Supervisor, County of Kern
  • Michael Turnipseed – CEO, Kern Taxpayers Association
  • Michael Herrera – Senator Jean Fuller’s Office
  • Amanda Sampson – Assembly Member Rudy Salas’ Office
  • Michael Bowers – Senator Andy Vidak’s Office
  • Lauren Skidmore – Assembly Member Vince Fong
  • Nick Ortiz – Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce
  • Jay Tamsi – KC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Arleana Waller – KC Black Chamber of Commerce
  • Jose Gurrola – Mayor of Arvin
  • Rebecca Farley – Wonderful Academy
  • Adam Alvidrez – Chevron
  • Kristen Barnes – Kern Community Foundation
  • Richard Chapman — Kern Economic Development Corporation

In May 2017, BC hosted the “Leadership Matters: Re-Imagining Leadership to Sustain Transformative Change to Advance Student Success & Equity” summit. Colleges from all over California met to discuss the Guided Pathways Initiative and how we can better accommodate and serve our community and our 2.1 million students across our beautiful state.

I’d like to again share Chancellor Eloy Oakley’s keynote address


I opened my February 4, 2018, blog by sharing the Express Enrollment event held at the BC SouthWest center – which then was located at the corner of Buena Vista and Stockdale. BC has since opened an all new, state of the art, campus center at 9400 Camino Media:

On May 20, I shared the sad news that former Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall had passed away. Harvey was a longtime supporter and friend of Bakersfield College – a true Renegade who always put students’ needs first. The entire KCCD community is grateful for his steadfast support of the Measure J bond – he was the chair of the Measure J bond for Bakersfield College.

In November 2018, BC received the 2018 state Chancellor’s Student Success Award in recognition of the college’s intensive focus on strengthening curricular alignment throughout the K-16 educational pipeline.


We welcomed the Spring 2019 semester by announcing that Jean Fuller would be partnering with BC to lead the Early College program.

We quickly expanded the Early College program – in February, we launched Early College at McFarland High School!

I loved Romeo Agbalog’s quote from his remarks at the event:

“This program began with a conversation that started with three simple words–‘What If We?’” Agbalog said. “Now it’s not just an idea. It’s happening, and it’s happening here first.”

I also loved Jean Fuller’s remarks:

“I wanted to be somebody, but I didn’t know what a somebody was,” Fuller said. “[Your children] can be whatever they want to be, and what we need them to be.”

On May 19, I celebrated the Class of 2019. I called it a record breaking historical evening – we had no way of knowing then how historic it would be, being our last in-person commencement before a pandemic hit and caused us to cancel the in-person events for 2020 and 2021.

That year, we celebrated the highest number of eligible graduates to obtain a degree in BC’s history, with more than 2,746 students eligible.

In my June 15, 2019, blog, I wished Liz Rozell a happy retirement.

That same blog, I congratulated  Senator Jean Fuller and Grimm Family Educational Foundation CEO Barbara Grimm Marshall as they were inducted into the Bakersfield City School District Hall of Fame. A KCCD group attended the ceremony — Kern Community College District Trustees Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg and Romeo Agbalog, his wife, Lilly Perez Agbalog, and Bakersfield College employees Steve Watkin, Kylie Swanson, Norma Rojas-Mora and Michele Bresso — celebrating the service of Jean and Barbara, partners in BC’s Early College Program that enables high school students to earn simultaneous college degrees. 


As we started 2020, I shared some throwback photos of BC in the snow.

I also shared some of the photos and stories from when BC made its big move to the hill in January 1956 – 65 years ago!

In March 2020, the whole world changed. 

In my March 7 blog, I shared that Gov. Gavin Newsom had declared a state of emergency in California. At Bakersfield College, we were closely monitoring the situation and mobilizing teams to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe and educated about how COVID-19 was progressing and what we needed to do as a campus. 

By March 22, I was announcing that #BCGoesOnline. The last of our three physical campuses shut down on March 20. 

“In this time of uncertainty and crisis, I am amazed at how swiftly and robustly BC moved to continue supporting our students. We have been ahead of the curve with our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, sending out emails to our faculty and staff as early as January 30 with resources to keep themselves safe.

From the moment the incident command team was activated in late February , we canceled events as we systematically ramped up our actions to ensure the health and safety of our campus community. Over the next three weeks we systematically moved all of our instruction, student services, and academic support online while preparing 40,000 students and 1,000 employees with resources for using Canvas, ConferZoom, Starfish and accessing their desktops remotely.”

I am still so proud of our campus community and our ability to quickly move where the puck was going to be – and not just play where the puck was. The ability to anticipate what issues might arise and figure out creative solutions – this allowed us to continue serving our students during times of great uncertainty.

Thank you to Bill Moseley and the Academic Technology team for the heavy lift as BC went online.

Then, Memorial Day 2020, the world shifted again as George Floyd was murdered in the streets of Minneapolis. It sparked a summer of protests and hard conversations as we as a nation grappled with how to move forward, and what our future should look like. 

In June, Bakersfield College presented “#LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation,” a series of programs that focused on the tough issues of race in America. Throughout Bakersfield, events were also held, including the Unity in the Community Peace Rally. I was unable to attend that event in person, but shared a video message:

I invite you all to look back over the videos and news coverage from that series of events, available on the BC website, as we continue these conversations.

BC’s 2020 Commencement was shifted to a special televised event that aired on KGET on July 12. In keeping with tradition, we opened the program with a video of John Gerhold performing the National Anthem (recorded at the 2019 commencement ceremony):

I shared videos from the event over the next several weeks, starting with the July 18 blog. (You can see all the videos, including the Early College Celebration, at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/admissions/2020-commencement-tribute.) 

Also on July 18, I shared the news of John Lewis’ passing – he had died the day before. I shared this tweet he had posted on June 27, 2018:

I encourage everyone to live their lives in a way to “never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”On July 29, BC aired the program “#GoodTrouble: Celebrating the Life of John Lewis.” You can view videos from that program on the BC website.

On July 27, I shared this video message from the BC Executive Team, encouraging our community to continue keeping up safe and healthy practices during the pandemic:

In my September 19, 2020 “Finding our path to peace” blog, I wrote about the catastrophic wildfires that burned across California in 2020. I also wrote about the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

There will never be another Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But there will be many more women who will follow in her footsteps and continue the path she began, and change the world.”

Bakersfield College honored RBG’s legacy with a video program, and the videos are available online.

Check out the Lifetime Achievement award to Corny Rodriguez.

And the Lifetime Achievement award to Sandi Taylor


In my January 30, 2021, blog, I shared how the Central Valley was taking the center stage. Dolores Huerta was chosen as one of the speakers at “Celebrating America,” the concert to honor President Jo Biden’s inauguration.

I had also noticed in a photo of the president in the Oval Office, that he had placed a bust of Cesar Chavez behind his desk.

NPR interviewed Dolores Huerta about the significance of featuring Cesar Chavez so prominently:

It’s really a very strong message that the strongest person in the whole world, the president of the United States of America, would have a bust of Cesar Chavez, a very simple, humble farmworker, a leader, a person who stood up for gun violence, who dedicated his life to make life better for the poorest of the poor – to me, that was a very strong message.”

Also in January, some in our KCCD community began receiving the COVID-19 vaccine – here are KCCD Trustee Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg and track & field coach Pam Kelly:

And speaking of vaccinations – on March 21, BC held its first mass drive-thru vaccination event, doling out 1,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses. It was the first mass drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Kern County! 

Bakersfield College held several such events over the following months. I’m so proud of this service BC was able to provide to the Kern County community.

Here’s Rudy Salas’ remarks from the press confrerence:

On June 26, 2021, I wrote my final blog as Bakersfield College President, and I went through some of my proudest accomplishments during my time at BC. 

Measure J:

Thank you once again Bill Thomas!

Nicole Parra – thank you for your work on Measure J

BC’s Centennial Celebration:

The 2018 Commencement – which celebrated the first Dual Enrollment class from Wonderful Academy, the first cohort of The Kern Promise, AND the first four-year baccalaureate degree recipients from Bakersfield College. 

I so loved my time spent as President of Bakersfield College. I truly was the luckiest and happiest college president.

I began my new position as KCCD Chancellor on July 1, 2021. In my July 3 blog – my first as Chancellor – I shared how KCCD was Daring Mighty Things. 

The phrase “Dare Mighty Things” comes from a Teddy Roosevelt quote:

“Far better is it to dare mighty things,
to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure …
han to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much,
because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

I was so inspired on April 19 – the day that the KCCD Board of Trustees announced that I would be the next chancellor – by the Ingenuity helicopter that made its first flight ever on another world when it flew on Mars. Earlier when the Perseverance rover that carried the Ingenuity helicopter to Mars was landing, a coded message to “Dare Mighty Things” was discovered on the parachute that delivered the rover close to the Martian terrain. 

I hope that we all take this advice to heart and continue to Dare Mighty Things in our own lives.

In October, BC welcomed California Secretary of the Government Operations Agency Yolanda Richardson.

Also, our three campuses prepared for the vaccine mandate, which took effect on November 1.

On November 20, I was greatly saddened to share the news that my dear friend Jack Hernandez had passed.
“Jack Hernandez was one of the sweetest, most brilliant people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. I know many of you have known Jack, or seen him writing at Dagny’s. It is hard to put into words how tremendous his impact on Bakersfield College and our Bakersfield community has been over the past 60 years.”

And just two weeks ago, I shared that the KCCD Trustees recognized Chancellor Emeritus Tom Burke

Here are Tom’s remarks as he embarks on his well-deserved retirement:

My dear friends, it has been an amazing journey from my return to Bakersfield College as president, to today as KCCD Chancellor. I am so grateful to work side by side with fantastic colleagues at KCCD.

2022 … Here we come!


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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