Kern CCD graduates largest class of Coyotes, Pirates, and Renegades

What a beautiful week! After another wonderful semester at the Kern Community College District, our three colleges held commencement celebrations. I will be able to share more photos from all of the ceremonies – but I wanted to share a few of our graduates’ stories with you today.

Porterville College President Claudia Habib posted on her Twitter about Elias Facio:

Today we celebrated Elias Facio with an impromptu Graduation Ceremony. He found out today that he will be deployed tomorrow and miss commencement. Our staff immediately organized a small ceremony for him. Congratulations & Thank you for your service!!!#Class2022 #Veterans

The Bakersfield Californian had a front page article by John Cox about Nayeli Fonseca, who graduated from Bakersfield College on Thursday – along with both of her parents, Maria Sosa Borjas and Marco Fonseca Mendez.

These are just a few of our graduates’ stories – but all across the Kern Community College District, we have countless stories of amazing graduates.

Good morning, friends.
It is May 14, 2022.
The sun shines bright over KernCCD.

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

Porterville College

Student overcomes life challenges to be named PC Scholar of the Year for 2022

When Aimee Cauwet walked forward to accept her Porterville College degree at Friday’s commencement ceremony, she accepted not one, not two, but four associate’s degrees from PC — Associate of Science for Transfer in both Biology and Business Administration, and Associate of Art and Science degrees in Biological and Physical Sciences. She was also recognized as the 2022 Porterville College Scholar of the Year.

The award is based on recommendations from a faculty panel, and is focused on her outstanding student achievements, maintaining a 4.0-grade point average in all her studies over the past two years at PC.

With four college degrees under her belt at age 21, one would think Aimee has always loved school, but that wasn’t the case.

Ms. Cauwet was born with cerebral palsy and has dyslexia. She struggled through her early school years, and says school wasn’t fun for her until the fourth grade. “I was good at math but I was not a good reader,” she said. “My true love for school came at fourth grade. That’s when I started reading. I pushed myself and once I started reading, I loved school.”

Her mother says she started to better grasp reading with one simple step. “She struggled to read but then discovered if she underlined the words, she was able to get the words to pop out and she got it,” Tina Cauwet said. “At the end of fourth grade, she was doing so well, they wanted to test her I.Q. and she was 100 percent – the highest score they ever got. They placed her in a gifted-kids classroom.”

In an awards ceremony held on April 29th, Cauwet was presented with the PC Scholar of the Year award by her science professors Christopher “Buzz’” Piersol and Chris Vanni.

Cauwet also received a Distinguished Student Award for her achievements in biological and physical sciences, and business administration during the awards ceremony.

Aimee plans to attend California State University Channel Islands in the fall, where her brother Timothy will also attend. And, though intrigued by science, she’s not ready to declare a major just yet.

“I love biology life. I love the ecosystem and chemistry, but I want to wait until I go farther in-depth [before declaring a major,]” she said. “I do love that it is close by and that it’s associated with the National Parks.”

Dreamer Grads Celebrate

Students, Faculty, and Staff gathered to celebrate over a dozen graduates at the PC DREAMer’s Success Center Grad Dinner on the Porterville College campus on May 5th. Many of these students are the first in their family to graduate or even attend college – and all are part of the PC DREAMer’s Success Center Program.

The DREAMer’s Success Center provides a safe and welcoming environment for undocumented, AB540, and/or DACA students and supporters. The program’s goal is to provide guidance and support to those students as they work towards their degrees at Porterville College.

Each graduate was presented with a diploma frame, a special stole to wear at commencement, and other PC Swag to remember their time here. Congratulations to all our 2022 graduates!

Please click here to view an album of pictures from the event.

PC Faculty and Staff Gather to Celebrate milestones and retirements

Porterville College Faculty, Staff, and Administration gathered on Wednesday, May 6 to honor those staff members retiring this year as well as those celebrating service milestones.   

Over 75 PC employees sat in the cafeteria to share stories and remember the fond times working together. Please click the link or image below to view an album of pictures from this event

Cerro Coso Community College

Promise Stole Ceremony New Tradition for Cerro Coso

Graduates of the Cerro Coso Promise Program received a special blue and white stole at the college’s first Promise Stole Ceremony held on Tuesday, May 10th, 2022 in the Community Room. 

“This stole represents your commitment and determination to fulfil the requirements of the Cerro Coso Promise, designed to help you complete with less financial struggles and stay focused on your studies, “ said Cerro Coso Foundation President Derick Hu.  “The ongoing pandemic of 2020 didn’t make that easy.  We had to get creative with outreach hours. Classes were moved online, and many were forced to stay home to care for children or see them through their own schooling.  Life felt uncertain.  But you showed tremendous resilience, tenacity, and dedication.  You are here today. “

“Promise programs are not new, “ added Cerro Coso President Dr. Sean Hancock.  “Many states have  had them for years.  But, California has really acted on the concept, recognizing the number one reason students don’t complete their college education is financial issues.  The state encourages all colleges and universities to develop more programs that will make a college education more accessible.  Cerro Coso applied for, and received, a state grant in 2017 to develop a promise program at the college,” he continued.  “All of the programs are different, most are given to only incoming freshmen, or just to high school students.  What makes Cerro Coso’s program unique is that it is available to all full-time students: new, continuing, and returning, and income is not a consideration to receive the scholarship.”

The Cerro Coso Promise awards full-time students a $1,000 per semester, fall and spring, to help with enrollment fees and books for up to two years. 

With the assistance and commitment of the Cerro Coso Community College Foundation, the first Promise scholarship awards were made in the fall of 2019.  Since that time the Foundation has awarded $178,000 in Promise scholarships and the California Promise Program has awarded $146,000.  “That’s an additional $324,00 awarded to Cerro Coso students over the last three years, in addition to other scholarships,” exclaimed Hancock. 

In what is hoped to become a college tradition that grows every year, this year’s stole ceremony honored 34 student graduates, including the first full-cohort of students to complete the full-two years on the program.

More information on the Cerro Coso Promise Program is available on the college website at  

Class of 2022 Graduates Honored at ESCC 18th Ceremony

Cerro Coso Community College’s Eastern Sierra College Center held its 18th Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 6th honoring the many accomplishments, academic passion, and inspirational ambition of the Class of 2022.

The festivities held in person at the Bishop campus included music by members of the Eastern Sierra Chamber Orchestra and a presentation of transfer scholarship recipients by the Eastern Sierra Foundation. 

Addressing their fellow graduates were students speakers Noa Lish, Jack Slovacek, and Carson Dorough. Melissa Kilgore gave the alumni address. 

In the presence of family, friends, and honored guests, 100 degrees and 36 certificates of achievements were conferred on 75 graduates representing the next generation of workers, leaders, and scholars. 

Special recognition was given to Business Professor Matt Hightower who will be retiring at the end of the semester after 31 years of service to the college.

Gratitude was also shared with the Kern Community College District Administration and Trustees; Cerro Coso faculty, staff, and administration; Faculty Senate; Eastern Sierra Foundation; Mammoth Lakes Foundation; Owens Valley Career Development Center; Donald M. Slagger Sunset Foundation; and  the Eastern Sierra Chamber Orchestra.

Trustee Jack Connell attended the graduation representing the Kern Community College District.

Cerro Coso unveils

Cerro Coso Community College has adopted and is unveiling a new and exciting student platform that streamlines the dual and concurrent enrollment processes for local high school students.

It moves the college from a paper process to a advanced online process. The platform is called collects and completes high school student’s college course requests for dual and concurrent enrollment college courses.  It allows students to request courses online, which are then automatically sent to collect the necessary approvals from their parent and high school officials.  

The new process started this April, and the college is currently piloting 7 high schools with the goal that all service area partner high schools will roll into this new process by Spring 2023. 

Right now, the pilot high schools are Delano, Cesar Chavez, Robert F. Kennedy, Highland, Kern Valley, Boron, and Desert High School.

This platform was also adopted by sister colleges (Bakersfield College and Porterville College) and the effort and support to adopt came from the Kern Community College Districtwide Dual Enrollment taskforce.

Bakersfield College

BC Jazz Studies Receives Two National Awards

Bakersfield College’s Jazz Studies program announced today they have received two prestigious national awards, winning two categories in the community college division of the 45th annual Student Music Awards (SMAs) in DownBeat Magazine. DownBeat has been the premiere jazz publication in the world since its inception in 1934. 

The SMAs highlight the best of the best in jazz education at every level from junior high to graduate colleges. BC Jazz Combo A was named top Small Jazz Combo for their recordings of original compositions by students Jonathan Diaz and Marcos Gonzalez. You can read more in the story featured in Downbeat Magazine, on pages 80 and 84.

BC also won best Asynchronous Small Jazz Combo, a category that was created in 2020 when music programs were forced online. For this award, compositions by Kyle Whitaker and Diaz were selected from last year’s Quarantine Sessions project that compiled recordings made by jazz students collaborating from home.

Kris Tiner – you are the best!

The digital issue of DownBeat Magazine featuring the award announcements is available by visiting

Combined Concert returns

After a two year hiatus, the Combined Concert is back. On May 4th, students from all sizes of ensembles and jazz groups at BC, as well as the combined orchestra of BC and CSUB, took the stage to showcase their best tunes of the semester. Combined choirs, advanced chamber singers and the concert band also performed that evening.

Perry Smith covered the concert for the Bakersfield Californian, noting that this event is an important part of our college’s award-winning performing arts program, as it gives students to perform in a real world setting in front of a live audience. The audience is in turn treated to an array of tunes ranging from classics to movie themes, performed by the talented, award-winning student musicians.

Future Teachers Conference

The Bakersfield College Education Department held a conference for our BC future teacher students. Even with the rain, we had a great turnout and enjoyed the day! Thank you to all the university vendors who participated, and to all the staff and student workers who helped with the event. We have a commitment to support our future teachers, and this was one of those occasions that really made a difference.

Some of the topics shared by the presenters include the following:

  • For the Love of Tutoring- Be a Tutor Get a Tutor
  • Your Education Pathway and You- You Belong. You have Direction.
  • Picture your Future- Learn about Multiple Teaching Career Options For YOU!
  • Budgeting and Credit Building- Make YOUR Finances Meet YOUR Goals!

Thank you Kimberly Bligh!

Celebrating Student’s Academic Milestones – EOPS/CalWorks/CARE/AB540

The EOPS, CARE, NextUp, CalWORKs and AB 540 programs hosted their annual Student Award Celebration event in front of the Outdoor Theater. Students were cheered by staff as they arrived and took pictures with the EOPS team, friends and their families. The programs also recognized students for the following award categories: Highest GPA , Outstanding Participant, Outstanding Professionalism, Academic Excellence, and Perseverance. Students received a Graduation Celebration package that included Cap and Gown, EOPS medallion, padfolio and a meal certificate to celebrate their academic achievements with their loved ones.

Virtual Tour video

Take a tour of the Panorama Campus in this video featuring BCSGA Secretary Raz! Thank you to Raz Barraj for her work as a presenter and Ulyses Ramos for his work as a videographer, director and editor.

The Baccalaureate Class
Bachelor of Science Industrial Automation

Getting to Know: Don Birdwell

This week, our Getting To Know feature looks at Don Birdwell, Building Facilities Manager for the Kern Community College District. He began his career with Kern CCD at Bakersfield College.

One of the first projects he tackled was rebuilding the men’s and women’s locker rooms, which Birdwell recalled “were pouring water” when he was hired. That and a number of other projects he completed brought the campus plumbing systems up to a new level and earned him an award in his first year on the job by then-president Greg Chamberlain for overall outstanding work on campus. 

A few years later around 2013, Birdwell embarked on a major project replacing every toilet on the Panorama campus. The water-saving upgrade was done in partnership with California Water Service Company which provided a grant to pay for the project.  

Read more at :

Thank you Stacey Shephard for this beautiful writeup.

In the News

Ten Minutes With Tipton: PC president Dr. Habib

PC President Dr. Claudia Habib was featured in The Porterville Recorder’s new “Ten Minutes With Tipton” series. Valeria Molina Perez and Nancy Torres, sixth-graders at Tipton Elementary School, wrote the article.

“I would say that I would encourage people like you, young people like you, to pursue your dream. Whatever your career is, you dream about what you want to be when you grow up — I hope you pursue it — and whatever you decide to do, you do it well.” 

Bakersfield police officer finds side hustle in self-help

I saw this Patch article about Bakersfield Police Detective Aaron Watkins, who wrote two self-improvement books: “Interview Strategies that Work” and “New Era of Leadership: Starts with You.

“When I started interviewing people for this book, it was during COVID, people were losing jobs, and I wanted to provide a simplified way to get the job,” Watkins shared. “I looked at my own career, and how I prepared to go from officer to senior officer to detective and you really have to ask yourself ‘What do you bring to the table?'”

Fun Photos & Spotted on Social Media

Representatives from Porterville College, Bakersfield College, and Cerro Coso Community College accepted awards from the Campaign for College Opportunity:

BC’s Grace Van Dyke Bird Library hosted a visit from Marley’s Miracle Mutts on Tuesday as part of its “de-stress” week activities for students busy studying for finals. The furry friends are trained therapy dogs and provided a soothing outlet for students in the serene surroundings of the Peace Garden. Thank you to the library staff and Marley’s Miracle Mutts for the visit.

Nathan Macias, an engineering student, pets Squirrel, a therapy dog with Marley’s Miracle Mutts, in the Peace Garden on Tuesday.
“The goal of bringing the dogs here is to make people happy. And they do,” said Tori Beck (in red shirt), program coordinator for Marley’s Miracle Mutts.

Marcos Rodriguez, Jo Ellen Barnes, Catherine Rangel, Camilla Anderson, and Veronica Hathaway recently took a tour of BC’s new Science & Engineering building.

Cerro Coso President Sean Hancock shared these posts from graduation preparations & celebrations this week:

And here a few photos from Bakersfield College’s commencement on Thursday night:

Photo with BC Alumni Association Vice President & 2005 BC Graduate Sandy Woo.

Zav Dadabhoy, Romeo Agbalog, Sandy Woo, Sonya Christian, Norma Rojas, Yovani Jimenez

Here’s a selfie with Joe Saldivar and Billie Jo Rice:

And one with Joe Saldivar and Olivia Garcia:

Trustee Yovani Jimenez’s family turned out for the celebration:


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

The future is bright at KernCCD.

a joyful and grateful Chancellor


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