Category Archives: Uncategorized

BC doing it right – Early College in Kern County

Have you heard about 2-year-old Kashe Quest? Her IQ is 146, which is nearly 50 points higher than the average American adult.

Kashe, who is from Los Angeles, is America’s youngest member of Mensa – the oldest high IQ society in the world. She knows the periodic table and can identify the states by shape – wow.

A faculty member from BC sent me this story…. made my week.

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, June 12, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

Early College Students Graduate from Wonderful College Prep Academy in Delano

Early College graduates from the Wonderful College Prep Academy celebrated graduating as Renegade-Wolves during their ceremony on Saturday, June 5. A team of Bakersfield College advisors were present at the graduation to let parents know about the course offerings available in Summer and Fall 2021. 

Student speakers included these accomplished young wpmen, pictured with Abel Guzman and myself. Crystal Herrera Heredia will be attending UCLA, Destiny Serna will be attending UC Davis, and Adriana Alvarado will be attending Princeton.

Abel Guzman, Crystal Herrera Heredia, Destiny Serna, Adriana Alvarad, Sonya Christian

Destiny Serna was named the Excellence in Pathways Student Speaker. She earned a 4.5 GPA with 430 credits. In her speech, she spoke of the “sense of independence and responsibility” at Wonderful Academy.

Salutatorian Crystal Herrera Heredia earned a 4.5 GPA with 450 credits. In her speech, she talked about the difficulties of attending high school and graduating during a pandemic and the importance of staying connected ….. “when we are apart, it is important to connect to each other.”

Valedictorian Adriana Alvarado earned a 4.5 GPA with 460 credits. In her remarks, she mentioned how her parents were farm workers, as we well as fruit and tupperware vendors. She credited her parents with helping her understand the value of a strong work ethic, and she urged her fellow graduates to remember the sacrifices their loved ones had made to give them a better life.

Congratulations to these incredible young women, and all the graduates at Wonderful College Prep Academy. #ProudPrez #WeAreBC

Visit the photo gallery by Earl Parsons to see more pictures from the Wonderful College Prep Academy graduation.


I’d also like to share some more videos from our commencement tribute for our class of 2021, which aired on KGET on May 16th. Our production included some phenomenal speakers who offered words of advice and congratulations to our amazing Class of 2021.

KCCD Chancellor Tom Burke:

State Senator Shannon Grove:

Assemblyman Vince Fong:

We also included a photo roll of our graduates. Today, I’m sharing the second segment:

You can see all the videos from the Commencement Tribute at

BC Celebrates Juneteenth

Dr. Paula Parks embraces a student from the Umoja Club
during the Black History Month conference in February 2020.

Join us on June 15, 16 and 17 at 3 p.m. as we celebrate the history and contributions of African-Americans in a series of virtual seminars leading up to June 19. Visit the Zoom registration link to sign up for all three days.

On June 15, Rich McCrow will be facilitating a discussion between BC history professor Jamal Wright and CSUB history professor Kiran Garcha about the history of the African-American struggle from the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865 through the Reconstruction era to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

On June 16, Dean of Counseling and Student Success Marisa Marquez is hosting a forum titled “What Juneteenth Means to Me”. The panel will feature Daron Mackey, BC Educational Advisor and Lead for the African-American Mentoring Program; Natasha Harris, Senior Admissions Officer at CSUB; and Julian West, Director of the Career Ladders Project.

Finally on June 17, we close out the celebration with a look at Juneteenth customs and traditions hosted by Outreach and Early College Director Steven Watkin and Dean of Instruction Jessica Wojtysiak.

On the morning of June 17, a team of volunteers led by Reggie Bolton, Kara McDonald, Michele Puentes, and Cecilia Lopez will be handing out Juneteenth Recipe kits filled with all of the materials needed for some great traditional recipes. Finally, BC will be in attendance at the NAACP Bakersfield Branch Juneteenth Celebration at Yokuts Park between 3:30 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 19.

BC and Rotary: Building Peace in Kern County

BC and local Rotary clubs are partnering to raise the peace conversation to a new level locally. Join us to hear what your neighbors are already doing to promote peacebuilding in Kern County, and to learn how you can join in the effort! The virtual seminar on Tuesday, June 22 at 4 p.m. is free and open to the public. To attend, visit the registration link

BC Foundation Executive Director Cheryl Scott will be facilitating a discussion between Rotary E-Club member Michael Henstra and Bakersfield East Rotary Club member Fernando Aguirre about how individuals can be empowered to contribute to a peaceful community and world. The discussion was inspired by a video from Rotary Action Group for Peace Director Reem Ghunaim, who described how her experiences living in Palestine shaped her understanding of peace as a conscious choice.

For more information about the BC and Rotary virtual event, visit the BC website.

This event is part of the BC Peace Initiative. You can find out more at There, you can find videos from our two previous seminars, “Educators for Peace” on May 18, and “Mothers for Peace” on March 30.

I’d like to share a few videos from the Educators for Peace seminar, to give you a taste of the types of discussions we have been having.

Here, our panelists are responding to the following prompt:
“It’s a painful reality that we live in a time of extreme polarization, and higher education is no exception. With that said, what are the professional as well as personal challenges of being an educator or administrator in higher educator right now, in this environment, and why?”

Richard McCrow:

Bryan Hirayama:

Jeremy Staat:

Jessica Wojtysiak:

Spring Internship Success

Manufacturing Professor Robert Stewart and Manufacturing Student Antonio Zavala

Internships are a great way for students to receive hands-on experience utilizing the skills they have learned from their pathway program. Every semester the Career Education Department works to expand placement opportunities for our students out in the community. The spring semester was no exception for great placements.

Antonio Zavala, a manufacturing student, was placed with a new employer partner, Shar-Craft Inc’s, a local manufacturing company that provides coating, machining and sealing services. Professor Robert Stewart was diligent in ensuring a positive placement, and Antonio was the perfect fit. Three weeks into his internship, Shar-Craft Inc. offered Antonio a full time position with their company.

The Welding department also had the opportunity for a great internship project over the spring semester at Windmill Cattle Ranch. Three students were placed on the project of tearing down old horse corrals and installing new ones. One of the students, James Bruce, had so much fun with the internship program he created a short video to capture the experience.

Express Enrollment

Last week, Bakersfield College’s Outreach Team served over 190 students during their Express Enrollment Event on June2nd! We hope to see similar turnouts throughout the summer! The next Express Enrollment Event is Wednesday June 16 from 12pm to 5pm. Register here: or visit the website at

There are two more Express Enrollment events planned for this summer, on July 7th from 12pm to 8pm, and August 11th from 12pm to 8pm.

BC Foundation Panorama Newsletter

The BC Foundation released their fourth issue of Panorama – their final issue for the 2020-21 academic year. Great work Heather Penella and Cheryl Scott.

A few items of note –

Kylie Campbell contributed a piece about donations from Bank of America and Phillips 66 to benefit the Early College program. Bank of America’s $56,000 donation will help the Public Health Pathway’s 4-year program that allows students to earn an Associate Degree for Transfer in Public Health. The $25,000 from Phillips 66 will provide course materials and travel funds for students in Industrial Automation.

Longtime BC Foundation Board Member Fran Florez is retiring in September after nearly two decades. “I am so proud of the major improvements to the campus today,” she said.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Professor Emeritus, BC Alumni Association President and Cheer Coach Becki Whitson, who passed away in December. The celebration will be held in the new Campus Center at BC on Monday, July 26 – her birthday. Guests must register online to attend.

Becki Whitson

Closing Day 2021

I am continuing to share videos from our Closing Day 2021 celebration, which took place virtually May 11-13. We enjoyed three days of video productions featuring speakers and performances.

We heard from KCCD Trustee Romeo Agbalog:

I’m sharing three more of the President’s Leadership Awards today.

The first is for the Curriculum Committee:

The second is for Chris Glaser:

And finally, the third is for Steven Holmes, who is ending his tenure as Academic Senate President:

Check out all of the videos from the multi-day production at

Poetry Corner

Please enjoy this poem from Jack Hernandez:

The Desert

The moon rise
over the desert
is no longer surprising,
he had not foreseen
living in its barren canvas
painted in his later years.

Until this time his life
scurried like an ant
seeking    always seeking,
now he sits grasping
for nothing more
than silent truth in silver light.

BC Vaccine Clinics

If you still need to get your COVID vaccine, I invite you to come to one of BC’s upcoming clinics. Walk-ins are accepted at all clinics, or register at or call (833) 422-4255 and schedule your appointment. Enter the zip code of 93305 to view the Bakersfield College Student Health and Wellness Center availability.

This week’s clnics include:

  • Tuesday, June 15 on-campus Student Life Office from 10 am to 3 pm: Moderna (18+) and Johnson and Johnson Janssen (18+)
  • Wednesday, June 16 on-campus Student Life Office from 10 am to 3 pm: Moderna (18+) and Johnson and Johnson Janssen (18+)
  • Friday, June 18 @ Mercado Latino (2105 Edison Hwy, Bakersfield, CA 93305) from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Moderna (18+) and Pfizer (12+)
  • Saturday, June 19 @ Yokuts Park (4200 Empire Drive) for the 6th Annual Juneteenth Celebration from 3:30 to 8 pm:  Pfizer (12+)

You can find all upcoming clinics at

In the News

Jamal Wright featured in CTA piece about pandemic’s silver linings

Jamal Wright

The California Teachers Association’s California Education magazine, which showcases CTA members, did a piece on the pandemic’s silver linings and how educators have emerged “better, stronger and kinder.”

One of these educators is BC History Professor Jamal Wright:

“For me, the silver lining was learning how to create information resources for students, so they knew something about a topic before even coming to class,” says Wright, a member of the Kern Community College District chapter of the Community College Association (Kern CCD/CCA).

“I learned how to embed videos in lectures using Canvas. I post lectures with videos that students can watch any time. I engage in ‘flipped learning,’ so students can watch clips of Gladiator before I lecture on the Roman Empire. It develops a deeper understanding of the material. I also create quizzes in Canvas to test for understanding and help them retain information.”

102 high school students in Kern County will graduate with an associate degree

I loved this article by Emma Gallegos which made the front page of the Bakersfield Californian. Across the Early College program, 102 graduating high school students in Kern County will also be receiving an associate degree from BC.

Arvin High School Principal Ed Watts credits the program with helping students continue their education even beyond their associate degree.

“Once a kid has a college plan in their pocket, they’re much more apt to keep going,” he said.

CityServe hosts graduation ceremony for Project HireUp students

KGET did a piece on the Project HireUp program’s latest graduation. Seven students completed the 6-week course, which incorporates job training and life skills development for those struggling with unemployment. And here is Sam Morgan with a front page piece in the Bakersfield Californian with photo below from Alex Horvath.

Fun Photos

Here are my latest photos of Neo and Bessie:

Here are a few social media posts I’ve enjoyed this week:

From BC Librarian Mindy Wilmot:

From Counseling and Student Success & Kern Promise Program Manager Isabel Castaneda:

And from History Professor Olivia Garcia:


That’s all for now.
Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

June – new graduates new beginnings

This week, I went out to eat at the New Vintage Grill, and was so pleased to run into two new Bakersfield College Students.

Erica Vitela is an incoming nursing student. Avery Edgmon just graduated from Liberty High School.

I was able to get a picture with them, along with Heidi Allison and Janet Tarjan:

I just love running into students…. and these two smart young women are amazing and totally made my day.

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, June 5, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

Memorial Day Tribute from Jenny Frank

I wanted to share this beautiful email that Veterans Services and Programs Manager Jenny Frank sent out in honor of Memorial Day:

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

Each Memorial Day, I take time to quietly reflect on the blessings that have been afforded to us as Americans. I pause to give thanks to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may enjoy these blessings. Every year, I am driven to pay tribute to them in a way that would honor their sacrifice. 

This year, I am reminded of a story told by our center’s namesake, Vietnam veteran, the late Vernon Valenzuela. Over two decades ago Vernon learned of the tragic, violent death of a young football player here in Kern County. Angered and saddened by this travesty, Vernon reasoned that he did not fight in the jungles of Vietnam to have our youth die this way in our own country. He was moved to action and so began his journey to extend his efforts to create peace within our community.  

Whether they fell on the battlefield, as a result of an internal battle after they left the front lines, or due to physical ailments brought on by their time at war, the brave Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and women and Coast Guardsmen and women who gave their last full measure are deserving of our gratitude and honor.  

This Memorial Day 2021, I propose to you that we commit to peace in their honor. They fought and died so that we may know peace. For their sacrifice, let us do our part by continuing to seek peace, peace within ourselves, in our neighborhoods, within our country, so that one day we may be the example of peace. 

May the families, friends, and comrades of the fallen find peace in their loved one’s absence but most of all, may the souls of the brave men and women that answered our Nation’s call rest in peace.  

The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war” -Douglas MacArthur 

A message from Bakersfield College’s Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Manny Mourtzanos:

On this Memorial Day (and every day), we remember our fallen military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice in the performance of their duties to secure our freedom and liberty, and we remember their families who also sacrificed for our country. Words are insufficient to fully convey our appreciation. As we know, our military personnel serve voluntarily and willingly, not through conscription. In so doing, each and every member of our armed forces, including active duty, reservists and retired personnel, is prepared to make the same sacrifice made by our fallen heroes. Let us collectively express our gratitude for our fallen personnel, their families, our veterans, and current military personnel for their willingness to serve.

BC Students to serve as COVID Outreach Project Interns

This summer, the Kern Inyo Mono Central Labor Council in Partnership with the Central Valley Workers Center is engaging in direct community outreach to educate residents of Kern County on COVID-19 and the ongoing vaccination efforts. As part of this initiative, up to ten Bakersfield College students will receive an internship to participate in direct community engagement activities.  

Freddie Rodriguez, Job Development Specialist at BC, is an advocate for students getting involved in community wide efforts. He says, “We have a lot of passionate students at BC who want to serve their community, especially while we navigate this pandemic. Our nursing students are administering vaccines, students are volunteering at the pop-up clinics, and these ten interns will help bolster public health outreach efforts to keep our community safe and healthy while gaining work experience. It’s a win-win.”

Through this program, the interns will advance efforts of educating Kern residents on COVID-19 and vaccination efforts. Activities planned for the positions include reaching impacted communities through phone banking, texting, social media, participation at vaccine clinics, and community events.  

BC Vaccine Clinics

The BC Student Health and Wellness Center is open to all students and the community to be vaccinated. They are currently administering the Moderna COVID vaccine Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 9 am and 3 pm. The Moderna vaccine is available for people who are 18 and older.

Community clinics will also continue throughout the summer. You can see a list of upcoming Vaccine Clinics on the BC Student Health & Wellness Center website.

Walk-ins are accepted at all clinics or register at or call (833) 422-4255 and schedule your appointment. Enter the zip code of 93305 to view the Bakersfield College Student Health and Wellness Center availability.

Closing Day

On Day 2 of our Closing Day Spring 2021 festivities, we heard from KCCD Chancellor Tom Burke:

I’d also like to share a few of the President’s Leadership Award winners for the 2020-2021 year.

Our fabulous Nursing Department:

And the Student Information Desk/SID Team, led by Dan Hall:

You can see all the videos from Closing Day at

2021 Commencement

The 2021 Commencement Tribute aired on KGET on May 16, to honor our amazing Class of 2021. I’d like to share a few videos from that production:

Philosophy Professor Anna Collins was the Samuel W. McCall Outstanding Faculty Recipient:

Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh shared remarks:

We also heard from Assemblymember Rudy Salas:

Our graduates were able to submit photos to be included in the program. We divided our graduates into 6 groups, and today I’m sharing Group 1:

You can see all the videos from the 2021 Commencement Tribute at

Additionally, all 2021 BC graduates will be welcome to participate in the in-person commencement with the Class of 2022 when restrictions for large gatherings are lifted. Information regarding how to participate will be available on the Commencement page in March 2022.

CCC Women’s Caucus to welcome Lilly Ledbetter

On June 22, the CCC Women’s Caucus will welcome guest speaker Lilly Ledbetter. Lilly was the plaintiff in the US Supreme Court Case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., regarding employment discrimination. The court decided that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not allow employers to be sued for pay discrimination more than 180 days after an employee’s first paycheck. However, Congress passed a fair pay act in her name – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 – to remedy this issue.

This event is free to members of the women’s caucus. Non-members may attend for $35.

For more information, or to register, please visit the CCC Women’s Caucus website at

In the News

Bakersfield College Creates Innovative Partnerships to Expand Resources

Advanced Transportation and Logistics published a piece about a partnership that BC Automotive Instructor Andrew Haney initiated between Bakersfield College and the Greater Bakersfield New Car Dealers Association.

“We have an industry that depends on each other, and we can help create that fusion here,” Haney said. “Our students are eager, and the technician shortage is tremendous. We need the entire industry to come together to address it. The more we work together, the more we’re exposing students to the industry, giving them the opportunity for a stable career, living wage, and good future.”

Andrew Haney

CTEC students at KHSD graduate with a sense of purpose

Check out this article form the Bakersfield Californian about Career Technical Education Center graduation:

Jesse Espinoza, a senior at Foothill, said that he had contemplated other options for his future but he really wanted to be a firefighter. He enrolled in the fire technology program at CTEC, and that solidified it for him.

He’s planning to enroll to take firefighting courses at Bakersfield College, and ultimately become a firefighter. His parents were beaming and proud at Wednesday’s ceremony.

He wanted to be a firefighter and he’s accomplishing it,” said his dad Juan Espinoza. “He’s really going for it.”

Fun Photos & Spotted on Social Media

Thank you April for this great photo of Neo, enjoying a nice walk this week.

Bill Moseley shared this throwback picture with a note:

“June, 1998. It was a summer of disaster movie blockbusters, with Deep Impact and Armageddon in theaters. Stanzi, our oldest, was two weeks old. She and my wife accompanied me (as one of our first trips out of the house) to a job interview at Bakersfield College, and sat in the lobby while I met with my future boss. 23 years (and six kids) later, I’m still here. I have a bit more gray, and a lot of experiences that have shaped me. The two week old is all grown up and finishing a master’s degree, and my wife and I would still choose to spend every minute together, rather than be apart. I’m thankful for everything BC has done for me over the years, and hope the college and our students have benefitted from my work. As I look to the future, I hope that I can continue to serve California’s most impactful population of students, and that I can work to support equity for students and my colleagues.”

BCSGA shared this screenshot from Emma McNellis, who spoke at the 2-21 Celebration: Student Messages for their Community College Family webinar with the Student Senate for California Community Colleges:

Nick Strobel shared pictures of his saguaro cactus flowers:

And the BC Cheer team celebrated National Donut Day:


That’s all for now.
Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Sunsetting May 2021 as BC Builds Bridges

This week I read an article about the Brooklyn Bridge. May 24th was the 138th anniversary of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, which connected New York and Brooklyn for the first time in history. It seems almost impossible now to imagine a time when those two cities were not connected. And the sheer amount of planning, thought, work and engineering that went into what became the “eighth wonder of the world.”

I’m so pleased to see resources set aside in the upcoming nationwide infrastructure plan that will help restore our great nation’s precious bridges — a thing of remarkable beauty and great engineering feat.

And it’s not only physical bridges that are key to maintaining our relationships. Our metaphorical bridges also must be maintained so that we can continue to connect with people and ideas that otherwise may have been unreachable.

That’s why I’m so proud of the Bridge to BC program. This high-touch, high-tech program helps our first-year students get all the support and guidance they need to be successful. This year’s program will be fully online, designed as a one-week course with online sections that run Monday through Saturday. The sessions will run from June through August, and are available to all our incoming freshmen, including those who earned college credits in high school.

Chancellor Tom Burke visiting Bridge to BC before COVID. With Isabel Casteneda and Kimberly Bligh

The thousands of students who completed Bridge to BC over the last 6 years were twice as likely to attempt and complete more units, including transfer level Math and English, and to persist Fall-to-Fall than non-Bridge students. 

Stephanie Ruiz

Stephanie Ruiz, a studio arts major who plans to transfer to CSUB, wrote a piece in the Bakersfield Californian about how the Bridge to BC program helped her:

“When Bridge to BC returns to being an on-campus or hybrid experience, I know students just like me will continue to benefit, learning to navigate college both online and on campus. This experience was a great introduction and it made my first year enjoyable even though all my classes were online. This next year, I feel even more prepared to tackle my classes with confidence thanks to all the support from Bridge to BC.”

Kimberly Bligh and our entire Bridge to BC team are truly remarkable.

Where would we all be without bridges?

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, May 29, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

Thousand Flags at The Park at River Walk

If you’re looking for a way to honor our heroes over Memorial Day weekend, head out to The Park at River Walk where Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club will present “Thousand Flags.” 

Bakersfield College and Rotary have been partners in many ways over the years, and the college has close ties to the Breakfast Rotary club in that Cheryl Scott, Mary Jo Pasek, and Mindy Wilmot are all members of the club, and of course Chancellor Tom Burke is a member as well!

Umoja Community honors all African-American grads

Umoja Community African-American Success Through Excellence and Persistence (ASTEP) celebrated student accomplishments and honored all African-American graduates.

Despite the challenging times, there was much to celebrate: Umoja grew in the number of courses and in programing. Jazz Appreciation, taught by Kris Tiner, and Statistics for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, taught by David Reiss, were both offered in Umoja with an African-American cultural component.

In addition, Umoja in conjunction with the Nursing department created the Employment Preparation Academy – exposing four pre-nursing students to options in the nursing field and giving them tips on applying to BC’s program.

But the real highlight of the program was honoring the eighteen participating African-American graduates. Two students shared their struggles and triumphs on the way to completing their associates degrees.

Zariyah Hall

Explained Zariyah Hall, who struggled in high school: “It wasn’t until I joined Umoja that I saw the value of my journey. I learned that I have an ancestral obligation to be successful and that revolutionary patience is a virtue. These are lessons I will take with me.”

She added that she will attend an Historically Black College in the fall and earn a degree in communication with the goal of creating content that tells the stories of Black people.

Shorell Darrett

Shorell Darrett said she almost didn’t make it: “I found myself in one of those dark moments and lost my focus when my younger brother died from COVID and my sister from cancer within the same week during my finals. I couldn’t see myself finishing, but here I am graduating with three degrees (early childhood education, communication, and liberal arts) and cum laude. I am forever thankful to my village: family, friends, BC counselors, and professors who held up the light that guided me.”

Thank you to Umoja Coordinator Dr. Paula L. Parks, Executive Director of Outreach and Early College Steve Watkin, and Educational Advisor Daron Mackey for making this event happen.

Umoja is accepting applications for fall and offering enrollment sessions throughout the summer. See for more information.

Virtual Express Enrollment Event on June 2

Last week, Bakersfield College’s Outreach Team served over 230 students during their Express Enrollment Event on May 19th. We hope to see similar turnout throughout the summer! The next Express Enrollment Event is Wednesday June 2 from 12pm to 8pm.

Register here: or visit the website at

There will also be three more Express Enrollment events planned for this summer, on June 16th from 12pm to 5pm, July 7th from 12pm to 8pm, and August 11th from 12pm to 8pm.

Thank you to the Child Development Center

I wanted to share this touching email from a student, thanking our Child Development Center Rosita Barron:


My name is Sapphire Hernandez. I am the mother to Daniel Bredemann, a current student and Elizabeth Bredemann, a former student. When I originally had my children I became discouraged that I would no longer be able to pursue a higher education. After a few years I left the state I was living in, left my job and moved back with my mother determined to make a better life for my children. This semester I ended all my prerequisites for my nursing degree, graduating with a 3.8 GPA. I am eligible to apply to both BC and CSUB nursing program. I just really wanted to express my gratitude towards the Child Development Program. Knowing that my children are in a safe place with people who are honestly invested in their well being feels like a blessing. I know that my achievements would not have been possible without this program. I really appreciate the support and feel determined to achieve my goal of becoming a nurse.  

Thank you. 

I’m so proud of the Child Development Center and all they do to help our student parents. In fact, at this year’s Closing Day celebration, the CDC team received my President’s Leadership Award:

Closing Day 2021

Our first day of Closing Day 2021 programming also featured a musical performance from the Bakersfield College Choir, Chamber Singers, and Renegade Chorus. Please enjoy “In Meeting We Are Blessed”:

Vice President of Instruction Billie Jo Rice also recognized our faculty receiving tenure:

All the videos from our Closing Day programming are available at

BC Hosts Fire Department Training Session

This week, Bakersfield College welcomed friends from the Bakersfield City Fire Departments Technical Search and Rescue Team to the Panorama campus. The BFD team used blocked off areas of the campus to perform non-invasive training exercises and drills utilizing GPS, search cameras, and activities focused on search and reconnaissance. I am so happy that our campus continues to be a place of learning, growth, and skills attainment for our community.

Commencement 2021 Tribute

Our 2021 Commencement again went virtual with a special tribute program that aired on KGET and Telemundo.

Today, I’d like to share a few videos from that production.

Outgoing BCSGA President Gian Gayatao’s remarks:

And our Bachelor of Science in Industrial Automation graduates.

You can see all the videos from the program at

Poetry Corner

Another Jack Hernandez poem, inspired by the horrific violence facing parts of the world:

A Distant Country

My car is being routinely
serviced    oil changed
brakes and tires checked,
I at a table by a window
drinking special coffee
watching people order
their favorites to go.

In a distant country
dusty and war weary
young school girls
leaving their classroom day
are shredded by a bomb,
their clothing now
bloody pieces,
their parents weeping.

My car is ready for the road.
The girls are lowered into the ground.

In the News

Community Voices: The Crowning Glory of Vaccines

Dr. Brij Bhambi

Dr. Brij Bhambi wrote about the importance of vaccination and continued mitigation measures as we fight to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic:

“As I have reiterated ad nauseam, vaccine hesitancy is the last mile we need to triumph through doctors offices. It’s the steepest part of the hill, the part where you retool to summit the top.”

You can read more of Dr. Bhambi’s thoughts on the blog he and I have created together,

Community Voices: Out of the cave, into the sun

Jack Hernandez’ piece in the Bakersfield Californian looked at what good might come after over a year of pandemic:

“So as we leave the shadows of the pandemic, let us also leave the false shadows of so-called normal life. Let us leave all the shadows of the cave. Let us emerge into the clear sunlight of the truth about what is really important in life: that we care for others, our families, our friends, our neighbors, the strangers who are homeless.

Community Voices: Education is peacebuilding

Kara McDonald wrote about the place education has in building peace in our society:

“So, what if in school, we were taught to recognize indicators of conflict? Or how to have non-violent conflict? Or how to listen with empathy and curiosity instead of judgment? Our lives would also be exponentially easier if we understood peace as much as we understand conflict. We would navigate conflict more easily, there would likely be less violence, and we would develop societies where peace, justice, and equity are able to thrive.”

I’d like to share a few more videos from the Educators for Peace seminar on May 18.

The first question in that seminar was “what is peace, and what does a peaceful future look like to you?”

Here is Jessica Wojtysiak responding to that:

And Richard McCrow:

You can see all the videos from the Educators for Peace seminar, as well as the Mothers for Peace seminar, at

Fun Photos & Spotted on Social Media

I loved this message from Bakersfield City Councilmember Andrae Gonzales, about the Cash for the Arts utility box project. These are near Williams Elementary in East Bakersfield:

Olivia Garcia got some exercise with her mother:

Check out this view from Faith Bradham, who shared a picture from Canyonlands National Park:

Abel Guzman shared this note from the McFarland graduation – Early College team members Alma Feathers and Raquel Lopez were on hand to celebrate our Early College graduates from McFarland. Congratulations class for 2021!

This week, Cerro Coso Community College President Sean Hancock hosted Zav Dadabhoy (who will be BC’s interim president), Porterville College President Claudia Habib, and myself.

President Claudia Habib, Incoming President Zav Dadabhoy, President Sean Hancock, Incoming Chancellor Sonya Christian

I also had to share this throwback photo of Neo, four years ago, taken June 3, 2017.


Congratulations to former Renegade Hector Ruvalcaba, who was named to the 2021 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association’s 2021 All-Central Region Team. Hector now plays for Oklahoma Baptist University.


That’s all for now.
Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Renegade Commencement – New beginnings for the Class of 2021

Last weekend, we celebrated our amazing Renegade Class of 2021 with a special Commencement Tribute that aired on KGET and streamed on Facebook.

BC featured several of our graduates on our Twitter stream leading up to the tribute. Jose Linares Ochoa was among them – he graduated with an Associate of Science in Kinesiology:

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing videos from the tribute production. You can also see all the videos on the 2021 Commencement Page.

Today, I’m kicking us off by sharing the first two videos from the production.

Student Life Director Nicky Damania‘s introductory remarks:

Music Professor John Gerhold‘s performance of the National Anthem:

We are so proud of our 2021 graduates, who persevered through multiple semesters of virtual learning to accomplish their academic goals. I know we will see great things from you in the future.

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, May 22, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

BC Spring Concert: “I Lived”

The BC College Choirs Spring Concert premiered on YouTube on Monday of this week. The video is now available for anyone to watch at any time.

The featured ensembles include the Bakersfield College Choir, Bakersfield College Renegade Chorus, and Bakersfield College Chamber Singers. Jennifer Garrett — the conductor, and Patrick Bender — the pianist.

Filming took place at the BC Indoor Theatre, Hart Park, Brookdale Assisted Living, and in Lebec.

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to produce this amazing concert.

Enjoy this – you are in for a treat!

AAPI Heritage Month Conference Recordings

Andrew Bond uploaded the final recordings from last week’s events celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

The playlist is available at

Videos include AAPI Faculty & Staff Spotlight featuring Art Professor Joseph Tipay, The Delano Manongs & a Post-Viewing Discussion, and Readings & Conversation with Portia Choi.

Closing Day

I’m continuing to share videos from our Closing Day celebration, which was held May 11-13 with three days of video production shared on YouTube.

You can see all the videos on the Closing Day Website.

Here’s our first photo roll welcoming everyone to our Closing Day celebration:

And my opening remarks from Day 1:

And of course, our wonderful emcees – Todd Coston, Norma Rojas-Mora, Manny Mourtzanos, and Isabel Castaneda, who started our day with wit and humor:

Educators for Peace

This week, we continued the Peace Initiative’s Peace Seminar Series with a new installment: Educators for Peace. Kara McDonald served as moderator for panelists Richard McCrow, Jessica Wojtysiak, Bryan Hirayama, and Jeremy Staat.

Here is Kara’s introduction to the seminar:

And my opening remarks:

Celebrating Early College Initiative Awards finalists and recipients

Our Outreach & Early College team visited high schools this week to present Early College students with awards that they recently won as part of our BCSGA Student Leadership Awards ceremony. Students were nominated for this award by their instructors and counselors, and we are so proud of all of the dedication and initiative that they are demonstrating by completing high school and getting a head start on college at the same time.

The team would like to recognize and congratulate all finalists and award recipients:

  • Lidia Nunez (Nominated by Cynthia Zamora)- McFarland High School Early College- RECIPIENT
  • Jose Cortez (Nominated by Aaron Rothkopf)- South High School- RECIPIENT
  • Isaac Lara (Nominated by Christopher Pelletier)- McFarland High School- RECIPIENT
  • Annika Fernandez (Nominated by Christopher Pelletier)- McFarland High School Early College- FINALIST
  • Shelby Wood (Nominated by Amanda Brummer)- Liberty High School- FINALIST
  • Janelle Cruz (Nominated by Alyson Moss)- Liberty High School- FINALIST

These amazing pictures show some of the students mentioned above surrounded by the high school and BC staff who are supporting them through their educational journey. Congratulations to all finalists and recipients!!

Recipient Jose Cortez from South High School with his instructor Mr. Rothkopf, counselor Mrs. Ramey, and Principal Mrs. Grumling
Finalist Janelle Cruz from Liberty High School with our BC Early College Counselor Josie Guillen
Recipient Lidia Nunez from McFarland High School Early College with BC Counselor Cynthia Zamora.

Honoring our Kern County Resource (Foster) Parents

On Thursday, May 13, 2021, the BC Foster & Kinship Care Education (FKCE) program and Kern County Department of Human Services (DHS) hosted the 12th Annual Resource event to honor resource (foster) parents for their hard work and dedication. May is Foster Care Awareness Month and this event was just one way to celebrate our foster resource parents. Over 90 resource families participated and honored by their caseworkers and community support teams during this virtual ceremony.

The MC of the night was Monique Hawkins, who is the Foster Care Ombudsman for Kern County. Vanessa Frando, Assistant Director of the Kern County Department of Human Services, and Imelda Valdez, Executive Director of Categorical programs of Bakersfield College, provided a warm welcome to all attendees.

Throughout the evening, resource parents were honored for exemplary service to foster youth: Jessica & Timothy Swatzell adopted and cared for special needs children, and Noemi Sanchez, who started an organization called birthday boxes, providing party in a box for a child in foster care. When she learned that some children in foster care do not celebrate their birthdays, she made it her mission to ensure that no child should go without a celebration and started this organization. She has delivered over 50 boxes to foster children to help celebrate their birthdays.

The event also included a special presentation by Mike and Kristin Berry who are parent coaches, trainers, published authors, and podcasters. They are the founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and authored seven books related to foster children. They are parents of eight foster children, all of whom have been adopted.

Back to Campus

I’ve been loving seeing the photos our Renegade family is sharing as they return to our physical campus.

Here’s a picture of the Foundation team getting settled in their new office space in the Campus Center:

And here’s Craig Hayward and Sooyeon Kim from the Office of Institutional Effectiveness:

In the News

Romeo Agbalog named Kern County Farm Bureau Executive Director

Congratulations to KCCD Board of Trustees President Romeo Agbalog, who has been named Kern County Farm Bureau Executive Director.

“Romeo comes to the Farm Bureau with a wide breadth of experience having worked in both public and private sectors. He brings a wealth of knowledge of public policy and government at all levels,” said President of the Farm Bureau, John Moore.

BC COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics

BC will be holding COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the Hindu Temple of Kern County on June 10 and July 8.

Upcoming clinics will also be held:

  • Tuesday, June 1 @ Emanuel Lutheran Church (1900 Baker Street) from 5 to 8 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Thursday, June 3 in partnership with the Governor’s Office and KGET @ 2120 L St, Bakersfield, CA 93309 from 5 to 8 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Saturday, June 5th BC Mass Clinic on campus from 10 am to 2 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Thursday, June 10 @ the Hindu Temple of Kern County (6700 Valley View, Bakersfield) from 5 to 8 p.m.: Moderna (18+)
  • Monday, June 21 @ BC Delano Campus from 5 to 8 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Tuesday, June 29 @ Emanuel Lutheran Church (1900 Baker Street) from 5 to 8 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Thursday, July 1 in partnership with the Governor’s Office and KGET @ 2120 L St, Bakersfield, CA 93309 from 5 to 8 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Thursday, July 8 @ the Hindu Temple of Kern County (6700 Valley View, Bakersfield) from 5 to 8 p.m.: Moderna (18+)
  • Saturday, July 7th BC Mass Clinic on campus from 10 am to 2 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Monday, June 21 @ BC Delano Campus from 5 to 8 pm: Moderna (+18)
  • Saturday, August 7th BC Mass Clinic on campus from 10 am to 2 pm: Moderna (+18)

For more information, visit the BC Student Health & Wellness Center COVID-19 Vaccination page. Walk-ins are accepted at all clinics or register at or call (833) 422-4255 and schedule your appointment. Enter the zip code of 93305 to view the Bakersfield College Student Health and Wellness Center availability.

Spotted on Social Media

Rural Initiatives Director Abel Guzman earned his doctorate from USC. Congratulations, Dr. Guzman!

Endee Grijalva showed off her BC mask while celebrating Garden Pathways:

And I loved this inspirational message that Bill Moseley shared:


Congratulations to all our Student-Athletes graduating this semester:


That’s all for now.
Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Closing out the 2020-21 academic year


This week, the CDC made an exciting announcement — fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting – except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

They also updated their “choosing safer activities” risk assessment chart, which shows the risk levels for unvaccinated and vaccinated people both wearing masks and not wearing masks, in a variety of settings. As you can see, fully vaccinated people are considered safe in every setting:

We are by no means completely out of this pandemic; but we are clearly starting to return to some level of normalcy. We must continue to keep up with our vaccination process so that more and more of our community is safe from the ravages of this disease.

At Bakersfield College, we are continuing to do our part by providing vaccination clinics. Please see upcoming clinics listed on our Vaccine Clinic webpage, and register on – enter the zip code of 93305 to view the Bakersfield COllege Student Health and Wellness Center availability.

Check out these photos from Friday’s clinic in Lamont – KCCD Trustee Yovani Jimenez has worked with the BC’s Health Clinic to get vaccines out to the communities in Arvin and Lamont.

The BC vaccination team
Dr. Nicky Damania, Chris Glaser, Trustee Yovani Jimenez

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, May 15, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

107th Commencement Celebration – Tomorrow night!

I invite everyone once again to celebrate the Class of 2021 with a special commencement tribute tomorrow Sunday, May 16, from 6-7:30 pm. The tribute will air on KGET Channel 17 and will be streamed on KGET’s website and KGET-TV17 Bakersfield Facebook. You do not need to have a Facebook account to view the stream on Facebook.

Every graduate who choses to participate will be honored with their photo and name read by BC faculty, staff and administrators. Congratulations to all the BC 2021 Graduates! We look forward to tuning in along with your friends, family and community to celebrate your achievements.

The Twitter post below includes a great video to promote this event:

Closing Week 2021

This week, Bakersfield College celebrated closing week with three days of productions, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Here is outgoing BCSGA President Gian Gayatao. I’ll be sharing the link to view the rest of the videos in my next blog – our team is still working on getting everything prepared and posted.

Spring Virtual Choral Concert

If you joined closing week, you were able to experience the excellent vocal talents of BC’s choirs. Experience the Bakersfield College Choirs spring virtual concert “I lived” based on the song of that title. The concert featuring the BC College Choir, Chamber Singers, Renegade Chorus, Jenn Garrett, conductor, and Patrick Bender, collaborative pianist will premier Monday, May 17, 2021 at 7:00 pm on the BC Choirs’ YouTube Channel.

Check out these photos that Jenn Garrett posted from the production:

In her post, she shared these great words:

“BC Renegade Chorus met last week to film for our concert. It was exciting and they were amazing. We started at Hart Park right by the water and later moved to the BC Indoor Theatre for the second piece. This has been quite a journey and I’m so grateful for the singers patience, enthusiasm, and determination to make music in any way we could over the pandemic. I’m excited for them to watch the fruit of their labors Monday night as we premiere the concert in out BC Choirs YouTube channel. Come see all of her hard work at 7 pm May 17!

I am also reminded of the power of music. We went to film Sebastian Lee on cello at Hart Park and the location we wanted to use for a few minutes was occupied by two couples who had plenty of drinks and food and were distancing in the shallow water. We asked if we could use one portion of the space for a few minutes and were met with great hostility. But as they heard the music their demeanor completely changed and they were intrigued and asked us questions and wanted to watch the concert. Music has a way of bringing people together and I’m so blessed to have it in my life.”

Educators for Peace

On Tuesday, May 18, 2021, at 5:00 pm, I invite you to join me at the “Educators for Peace” panel. I will be hosting with Student Success and Equity Program Manager Kara McDonald moderating the discussion with Richard McCrow, Jessica Wojtysiak, Bryan Hirayama, and Jeremy Staat. This is the second panel in the BC Peace Initiative; I highlighted the first panel, “Mothers for Peace,” in last week’s post.

For more information and to register for Zoom, see the BC calendar event Educators for Peace.

First check presentation for Rotary Peace Project

Cheryl Scott and Mindy Wilmot, both Rotarians and part of BC’s Peace Initiative team, were guests at Bakersfield East Rotary Club this week where they were presented with a $1,000 check that will start a Rotary Peace Fund within the BC Foundation.  The fund will be used to place Rotary Peace Poles in BC’s future peace gardens and throughout campus.  As a result of the growing partnership and increased interest in peacebuilding, local Rotary Clubs are also planning to place poles throughout the community as well!

Virtual Express Enrollment Event On May 19th

Bakersfield College Outreach, with support from Financial Aid, Counseling, and more, will host a Virtual Express Enrollment Event on May 19th from 12pm to 8pm to help new and continuing students enroll and get the classes they need.

Register here: or visit the website at

Outreach spreads the good word about BC’s academic programs and student services by reaching out to local high schools, supporting future students, and assisting them through the application and matriculation process.

There are also three more express enrollment events planned for this summer on June 2nd, July 7th, and August 11th from 12pm to 8pm.

BC Jazz Releases “The Quarantine Sessions Volume II”

Students in the Jazz Program directed by Kris Tiner have released a follow up to last year’s “The Quarantine Sessions” album. “The Quarantine Sessions Volume II” features 11 original tunes – over 52 minutes of music – created, performed, recorded, and mixed entirely by students working from home. They used Zoom to collaborate and discuss ideas, cloud storage to share charts and files, cell phones and any home recording technology they could get their hands on to capture sounds and songs that were inspired by these strange and unprecedented times.

Please take a listen and download a copy! All proceeds from sales benefit the Bakersfield College Jazz Program.

EOPS/CARE/NextUp/CalWORKs/AB 540 Recognition Ceremony

The EOPS, CARE, NextUp, CalWORKs, and AB540 student support programs hosted their Annual Recognition Ceremony virtually to honor and acknowledge the achievements of their graduating program participants. Their counselors and advisors presented awards to twenty-seven students on one of the following categories: Outstanding Participant, Highest G.P.A, Outstanding Professionalism, Academic Excellence, and Perseverance. Students were invited to pick up their award during an organized drive through event following the recognition ceremony. Over 234 students graduated from the listed categorical programs this year and our department staff and faculty are very proud of our students. Congratulations to the Class of 2021.

Back to Campus

While our Spring Semester has come to a close, our campus locations are a flurry of action as we continue to come back to work on our physical campuses.

Here’s Kalina Hill sharing a snap of the new Campus Center:

Endee Grijalva shared these snaps from the Arvin Hub:

In the News

Political Science Professor Allen Bolar discusses population change

Recently, it was announced that California would be losing a House seat as the state’s population is shrinking for the first time in history.

Political Science Professor Allen Bolar shared some insight into reasons behind that shift, including housing costs:

Community Voices: Roots of Early College have grown deep in Kern

BC Counselor Jesus Oropeza, who focuses on Dual Enrollment, Early College and STEM Pathways, wrote a piece in the Bakersfield Californian about the Early College Program and its successes in Kern County.

“We should all be so proud of these communities for adopting Early College in their own unique way, providing educational pathways, and ensuring there is equity for all students. With our ever-changing world during this pandemic, our institutions have had to rethink our engagement with students to be extra intentional, reaching them where they are and serving them in the most supportive ways.”

Jesus Oropeza

Community Voices: Bakersfield College takes on auto-enrollment

Ashlea Ward, director for Outreach and Early College, shared some insight into the new auto-enroll program at Bakersfield College. This opt-in program allows allows BC staff and administrators to enroll students into their chosen classes automatically.

“All students that opted into the auto-enroll program received a full year of priority registration, as well as auto-enrollment for both semesters during their first year at BC, making it easier for these students to choose the classes they need to graduate on time. Finally, students always have the ability to meet with a counselor after they have been enrolled and adjust their schedule, or go into their student account and adjust their schedules independently, which will always be the case, even beyond the pandemic.”

Spotted on Social Media

Last week I shared Mento Buru’s reimagining of the BC Fight Song. This week, I’d like to share the video they posted on their Instagram page, featuring BC’s own Tim Heasley and the BC Cheer Team:

BCSGA reminded everyone that the Student Pantry is still available:

BC Rural Initiatives Executive Director Abel Guzman shared this picture of KCCD Trustee Yovani Jimenez, who stopped by the Arvin hub:

The BC Library staff ended the semester with a group Zoom photo:

And check out Dr. Daisy Gonzales, Deputy Chancellor of California Community Colleges, sharing some Renegade Pride:


2021 Renegade Football Schedule Released

This week we were all very excited to see that the Southern California Football Association (SCFA) released the fall 2021 football schedule. Our Renegades are planning to return to action in traditional 10-game season this coming fall. To view the schedule on the website, click here. They will open on the road playing at LA Pierce on Sep. 4th, and then have their first home game of the season in Memorial Stadium on Sep. 11th hosting El Camino. This will be the first football game played at Memorial Stadium in what will be almost 22 months! The last Renegade home football game was Nov. 16, 2019 when they played Canyons in the 2019 season finale. We are looking forward to the fall and for football to start once again!


That’s all for now.
Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever