Launching Fall 2016 to Build A Better BC!

Good morning Bakersfield.  Today is Saturday, August 20th, the day after my grandmother Hilda Sparrow’s b’day and two days after BC’s Opening Day.  Hilda Sparrow, Nana as I called her, was born in 1908 — that would make her a 5-year-old in 1913 when leaders here is Bakersfield launched the first community college in Kern County, Bakersfield College.  Last night when mom and I were out for our evening walk, rather late yesterday because of going to the new release of the 1959 epic movie Ben Hur, we enjoyed the fabulous moon and talked about Hilda Sparrow. Nana, this blog is for you!

Back to Ben-Hur, the music done by Hungarian composer and pianist Miklós Rózsa is just wonderful.  Here it is on Youtube.  See if you enjoy it as much as I do.

 

 

Opening Day 2016

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It’s been an eventful, exciting, and super-hot Bakersfield summer leading up to one of my favorite times of the year – Fall.   And this week at BC, we gathered to celebrate Opening Day kicking off our monumental fall semester of 2016.

Our faculty, staff, and administration look forward to seeing the halls filled with students and our campus brimming with activity. Our campus comes alive when the students are present – after all, they are the center and the inspiration for all we do.

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Chef Eric Sabella and his team prepared a bountiful, delicious, and healthy lunch of fresh salads and a selection of different wraps. It’s always a treat when we gather together as the whole BC staff to enjoy lunch (or any kind of food, really) together.

In a special way, I’d like to recognize folks who spent the last several weeks preparing for opening day.

 

Our fantastic team of ushers –  Chris Glaser (lead) –  Somaly Boles – June Charles
Heather Barajas – Isbael Casteneda – Bernadette Martinez – Jacki O’Bannon Strong
Felicia Scott – our wonderful students

Contributors to the content of the program – Kate Pluta – Nan Gomez-Heitzberg – Zav Dadabhoy –  Bill Potter – Lesley Bonds –  Steve Waller –  Nicky Damania

The M&O team – Ramon Puga – Rachell Morehouse – Jason Brown

Our video, media and technical team – Manuel De La Santos –  Kristin Rabe – Kevin Ganger

Our graphics and printing – Dylan Wang

My creative writing partner – Monika Scott

And the two women who are complete rockstars – Shannon Musser and Jennifer Marden

 The program followed lunch and almost every seat in the Indoor Theater was filled. The sea of familiar faces and red Renegade pride gets me every time. It’s an incredible sight to see and I hope you’ll check out some of the photos if you couldn’t be there in person.

Our BCSGA President, Matthew Frazer took the stage introducing himself and welcoming everyone to the celebration. He spoke as a true leader of our next generation:

IMG_6313Knowing how my life has been impacted, I felt a calling to serve for the greater good. Last spring, impacted me in two life altering ways that I am grateful for… finally be wedded to my girlfriend of three years, and to announce my candidacy for BCSGA President.  I am happy to report I survived both this summer, so far. I’m still married and expecting, and I am standing before you as the 2016-2017 Bakersfield College Student Government Association (BCSGA) President. I am Matthew Frazer.

This year, my goal is for us to be more visible and vocal on campus. We hope to achieve this goal by hosting an array of events all year long and by doing so we wish to inspire others to be just as equally impactful.”

I can’t wait to see what our incredible student body has in store this year – it is a great time to be a Renegade.

This fall, we will see the great work of our excellent departments come to life. Enrollment is booming, students are excelling, and we have our first set of history making juniors in the industrial automation baccalaureate program at BC!

As of today, Saturday August 20th, there are exactly 80 days till our community decides on the investment and outcome of Measure J so it was fitting that during Opening Day, we revisited the innovative history and evolution of BC’s ground breaking past.  Together let’s build…A Better BC.  We will have the State of the College posted next week.

Our story began in 1913 and took a gigantic leap in the 50’s as we claimed a campus of our own, moving to Panorama Drive. Today, 50 years later, we continue to dream big because BC’s tale isn’t over. Our campus gives life to the endless opportunities for future generations and along with our students. We’re writing the next chapter and it’s up to us to direct the story.

Here is the conclusion from the State of the College:

We live in an era of viral soundbites and tweets rather than one of comprehensive and detailed discussion. But let us not be reluctant to tell our story, openly and honestly; boldly in all its detail; and in all its glory.

Let’s joyfully shout out the BC story from the roof tops for the next 82 days and beyond.

Let us use Twitter….Facebook… Instagram and Snapchat.

Can we get 82 pieces of writing in the community voices section of the Californian? Every day from now until November 8th. We are BC and we are a Jewel of Kern County.

 We will continue to balance bold new directions with elegance and poise. We will continue to encourage punctual completion with gentle compassion and strong support. We see the face, heart, and brilliant mind of each individual student in the crowd of thousands and our mission is as important as it’s ever been.

I’m proud to say the state of Bakersfield College has never been stronger

Just like in 1913 – Just like in the 50s –

Now, in 2016, we stand together to write the next chapter of BC’s story….

Together, let’s build…A Better BC

WE are BC!

We had great presenters during the 4-hour plenary including the stretch breaks to support our Wellness core value.  Here are some pictures:

 

Our day continued with presentations by employee groups and a community panel. Thank you to Mike Turnipseed, Olivia Garcia, Karen Goh, and JP Lake – your words, voice, and wisdom will resonate with us this fall semester. Thank you for your involvement and for being a voice of the community!

Community Panel Opening Day Aug 18 2016

 

Community Panel 2We welcomed all the new faculty to our roster and concluded our indoor presentation with faculty awards and recognition. Congratulations to Shirley Trembley Distinguished Teaching Award recipient, Kenward Vaughn, Margaret Levinson Faculty Leadership Award recipient, Jennifer Johnson, and recipient of this year’s Norm Levan Faculty Colloquium, Anna Poetker.

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What makes this year one for the history books, besides our record setting enrollments and student success accomplishments, is our upcoming date of November 8th.  But what makes this year one that I’m so proud to be a part of right now – right here – today, and in the present – is the fantastic people who make up Bakersfield College. Your energy, your smiles, your laughter, your involvement in our Opening Day stretch breaks, your willingness to stand and be recognized makes a lasting impact on me – and encourages me as President of BC each and every day.  Thank you colleagues.  We Are BC!

 

 New Student Convocation

What an amazingly spirited experience, right after Opening Day on Thursday night introducing new student Renegades and their families to the BC community!

As soon as students walked towards the Outdoor Theatre they were greeted by the Bakersfield College Student Government Association, received welcome packets and enjoyed food and refreshments before the start of the event.

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Chef Eric Sabella and the food services team are just phenomenal!

Chef Eric kicked off the ceremonies with a wonderfully delicious chili & cornbread meal with the perfect blend of spices. His team set the stage for the evening of excellence as the cheerleaders, faculty, and staff paraded down the stairs with the accompaniment of the BC Drumline, in celebration and commitment to the incoming freshmen.

The BC Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. Jennifer Garrett, performed a breathtaking piece by Scott Farthing entitled “Come Travel with Me.” With references to Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road”, the piece encourages the young spirit to explore the journey of life. Jen, you are the best!

Our drumline and cheer leaders were just awesome!  Prof Becky Whitson was in great form….loved her energy and style.  And she did not lose it when she was introduced as a sociology faculty rather than a psychology faculty🙂  And thank you Tom Moran for these wonderful photos!

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Renegade students, their families, faculty, staff, and administration all joined in taking oaths to support the incoming student renegades in their commitment to academic success as we all join together to make BC a better place of higher learning.

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Student Life Director Nicky Damania was very busy putting on such a wonderful event.

In talking with the students and their families at the event, I met a family that traveled a few hours to meet the staff, faculty, and students. They have an incoming freshman starting on Monday that was not able to attend the event; however, they wanted to meet the school community that would help cultivate their son’s educational experience. They expressed comfort in knowing that the entire campus community is invested in the success of their son. Even though he will have to leave home to pursue his academic goals, they are confident that he will be looked after and supported. That is the core of our work!

I want to thank CJ for teaching me how to sign We Are BC and Nan for prompting it.

Was very proud of all the Convocation Speakers — Steven Holmes, Academic Senate President; Mathew Frazer, SGA President; Manny Mourtzanos, Dean of Instruction; Corny Rodriguez, Dean of Instruction; Chief Chris Counts, Director of Public Safety. And of course the emcee for the evening.  The fabulous Nicky Damania.

Sonya_CaraThis shows how the faculty and staff  are important in helping our students excel at BC and in life and demonstrating what it means to be student and what it means to be a Renegade. Thank you everyone who showed up for this event, even in the heat, and helping make this tradition a meaningful experience for our students.

I also got a chance to take a selfie our student Cara Jackson, who does fabulous work taking photos for my blog! I’m so glad to share a photo of the young woman behind the camera with all of you.

Matthew Garrett’s Making Lamanites

MakingLamanites.pngI’m excited to share that Matthew Garrett’s award winning book Making Lamanites will be released next month. It is the winner of the Juanita Brooks Prize in Mormon Studies for it “traces student experiences within contested cultural landscapes to reveal how and why many of these Native youth adopted a notion of Indianness.”

Donald L. Fixico from Arizona State University says, “Using historical themes of colonization, assimilation, and identity, Matthew Garrett presents an extraordinary revelation of indigenous resilience among 50,000 native students during the second half of the twentieth century. This brilliant exposé advances our understanding of Indian-white relations and it is truly an award-winning book!”

How lucky are we to have such dedicated, interesting, and accomplished professors like Matthew Garrett at BC. Make sure to keep an eye out for details on where you can get this book! We Are BC!
i-KZdzQtW-X2

 

International Students

Welcoming  F-1 visa students to our college and community is not a new concept; in fact, the arrival  of international students at Bakersfield College has been since the 1970’s, upon the arrival of Filipinos and Cambodians to Kern County.

International students are a vital part of our campus and community. Their attendance at our colleges bring diversity and enrich the college experience for our domestic students who may not otherwise have a chance to travel abroad or experience other cultures.  International students expose both the student body as well as the faculty and staff to different cultures and ideas.

Since 2013, there has been an approximate 30% increase in the enrollment of F-1 visa studentsIMG_7873 every year.  In fact, in Spring 2016, 88 F-1 Visa students representing 26 different countries, joined Bakersfield College. Students from Saudi Arabia are the largest group at 30%; the other 70% come from India, Mexico, Vietnam, Yemen, and Nigeria.

An increase in the number of international students can boost our local economies, create a worldly and diverse student population, and prepare our future generations for a globalized workplace. All international students pay for their American education with personal or family funds.

Thank you Shohreh Rahman for leading this work for the college.

Share Memories:

Loy Salada’s post on the Ice Bucket Challenge from two years ago just popped up on Facebook.  So fun!  Here it is

 

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That’s all for now.  

Until next Saturday…..

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya  

The luckiest and happiest college president

Catching the Olympic Spirit

 

Sonya Jen Paula August 12 2016

Sonya Christian, Paula Dahl, Jen Garrett

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, August 13, 2016 following a week of Olympics and a week of great activity at BC….a great week to be a Renegade.  

 

On Friday, after my Land Rover was broken into (yes…..quite bummed about that) I spent a few brief moments with Jen Garrett and Paula Dahl at the Starbucks on 24th.  I just sat back watching these two incredible women talk about what they did this summer and all I can say dear community members, is that we are so fortunate to have such incredible faculty members at BC taking care of our students, taking care of our community.  No wonder I always repeat over and over and over again that I am the luckiest and happiest college president ever.  These two women inspire me!

Let’s start with Rio or should I say #Rio2016…..

The Olympic spirit is contagious and it’s hard to not get caught up in the highlights of terrific athletic merit and examples of superb sportsmanship. It’s easy to sit back and enjoy the thrilling Olympics, but sitting back also makes me truly appreciate the hard work, dedication, training, resilience and sheer talent of these athletes and their preparation for these few weeks in Rio.  Anticipation and preparation are two ingredients to success….BC has done this over the last 100 years and now it is our turn to anticipate and prepare for future generations.  And that we are doing through our facilities planning as we build, together, A Better BC!

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Every unique story stemming from Rio has struck me as particularly moving, but one article caught my attention specifically. U.S. Women Jump, Spin, and Soar to Gymnastics Gold from the New York Times explains just how these girls earned gold. The author explains – It started with “A strong start on the vault” followed by Gabby Douglas getting “her moment.” These young women maneuvered the trials by “avoiding trouble on the balance beam” and closing the victory with “great performances.”

The charismatic U.S. women’s gymnastics team is a shining example of what makes America great –dedication, the opportunity to explore our talents and passions, the ability to freely pursue them, tough training, incredible grace, and banding together to accomplish great things. Our biggest advantage as a nation also stems from our diversity as displayed on the roster by these fantastic women. Laurie Hernandez is Latina, Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas are black, and Aly Raisman and Madison Kocian are white. Together, they offer a glimpse into the beautiful mosaic of American diversity.  A single “i” in the collective “we”.  i-BC….and yes, We are BC!

Our world is full of perils and challenges, but the camaraderie on display at Rio 2016 offers a view of our increasingly diverse future; one that we can all take pride in being a part of. Let us continue to be inspired as we witness the beauty in diversity of people working together and striving for excellence.

The track and field competitions have just begun on Rio’s schedule, which reminds me of Jim Ryun (yes, spelled “Ryun”) and his record setting accomplishment at our own Memorial Stadium. A side note: I recently learned that Jim Ryun went on to serve in Congress with our very own Bill Thomas.  On June 23rd of 1967, a world record time was set by Ryun of 3:51.1 running the mile during the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. A video, uploaded to Youtube, shows this unbelievable feat.  (Thank you Shannon Musser for finding this in the archives for us.  And thank you Jerry Ludeke for all that you do for the archives, a true treasure of Bakersfield College.)

That year was the first of five times Memorial Stadium would be home to the championship event. It is my hope that moving forward, BC can continue providing adequate spaces as more records are set at The Home of the Renegades.  Together, let’s build A Better BC for generations to come.

Talking about building A Better BC, Tom Burke and I were on the Jim Scott show on KGET this past Saturday, August 6th sharing information about the KCCD Bond that will be on the November ballot.  If you are interested in this 30-minute video segment check it out on the KGET website at http://tinyurl.com/z7eoxue.

Program for Energy Academy Graduation August 11 2016On Thursday evening, after the Board meeting, I attended the graduation ceremony of the Energy Academy which started on May 21st.  Check out my previous blog post at https://bcpresidentblog.com/2016/05/21/so-much-diversity-and-we-are-bc/

 

It was such a great event.  Besides celebrating our BC students going through this intense Saturday program I enjoyed the friendship of different community groups coming together to make meaningful and transformative opportunities happen for this community. The Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce puts this program together with funding from Chevron.

The student speaker Larry Dano was just phenomenal.  He shared his story in the oil industry going through the ups and down of the cyclical economic climate.  He is a BC student who is in the Fire Technology program while he is working towards a baccalaureate degree in Industrial Safety.  Larry is also a student veteran.  Armando Trullijo, BC’s Ed Adviser for student vets was present at the graduation beaming with pride as he introduced Larry to me.  Here is a selfie with Larry right after I gave him his certificate.  The second picture is with David Alanis, a KCHCC member who was at my table and a lot of fun to hang out with.

Lauren Skidmore did a fabulous job facilitating the entire academy and giving up her Saturday mornings to be with this cohort of students.  Thank you Adam Alvidrez and Jay Tamsi for your leadership.  It was great fun sitting at the same table with Norma Rojas-Mora, Michael Bowers and others.  The final word on the Energy Academy must be about Lisa Kent.  This beautiful and talented young woman is so committed to BC and our community.  Thank you Lisa for all that you do!

The BC Team came out in full force to support the Energy Academy graduates.  See below –Armando Trujillo, Connie Gonzales, myself, Jay Tamsi, Lisa Kent, Lesley Bond.  Also, a quick shout out to two more students, Andrea Hernandez and Jose Chavez, with Skidmore, Gonzales, and Kent.

Our Staff is a Great Team

All this focus on Rio and team work reminds me of the great staff and faculty I’m lucky to be working with at BC. Taking care of our current facilities and campus is a constant and growing challenge for a team of truly awesome people.

These efforts wouldn’t be possible without the leadership and dedication of our Facilities and Operations staff. I’d like to mention Ramon Puga and Andrea Watson, who have stepped up and taken on additional responsibilities without being asked. Their attitude is commendable because these two will do whatever it takes to get the job done.

These two, however, are part of a much larger team – everyone at BC plays a unique role in what we do. Thank you Ramon and Andrea for your example of leadership and dedication!  And thank you Bill Potter, Director of Facilities, for your commitment to BC.  Together we will modernize our buildings and infrastructure for future generations….together we will upgrade our learning spaces from the 1950s to accommodate new technologies….together we will build A Better BC!

Another example of quality at BC is the Peer Mentor program, led by Maria Wright. This last week, the PMLA (Peer Mentor Leadership Academy) trained 50 new student employees over a four-day period.

PMLA 2

These students will begin doing student success work in the tutoring center, counseling department, supplemental instruction, and outreach. The training they received focused on students helping students and enhancing their role as Peer Mentors as a means to increase students success campus wide. These great young people are going to make a great difference in the lives of their fellow students! Each student seen individually…. It is all about  customizing for the individual and scaling up for the collective.  i-BC! and We are BC!

This week was also MESA Week Zero. MESA workshops started off in helping students interested in STEM classes.

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This marks year nine for the program, where various workshops – including organic chemistry camp, biology, and engineering are taught. The main goal in providing workshops all week was to get students ready for STEM classes and give insider knowledge specified for each major. BC professors assisted in providing different curriculum projects, which showed students what they would be learning and how they could apply it on the job. Seeing each individual student within the whole group.  Yes, i-BC! and We are BC!

Consuelo Gonzalez, MESA director, said she believes that “in order to be successful in science and engineering you need to have life coaching and the right discipline.” These five-day workshops going on all week are sponsored by Chevron and MESA.

Introducing the new GoGades.com

Gogades.jpgA wave of updates has washed over our campus this past summer. Have you seen the new signs around campus, the newly poured walkways, and fresh coat of paint in the parking lot? In addition to those and many more, BC Athletics has a new website! You can’t miss the pop of Renegade Red, while checking out the accomplishments of our fantastic student athletes.

GoGades.com features a slideshow highlighting the most recent news and photos about Renegade sports. You’ll find news, photos, videos and a schedule for every BC sports department, as well as information about tickets, recruiting, athletic facilities, sponsorships, directions around campus and more. The redesign couldn’t have come at a better time, with the fall 2016 semester right around the corner.

Football is a proud staple at BC and I hope you’ll join me at our first home game against Chaffey College at BC’s Memorial Stadium on September 10th. This fall also marks the return of Men’s Soccer to BC after a 30-year absence. Along with head coach Vayron Martinez, I’m excited for the future as this program builds from the ground up into a legitimate competitor in the Western State Conference.

Thank you to our Sports Information Director, Francis Mayer, for his work on this site, everyone who works to cast a spotlight on our student athletes, and everyone at BC  and in the community  who supports them! Go Gades!

For more info about Renegade athletics, including former BC quarterback Logan Kilgore making his first professional start in the Canadian Football League, I hope you’ll be sure to visit Gogades.com.

Howard Swan Award

RonJen1Another staple at BC is our talented music faculty. Since 1985, every summer, at the CACDA (California American Choral Directors Association) conference near Yosemite, a director is awarded the Howard Swan Lifetime Achievement award. This award recognizes an outstanding retired choral director in our state and candidates are nominated by the California ACDA Board of Directors and voted upon by past Presidents.

This year it was awarded to our own Ron Kean! Many well respected choral directors in California spoke about Ron’s dedication to the choral art. The speakers focused on the way he brought multicultural music to the forefront of choral music and made it accessible and something choral directors did not have to be afraid to try. They talked about his quiet and humble dedication as he served as President of the ACDA Western Division, President of the Music Association of California Community Colleges (MACCC), 6 years as Repertoire and Standards Chair for Ethnic and Multicultural Perspectives, and more.

The “Lifetime” Achievement Award seemed insufficient as Ron’s dreams and support go well beyond his tenure at any institution or office. He continues to support ACDA through workshops and sharing of his years of experience. And he wholeheartedly supports Bakersfield College in his so called “retirement,” still teaching the World Music class he created. He also conducted the BC Choirs and BSO in an unforgettable opening of our Outdoor Theater, and supports the choral program in any way he can.

Jen Garrett and many others also talked about the way his compositions will live on beyond any of us. He has made a personal difference in so many lives–as a professor, choral conductor, leader, composer, and most importantly, as a friend and colleague. Many lives have been greatly enriched and blessed because of Ron. Congratulations!!

In an email last week, Ron told me “retirement can open the doors to creativity.”  “The White Birds” is one of 5 commissions he’s done in the past two years.  He has judged choral music festivals at Bakersfield High School, Fresno State, USC, Santa Rosa Community College, and this Fall at Cal State Long Beach and guest conducted in Hawaii, Bali, and for the Santa Monica/Malibu School District Honor Choirs.  The photo was taken at St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland just after the premiere of “The White Birds,” with poetry by William Butler Yeats.  It was co-commissioned by the two conductors in the photo, Lou De La Rosa from West Valley College in San Jose, and Dr. Jeffrey Benson from San Jose State University.  “The White Birds” was performed for the opening of the first ever Limerick Choral Music Festival, for the mayors of Limerick and Dublin, and at the end of each concert. I’m told each performance was followed by a standing ovation – I believe it too!RonIreland.jpg

Renegades in the Community

BC is connecting our community in both simple and meaningful ways.

Sometimes, all it takes is a 35 mile drive and the need for a diet coke to connect staff and students! Tracy Lovelace from our Educational Media department sent me this video – I hope it’ll make you smile, just like it did for me.

Janelly, we’re proud that you’re a Renegade! Thanks for sharing Tracy.

Cropped Aug 12 2015 Community Leaders Gathering

 

That’s all for now.  

Until next Saturday.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya 

(This picture, posted by Karen Goh one year ago at the African American Leaders breakfast, popped up on Facebook after a year.)

Extraordinary stories: Our students, community, and faculty

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, August 6th….Kevin Charette of KGET happily told us on the morning news that we will not have triple digit high temperatures this week…and a fabulous day to be a Renegade.

Like all of you, Rio, is on my mind.  What a spectacular opening ceremony at the Olympic games in Rio.  If you are tweeting don’t forget #Rio2016.  Check it out at

https://www.olympic.org/news/brazil-takes-pride-in-spectacular-rio-2016-opening

 

 

Here are a few excerpts from the website:

Reflecting that beauty, a stunning Opening Ceremony depicted the rich and complex history and culture of Brazil. Fireworks and laser-lit dancers provided a suitably arresting start…..

The story of Brazil was then retold in a stunning showcase, beginning with the birth of life itself, depicted on a huge screen on the stadium floor, and continuing with a representation of the country’s rainforest and the forming of three huge “ocas” or huts to symbolise the indigenous people who call that amazing and precious habitat their home.

…..

The appearance of Gisele Bundchen, strutting out to the sound of “The Girl From Ipanema”, marked the start of “Bossa”, celebrating the curves and sensuality of Brazil. Pop then took centre stage, as the voice of the favelas, funk, samba, “passinho” and popular Brazilian music filled the air, while breakdance, capoeira and a host of the country’s regional variations of dance also put in appearances. Some 1,500 dancers then arrived on the scene for with a mass dance-off, as Brazilian singer Regina Casé urged everyone in the stadium to get on their feet.

Here is the English version of the song Girl from Ipanema that won the 1965 Grammy Song of the Year, sung up Astrud Gilberto the wife of Joao Gilberto who sang the original Portuguese version.

Here is the Portuguese version that I could find on Youtube with Tom Jobim and Joao Gilberto reuniting for this performance.  Beautiful.

 

If we are distracted from our work these next two weeks, we will just Blame it on Rio.

I love Saturday mornings.  Life seems spacious, uncomplicated, no immediate deadlines and I find myself moving out of “drive mode” which is constant and necessary in advancing the work of the college to a more “neutral mode”….I like it….i like it a lot.

Mondays on the other hand are a different story.  We often hear about the dreaded “case of the Mondays” or the “Monday Blues” and how we just can’t roll out of bed without that cherished cup of coffee– but I found some inspiration and perspective for Monday, which I hope just might spur some enthusiasm. Let’s show some love to Mondays!

Mondays

🙂

Motivation on Monday (8/1) Morning

TGIM – that’s what I’m saying! I started 8/1 the Monday after returning from Toronto, Canada, with a brief conversation with JP Lake who is exploring ways to support our community in Oildale by providing access to rehabilitation for those battling drug addiction.  That prompted me pinging Monika Scott and Earl Parsons, two bright minds who work with Shannon Musser, to quickly pull together some information for me.  And, as usual, they came through with flying colors.  Thank you Monika and Earl.

In addition to data here is a personal story that Earl shared with me.

Hello Ms. Christian, This is Earl Parsons. Monika asked me to look up some information about drug abuse in the unincorporated community of Oildale. There was a lot of data from Kern County in general and the Bakersfield area but we seem to be seriously lacking any comprehensive information via scholarly articles about drug use in Oildale and how that affects education rates and contributes to institutionalization and the school-to-prison pipeline. I did manage to find some information, however.

In the future, I think it would be worthwhile to commission our own research and canvass the community for some independent investigation, since there seem to be little to no secondary sources for the data you’re seeking. Speaking anecdotally, I grew up in different trailer parks around Beardsley Avenue and my mother was in and out of jail for meth use throughout my adolescence. A lot of the kids growing up in that area have no opportunities, teen pregnancy is astronomical and elementary school teachers have an uphill battle just getting their kids to come to school, let alone preparing them for being contributing members of a post-industrial economy.

Most of my friends from the neighborhood had dropped out of school and started using meth daily by 7th or 8th grade. I’m the only person I know of from that whole area to graduate from college, and I was fortunate enough to have the personal motivation (and stubbornness) to succeed, as well as the outside support from my family, or I would’ve never realized my full potential.

I still live in Oildale and I take the bus to work every day. A few weeks ago, my bus stopped off in front of a part of Oildale called The Pit, which is a really tough apartment complex on Roberts Lane. The bus picked up a woman I presumed was attending summer school here at BC, because she had a piece of white particle board with some kind of organizational structure outline for what I assumed was a Business class. I didn’t know her, but it made me very emotional seeing someone from that neighborhood who was trying to empower herself into a better lifestyle, and I wanted to walk over to her and tell her that I was proud of her and to keep working hard because I was in her position and I made it out.

Anyway, I’ve probably spent too much time writing about this but it’s something I feel very passionately about. I hope you have a great day, and I hope your research helps create the change that community needs.”

It’s stories like this and the message behind it that continue to fuel everything we do at Bakersfield College. The struggle is real… and the challenges are hard, but our students are strong and the people of this community care. When we work together and do our part to support our students, cycles can be broken. Hardships that are familiar today – don’t need to be a staple of tomorrow. Education is the key and its transformative power does change lives. This is why Mondays are important – Let’s tackle the work we were born to do. We can do something remarkable.

This is the day to be back at our passion. Breathing new life into our projects. We are conduits on innovation, imagination, and inspiration. It’s Monday, and we can’t wait to get started.”

We are BC!

A great Tuesday

I started my Tuesday morning watching Steve Watkin being interviewed by Jason Galvin on KGET promoting Renegade fest on August 12th.  Jason was so enthusiastic and was fully engaged in his interview with Steve.  Thank you Jason.

Dropped in and spent 30 minutes with the Summer Bridge group.  Thank you Kimberly Bligh for leading this effort.  Connected with some of our new faculty like Marcelyn Allen and incoming students.  Here is Marcelyn Allen, Michele Bresso’s daughter full of enthusiasm and passion for what she does.  The other faculty leading the session, Teresa McAllister, invited me to join an activity with chocolates that determines your personality type depending on the chocolate you like.  I was grouped with the Krackels and you can see us krackels here in all our glory.

Also thank you to the student peer mentors Kenneth Mireles, Melodee Medrano and Junior Menchaca.  Loved watching our counselor Mark Osea and Advisor Isabel Casteneda working with the students.

National Night Out

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The BC campus welcomed hundreds of visitors on campus during Tuesday evenings National Night Out. This annual event “promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live.” The weather was not only warm – it was blistering “Bakersfield” hot, but that didn’t stop hundreds of residents from coming out to meet and support our heroic emergency first responders and public service men and women.

National Night OutBPD’s specific and unique branches were on-site, including the CHP, the K9 Unit, Special Enforcement Unit, Bomb Squad, S.W.A.T. Team, and Rangers. Children of all ages eagerly interacted in a hands-on manner by taking a tour of the vehicles, trying on special equipment, and asking questions about daily duties and activities.

More than ever and in light of recent tragedies, this event has special significance – The event gave an exclusive chance for these branches to interact with and educate people of all ages and in response, attendees saw firsthand just how much these departments give back to the local community.

My wish going forward, inspired in part by this event, is that Bakersfield College continues to be a staple in this community; One which has the campus, buildings, and grounds to facilitate these types of important community and bond building experiences. As stated in BC’s core values

we have built and continue to build an environment in which all members participate as community through democratic engagement.

Thank you to all who came out to show support to our men and women working for public safety. And I can’t forget a special thank you to Mary Jo Pasek, who always works tirelessly in her efforts to utilize Bakersfield College in bringing our community together. For a video report of this event, check out the article at Bakersfieldnow.com.

Thank you Karen Goh for the photo gallery http://tinyurl.com/jok8cam

RENx Talks – Brief Talks, Big Ideas

RENx.jpg

Many of us on campus are familiar with TED talks… so much so, that we have our own RENEGADE talks (thank you Andrea Thorson and Todd Coston) as a mini campus-wide tribute, each year in April. Our staff, faculty, even some students come together to prepare a set of talks that are (1.) short (2.) concise and (3.) pack one powerful punch in a small amount of time. TED Talks are known for Ideas worth spreading and the library of 10-20 minute videos is nothing short of astounding. Topics range from almost anything you can think of and they’re educational, powerful, and motivational. One could even argue, if you watch one a day, it just might be… the best 13 minutes of your 24-hour day!

As a mini-series to these TED-like talks, Communications Faculty, Helen Acosta, hosted a spin off on Wednesday afternoon featuring her summer COMM B4 students. It was appropriately titled RENx – just as TEDx is a smaller scale of TED talks. I had the joy of sitting quietly in the back of the theater when lights dimmed and the first student took the stage. He was poised and enthusiastic as he conveyed a perfectly crafted message, not only with words. He artistically included body language as a reinforcement to the strong words spoken. His voice was a tool filled with passion and emotion and he swayed towards the audience, engaging us to not miss a single word. Interestingly, his topic was the transformative power of critical listening – and I don’t think this was a coincidence.

It’s hard to not listen intently to such passionate and charismatic students. One mentioned how far he has come in the past 4 weeks and delivered the message that life’s difficult moments can be a gift if one focuses on doing the right thing, and another student spoke of finding her passion through Taco Bell, leaving us with the message to “Live Más.”

Topics ranged from self-identity, faith, life, and passions… but, the very best part was witnessing our BC Renegades being honest and genuine about relevant issues, speaking on them with poise, elegance, and confidence. Our students are definitely bringing their A-game. Watch out world! These Renegades are coming for you!

Bakersfield, this is what our faculty do for our students at BC. Create the best learning environment for all of our students not just some of them.  Helen Acosta, you rock!

 

Wednesday (8/3) Evening – We Celebrate a Tribute to Jack

Jack2.jpgHe was described as “a teacher who was willing to learn from a student” and that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to describing his large and humble heart. Familiar faces gathered at the Indoor Theater on Wednesday evening to commemorate the life and impact of social studies professor, John “Jack” Edward Brigham, who passed away in July.

BrighamRetireesThe event had a great turnout, which was a wonderful testament to an outstanding man. I had the opportunity to see a few of our faculty retirees at the event – Margaret Lyman, Jack Hernandez and Sally Hill. 

 

 

Jack1A 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.

Brigham_JavierJavier Valdez is a former Bakersfield College student who is now at CSUB. During his time at Bakersfield College, 2 years ago, he was one of our student journalists involved with the Renegade Rip. The Renegade Rip is an amazing opportunity for our students. It has been in existence since 1929, and has grown to include a 24/7 online edition in addition to 7-8 biweekly publications a year. Our students have received internships and scholarships as they continue their studies after their time at Bakersfield College.

I would also like to recognize our BC staff who made this gathering possible – Earl Parsons, technical support. Kevin Ginger, lighting technician, Mary Jo Pasek for her support in many ways, Nicky Damania for organizing all the student volunteers, Dylan Wang and Dyann Serrato for taking photos, and Tarina Perry who managed this entire event.

I’d like to share the remarks from Randy Beeman, who represented BC faculty, admisnitrators and staff at the event:

I had the honor of being Jack’s office mate for almost 15 years. Jack was also my neighbor and a surrogate uncle to my children as we lived two blocks apart, and I had a key to his house from the first day I arrived at BC. My kids saw his condo as this mysterious place full of fascinating bric-a-brac and books, books, and more books.

Jack was actually on the hiring committee that brought me from Kansas to Bakersfield College via UNLV. Along with two Mexican Americans, an African American, and a slick looking hippie, there was this guy on the committee with cowboy boots, a bolo tie, and a pocket protector. I thought “this must be the department conservative…probably a right winger who listens to Rush Limbaugh and thinks Ronald Reagan was our greatest President.” I sure read that one wrong.

Over the years I heard a million stories, a million times, of our friend Jack’s most interesting life. My favorite stories were his battles as a junior high teacher in the most impoverished area of the city during the civil rights era. Once Jack took his basketball team to a tournament in a local city. He had to take the team in his car, which meant that he had to take half the team and return to Bakersfield for the other half.

When he got back to the tournament the kids he had left behind were downcast and some were in tears. They related to Jack that they had been called the n-word, and that the opposing coach encouraged his players to taunt Jack’s kids. It speaks volumes about the students respect for Jack that they didn’t lash out in anger. They didn’t want to disappoint him.

Jack was ordinarily a sportsman. Each kid got to play an equal amount, and no running up the score – but on this day, Jack unleashed his best player, an eventual college star, and his troops crushed the other team mercilessly. When Jack got home he began to write letters, as was his style, and within a week the racist coach was removed from his job.

That story is the essence of Jack – kind and composed, but underneath a furious revolutionary who never stopped fighting injustice and unfairness. When I would walk in the office at 7 am and the only music playing was the sound of Jack typing like a maniac, I knew that some administrator or politician was on the receiving end of one of Jack’s jeremiads. Suffice to say, in my time as his office mate and friend, he won most of his battles, and in the process students would be treated in a more ethical manner or a mismanaged system would be corrected.

Jack was a kind and serious man, but joy pervaded his personality. We would spend our free time talking (and sometimes fighting) about the American west, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, afrocubop, the mendacity of Richard Nixon, the end of nationalism and so on. Jack’s optimistic and giving spirit was infectious. I became a better teacher and a better person via my ongoing tutorial with this well-read, well-travelled, extraordinary individual. Just last month he wrote me about ‘inappropriate comments regarding Hillary Clinton” that I had reposted in haste on Facebook. I deleted the post, post haste.

Everyone knows that Jack was a font of generosity. Early on in my tenure at BC, I would be on the phone with my wife, talking about how we would pay for the kid’s braces and still manage the Catholic school tuition, or whatever bill or crisis was next…I would come out of class a few hours later and a check for $500 or $1000 would be on my desk. The only repayment expected is that I would do my best as a scholar and teacher.

Jack made people, like me, feel like they were special and capable of great deeds, but what Jack really taught me was that it is the small things that count – a compliment to someone feeling down or shy, giving away a material possession to someone who might enjoy it more, an encouraging word to an aspiring young artist. Jack was a complete gentleman, genteel, a lover of nature, animals, and even people as well.

If I were to channel Jack today, I would say that if he was a great man who could see farther than others it was because he was [audience ‘standing on the shoulders of giants.”] Milt Younger, Bob Severs, Corey Carter, the big guy Abdallah and Dolores of course above all….these giants of Jack’s life and other devoted friends all testify to a life well lived, a life worthy of emulation. Jack Brigham you are, in a phrase you loved so much, “presente!”

Jack’s life story and accomplishments are detailed in his obituary and I encourage you to take a few moments to read it. He was an accomplished, beloved, and outstanding leader who continually thought of others before himself.

Quoted from his obit, “Jack is in hopes his friends and role models will do something special for a person, group or organization in the spirit of integrity and civic unity.”

Let’s go out today and do something special – something extraordinary in honor of Jack.

enjoying gift from art department feb 14 2014

 

That’s all for now.  

Until next Saturday.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya 

(The Art department certainly knows the way into my heart)

The last week in July 2016

Good morning from Toronto, described by one citizen in a Toronto Star submission in 2010 as “Canada’a mosaic city of culture and colours.” Of course colours spelt with a “u” something I had a hard time getting used to years ago when I first came to the U.S. to start grad school.

Toronto skyline July 28 2016

Toronto skyline from the ferry. July 28, 2016

This was a 5-day trip to Toronto at a much slower pace than the 4-day trip to Rome last summer to watch and listen to our Chamber singers perform.  Thank you Jen Garrett for creating this phenomenal experience for our students.  (Here is a brief mention of my Rome trip in my June 22, 2015 blog http://tinyurl.com/zr2rcch.  Mark your calendars for summer 2018 and plan on heading to Sydney Australia to watch our students perform.)

 

So the five days involved spending time with Eisha and mom, a lot of time by the waterfront (Lake Ontario is beautiful), listening to music since the Caribana festival celebrating the music and culture of the Caribbean was getting started, checking out other sights, sounds and flavors of Toronto.  Two of my favorite restaurants, both on Yonge Street, close to Eisha’s Apartment were Scaddabush (in Italian it means “A bit of everything”) and the Red Tavern.

Twilight CN Tower July 29 2016

Twilight photo from Queens Quay July 29, 2016

I was about to brave the long lines to go up the CN Tower in the center of downtown Toronto one afternoon when a helpful staff member suggested coming back in the morning. Good advice – there was almost no one in line. The CN Tower is as elegant as the Space Needle in Seattle but three times higher at 1815 ft, and only one inch off of a perfect vertical. It took almost a minute for the elevator, travelling at about 14 mph, to reach the main observation deck, and another 45 seconds, travelling at 7 mph, to reach the upper “navette” observation deck.  After doing the first part, I lost my nerve to brave it to the upper deck, but Lauren, a security guard talked me into it.  Here is a selfie with her.

 

What a view of the city skyline, of the lakefront, and activity at the base of the tower! I enjoyed everything except the glass floor observation deck, which I did not go on! Here are some pictures that will give you some sense of just how high it is. It’s still the highest tower in the western hemisphere – only the Canton Tower in China and Burj Kalifa in Dubai (which I’ve seen but not been to the top) are higher.

Caribana: Friday the hotel and street were full of people in colorful dresses and feather costumes. Turns out this was the beginning of Caribana, a week-long celebration of Caribbean and African culture. The waterfront that evening was lined with large boats with parties and crowds dressed all in white or in colorful costumes.

The Harbourfront Center stage on the Queens Quay Terminal had a great band that backed a number of lead singers performing a mix of reggae and Caribbean music. I loved the renditions of Marley’s 1980 release “Everything Gonna Be Alright” (a high energy version of “Three Little Birds”) and “Feelin Hot Hot Hot”. A lot of the music I didn’t recognize, but the crowd definitely did, dancing and singing along.  Will definitely catch up on my reggae in the next few weeks. The evening on the waterfront listening to great music amidst a large crowd on land and many well-lit sailboats on the water was definitely magical.

Here is a short video that I took on my iphone of “Feelin Hot Hot Hot”

And here is Bob Marley with Everythings Gonna Be Alright.

 

Thank you BJ:

BJ and Sonya July 25 2016Let me take a moment to recognize the shuttle bus driver in LA, BJ who went out of her way to help mom.  She was a cheery woman who broke the rules to help this “mother” as she referred to mom.  When i thanked her she commented — “hold her hand as much as you can for as long as you can.”  BJ lost her mom a long time ago.  Here is a selfie with BJ a remarkable woman with a big heart who made me happy and more importantly took care of my mom.

 

 

BC Spotlighted in the Californian

These last two weeks has seen several pieces about Bakersfield College.  Here are some of them:

July 24, 2016: College district’s plans are ambitious, but maintianing what it has built requires it.  by Louis Amestoy  

July 23, 2016: Community Voices: Oh, the Places You’ll Go: My Life with History by Linda Esquivel, a Renegade. http://tinyurl.com/haep5cx.

Wonderful Opportunities

JoshIn partnership with The Wonderful Company and Wonderful College Prep Academy, local youngsters are taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity to get a head start on their future career path before even beginning college. Bringing real life and learning experiences together are important for our young people and it’s something this program does well.

“Wonderful Agriculture Career Prep is one of nearly 50 collaboratives across California providing tens of thousands of students with hands-on learning that blends academics with job training in industry sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, construction, engineering, health care, computer science and many other fields where high-paying jobs await.”

Upcoming high school junior Joshua Carreon is featured in the article and I forwarded it via email to our Agriculture Faculty, Chris McCraw – this is what I received in response!

Yes, I know Josh. Really good, ambitious student. For nearly 25 years, I have been taking photos of my students when I first meet them. This allows me to have every student’s name memorized by the second class meeting! Let me introduce you to Joshua Carreon!!”

The article discussed Joshua’s work in the academy.

“He belongs to the school’s agriculture business pathway, an innovative course of study that includes agriculture science and technology in high school, college-level business classes from Bakersfield City College and a paid internship at Olam Farms, an almond grower in the region. He’s also guaranteed a job in one of the region’s agriculture companies when he graduates high school, or after college, if he decides to attend.”

Read the full article at Edsource.org and check out this post on my blog featuring the Ag Ventures Camp at Bakersfield College!

Agriculture Ambassadors host Collegiate Agriculture Leaders Competition

Talking about our amazing Ag faculty and staff let me share with you the event that they hosted on March 4th — the Collegiate Agriculture Leaders Spring Competition.

The BC Agriculture Ambassadors hosted the event for the first time in Bakersfield College history!

Over 100 students from Community College Ag programs as far away as Shasta College descended on our campus to compete in eight different competitions including extemporaneous public speaking, prepared public speaking, team marketing, formal sales presentation, job interview, career portfolio, discussion meet, and a Jeopardy-style event called “College Bowl”.

Teams of students sat at a long table at the front of the Forum with buzzers at hand at a light in front of each team while proctors from Cal Poly and Fresno State kept a watchful eye to make sure that no one-including the host school-had an unfair advantage.

i-Nk7g6nH-X2“That’s the bragging rights event,” BC Ag Professor Chris McCraw said. “It’s a student-run event, and I think our students get a lot of value out of dealing with the rigors of hosting this program, and our students did a great job putting this on. Our kids were the problem solvers, and they reacted well, and I think it’s an advantage to have students in those style of situations.”

The students weren’t the only ones who rose to the occasion of hosting such a dynamic competition. Professor Lindsay Ono took care of registration and day of event logistics, which is no small task.

Professor McCraw explained that “We allow students to enter multiple competitions, and that made stuff a little complicated. Professor Ono put the contest together almost magically so that 100 different students could participate in multiple competitions on the same day. We wouldn’t want those students traveling long distances to only be able to participate in one event; we wanted them to get as much as possible out of the day.”

Professor Bill Kelly took care of the prepared contests like Prepared Public Speaking and Dr. Greg Cluff managed the extemporaneous speaking portion.

BC’s Ag department rocks!

It’s POSSIBLE!

IMG_4638I’d like to take this time to thank our amazing Outreach department. Their It’s POSSIBLE! event earlier in July gave incoming students a hearty welcome, with help enrolling in classes, orientation, and a guided tour of the campus.

Our new students had the opportunity to experience how easy it can be to start an exciting pathway here at BC!

We have another exciting event coming up on August 10th, from 7 am to 5:30 pm. Renegade Fest will be an all-in-one day, where students can apply, attend orientation, complete assessment testing, complete a new student workshop, meet with a counselor to develop an abbreviated Student Education Plan, register for Fall 2016 classes, and complete Financial Aid documents.

Thank you so much to Steve Watkin and his great team in the Outreach department, as well as the Admissions & Records, Counseling, and Financial Aid department for their hard work putting this together for our students. A special shout out to the assessment staff for all their efforts t make this happen — Kalina Hill, Shelia Fuller, Juan Estrada, Terri Larner, Aracley Enriquez.   It’s sure to be a great success!

For more information, check out www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/renegadefest or call (661) 395-4276.

Vision, Voice, and Inspiration of Kern County Women

POLITICIANS-2-2

Nicole Parra, Pauline Larwood, and Mary K. Shell. Photo Credit: The Bakersfield Californian

In light of this week’s Democratic National Convention and all the discussion about women and our political voice, I was really touched by two articles in the Bakersfield Californian written by Diane Hardisty featuring Kern County women and how they’re breaking the barriers.

The first, Her-story: Kern’s trailblazing women reflect on Hillary nom, details the history of the women’s suffrage movement and tells how exactly 100 years ago, in 1916 outside the DNC, women held a silent and non-violent protest to gain equal rights to vote. She goes on to quote Sandra Larson, a Shafter resident and campaign manager for Pauline Larwood as she said, “… a woman running for president would have been inconceivable in the 1940s, when I was born.” And Hardisty mentions that today, “women now serve as heads of state in several countries, including Germany, Liberia, Norway, Chile, Bangladesh, Croatia, Poland, the Bahamas, and others.”

It’s incredibly fascinating to see how our society has evolved through the history and our story of women’s rights and equality over the past 100 years.

The second piece written by Hardisty titled, They, too, were first: Shell, Larwood, others on women in politics, takes readers on a tour to get reacquainted with a handful of these revolutionary elected leaders who happen to be local ladies – some even with ties to BC and most connected to education in Kern County. Here’s a quick list with facts and details about these incredible women:

  • The Bakersfield Californian once referred to her as “the most popular politician in Kern County history,” Mary K. Shell, was the first woman to serve as mayor of Bakersfield and the second woman serving on the Kern County Board of Supervisors. With interest in journalism, current events, and politics, she began working part-time at the Bakersfield Californian at the young age of seventeen and attended Bakersfield College. Today, she is a great supporter and contributor to BC and event sits as the Emeritus Director of the BC Foundation Board of Directors.
  • The article states that “Pauline Larwood, the first woman elected to the Kern County Board of Supervisors, knew her gender might pose a challenge when she ran in 1982, but she used her name recognition and army of supporters to defeat a large field of competitors for the 3rd District seat.” Also connected to Bakersfield College, Pauline taught as an adjunct faculty here, has been a member of the KCCD Board of Trustees Finance Committee, and was involved with the Bakersfield Women’s Conference – which also began at Bakersfield College!
  • With 20 years of experience teaching in the Bakersfield City School District, Barbara Patrick “went on to serve 12 years in the office, joined 5th District Supervisor Mary K. Shell on the board. But after Shell’s retirement in 1997, Patrick was the lone woman supervisor until 2007.” In the article, she is quoted by saying ““It is a shame that more women do not aspire to public office,” she said. “We have had some excellent role models locally on school boards, the various city councils and the Board of Supervisors.”
  • Senator Jean Fuller holds an AA degree from Bakersfield College, which she earned in 1970 before launching a successful career. She served for more than 30 years as an educator and as Superintendent of BCSD when she was elected in 2006. We’re proud to call Senator Jean Fuller a Renegade.

Not mentioned in the article, but worth adding to my quick list is

  • Leticia Perez, our 5th District Kern County Supervisor is a third generation Bakersfield resident coming from a family with United States Veterans. It makes sense that she works as an avid supporter for current combat vets suffering from PTSD. Straight from her official biography, it states, “Leticia was raised alongside a dozen foster children and comes from a family who have been dedicated to public service for more than forty years in Kern County. Following in her parents’ footsteps, Leticia has been active in political and social issues, as well as Philanthropic efforts from the time she could walk.” She works relentlessly to help to residents of Arvin with essentials like jobs and education and Mary Jo Pasek hinted that there’s a big announcement coming – a gift to our BC vets to be presented next month.  Leticia also helped secure the funding the the Game Changer project at Arvin High School.  Check out my August 2, 2015 blog post at http://tinyurl.com/hkm2p6y
  • Dolores Huerta, though not a politician, spoke at the Democratic Convention on Thursday afternoon. This phenomenal woman is the Co-Founder of the United Farm Workers, along with the great Cesar Chavez, and this woman has devoted her life for the betterment of hardworking farm laborers, immigrants, and women. Her legacy of tireless advocacy is one that is truly inspiring and has made a difference for the people of Bakersfield and our entire country.
  • Grace_Van_Dyke_Bird-abcdef-8x10Last and fittingly, I’d like to also mention Grace Van Dyke Bird as a woman of vision, the first President of Bakersfield College, and the first woman to ever lead a public community college in California. She wrote in her credo, titled “The Basic Purposes of Administration in Education” about the administrator’s job of creating the best learning environment by building and showing trust in the people she leads. With this philosophy, you can see why she was widely respected on campus and in our city as an educator, the original administrator at BC, and an inspiration to all.  I am sure that Grace Van Dyke Bird would agree that…. It is a great time to be a Renegade!

 

Sonya at the Aspen Grove July 28 2016

 

That’s all for now.  

Until next Saturday.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya ….. at the Aspen Grove at Queens Quay Terminal, Toronto, Canada (July 28, 2016….a special day)

Providing pathways to the future and building a better BC

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, July 23rd and I woke up to a wonderful piece by Jeff Evans in The Bakersfield Californian above the fold.  Indeed, a wonderful day to be a Renegade.

Here is an fuzzy image of the article taken on my iphone.  For the entire web version check out http://tinyurl.com/h2f79wy.  There is also a 15-minute video segment of Louis Amestoy interviewing Jeff Evans on the gymnasium and other athletics facilities that are on the BC facilities needs list.  Note this is a “needs list” not a “wish list”.  I particularly appreciated the comment that these facilities serve all of our students and not just our student athletes.

Jeff Evans Californian July 23 2016

 

The “Athletics facilities” is only one project of the numerous facilities needs on this 60 year old campus on 153 acres with over 30 buildings.  80% of the projects are capital improvements focusing on buildings where we have instruction in Math, Science, Agriculture, Humanities, etc. For the entire project list check out www.abetterbc.com.

The college faculty and staff have been focused on student success for over a century, and in the last three years have particularly focused on connecting with students when they are still in high school and gearing them up for college and the workforce.  Approximately 80% of BC’s students are first in their families to go to college, so the faculty and staff take the time to be their guides and their coaches as these first-time students learn to navigate college and learn how to be learners and gain the skills to enter the workforce.  Nick Strobel describes it well in about 500 words in his Community Voices piece on Wednesday, July 20th in The Bakersfield Californian.

Nick compared our new pathways initiative to the GPS in a car. Just as a GPS will help you get back on track if you make a wrong turn, the pathways we are creating can help guide students through life events that may “knock them off the college path.”

Nick Strobel July 20 2016

This is such an exciting initiative, and I am so happy that BC was one of just 30 colleges chosen to be part of the AACC Pathways Project.

Nick’s piece is online at http://www.bakersfield.com/news/opinion/2016/07/20/a-road-for-community-college-students-bc-s-gps.html.

So you see dear community members, BC meets students where they are and provides incredible opportunities for them to find their calling, whether in athletics, the arts and humanities, social sciences or in math and science.  What our faculty do for our students is nothing short of incredible.

Eisenhower Fellowship

Here’s a note I received from a talented Bakersfield College student:

My name is Rey Fernandez, a mechanical engineering major. From Fall 2015 to early Spring 2016, I had the opportunity to be one of the Dwight Eisenhower recipients because of the MESA program. This research opportunity exposed me to the transportation field, and taught me the role of engineers in the Transportation Research Board. Attending this TRB Conference in Washington D.C. gave me a lot of professional experiences.

I just want to thank you for bringing this research opportunity to MESA students last year, and again, for this upcoming year.

Washington DC.jpg

 

Former BC student featured on SiriusXM

Brandon McNaughton—who is from Bakersfield, attended BC, and received his BS in Physics from CSUB—was featured on SiriusXM in February.

He was interviewed for 30 minutes by Steve Blank on “Entrepreneurs Are Everywhere” about his biotech company, and the importance of understanding customer needs when developing a product or solution. The episode can be heard via SiriusXM on Demand.  Here is a link http://tinyurl.com/jyvzg9l

His company, Akadeum Life Sciences, is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has developed a new method to separate individual cells from biological samples, such as blood. He is also one of the 100 stars of Bakersfield College. A proud Renegade!

Here are some previous blog posts highlighting our faculty and staff and what they do to create a wonderful learning environment for our students.

April 3, 2015: Levan Center: St. John’s Lecture. Greg Schneider and The Brothers Karamazov

https://bcpresidentblog.com/2015/04/03/levan-center-st-johns-lecture-greg-schneider-and-the-brothers-karamazov/

September 1, 2014: Arts and Humanities:

https://bcpresidentblog.com/2014/09/01/arts-and-humanities/

June 22, 2015: BC faculty and staff are rock stars

https://bcpresidentblog.com/2015/06/22/middle-schoolers-lead-the-way/

Speaking of our amazing faculty and staff,  let me tell you about a project that has surfaced this summer among a small group.  The idea is to get students to do their homework at the college in a structured environment so that they develop the habits of learning.  Being disciplined, persevering with their school work etc.  Just amazing dedication and commitment from the faculty!  I got to hang out with some of them.  Here are photos to prove it🙂

 

Thank you all for your work.  A special shout out to Eileen Pierce, Kim Arbolante, Maria Wright, Kate Pluta, Stephen Waller, and Isabel Castaneda as well as Kimberly Bligh and Erica Menchacha who piloted Ac Dev 72 in the spring.

Political Leaders and their connections to BC.

kevin-mccarthy-sonya-christian-art-gentry-may-6-2016Regardless of your political views and affiliation, it is truly inspirational to consider what leadership and strength blossoms from our own backyard – Bakersfield, Kern County, and of course, at Bakersfield College. House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, took the stand on Tuesday evening to address the convention attendees and the nation, but Mr. McCarthy’s road to becoming the successful and influential political figure he is today, is one that began in our hometown.

He enrolled at BC after high school, opened a little local sandwich shop named Kevin O’s Deli, and earned a degree from CSUB. As his interest in politics peaked, he volunteered to clip newspapers in the office of Rep. Bill Thomas, to gain insight and learn from a fantastic role model.

Congressman Bill Thomas also has roots at BC – from beginnings as a political science faculty at BC to chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, there is so much to say about Bill that’s inspirational. We are so fortunate to have him as the senior advisor to our Blue Ribbon Committee and as a friend and supporter of Bakersfield College.

Mayor Harvey Hall is not shy to share his love of BC and he details his relationship in an article published on Bakersfield.com regarding the recent bond measure announcement.

Senator Jean Fuller, another political leader, earned her AA degree at Bakersfield College in 1970. After more than 30 years as an educator and Superintendent of Bakersfield City School District, sh e was elected in 2006 and “immediately recognized as a leader by her colleagues and has used her administrative experience to make impactful decisions that focus on increased efficiency and accountability.” (Source)

Our first female mayor, Mary K. Shell, also attended BC and continues to support Bakersfield College today. During the time of her retirement, the Bakersfield Californian even referred to her as “the most popular politician in Kern County history.” We are so lucky to have insightful and influential political leaders likes these and many others, including Rudy Salas, Andy Vidak, and Shannon Grove.

The people of Bakersfield and BC students, past and present, continue to make a difference in our community, state, and nation. I can’t wait to see what our current students have in store for the future of our country.

Latina Leaders

Last Saturday, July 16th, BC was present in full force at the Latina Leaders banquet.

This is my second year attending the event and I am even more impressed by the work they do. For more information check out their website at http://kernlatinas.com/.  Congratulations to ISABEL BRAVO, LOURDES VARGAS NILON, and GABRIELA MELLO on their recognition.

 

Norma Rojas Mora the president of Latina Leaders is a remarkable woman who in on our Bakersfield College Foundation Board of Directors and she is also the co-chair of the Community Connections group and the Blue Ribbon Committee on the Bakersfield College bond measure.

Here are the Bakersfield College folks who attended: Isabel Casteneda, Evette Lara, Janet Tarjan, Maria Wright, Paul Beckworth.  Thank you Karen Goh for the photos.  You are a good friend of Bakersfield College.

Check out my post from last year’s Latina Leaders banquet when Lisa Kent and Camilla Chavez were among the recipients of the leadership award.
https://bcpresidentblog.com/2015/07/12/somos-el-colegio-de-bakersfield/ 

 

Staff Retreats

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Summers at Bakersfield College involve less instructional time, which gives the staff and administrators an opportunity to meet for one-day on-campus retreats. These provide a foundation for fostering positive connections, critical planning, and preparing our teams to better support the needs of the faculty and students.

Entertaining themes for these retreats keep everyone refreshed as group activities, informational talks, and fun competitions re-energize and re-focus everyone for a new academic year.

Check out more photos from our summer retreats at https://bakersfieldcollege.smugmug.com/2016-Retreats/.

It’s hard to believe – we are beginning to count down the days until opening day of Fall 2016!

Here is a picture of my Cabinet during our retreat in June.

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Sonya and Maggie July 23 2016

 

That’s all for now.  

Until next Saturday.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya ….. with Maggie who is visiting for two days.