BC – Building Unity, Peace, Harmony

To heal we must remember – President Biden

This week, our country got a new president and vice-president, as Joe Biden & Kamala Harris were inaugurated on Wednesday. I enjoyed seeing how young girls were reacting with excitement at our nation’s first female vice-president.

There was a moment during Wednesday’s ceremony that I particularly enjoyed. During Garth Brooks’ performance of “Amazing Grace,” he stopped for a singalong across the country.

“Now I’m going to ask you to sing this last verse with me – not just the people here, but the people at home, at work, as one, united.

Americans all across this great land, taking a moment to sing together regardless of political beliefs or disagreements or any of the things that have been dividing us. Americans joining together, if even just for a moment, to create music together.

How sweet the sound, indeed.

Another amazing moment was when the most remarkable young lady took the podium.

Amanda Gorman, our first National Youth Poet Laureate, recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” From social media this week, I know that many Americans joined me in stopping in awe at this young woman’s strong and impactful voice, and the power of her words.

"And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, January 23, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

BC Peace Project Update

During the ACCJC seminar series, “The Future of Learning,” David French, author of the book Divided We Fall, spoke on America’s polarization problem and the rising animosity between “political tribes.” This divergence paired with the events at our nation’s Capitol earlier this month, have led us to a critical moment — to the point of possibly being on the verge of destruction.

It is our sacred responsibility as leaders in higher education to develop the minds and hearts of our students. What we do, what we teach in our classrooms and the culture we create on our campuses is reflected in our community. We must then take the lead in tackling this division and creating more peaceful societies. Community colleges have a specific advantage in leading this charge as we teach the most diverse student bodies, providing fundamental knowledge and skills to be successful members of our communities.

BC Choir always building bridges — Convocation 2019. Thank you Dr. Jen Garrett.

The time is now, and we can no longer wait to start building bridges. We began the implementation of our Peace Garden Project last fall and will be working hard over the next year to further address polarization within our community and country at large. We will update you on the work we are doing and hope that as a community we can come together to create a space of learning and understanding along the way. Thank you Dr. Naina Patel for bringing this project to Bakersfield College.

Vaccinations rolling out in Kern County

I am happy to see vaccinations rolling out in Kern County. Let’s listen to Dr. Brij Bhambi on the Richard Beene Radio Show https://soundcloud.com/louis-amestoy/dr-brij-bhambi-getting-the-second-dose-of-the-vaccine-is-important-for-maximum-protection

Also, if you have not signed up for the Bhambi and Christian blog, you probably should. https://bhambiandchristian.com/

Sonya Christian and Brij Bhambi

BC Presents at Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workgroup

On Tuesday, Maria Wright was invited to speak to the mentoring subgroup of the Chancellor’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Implementation Workgroup. The group included Trustees representatives throughout the state. Maria leads our Faculty Mentoring Fellowship Program, which focuses on recruiting graduate students interested in teaching in a community college. Fellows are paired with a faculty mentor that helps them establish a rich network of support to help fellows succeed in and out of the classroom.

Stay tuned for the expansion of this program!

MLK Community Awards Celebration 

BC was honored to once again sponsor the MLK Community Awards Celebration which aired Monday on Fox 58. If you missed it, see the article from the Observer News Group: 26th Annual Rev. Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. Community Awards Breakfast Held Virtually – Observer News Group (ognsc.com)

Community Voices: Jack Hernandez

On Thursday, I read this piece by Jack Hernandez in the Bakersfield Californian.

He reflects on what it’s like to grow older and realize that many of the things you do and say are becoming “out of date” – but he notes that’s not always a bad thing. While we may lament when the clothes we wear or the words we use are no longer considered cool, or when we’re no longer utilizing the latest technology – there are beliefs and policies from our collective past that we should be glad are out of date, and some things we can all appreciate will never go out of style:

So, it so happens that all becomes out of date, except that one thing: love for others, out of date or not.

Opening Day 2021

We just finished the first week of the Spring 2021 semester. Last week, I shared with you a sneak peak from our Opening Day celebration on January 12-14. Today, I’ll begin sharing videos from our three days of production.

On Tuesday, we opened with our traditional Photo Roll looking over the past semester:

We also had a welcome from our emcees – Todd Coston, Norma Rojas-Mora, Manny Mourtzanos, and Reggie Bolton:

I will be posting more of the videos over the coming weeks. You can also see all the videos at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/president/opening-week-spring-2021.

Renegade Fitness

Fitness trainer Casey Babcock is hosting a Renegade Virtual Fitness clinic every weekday of the Spring 2021 semester to help students and staff keep themselves healthy during another predominately online semester.  The first session of Spring 2021 started on January 19, and Renegade Virtual Fitness will continue Monday through Friday from noon to 1 p.m. until May 7.

Renegade Virtual Fitness is hosted by BCSGA on Zoom, Facebook Live, Twitter, Twitch and YouTube.

Spotted on Social Media

Bill Moseley‘s kids honored our new vice-president:

Kalina Hill shared a beautiful sunrise:

The Jones Art Gallery shared this piece of artwork by Maia Pankey from Bakersfield High School. It was part of the Panorama Invitational 2020:

Sondra Keckley’s cat enjoyed a cozy nap:

Jennifer Garrett & the BC Chamber Singers had a virtual spring retreat:

Matt Andrasian-Jones continued his Discern & Draw series with a bobby pin alligator:


Mhango Headed to Ohio Dominican Univeristy

We are proud to announce that Men’s Soccer student athlete Mubelele Mhango is moving on to play soccer and attend school at Ohio Dominican University. Mhango played for Men’s Soccer Coach Vayron Martinez for the 2019 season and scored a total of five goals.

Mhango was a fun player to watch on the pitch and we can’t wait to see what he accomplishes in the future!


That’s all for now.
Until next time.

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

“Just call me up..because you know I will be there” — BC

It has been an incredibly busy week as we prepare for the beginning of the Spring 2021 semester.

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we held our Opening Day ceremonies. As we’ve been doing since the pandemic began, we again held a virtual celebration with multiple days of video productions featuring presentations, speakers, and performances.

The video team is working on getting the pieces prepared on a website, and I will start sharing those with you next week. Today, though, I’m able to share a sneak peek – an especially poignant one while we as a nation grapple with the events of the past weeks and months, and where we will go from here.

Please enjoy our Bakersfield College Renegade Chorus’ rendition of True Colors:

“Just call me up
Because you know I’ll be there”

Friends – in this time of ongoing uncertainty and social distancing, that is such a wonderful message:

Call me up, and I will be there.

I know that even in the hardest days of social distancing, we can reach out to one another and offer support or a friendly voice. It is ever more important that we remain connected.

Thank you to Performing Arts Chair & Choral Director Jennifer Garrett for sharing this message with all of us. And thank you to our wonderful and talented Renegade Chorus!

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, January 16, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

Thank you, Dr. King!

On Monday, the nation will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his vision for a better America. While many parades and celebrations for Martin Luther King day have been cancelled nationwide due to the pandemic, we still have the time to reflect on what Dr. King’s ideals and sacrifice mean to each of us, as well as how we can embed the clarity and power of Dr. King’s ideals into our daily work as we start to build a new future for our students.

The Bakersfield MLK committee has put together its usual MLK Breakfast event, except this year it is virtual. Get your scrambled eggs and bacon and tune in at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 18, 2021 ….

Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning

Susan Pinza, Director of the Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning, joined 17 News at Sunrise to share more about classes available for community members. These classes aim to help keep our community members active – both mentally and physically.

Classes are available in a variety of subjects, including art, photography, yoga, pilates – and there’s even a class about Zoom!

Check out the interview on KGET’s website, and visit the Levan Institute website to see the full list of Spring 2021 courses.

Veteran Student Success Grant

Jenny Frank

Bakersfield College was one of 16 colleges to receive $450,000 from the U.S. Department of Education to establish a Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success.

The grant will allow BC’s Veterans Services to hire a second dedicated student veteran advisor, as well as provide additional support and services.

“When a veteran transitions out of the military, there’s a sudden feeling like, ‘Where’s my place in the world, where do I belong? What we aim to do is assist them in the educational journey,” said Veterans Services Director Jenny Frank.

For more information, check out the article on the Bakersfield Californian website.

New Protocols for Coming to Campus

As we prepare for the Spring 2021 semester, I wanted to remind everyone that the overwhelming majority of our instruction and all of our student services remain in an online format, and all of our physical campus locations remain closed to the general public.

However, if you have been granted access for our very small selection of courses featuring socially-distanced instruction, or you have been approved to be on campus for essential work, then you must download the Kern Community College District app to do your daily pre-screening and receive your Campus Pass. The Kern Community College District app is available in the iOS App Store and Google Play for Android devices.

Once you download the Kern Community College District app, you can the Health Pre-Screening Questionnaire that will be required every day to get the Campus Pass for in-person attendance. Once you receive your Campus Pass, you’ll use the app to scan QR codes around the campus when entering and leaving all buildings, classrooms, offices, and physical spaces.

This app is an important contact tracing tool that will help us avoid outbreaks on the campus. For more information, visit the Campus Pass App website.

First Meeting of 2021 As ACCJC Committee Chair

In the midst of getting us prepared for the start of Opening Week, I also had a chance to chair the first ACCJC (Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges) meeting of the new year on Wednesday, January 13.

Talking about ACCJC, I am proud of the Learning Seminar Series we hosted in early december 2020 — The Future of Learning, which was highlighted in this year’s Opening Week videos.

I’ll be sharing these with you over the coming weeks, so please check back!

Opening Week Roundup

Faculty and staff got ready for the start of the Spring 2021 semester with three days of videos chock full of performances from the Renegade Choir, highlights from the ACCJC Future of Learning Seminar Series, and important updates about campus initiatives. The emcees for all three days were Manny Mourtzanos, Todd Coston, Norma Rojas-Mora, and Reggie Bolton, and we had Konrad Dahl and Zack Peters leading our stretch breaks.

On Day 1, we heard from BCSGA President Gian Gayatao and the Assessment Committee, as well as a retrospective on the life of Ruth-Bader Ginsburg from Olivia Garcia.

Day 2 featured remarks from Chancellor Tom Burke, the Manny Mourtzanos of the Management Association, the Curriculum Committee, and a heartfelt tribute to Becki Whitson.

Day 3 closed out the festivities with Liz Rozell and James McGarrah speaking about the Energy TT&WD initiative; an accessibility report from Matt Andrasian-Jones, Andrea Thorson, and John Means; remarks from Ann Tatum of CCA and Steven Holmes of the Academic Senate; and announcements from Erin Miller for the Levan Faculty Colloquium and Reggie Williams for the Levan Center for the Humanities.

It took a lot of work and intentional thought to put together this year’s presentation. I can’t wait to share the videos with you all. A special thank you to the programming team — Valerie Urso, Shannon Musser, Tarina Perry and Jennifer Serratt.

Community Voices

KCCD Board President Romeo Agbalog wrote this piece in the Bakersfield Californian: Reflections on Early College.

Romeo Agbalog

He wrote about how the program has grown since its early beginnings, and how it has been particularly successful in closing equity gaps.

However, the success of the program extends beyond just the sheer number of students served, but also in closing equity gaps. Early College has had a 93 percent student success rate across all high school campuses in the last academic year, consistently exceeding BC’s own institution-set standard for student success by 15 to 20 percent. Most importantly, more than 85 percent of students from rural areas who were in an associate degree completion pathway went to college after high school.

Trustee Agbalog has always been an ardent supporter of our Early College program. Talking about Early College, I must mention Senator Jean Fuller who helped up take this idea to scale; under the senator’s leadership we accomplished in one year the goals we had set for three years. Here is a fun video from March 2019 of the senator talking about Early College.

Spotted on Social Media

Alisha Loken, Nursing Department Chair, got her COVID-19 vaccine this week!

Bakersfield Heart Hospital shared this thank you to our BC Nursing Students, who helped with vaccine distribution:

And BC Nursing shared a photo of upcoming Level 4 students about to get vaccinated:

Mindy Wilmot watched Opening Day with her dog:

Olivia Garcia got a treadmill workout in while she watched:

Matt Andrasian-Jones continued his Discern and Draw series with a pasta spoon:

And the City of Bakersfield celebrated the city’s 123rd birthday on January 11:


Throwback to 1961 Renegade Basketball

While most of our campus has laid dormant due to the pandemic, it’s interesting to look back at old photos of our Renegade athletes of many years past.

This throwback picture from the Renegade Raconteur goes all the way back to the 1961 basketball season. While the identity of the players is unknown (maybe one of you reading this know who they are??) – this image gives fantastic imagery into the environment of a BC Men’s Basketball game in the 60’s. I mean, look at that crowd filled all the way into the top bleachers! More throwbacks to come.


That’s all for now.
Until next time.

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

The dawn of a new day

I am greatly saddened by the events of this week. The pictures and videos of violence with lives lost, have been difficult – though important – to see.

The days, weeks, and months ahead will be difficult as we move on from the deep divisiveness we are experiencing in our beloved country . But I am confident that we will get through this. As a nation we have gotten through previous times of turmoil – by joining together with our heads held high.

I wanted to share this post from our faculty librarian Mindy Wilmot:

And this photo of the sunrise over the US Capitol on January 7, from NBC News correspondent Leigh Ann Caldwell:

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, January 9, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

BC Website Survey

The Bakersfield College web team and the Marketing and Public Relations department are looking for student and faculty feedback about the Bakersfield College website. Your input will help the team make the right decisions as they look to improve the needs of students, faculty, staff and our community. 

Fill out the BC website survey page by Wednesday, January 13, 2021 to let the team know your thoughts about Bakersfield College’s online presence, and please join us for our series of Opening Week videos to kick off the Spring 2021 semester.

Non-Tuition Certificate Courses Offered Through LaunchPad Program

We established the Bakersfield College Launchpad a few years ago to give local entrepreneurs the tools they need to successfully launch and market their business. In Spring 2021, BC is offering three courses that teach essential information to survive in the modern workforce, starting with Basic Internet Skills in February, Customer Relations in March, and Digital Marketing for Small Business in April.
For more information, visit the BC Launchpad website or talk to a representative at the Student Information Desk to get started with enrollment at the Home of the Renegades.

Reflections from Outside

“In order to facilitate correspondence,
we make packets of instructional material, and grade homework packets. It ends up being an organizational mess. I am now working from home, so my office is my bedroom, and I have to make piles on my bed
to figure out what goes where.”
Sara Wallace

Sara Wallace, English Professor at Bakersfield College, has published another entry on her blog about teaching English in prison facilities.

The blog is published on Medium and has been retitled from “Reflections on the Inside” to “Reflections on the Outside” for all entries related to teaching incarcerated students while being physically outside of the prison facilities. She has been working as a full-time instructor at a total of five different prisons since Fall 2019. This blog is her reflections about doing this important work.

This program is only a few years old, but it has expanded to include ten prisons and a thousand students. It is expected to grow more in the future.

For this latest blog entry, go to this link: https://sarawallace-75158.medium.com/reflections-from-outside-f8cffa70955f?sk=562852871173a06ca3c0922e849dc71b

In The News

John Means earns top marks as longtime higher ed pioneer

John Means

Last Sunday, I saw this piece in the Bakersfield Californian highlighting the career of KCCD Vice-Chancellor John Means.

John’s career in higher education and public service highlights his innovative spirit and devotion to the important causes he has championed, including dual enrollment and serving children with developmental disabilities.

I especially enjoyed this quote from KCCD Chancellor Tom Burke:

“He has a way of bringing people together for a common goal, and getting it done. He has a way of cutting through angst and conflict, and bringing it to constructive resolution.”

Dr. Bhambi on the vaccine

I appreciated Dr. Bhambi’s piece in the Californian about vaccines and vaccination. Here is an excerpt

The thrust of vaccination has to be vaccination. Algorithms drawn to vaccinate people based on age, preexisting conditions, nursing home residency, socioeconomic issues, front-line and health care work, etc. are useful guidelines. These guidelines should be adhered to. But the thrust of vaccination has to be vaccination!

Read more at: https://tinyurl.com/yx9rs4dj

Bakersfield Californian Highlights Inmate Education Successes

On Monday, January 4, Emma Gallegos of the Bakersfield Californian published a piece looking at the success of the Inmate Scholars program. The article highlights the story of Roberto Luca, who is being given a second chance at life through his experience with Bryan Hirayama during the pilot program at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano.

In Spring 2021, we’re offering 134 courses across the county’s five state prisons in a correspondence format. For more information about our Inmate Scholars program, which is now in its 7th year, visit the Inmate Scholars website.

Spotted on Social Media

Talita Pruett shared this photo of her kids celebrating New Year’s Eve:

Cheryl Scott shared this beautiful photo from a recent trip to the beach:

The Jones Art Gallery shared this untitled piece created by Ramon Cruz for Art B2:

BCSGA shared this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

And former BCSGA President Alex Dominguez shared some exciting news:

Congratulations, Alex!


Marcos Austin Named New Renegade Head Wrestling Coach

This week Renegade Athletics announced the promotion of Marcos Austin to Head Wrestling Coach following the recent departure of former head coach Brett Clark. In addition to wrestling at BC as a student, Coach Austin had served as the Co-Head Coach of the wrestling program since 2010. In the last ten years he has coached, mentored and helped hundreds of Renegade wrestlers and has received numerous conference ‘Coach of the Year’ awards. We are excited for Coach Austin and want to congratulate him on the promotion!


That’s all for now.
Until next time.
With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Happy New Year 2021

Happy New Year

I am dedicating this first blog post of 2021 as a “Year in Review” of 2020 … certainly, a year for the history books. The title of each blog links to the post, so don’t forget to click the links and check it out.

Before we begin, here is a photo of the first light of 2021:

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, January 2, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.

January: Getting ready for the year ahead

Jan 4, 2020: A look back as we look forward

For my first blog of 2020, I took a look back at the history of Bakersfield College. Did you know that BC had snow in 1987 and 2001?

Jan 18, 2020: #LetsDoThis2020

Spring 2020 officially kicked off with Opening Day. We gathered in the Indoor Auditorium for a day of updates about the college and a look at where we (thought we) were headed in 2020.

Here are my closing remarks from Spring 2020 Opening Day:

Jan 25, 2020: BC – an uplifting space for all

We welcomed our students back to campus, for what would end up being a truly unforgettable semester.

The Women’s March Kern County 2020 and Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast were also highlights of that week. I so enjoy getting together with our community members, and cannot wait until we are able to do so again.

February: Focusing on student success

Feb. 1, 2020: BC — Commitment to Quality Education

We started February with the news that BC had received the CIQG Quality Award. I was thrilled that our college was recognized for the transformational work our faculty & staff embarked upon years ago.

Feb. 8, 2020: Student Success Blossoms at BC

We kicked off Black History Month with representatives from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) converging on the Renegade Crossroads to provide an awesome transfer opportunity for our students.

Feb. 15, 2020: BC — the heart of the community

Our Assessment team traveled to the Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) Symposium at Monterey Peninsula College. I was the keynote speaker, and Bill Moseley presented during a panel discussion.

Bill Moseley speaks at a panel during the SLO Symposium 2020.

Feb. 22, 2020: Compassion through Education

BC held a meet-and-greet luncheon event for students in Project HireUp to meet potential future employers. Project HireUp is a collaboration between Bakersfield College, the Mission at Kern County, Bakersfield Homeless Center, the faith-based local non-profit City Serve, and industry partner Adventist Health. The program supports homeless students so they can continue their education, and provides opportunities for internships and employment after successful completion of the program. 

Students and Sonya raise hands in the air.

We also held the Umoja Community Club’s Second Annual Black History Month Program. 

Check out this video from the program:

Feb. 29, 2020: Celebrating Leap Year & showcasing Sterling Silver 2020

February 2020 was a leap year, so we had an extra day. I looked back at our beautiful Sterling Silver reception, where we recognized the great support we have received from our Bakersfield community. Honorees included the Greater Bakersfield New Car Dealers Association, Bill Kelly, Dr. William Baker Jr., and Rick Kreiser.

March: BC Goes Online

March 7, 2020: BC — always supporting our students & our community

In the beginning of March, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in California to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We began holding forums to keep our campus community informed about what would become a rapidly changing situation.

There were no cases in Kern County, and we were still able to meet and gather on campus.

That week, we enjoyed a theatre performance of the dramatic play “The Pillowman.”

March 14, 2020: BC faculty & staff — always ahead of the curve

We began holding daily Zoom updates about COVID-19, with Shelly Castaneda, Nicky Damania, and Cindy Collier taking the lead.

3 people sit behind a table with computer monitor and speakers.

Senator Emeritus Jean Fuller presented to the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on the Early College success stories and strides we have made in assisting, among others, our Latinx population in obtaining a college education. 

Jean speaking to the audience.

March 21, 2020: #BCGoesOnline

It was “Business Un-Usual” as #BCGoesOnline. Moving all of our courses, all of our student support, all of our employees into a virtual, distance environment was a massive undertaking. Our faculty and staff rose to the occasion – and we were able to shift all our work over the course of the week.

We started the week with a marathon session from our Academic Technology team to get our faculty ready to move all our courses online for the remainder of the spring semester.

By the end of the week – in fact, on Thursday, March 19, at 3 pm – we had physically closed our Panorama Campus. This closure came just hours before Governor Newsom declared a mandatory stay-at-home order for the entire state.

Here is my message to our campus community as we moved online:

March 28, 2020: Let the Times Guide Our Creativity

As BC began to navigate uncharted waters and proceed with a 100% online environment, I continually was struck by how our team was able to anticipate and quickly adapt as the situation evolved. I began using a quote from Wayne Gretzky to describe how the BC community was reacting: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays to where the puck is going to be.”

One of the first new initiatives that came out of Covid-19 was the Back to College program. Our team anticipated that rising unemployment would be a devastating effect of the pandemic, and created a 5-week program to help prepare students for new careers.

We also focused on how we could remain connected while we were physically apart.

Our faculty and staff put together this video message for our students to remind them they weren’t alone:

April: Staying connected, staying positive

April 4, 2020: It’s Still a Beautiful World

Rural Initiatives Program Manager Endee Grijalva and BC Office of Student Life staff members came together to assist our community through the “BC Do Good, Feel Good” campaign. 

April 11, 2020: Lean on BC

Greg & Mary Bynum generously provided a donation that allowed BC to purchase 500 Chromebooks for our students to use for distance learning.

We also reminded our BC students to #LeanOnBC during these difficult times.

April 18, 2020: A week of roses speaks Hope

Last spring, history professor Oliver Rosales hosted a series about California history on Bakersfield’s CW. “Our California Story: Community Stories and Digital Preservation in the San Joaquin Valley,” is a community engagement forum connected to the California History course students will enroll in through Bakersfield College. You can find all the episodes at https://sites.google.com/view/ourcaliforniastory/media.

April 25, 2020: Stayin’ in and staying connected

Disneyland’s annual Dapper Day was just one of the many events that were canceled in 2020, but our very own Dr. John Gerhold shared this song – which he recorded with his wife, Wendy, and his daughter, history adjunct professor Kelly Gerhold.

I also looked back at the student panel from my President’s Virtual Forum from March 31. We heard from Karen Cid Ibanez, Emma McNellis, and Maria James, who shared their tips and ways to support their fellow students during the time of Covid-19.

May: BC community heroes

May 2, 2020: BC – Responding to the unexpected

I was so proud when Bakersfield College helped with the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment PPE in Kern County. Darren Willis and our students at the Creative Design Center used our 3D printer makerspace to create face shields and other PPE. Cindy Collier presented Clinica Sierra Vista with 50 face shields on Wednesday, and we delivered another batch of face shields to the Bakersfield Family Medical Center.

Cindy Collier presents face shields to her daughter, Casey Wilkerson, a BC RN graduate & VP of clinical services at Bakersfield Family Medical Center.

And our Renegade community was busy with virtual events – Express Enrollment, Transfer Day, Industrial Automation Day, and a performance of the play “Metamorphoses.”

May 9, 2020: Celebrating our heroes — Moms, Nurses, …

For Nurses Appreciation Week, I shared an email from Former BC student Melissa Prendiz praising professor Milena Lilles.

I remember you would express to us students that your class was not an easy class but you wanted to not only prepare us for the nursing program but once we became a nurse – “people’s lives depended on us.” Little did you know you also prepared me for what we are facing now during this pandemic.

Nursing Dean Carla Gard also shared this video for our 4th Semester RN students:

May 16, 2020: Closing week — Spring 2020 pandemic semester

Check out this photo from 23ABC of jets flying over Memorial Stadium:

Closing Day 2020 looked different from any of our previous closing days. We shifted to an online program, and spread it out over several days. You can find all the videos on the Closing Week 2020 website.

Check out this fund video of Steven Holmes

May 23, 2020: Find our voice and raise it for others… Memorial Day 2020

Bakersfield College was awarded $5,000 for its project “Portraits in Their Own Words” through the California Humanities’ Humanities For All Quick Grant. This project is co-directed by BC faculty members Andrew BondShawn Newsom, and Kristopher Stallworth.

May 30, 2020: Memorial Day 2020

Jenny Frank, manager of Veteran Services and Programs, sent out a Memorial Day message to our Renegade Community. A short excerpt is below:

My friends, colleagues, fellow Renegades, as you lay your heads down tonight, remember these brave men and women, today and always. Tomorrow, as we rise, let us all strive to live our lives in a way that would honor their them. It is together that we will overcome any difficulties that face us. Together we will soon enjoy all the freedoms that have been gifted to us.”

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

June: Coming together and fighting injustice

June 6, 2020: #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation

On the heels of the recent death of George Floyd and mass unrest across the country, Bakersfield College hosted a two week conversation and virtual celebration leading up to June 19 or “Juneteenth,” a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. You can find all the videos from our programming on the #LightACandle website.

BC also joined in the Bakersfield Prayer Walk, and began the #RealTalk series with Danny Morrison.

June 13, 2020: June – A Historic Month. June 12, 1967 Loving v Virginia, June 19, 1865 Black Independence Day

We continued our Juneteenth celebration and #RealTalk programming, and participated in the Bakersfield Unity Rally. Here’s my video message for the rally:

June 20, 2020: June 2020 — A month to remember

Our Juneteenth conversations culminated this week, as we aired our #LightACandle programming (please find all the videos on the #LightACandle website.) The #LightACandle programs aired on June 15, June 17, June 18, and June 19.

Here is Congressman and House Majority Whip, James Clyburn, who gave a brief history of Juneteenth and emphasized that communication is as much what we seek to understand as it is about what we are saying:

June 27, 2020: The universe is simpler than it appears

Covid-19 cases were spiking again, and Dr. Anthony Fauci  provided an important update on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cindy Collier shared this photo to remind us all to continue wearing our masks to combat this spike:

July: Celebrating our students & our BC community

July 4, 2020: July 4, 2020 — Celebrating Independence Day from our homes

Two of our Bakersfield College legends were honored as they start their retirements: Dean Cornelio Rodriguez and Athletic Director Sandi Taylor.

You can find more videos on the President’s Events website – click on the “Staff & Faculty Events” tab.

July 11, 2020: BC faculty & Staff — peacemakers, healers, restorers

As we got ready for the July 11 broadcast of our 106th commencement, we invited the Bakersfield community to help Paint the Town Red to celebrate our graduates.

July 18, 2020: BC faculty & staff always engaged in “good trouble”

We celebrated our graduates with a special televised commencement – but even though we were unable to have our traditional Memorial Stadium celebration, we still started off with the National Anthem, performed by Dr. John Gerhold:

Check out all the photos and videos from our 106th Commencement on the BC website.

And of course, we joined the nation in mourning the passing of Congressman John Lewis, who passed on July 17.

July 25, 2020: Let’s keep our community healthy! Wear masks. Do physical distancing. Regularly wash our hands.

The BC Executive Team created this video urging everyone to continue maintaining healthy & safe practices during the pandemic:

August: Campus coming together

Aug. 1, 2020: Wrapping up July – a fun week

BC again partnered with Danny Morrison – this time to present a program on John Lewis, the late civil rights leader and US Congressman, and his legacy of “good trouble”. The videos are all posted on the Bakersfield College website.

Here’s Julian West reciting John Lewis’ speech from the 1963 March on Washington:

Aug. 8: Hello August

I loved this photo celebrating our youngest Renegades – the graduates of our Child Development Center, who moved on to kindergarten. 27 families participated in a curbside graduation.

I was also able to check out Measure J construction on our Panorama Campus with Bill Potter:

Aug. 15, 2020: Bakersfield College – A blessing to our community

As we got ready for another online semester in Fall 2020, we restarted the President’s Virtual Forum series after taking a hiatus over the summer. For our first forum of Fall 2020, we heard from Bill Potter, Executive Director of Facilities & Planning; Cindy Collier, Interim Director – Health Center; Heather Baltis, Faculty – Agriculture; and Alisha Loken, Faculty – Nursing, as we discussed plans as Bakersfield College transitions into Fall 2020.

Videos from our COVID-19 forums are available on the COVID-19 resources page.

Aug. 22, 2020: 2020 Opening Week – BC coming together

Opening Day 2020 turned into Opening Week 2020 – and actually, some technical difficulties had us spreading the programming over 2 weeks. Check out the Welcome & Photo Roll video from Day 1:

You can find all the videos from the 5 days of programming on the Opening Week 2020 website.

Great video by our Academic Senate President, Steven Holmes

Aug. 29, 2020: Bakersfield College – A Peace Garden of Learning, Reflection & Renewal

I shared an update on our Peace Garden project with this 9:31-minute video from Opening Week, where we unveiled the Peace Garden project. (Start at the 6:56 timestamp, to hear the message from Dr. Naina Patel and the Gandhi committee.

And did you see this photo of our original 1922 Renegade Football Team? Thank you the BC Archives team for finding this!

September: Starting another semester online

Sept. 5, 2020: BC – two weeks into Fall 2020

In partnership with the McFarland High School counseling team, the BC Early College staff held 13 virtual workshops for the upper classmen and 9 workshops for incoming freshman students. After these workshops, BC welcomed over 200 new Cougar Renegade students who will be on the path to complete 60 college units by the time they graduate from high school.

Sept. 12, 2020: BC’s Education Department Shines

Bakersfield College has been awarded $1.3M to support the Education Pathway for future teachers as California continues to face a rising teacher shortage. Thank you to Dr. Kimberly Bligh, Education Department Chair, and everyone in the Education Department, for all the work you do!

Sept. 19, 2020: Finding our path to peace

Krista Moreland shared some information about International Peace Day with our Renegade community – especially poignant as we work on our Peace Garden project.

“Monday, September 21st the U.N. International Day of Peace will be observed around the world. This Peace Day was established unanimously by the U.N. in 1981 as a 24hr period for humanity to come together and commit to peace and compassion. Each year on this day, “The United Nations invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.”  

I was also heartbroken to hear of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Sept. 26, 2020: BC – the light of the heart’s hymn to life

Bakersfield College’s Rural Health Equity And Learning (HEAL) Collaborative hosted a webinar, focusing on the Central Valley in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the videos at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/conference/heal-webinar.

October: Thriving & innovating in a virtual environment

Oct. 3, 2020: Renegade Alums are everywhere. We are BC!

Bakersfield College and Kern Community College District announced a region-wide strategic partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The Kern County Board of Supervisors spoke about the project at their September 22 meeting:

Oct. 10, 2020: Fall 2020 – Midterm Notes

Outreach & Early College hosted the High School Counselor Conference over Zoom – and made sure to find time for some fun moments, including this virtual Cha Cha Slide:

I also announced the launch of a joint blog with Dr. Brijesh Bhambi of the Bakersfield Heart Hospital. Check it out at https://bhambiandchristian.com/.

Oct. 17, 2020: BC continues to be vibrant virtually

The Project HireUp: A Community Collaborative to End Homelessness video premiered on YouTube and Facebook. Great partnership with CityServ, Mission for Kern County, The Homeless Shelter, and Adventist Health.

Oct. 24, 2020: BC – We’ve got talent

Our facutly, staff and students were busy with a few new exciting online projects.

The 36th annual Shakespeare festival kicked off with the virtual premiere of “The Comedy of Errors”,  directed by Bob Kempf. The performers have adapted the slapstick of the Bard’s original “Comedy of Errors” into a Chaplinesque silent film with masks. 

The BC Chamber Singers hosted their annual BC High School Chamber Singers Festival with a Zoom event featuring Grammy-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre.

Bakersfield College, BC’s Latinas Unidas student organization, and the Latina Leaders of Kern County came together to host their first webinar in a series on race and diversity relations.

Oct. 31, 2020: Beautiful Bakersfield. Beautiful BC.

We welcomed Chancellor Eloy Oakley, senior administrators from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, and members of the Board of Governors on a virtual visit to BC to meet with students, faculty, staff, and members of the community. Visit the CCCCO Virtual Listening Tour page for more details about the Chancellor’s Office meeting.

I also asked the Women’s History Month Faculty Leads and the BC Pre-Law Club to put together a tribute to the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Thank you Judges Robert Tafoya and Susan Gill, Commissioner Cynthia Loo, and District Attorney Cynthia Zimmerman.

November: A time for thanks

Nov. 7, 2020: A Beautiful Day

The BC Cheer team and Drumline showed up to celebrate early voters on campus for a Get Out The Vote caravan.

Nov. 14, 2020: On Eagle’s Wings

On November 12, the construction crew on the new Science and Engineering building held their topping ceremony. The practice of “topping out” originated as a Scandinavian tradition of placing a tree to appease the spirits of the trees that had been displaced by construction. The practice spread across Europe and eventually the United States, where steel workers place a Christmas tree and an American flag on one of the last beams used in creating the structure of the building.

Nov. 21, 2020: At BC….The Sky Isn’t The Limit

I was so proud when the Campaign for College Opportunity recognized Bakersfield College as a Champion of Higher Education. Over the last five years Bakersfield College has seen an 800% increase in ADT awards, quadrupled Black student completion, and achieved enrollment-completion parity among Latino/a students.

Nov. 28, 2020: Thankful for BC. Thanksgiving 2020

Over Thanksgiving week, I was grateful for all the people that make Bakersfield College such a special place, as we geared up for a slew of events:

Becoming Us – a virtual choir concert,

the final installment of the Panorama Music Summit – featuring Virtuoso jazz and funk bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma,

and the ACCJC Webinar series on The Future of Learning – with conversations with thought spread over 4 days.

December: Looking back on the year

Dec. 5, 2020: BC – A beacon of light during difficult times

Seventy-five students participated in the CARE/CalWORKS Drive Thru Holiday Celebration, with a total of 166 children receiving gifts this holiday season thanks to the generosity of faculty, staff, and community members. Fifty-six BC employees participated in the “Adopt a Family” program. That does not include the amazing staff that donated to our Foundation’s account. CARE/CalWORKS also raised $1600 to support this program from generous direct donations to the BC Foundation and purchases made through Amazon Smile.  

Dec. 12, 2020: BC discusses the Future of Learning and more

The second week of our ACCJC conference featuring leaders in education, civics and policy wrapped up on Dec. 7 and 8, with hundreds of participants from across the state tuning in to #OccupyLearning. The conference was spread out over four days, with two one-hour sessions each day.

Check out this clip featuring Deep Springs Students Sam Clark and Connie Jiang,

Videos from all 4 days are available on the Bakersfield College website.

Dec. 19, 2020: Big week for America, big week for BC — Merry Christmas all

I was so excited that the COVID-19 vaccine was beginning to be distributed throughout our country.

My daughter, Eisha, shared this photo of herself receiving her shot:

Dec. 26, 2020: I heard the bells on Christmas Day – Christmas 2020

I was saddened to hear the news that former Renegade Cheer coach and Alumni Association President Becki Whitson passed away.

Becki Whitson

Thank you all for looking back on a truly remarkable year. We faced many challenges in 2020 – as individuals, as a college, as a community, and as a nation. And in many ways, we were able to join together in unity to support one another and work together to overcome the challenges we could, while showing compassion and comforting our friends and families through the ones we could not.

I am confident that in 2021, we will continue that spirit of unity and camaraderie.


Renegade Athletics Team Store – Extended One Week!

BC Athletics Nike Team Store

We have seen great success with the Nike Renegade Athletics Team Store, so it will remain open for one more week! Click the link below now to get your own gear from their official team uniform supplier – Eastbay. Items available for purchase include T-shirts, Long-Sleeves, Polo’s, Hoodies, Sweatshirts and more in both men’s and women’s sizes.

Show your Renegade pride and get that piece of Nike BC Renegade team gear you’ve always wanted. Items will ship once the store closes. All proceeds from sales will directly benefit BC Athletics.

BC Athletics Nike Team Store: https://eastbaystore.com/OFTS8558


That’s all for now.
Until next time.
With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

I heard the bells on Christmas Day – Christmas 2020

Merry Christmas!

I hope you are all staying safe and enjoying a wonderful holiday – even though it likely looks very different from other years. It is a holiday season of pain and suffering for many as our nation continues battling the Coronavirus pandemic. But it is also, I think, a season of hope and unity.

David French

On Christmas Eve, a friend sent me this article from David French in Time Magazine. In it, he describes how difficult it can be to get into the Christmas Spirit when there is so much going wrong around us.

“But times of great suffering are also times that can reveal deep truths, he wrote.

He then discussed the Christmas hymn “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” which is based on the poem “Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

It ends with the line:

The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.

It shows us that even in the darkest moments, we must face the world together and find those glimmers of hope.

The bells of Christmas this year bring a reminder of the difficulties of this past year – but they also bring hope.

Jack Hernandez

Check out this piece by Jack Hernandez in the Bakersfield Californian, where he looked at John Donne’s poem “For whom the bell tolls.”

The poem begins:

No man is an island
Entire of itself.

Jack talked about how we are all connected – and we must recognize this connection both now, during the pandemic; and later, when we are past this difficult time.

“If this pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that we are all connected, all one with each other, our family, our friends, our neighbors, strangers and those of other nations. Yet, we too often stress our islands of individuality, forget that we are all linked as a community. In a philosophy class I taught years ago at Bakersfield College, a student from Africa, who later transferred to Stanford University, mentioned that when he first came to our country, he was struck by our emphasis on individuality in contrast to his home’s emphasis on community. The lesson for that day. The lesson for us now.”

After this year of pandemic and turmoil, I hope that we all come out with one positive idea – the idea of unity. I hope that everything we have experienced together over the past 12 months will in fact bring us together to face our new world and create a better tomorrow through unity.

The Christmas bells are tolling for each of us, to find our strength in unity and push through the end of a tumultuous year.

This week, we saw a sign how everyone and everything is connected on a cosmic level when we witnessed a truly once-in-a-lifetime event. In fact, it was once in many lifetimes. The Great Conjunction of Jupiter & Saturn is something that hasn’t been seen in our night sky for nearly 800 years. A conjunction occurs when planets appear very close to one another due to the way they line up with Earth in their orbits. Jupiter and Saturn align about once every 20 years, but haven’t appeared this close since 1623. And it hasn’t been viewable at night in nearly 800 years.

Our resident astronomer, Nick Strobel, shared these photos he took of the event:

Nick also wrote about the conjunction in his Bakersfield Night Sky column.

And check out this webcast of the winter solstice “Great Conjunction,” provided by the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.  You can read more at space.com.

Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, December 26, 2020…My last blog entry for 2020.
A great day to be a Renegade.

Becki Whitson — A Renegade Legend

Bakersfield College lost one of our greatest cheerleaders last week. Our hearts are heavy with the news that Becki Whitson passed away.

Becki Whitson

Becki was a BC alum, and she also was a faculty member in the Behavioral Sciences department for many years – and served as department chair for 7 years. She is perhaps best known as the former head cheerleading coach. I remember when she retired in 2017, KCCD Trustee Kyle Carter said, “Becki Whitson is Bakersfield College.”

Becki was always an ardent supporter of Bakersfield College, serving as president of the Bakersfield College Alumni Association for over 25 years. At Opening Day this year, she helped me announce the Renegade Alumni Council. Becki’s Renegade pride is evident in the way she speaks about Bakersfield College:

There will be a celebration of life on July 26, 2021, and I will share that information at a later date.

The obituary in the Bakersfield Californian starts with Both the choir and cheer team in heaven have gained a new member…. Read more at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bakersfield/obituary.aspx?n=becki-whitson&pid=197363311

Community Voices: Eileen Pierce

Eileen Pierce Program Manager, Academic Support

Eileen Pierce wrote this piece in the Bakersfield Californian about the importance of the tutoring program.

“BC’s tutoring program is vibrant, boasting nearly 100 thoroughly trained tutors to serve all BC students, even while running virtually. The tutors are all students themselves, so a student reaching out for help need not feel intimidated as might happen during a professor’s Zoom office hours. The staff is extremely involved in the entire appointment-making process and will carefully match a student with the best tutor. Drop-in and recurring appointments are available. Staff, several faculty and tutors are in the Zoom lobby over 40 hours a week, ready to greet potential tutees warmly and direct them to a breakout room with their tutor.”

Community Voices: Kayla Moore

Kayla Moore BC Alum

Critical care nurse & BC RN program graduate Kayla Moore also wrote in the Californian about the importance of education.

“We hear a lot of talk about “gifts” during the holidays. This seems like the perfect time for me to thank our generous community — and the BC nursing team — for their gift to me: the gift of education. Their kindness has made a lasting impact on my life, and without it I would not have had the opportunity to complete my education and begin my career as a critical care nurse. I will never forget the generosity that was extended to me and I plan to pay it forward by contributing to scholarships in the future.”

Umoja Community Celebrates Kwanzaa

Umoja Community held a pre-Kwanzaa Celebration and acknowledged both students and mentors.

Kwanzaa is celebrated December 26 through January 1. It is a non-religious celebration focused on African values. Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1965, each day of the seven-day holiday has a theme.

Umoja students explained each of the Nguzo Saba (seven principles). Zariyah noted that “each principle is to reinforce a basic value of African culture that contributes to building the family, the community, and the culture.”

Then, all participants played a Kohoot game to test their knowledge of the seven-day celebration. It got competitive, with some faculty trying to win against some of the students, or a particular faculty member.

The winners were Hortense (first place), Mercedez (second place), and Umoja Librarian Ms. Faith (third place). While all three got all the questions right, it came down to speed in answering.

Mentors were also shown some love. In this virtual environment, the Umoja mentors were even more needed. Hortense appreciated the “uplifting emails every week to get me through the day to make sure that I stayed on track” from her mentor Ms. Kathleen Hicks.

The caring Umoja team that also includes Michael Little, Mychael Phillips, Gilbert Ayuk, Steve Agard, Melissa Gonzalez, and Coordinator Dr. Paula Parks is truly dedicated to students.

Steve Watkin, AAI lead, expressed appreciation from and offered the continued support of the administration. The administrative team, including the deans, are an invaluable support and much appreciated partner in the success of Umoja.

Dr. Parks added that the students are always part of the Umoja Community and should consider the whole amazing team part of their forever support system. She added, “I was so impressed last semester with how engaged, inquisitive, and kind the students were.” She gave a shout out to peer mentor Alexis, who went above and beyond to tutor and encourage students and to help them form a community.

Sha’ron said, “I would like to say a big thank to Dr. Parks. There have been times when I’ve been at my lowest. . . and I really appreciate you.” Dr. Parks is like “your second mom that you can just go to for anything. I want to say thank to her and Ms. Faith because I’ve cried in her office too.”

Kaleb’s ending comment reminds us of the importance of the program and its values. He said he remembered having a 1.3 gpa. “Now its almost a 3.0, and I only have one more semester until I graduate. I wouldn’t be where I am without the Umoja program.”

The Umoja Community program includes courses with an African-American focus, mentoring, counseling support to stay on track and graduate, and academic and cultural trips. Available classes for spring are the following: English b1b, Comm b1/Lib b1, Astron b2, Music b23, Math b22, and Psych b5.

Happy Kwanzaa!

Spotted on Social Media

Mary Jo Pasek shared this story & photo:

Months before the picture with Santa my only sibling died in a tragic accident. My Mother and Dad did the best they could to hold it together. This was taken in early December at Dayton’s in St Paul. I was NOT having any part of this man. Nothing my Aunt or Mother could say made me smile. He simply looked so suspicious and all I wanted was my brother back with me. Along with this cute hat and fur piece I had a muff. Always decked out for the cold weather. A precious keepsake for me!

Maria Wright shared this photo of her husband, Dr. Jamal Wright, receiving his degree on his birthday:

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness had a virtual holiday party:

Matt Jones continued his Daily Discern & Draw project with a measuring tape hockey player:

Craig Hayward shared this cozy Christmas scene:

Shannon Musser made holiday craft treats with her kids:

Bill Moseley and his wife Dominique celebrated their anniversary by taking their kids on a Christmas lights drive:


Athletics Opts-In to Compete This Spring

In order to maximize options for Renegade Athletics, this last week we opted-in to compete in the abbreviated Spring I and Spring II sports seasons under the framework of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Contingency plan. We know our student athletes are eager to get back in action and we hope they will have the opportunity to do so. As the Spring I and Spring II seasons of competition approach, the decision to compete will also come in accordance with the state of California and Kern County Public Health COVID-19 guidelines. Ron Stapp from the Bakersfield Californian wrote and excellent article on the situation this week. To read the article click here: https://www.bakersfield.com/sports/college/if-health-restrictions-allow-bc-taft-choosing-to-play-this-season/article_9069cd1a-44c4-11eb-b829-df1466691494.html

Renegade Athletics Team Store

BC Athletics Nike Team Store

There is still time to order your Nike Renegade Athletics gear from their official team uniform supplier – Eastbay. Items available for purchase include T-shirts, Long-Sleeves, Polo’s, Hoodies, Sweatshirts and more in both men’s and women’s sizes.

Show your Renegade pride and get that piece of Nike BC Renegade team gear you’ve always wanted. The store is open from now until Jan. 1, 2021. Items will ship once the store closes. All proceeds from sales will directly benefit BC Athletics.

BC Athletics Nike Team Store: https://eastbaystore.com/OFTS8558

Signing off with more performances from our choir


That’s all for now.
Until next time.
With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever