Looking Forward to Spring 2017

We make history at Bakersfield College. It’s what we do – it’s what our students do – it’s what our community does!

Good morning Bakersfield. It is Saturday, January 14th, my grandfather Arthur’s birthday and an absolutely fabulous day to be a Renegade.

This week was so crazy and sooo good… ups and down, a roller coaster.  A definite downer was when I got on the 6am direct train to Sacramento, having forgotten to take my power cord for my laptop, had to get off at Wasco, get back to Bakersfield, and catch the next train/bus back up to Sacramento for the Accreditation Commission meeting. To make matters worse, I got soaking wet as I transitioned to the bus in Stockton and to the cab in Sacramento.

Don’t get me wrong… I do love the rain – just not getting soaked in cold rain.  After all I grew up in Quilon, Kerala, India where the monsoons are dense and spectacular.  Here is a 1:11-video to introduce you to where I grew up

But then there were so many ups this week…. The Governor’s Budget with $150M for Guided Pathways, the Winter Institute at BC, the Condors playing at Memorial Stadium (thank you Matt Riley), and Opening Day.

So let me start with Spring 2017 Opening Day on Friday the 13th.

Spring 2017 Opening Day


Bill Thomas, Kay Meek, Tom Burke, Steven Holmes

Yesterday, we celebrated a dynamic Opening Day for the upcoming Spring 2017 semester! It’s fantastic to see faculty and staff brighten with excitement for the incoming students and a brand new semester. But also, for moving our work forward, continually improving and changing standards to always build a better BC!

Thank you Janet Fulks, Lesley Bonds, and Steve Waller for all that you do to improve student success.  And thank you Maribel Montelongo for saying hello and taking this selfie with me.

It was wonderful to have the President of the KCCD Board of Trustees, Kay Meek join us for Opening Day.   Kay was welcomed to the podium with a standing ovation and she thanked the college on behalf of the Board especially for the phenomenal work on the passage of Measure J.  We also had Congressman and Trustee Bill Thomas join us and briefly address the group.  Here is a tweet from Lesley Bonds


It was also wonderful having our Chancellor Tom Burke join us with his new beard and all. He was warmly welcomed by the Renegades.  Here are pictures of 3 of the many speakers at Opening Day

I find it endlessly exciting to be able to wrap up one part of Measure J, while looking forward to the work we will put into utilizing a $500 million investment from our community. BC is about to change in a way it hasn’t seen since it broke ground on the hill in 1956. Amazing! #WeAreBC

Thank you Bill Potter and Eric Middlested for starting to work on the details of implementation of Measure J.

We also heard from the constituent group leaders.  Classified Union — Bernadette Martinez and here she is with Helen Calip who won Woman of the Year in Delano.


Bernadette Martinez, Helen Calip

We also heard from Isabel Stierle, Faculty Union President; Sue Vaugn, Management Association President; Steven Holmes, Academic Senate President; Matthew Frazer, Student Government Association President; Susan Pinza on the Levan Faculty Colloquium; Todd Coston who led us in a stretch break; and myself.  It was wonderful seeing Tom Moran who was signing from the stage; and usually Tom Moran is behind the camera and it is a treat getting him in front of a camera.  Thank you Cara Jackson and Earl Parsons for the great photos.

Talking about our Academic Senate President Steven Holmes…. well, he is smart and extremely engaged in making sure that the interests of the Bakersfield College students are met….but he is also a trickster 🙂  On Opening Day Steve hazed the senior level administrators — myself, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg and Zav Dadabhoy.  Zav captured this video of Steve removing the license plate from my car as a prop for his presentation.  This video is really funny.  Here it is

Here are some additional photos:

Loved the jacket Robby Martinez was wearing.  Prof. Martinez is a faculty in music, a Grammy award winner and got the Bakersfield College jacket you see in the picture at a vintage store in Hollywood.  What a story!

Thank you to all who came to Opening Day

Just three years ago, we waited for students to arrive at our campus where they would be met with one of the most life-changing experiences – attending college for the very first time.

But today, times have changed. Local students all throughout high school are starting to see possible pathways that extend above and beyond their 12th grade year. These options include higher education, unlimited student support, clarity of goals, and mastery of skills.  The Guided Pathways program is not about limits, it’s about clarity – a relentless clarity – so that students can navigate change and do what they need to do.

You see friends, Guided Pathways is not a new concept for us at BC.  It is an integration of what we do best…. It is connecting what was not connected before…. It is amplifying certain aspects of what we have done.

We engaged, on Opening Day with Guide Pathways through our stories.  Stories that were told by 14 talented faculty and staff who spoke to the four pillars of Guided Pathways. I asked the room of attendees to fully listen to these 14 colleagues with an open mind and an open heart and see themselves and to see BC through these stories.

Here are the four pillars and the 14 speakers:

Pillar 1: Clarify the Path with Jennifer Johnson, Faculty co-chair of the curriculum committee; Michele Pena, Director of Admissions and Records; Reggie Bolton, Department Chair of Health, Physical Education and Athletics

Jennifer Johnson Michelle Pena Reggie Bolton Jan 13 2017.jpg

Pillar 2: Getting Students on the path with Steve Watkin, Director of Outreach;
Dr. Matthew Garrett, History Faculty; Maria Wright, Director of Academic Support

Steven Watkin Matthew Garrett Maria Wright Jan 13 2017.jpg

Pillar 3: Keeping Students on the Path with David Moton, English Department Chair; Mark Staller, Communication Department Chair; Dr. Nicky Damania, Director of Student Life; Dr. Paula Parks, English Faculty.

David Moton Mark Staller Nicky Damania Paula Parks Jan 13 2017.jpg

Pillar 4: Meaningful Learning with David Neville, Spanish Faculty; Anna Agenjo, Department Chair, Library; Lisa Harding, Nursing Faculty; Dr. Joe Saldivar, Biology Department Chair.


It is equally inspiring that BC has begun our Accreditation process, hand-in-hand with Guided Pathways. Governor Jerry Brown recently announced $150 million to support California Guided Pathways and Bakersfield College has been at the forefront, advocating for this promising transformation. Talk about innovating the community college education system! Accreditation will be our measure of Guided Pathway’s success. I’m ready for an incredible journey!

Kate Pluta planned the accreditation self evaluation launch in the Fireside Room after the early morning session of Opening Day in the Indoor Theater.  So proud of our faculty and staff who presented and also those who attended.  The presenters included: Bill Moseley, Mark Staller, Janet Fulks, Jason Stratton, Liz Rozell, and Kate Pluta.  Jason Stratton and Liz Rozell will be leading the self evaluation work and Mark Staller and Janet Fulks will lead the Quality Focus Essay (QFE) work.  Here are some photos I took with my iphone

The leaders for our 18-month work on the Self Evaluation and the Quality Focus Essay–Jason Stratton, History Faculty; Liz Rozell, Dean of Engineering and Industrial Technology; Mark Staller, Department Chair of Communication; Janet Fulks, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness

The person behind the accreditation work…the fabulous Kate Pluta in action.

 Thank you to all who came out to support YOUR Bakersfield College.

Winterfest & The Condors

The incredible hockey game last weekend made ESPN! How cool was it to see our Memorial Stadium, our Bakersfield Condors, and our incredible fans and community on ESPN?!  You have to check out the video at


selenaIt was a rainy, blustery and cold evening, but nothing could stop us. I saw a text from Selena Gasca, a student employee in our student life department who sent over a selfie and said “The outdoor Condor’s game was a fun experience for both my brother and I – a night to remember!”

Trustees, faculty, staff, fans, and people from around the state brought together for such a memorable evening. Reagan Fletcher  and little Tyler came all the way from San Francisco to see the event and I loved seeing dignitaries, Bill Thomas, Romeo Agbalog, Lily Agbalog, JPLake, Ingrid Lake sitting rinkside.


Lily Agbalog, Ingrid Lake, JP Lake, Sonya Christian, Bill Thomas, Romeo Agbalog

Thank you to all of you who came out and showed support for OUR HOMETEAM -The Bakersfield Condors!!!

Was great to see Lynette Smith, faculty in Rad Tech and Janet Tarjan, faculty in math.  Here is the picture of Reagen Fletcher and little Tyler, all the way from San Francisco.  Tyler’s grandfather got him the rinkside VIP tickets for his birthday.


Here are some more fun pictures:


face off Condors Reign Jan 7 2017 at the Memorial Stadium.jpg

KGET Spotlight

Early this week, KGET cast the spotlight on financial aid benefits for our youth and the underserved of Kern County. It’s no surprise that financial aid systems are often complex and hard to navigate, but at BC our dedicated staff is always willing to help. Stop by sometime or give them a call. We’re always here to help our students! Pictured here are Alyse Braaten, Kern Community Foundation and Frank Ramirez, Youth 2 Leaders with KGET’s Jason Galvin.


Jason Galvin, Alyse Braaten, Frank Ramirez

Greater Bakersfield Chamber Installation Luncheon

On Thursday, January 12, the Greater Bakersfield Chchamber-installationamber of Commerce, of which I am a proud Board Member, hosted its annual Board Installation & Awards Luncheon. It was a wonderful time of honoring the hard work and dedication of our immediate past Chairman, Steve Murray (Murray Family Farms), as well as the inauguration of our incoming Chairman of the Board, Derek Abbott  (Tejon Ranch Company). Our very own Dr. Greg Chamberlain was also recognized for his service and dedication as an outgoing Board Member.

Here featured in the picture: Corny Rodriguez, Lisa Kent, Mayor Karen Goh, Yadira Guerrero, Greg Chamberlain, Manny Mourtzanos, Chris McCraw, Steven Watkin, Ashley Ward, Bill Moseley.

BC is fortunate to have countless community partners and friends in the Chamber, such as Mayor Karen Goh (pictured with our BC representatives), J.P. Lake (Rain for Rent), Carla Musser (Chevron), Aera Energy, The Wonderful Company, Hall Ambulance Service, The Bakersfield Californian, KGET, and so many others.

And btw, Nick Ortiz the CEO of the Chamber is just wonderful!

Emails worth sharing – Huge Antarctic Iceburg poised to break away

 I received an email from Kenward Vaughan that I wanted to share. Kenward said “Who knows… we may yet be owners of shorefront properties!”

I invite you to check out the article and learn more about this massive iceberg hanging by a thread at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38522954

Winter Institute

In fall 2015, BC was selected as one of just 30 colleges nationwide to participate in the AACC Guided Pathways Project.  The project is designed to help us implement the #GuidedPathways model that integrates our student success work campus wide.  Since then, small leadership teams have traveled to various institutes where we learn from experts in the field and share the incredible work happening right here in Bakersfield.  We hosted over 400 people for a statewide summit on Guided Pathways in February 2016, and have been working as a college to engage faculty and staff through professional development institutes, book panel discussions, and focus groups.


We had long planned this winter institute. We built towards it with an amalgamation of our smaller teams from AACC and then a larger college-wide implementation team.  150 faculty and staff representing 20 discipline areas and virtually every office on campus poured into our Fireside Room for two days (1/11 and 1/12) of robust dialogue, debate, research review, pathway development, and a commitment to support our students in innovative ways.

It was just icing on the cake to hear that over parallel efforts on the statewide front aligned a large investment in CA Guided Pathways in Governor Jerry Borwn’s budget which was unviled on January 10th.  I was on the train to Sacramento when the Governor released his budget.  Here is my tweet from the train


I do want to recognize Chancellor Eloy Oakley of the CA Community College system as well as Mario Rodriguez, Vice Chancellor of Finance.  They are just super cool!  Taking CA Community Colleges to the next level. #CACommColRock!

Back to BC’s Winter Institute……on the second day of the Institute, faculty and staff had lunch with BC students, asking questions about their experiences and learning the things they feel they most need to navigate college successfully.

I enjoyed reading the attendees’ remarks on the institute evaluation.  Here are some standout reflections on guided pathways:

 “Every student needs to be seen and know who to see”

“It’s our job to open windows, doors, and walls for students to pass through”

“Students shouldn’t have to be extraordinary to get a college degree”

Attendees bravely wrestled with the difficult questions and tough decisions – the whats, the hows, the whens.  What kinds of curricular changes need to happen?  How do we ensure every student has access to the right course in his or her pathway and at the right time?  When can we make this happen?  Why should we do this?

All I can say is that students come to BC with a great hope..hope for getting a good job that can sustain their family hope for a great future.  The work we do results in greater social mobility for our community and greater economic health.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I especially loved seeing this wordle  on attendees’ responses to why they chose to pursue a career in education. As the amazing Nick Strobel stated, we have the right people here for the right reasons: students and learning.

Now dear friends, you can see why I love BC! #WeAreBC!

A special thank you to Janet Fulks for her leadership of the BC Guided Pathways Implementation Team and for making this happen.  And thank you to all on the pathways implementation team members for committing to this important work of the college: Stephen Waller, Matthew Garrett, Krista Moreland, Andrea Thorson, Abraham Castillo, Nick Strobel, Matt Jones, Reese Weltman, Maria Wright, Tim Burke, Heidi Forsythe, Mindy Wilmot, Lisa Kent, Shannon Musser, Jessica Wojtysiak, Shauna Turner, Cindy Collier, Jennifer Johnson, Sarah Baron, Mark Staller, Grace Commiso, Klint Rigby, Andrew Haney, Bill Moseley, and Lesley Bonds.

Also, loved that our Counseling and Advising Department did a pre Institute on January 9, 2017.  Thank you Grace Commiso, Zav Dadabhoy, Steve Watkin, and Kathy Rosellini for making this happen

Counseling and Advising PreInstitue Jan 9 2017.jpg

Retiree Passings

This is a sad message about two of our family.
First, DAN NYSTROM, 88, died on December 12.  He was a BC zoology teacher from 1958 until 1984.  He and Arleen were married for 47 years and raised three children.  After Arleen died in 1998, Dan married  Mary Horst in 2000 and they had 16 years together before she passed away earlier in 2016

Second, DALENE OSTERKAMP, 84, passed away on December 27th.  Dalene was a distinguished BC art teacher (listed in Who’s Who of American Women and, in 1989, given the First Annual Service to Women Award from the American Association of Women in Community and Junior Colleges.)  Primarily a print maker, she retired to Glennville and worked in prints, stained glass, mosaics, etching, pottery, and jewelry making.  At BC she was also a counselor and worked with the Women’s Studies Department.

The entire BC family holds each other in deep respect and affection as some leave us and new ones join.  I know I’m not the only one who is grateful for our common bond in the Bakersfield College family.

Thank you Jerry Ludeke for keeping us informed.  Jerry Ludeke and the Archives…true BC gems!

Here is a picture from my January 7th exercise class.  Here is Donna Plater the English Department Chair at Foothill High School.  We have such a great relationship with Kern High School District.  Bryon Schaefer is doing good work!


Sonya Christian, Donna Plater

And here is a dedicated group on January 9th preparing for the accreditation site visit of our Baccalaureate program.  Thank you Liz Rozell and Jason Dixon and all the faculty and staff for your leadership.  Particularly Blaire Pruett a great industry partner and chairs the advisory committee to the baccalaureate program.


And, throughout the jam-packed week, I still managed to find time to take a selfie, super tired, while waiting for the train to Bakersfield, in Stockton.



That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — the luckiest and happiest college president ever

A new year filled with new opportunities

Let’s welcome the newest addition to the Shannon Musser family


Shannon, we love you!

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, January 7, 2017.  A great day to be a Renegade

Having a great cup of coffee and blogging about yet another great week at the best college in the nation.  BC, established in 1913, where so many found themselves, where so many records were set, where the whispers of the past mingle with the hopes for the future.  I love BC!  Thank you for bringing me back as the 10th President of this eminent institution.

jeff-tkacWoke up this morning to both wonderful, and painfully poignant, pieces in The Bakersfield Californian.  Have I told you recently what a gem we have in this century-old locally owned newspaper?  We should help preserve this treasure in our community.

The passing of our City Councilman Jeff Tkac.  I remember feeling his positive energy at the swearing in of our new Mayor Karen Goh.


We also recently lost a young woman Jai Bornstein.


I appreciated how our Bakersfield community, KGET, TBC and others have sensitively and courageously attempted to discuss these tragedies without judgement.  I am proud to live in Bakersfield. #WeAreBakersfield


Now moving on….. The front page of the Sports section was about Winterfest at the Memorial Stadium.  Check out this piece by Mike Griffith:  http://tinyurl.com/hy5ojne

Hosting Winterfest at BC has been an incredible experience. I have seen students come back to the campus during Winter break for the festivities and I’ve seen the community flock to our beautiful campus on the hill for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of outdoor skating and hockey at Memorial Stadium!


Thanks to the Bakersfield Condors for this beautiful photo

I’ve had the joy of seeing Facebook posts like this one and it’s great to know how much everyone has enjoyed these events.


History was made once again at Memorial Stadium when we had The Great One, Wayne Gretzky and Lucky Luc Robitaille on Friday for the Celebrity Game and the excitement continues tonight for the grand event. Will I see you there?

Check out this intro of Wayne Gretzky.  Video from Lily Agbalog.

Yesterday evening, there was great energy in the Memorial Stadium…. music, food, lots of families out to enjoy ice hockey outdoors.  It was wonderful to have two of our trustees there.  Thank you Trustee and Congressman Bill Thomas and Trustee Romeo Agbalog for coming out with your families.  Don’t you think the Congressman looks like Dr. Zhivago? Well…..maybe the hat 🙂


Bill Thomas, Romeo Agbalog, Lily Agbalog, Sharon Thomas

Now I have the Dr. Zhivago movie on my mind….  Here is the beautiful and haunting music from the movie.  check it out

Do you know Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Well David Boreanaz was #24 on the Robitaille team yesterday.  Now you know why I ended up buying the $200 VIP ticket.

Here is the national anthem by Amy Adams captured by Channel 23

We had visitors from all over the state come to the Memorial Stadium last evening.  Here is a text from Paul Beckworth: ”

I am the hockey game at BC watching Wayne Gretzsky. Sitting next to me is a couple who drove all the way from San Diego for this game. Good job BC and BC Athletics!


Paul Beckworth with a couple who came from San Diego for the Celebrity Ice Hockey at Memorial Stadium

The community was out there in full force.  Here you see Cheryl Scott with family and friends and the  Kirschenman family with Wayde on the far right who played football for BC.  Thank you Mary Jo Pasek for all the pictures.  And thank you for making this happen at the Memorial Stadium along with Sandi Taylor.

And here is Wesley Barrientos with his daughter Bianna Leon-Martinez.  So wonderful!


Wesley Barreintos, Brianna Leon-Martinez


Sandi Taylor did a great interview with Channel 17 and I was so happy to get this message from Trustee Kay Meek: “Sandi Taylor just did an AWESOME job on 17 news really got the word out about BC!  So Great.”  Here is Sandi with Vickie with the Channel 17 person.

And then you have Linda Snoddy, a BC student who played the bagpipe to open the event, with Wayne Gretsky.  And the last picture of Gretzky is from Channel 23.  Life is good!




It was such a grand evening at the Memorial Stadium.


Congratulations to Mayor Karen Goh

karengoh01“It’s been 16 years since a new Bakersfield mayor has taken the gavel — but it happened Tuesday evening when newly elected Karen Goh was sworn in as the 26th mayor of the ninth largest city in California.”

A nice opening sentence in Steven Mayer’s article on Bakersfield.com. I hope you’ll check it out at http://www.bakersfield.com/news/karen-goh-installed-as-mayor-of-bakersfield/article_53a9f9d9-551b-5819-86ad-74005e3a2bb1.html.

Karen is a true supporter of Bakersfield College and we’re lucky to have her so involved in our community. Congratulations Karen! The BC community wishes you nothing but the greatest success as mayor of our city.

Keith Woolaridge: What my mentors did for me


keith-wolaridge-and-his-daughter-oct-22-2016Keith Woolaridge is another great friend and partner of Bakersfield College, but even more so, he is an advocate for our students and student success.  Keith is a mentor to many of our BC students in the ASTEP program organized by Dr. Paula Parks.

In a Community Voices piece earlier this week, Keith shared what his mentors did for him and how he “listened, assimilated, acclimated,” and how “for the most part it has worked out.”

I encourage you to read the whole piece at http://www.bakersfield.com/opinion/community-voices-what-my-mentors-did-for-me/article_67695f38-011b-5fad-9c6e-d053297f25fb.html

BC athletes are rock stars!

BC Basketball vs Barstow(M)-348-JPBI fully believe that involvement in athletics has the potential to be one of the best student success interventions around.  At BC, our entire athletics department works in unison to ensure that each of our Renegade athletes has a full schedule, adheres to his or her academic plan, regularly attends class, studies for exams, and still manages to show up for practice each day.  It was fantastic to see The Bakersfield Californian cover BC student, Jamar Hammonds who scored a 32 points in the Men’s Basketball game against San Diego Miramat.

Check it out at http://www.bakersfield.com/sports/hammonds-leads-bc-men-s-basketball-to-win/article_ecbd3e6c-c0ff-5977-9cba-7107c14afa87.html

So proud of our student athletes.  So proud of our coaches.

A new year brings new opportunities!

It’s no surprise that I’m proud of the talent among the BC student body and I have to share what our BC Chamber Singers have been up to. Recently, they were asked to do a performance for a man who owns a travel agency and was hosting a group for their last night in California. Choir Director, Jennifer Garrett told me,

He invited us to come sing. We performed tonight at his beautiful home in Northridge and he liked it so much and is so excited about our past concerts that he doubled his donation at the end of our performance. Plus fed everyone dinner before we left. It was an amazing and very prosperous night for us. We still have SO very far to go for Australia but we took a good step forward tonight. I’m still amazed that we had nearly everyone there tonight. It’s only January 2!

Other happenings

Our students get back to campus after Martin Luther King Day.  However, faculty have started returning to campus and are working on various campus projects like grants and preparing for the Winter Professional Development Institute.  I walked into my conference room this week during lunch and found the room packed with faculty and staff planning for the Winter Institute.  The energy was wonderful and I was drawn in to stay and spend time with them.  We have talent at BC!  I wish I had taken a photo….but alas I was slacking on my responsibilities.  Thank you everyone who came back to campus on January 5th to do this work.

And was the Rose Bowl something else!  The headline in the LA Times the next day : USC fights on and on –  and wins a thrilling Rose Bowl on a last-second field goal.

Check out the story by Bill Plaschke and particularly the 60-sec video embedded in the article.


Here are Plaschke’s opening sentences

They fought on, and on, and on, and on.

As a darkly clouded afternoon became a chilly night in Pasadena Monday, the USC football team fought Penn State  for a Rose Bowl  championship that seemed continually out of reach.

The Trojans fought through breathtaking Nittany Lions scores, limb-twisting Nittany Lions tackles, and a two-touchdown deficit with less than a dozen minutes remaining in the game.

They fought through deafening noise from thousands of white-clad Penn State fans, a brutal ankle injury to their most explosive player, and yellow penalty flags that constantly fluttered at their feet.

They fought with jabs from a kid quarterback, roundhouses from acrobatic receivers and knockdowns by giant linemen.

They fought and fought and then, in their final breaths they hit Penn State with a force that USC football lore will remember forever.

Here is a 2:33-video of that last epic field goal by Matt Boermeester, #39, who played football for Saddleback College.

And of course there is just no denying that Quarterback Sam Darnold is now a USC Rose Bowl legend.

Emails worth sharing

In an email detailing her struggles and accomplishments, Sheila Rae West, is a shining example of what “community” means on our campus.

She said,

Since I started back at school it has been challenging and I cannot explain how my mind works differently. I jumped into English 50/1a combination class. Professor Cynthia Hubble was my instructor. The first day of class I knew I was in right place with the right instructor. Her SI instructor told us about herself and I identified with her. Professor Hubble has been one those living angels who helped me and encouraged me.shiela

And she went on to say,

 Dr. Bligh just giving me a chance made a difference. The atmosphere of your class created a sense of being among a great teacher. After I found out you have a PhD I was so impressed. What a huge accomplishment. You are a great example of dedication and hard work for your education. I learned so much and the way you explained the math and the desire you had for us to learn the right way. Step by step on the white board and in your book. I utilized the math area we would attend and the students you chose were very helpful. Your heart of compassion and your service outside school shows the good in you. People like you are what I need to see because most of my life I saw cruelty, crime the dark side of life. I am enrolled in B65 for spring and my confidence is back. I appreciate you so much and Happy New Years.

Thank you Dr. Kimberly Bligh, thank you Cynthia Hubble and to all BC faculty. Your work is important and it changes lives. And thank you Sheila for sharing your story. Students, just like you are the inspiration for all that we do. We are so proud of you.  #WeAreBC




That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Thank you Bakersfield, for a great 2016!

2016 — a year of great friendships, great love, great partnerships, great collaboration. 

Thank you Bakersfield, thank you Kern County for a great 2016! My blog post from January 2, 2016 (https://sonyachristianblog.com/2016/01/02/2016-the-force-awakens/) ends with

Warm wishes to each and every one of you in this amazing community from all faculty, staff and students of Bakersfield College.  Here’s to a glorious 2016!

And what a year it has been. A year when the force was definitely with BC.

A year when BC:

  • produced an increase in student numbers that far exceeds the statewide trends
  • improved student success outcomes
  • created efficiencies that save both time and money for students and taxpayers
  • broadened outreach to Kern county residents, particularly in rural Kern
  • engaged throughout the community, connecting with business and industry leaders, other educational sectors, and community organizations
  • positioned the college for even more opportunities in grant funding.

And thank you for passing Measure J!



Bruce our campaign dog

The campus is closed during the week between Christmas and New Year BC.  So things have been relatively quiet on the work front with faculty, staff and students spending time with friends, family and loved ones.  A few of us have been periodically connecting on grant applications that are due in early February.  Most meetings have been via 7:30 a.m. conference calls or meetings at Panera Bread, since offices are not heated to conserve energy during this week.

I published my last blog as I was on a plane from LAX to Toronto.  The few days in Toronto with Eisha were perfect — walks, talks, netflix, friends, and good food.  The buildings are so well insulated and heated that you can practically walk around inside in a t-shirt, and Eisha taught me how to dress for the cold during our walks.  She let me use her ear muffs, which worked wonders in keeping me warm.  I did not take many photos this week (I am regretting it now), but here are a few.

What a difference in attire….July 2016 in Canada and Dec 2016 in Canada

Mom was with us last Christmas and joined us in Toronto when we visited in July, but she did not want to face Toronto in December. Here is a picture of three generations on Christmas 2015 which popped up on Facebook.


Kwanzaa Celebration Dec 28, 2016

It was a lot of fun attending the Kwanzaa celebration for the second year in a row.  I found myself being inspired by the music and the storytelling.  I walked away with much joy and a renewed commitment to spend time with loved ones.  Met up with my friends Karen Goh and NaTesha Kindred at the event.  Here are a few pictures from both of them.

It was fun talking to the group from the Cain Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church Young People’s Department.  David Sandles  standing to my left in the photo, is a Freshman at Bakersfield College and a Biochemistry major.  So cool!

Photo on the left: NaTesha Kindred Johnson, Karen Goh, Sonya Christian

Photo on the right: The Kwanzaa 2016 organizer Bakari Sanyu.


Cathy Abernathy Nov 19 2015

Cathy Abernathy, Rotary, Nov 19 2015

On December 29th I had a series of meetings and joined Cathy Abernathy who was hosting the Ralph Bailey show, and had invited me to be a guest and talk about the happenings at BC.  Of course I said yes.  It is truly an honor to share the wonderful things happening at BC and also wonderful to hang out with Cathy.

We talked about the work BC is doing with KHSD, about the Career Technical Education programs, the new Bachelor of Science in Industrial Automation etc. We ended with the spectacular event of having an outdoor ice rink in the magnificent Memorial Stadium– 2016 Winterfest!  If you have not purchased your tickets yet, you should!  January 6th is the celebrity game with Wayne Gretzky(!), and January 7th the Condors play.

I wish I had taken a picture when I was in the studio with Cathy,  but I did not do much of that this week.  Maybe it is because I am so irritated with myself for having dropped my iphone yet again and widened the crack on the glass…

December 30th, a group of us watched the Bakersfield College Basketball team win yet another game under the leadership of the fabulous coach Paula Dahl. Our students are such a treat and Coach Dahl rocks.  It was great to meet Paula’s brother David and his wife who came in from Utah to spend New Years.  The young women you see behind David Dahl are students from Stockdale High School, who I am hoping will be future Renegades, and here’s a picture of Sandi Taylor, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg and me having a great time at the game.

I also connected with Christy Haycock at an exercise class session and Wayne Cooper at CALM’s Holiday Lights.

Here is the LA Times article about the Holiday Lights at CALM.


Bakersfield Life today:

Saw this great piece on our Dean of Allied Health, Cindy Collier




I spent much of this morning reading previous blog posts and enjoying thinking about all that happened at Bakersfield College and in our community.  Here are a few in case you have time to click through:

March 25, 2016 post: The State of Kern County is Strong



April 2, 2016: Life at BC is about living life fully.



April 9, 2016: BC and the community — relationships run deep


Calla Lily June 4 2016


June 4, 2016: A community together


An excerpt from the post

So here is a calla lily for you, my community, for all that you do on a daily basis to support each other and support the students at BC.

Thank you Fred Misono for making my visit to Bakersfield West Rotary so memorable.

And let’s remember Tharrell Ming — a community leader.


June 9, 2016: We are Bakersfield….We are BC


This blog covers two presentations on the bond measure during the educational phase of the campaign to the Hispanic Chamber and Kerntax.  A quick note here on Donna Carpenter — we miss you!


July 16, 2016: Building a Better BC


This blog covers the July 14th board meeting when the trustees voted to put Measure J on the ballot.

Let’s remember Mayor Harvey Hall’s words on Measure J. Thank you Mayor Hall for all that you have done for BC and for Bakersfield.



August 26, 2016: Launching Fall 2016 to Build a Better BC


This post is about BC’s Fall Opening Day.  I typically do my State of the College address once a year during Fall Opening.  Here is an excerpt:

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!


September 24, 2016: Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future; Faith is the courage to dance to it today.



October 8, 2016: So many reasons to celebrate. We are BC!


This is a great one.  A must watch.  Many video of community leaders talking about BC.  This includes Mayor Harvey Hall, Congressman Bill Thomas, Mike Turnipseed, Wayne Kress, David Torres, Fred Prince …..



Wishing all of you a wonderful 2017.  Another year of great friendships, great love, great partnerships and great collaborations.

Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future;
Faith is the courage to dance to it today.




That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Happy Holidays from BC!

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, December 24, 2016….Christmas eve.

Playing Christmas songs while I blog.  Let me share with you one of my favorites.

And then I saw that The Bakersfield Californian published the joint Community Voices piece by President Horace Mitchell, Superintended Bryon Schaefer and myself.  So happy!  Here is the link http://tinyurl.com/z3b8krg.

Here is the opening paragraph of the article:

Kern County’s educational partners have never been more connected, more efficient, more effective, or more collaborative than now. Students have even greater access to college, and more students are college and career-ready as they leave the KHSD. College transfer rates from Bakersfield College to CSU Bakersfield have increased significantly, and collaboration with business and industry has strengthened and expanded to create a strong and educated workforce…….

and the closing

The partnership between the Kern High School District, BC and CSUB has built trust among all levels — administration, faculty and staff. We are one educational community dedicated to securing the academic, career, and life success of our students. Together, we can create a flourishing future for our community by engaging our young people through intentional student support and guided pathways.


Together we can create a better Bakersfield, a better Kern County. And through education, anything is possible. This is our commitment and our promise to you!

It is a good time to be in Bakersfield!

The week at BC was also festive – yet busy and exciting! It was a beautiful sight to walk into the doors of the admin building and see a large decorated Christmas tree in the lobby. What a great way to start each day.



Saturday, December 17th, was jam packed with activities….started in the morning with a faculty recruitment workshop for the community hosted by Dean Corny Rodriguez and Dena Rhoades, BC’s HR manager followed by a mini retreat with me, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg (VP of Instruction) and Zav Dadabhoy (VP of Student Services), after which I rushed to Cathy Abernathy’s Christmas party which is always fun and then ended with the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra performing with the Bakersfield College Chamber Singers.  What a day!

Faculty Recruitment Workshop

Thank you Dena and Corny for putting together the Recruitment Workshop for community members interested in becoming BC faculty!  Attendees learned the ins and outs of the hiring process and how to best get their  application seen! In fall of 2017, 55 new full-time faculty will join the BC community. The recruitment has been planned in phases to accommodate the high number. Positions for phase 1 and 2 are posted and some screening committees have already met. New and replacement positions range from the disciplines of agriculture and welding to biology to psychology. Openings are always posted on https://careers.kccd.edu/postings/search.

You don’t see Corny in any of the pictures since he took them and sent them to me.  Next time team, let’s make sure we get a picture of him.

I love the photo I snapped of Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg and Dena Rhoades relaxing and working in Nan’s office after the workshop. fr_nan-and-dena-rhoades-on-a-saturday-in-december

Joyful Celebrations with friends of BC!

On Saturday evening, I met so many wonderful people at Cathy Abernathy’s Christmas Party. Familiar faces such as Jay Rosenlieb, Karen Goh, JP Lake, among many others were fabulous to see but I’d like to especially point out two special individuals I chatted with that evening. robert-reader-and-sonya-christian-abernathy-christmas-party-dec-17-2016

The first is Robert Reader, faculty emeritus at Bakersfield College. I recalled a few days earlier at the Trustees meeting on December 15th when the board approved a list of faculty emeriti, Trustee and Congressman Bill Thomas spoke fondly about Robert who still held the record for triple-jump on the BC campus. I shared this story with Robert who then got all nostalgic and shared with me stories about Bill Thomas when they were faculty together at BC…how they rode go-karts with no motor. So fun!  Robert now stays busy with photography and his collection has some of the most vibrant and breathtaking photos I’ve seen. Check it out at robertreaderphotography.com.

billie-jo-medders-and-sonya-christian-abernathy-christmas-party-dec-16-2016Billie Jo Medders, was also a treat to see. She was in charge of Congressman Bill Thomas’ office in Bakersfield and helped me out when I was a rookie faculty in the early 1990’s.  Billie Jo told me that when she googled her name, my blog from April 19th of this year came up. Back then, I mentioned that I had never met her! Check it out at https://sonyachristianblog.com/2016/04/09/bc-and-the-community-relationship-runs-deep/


Home for the Holidays

 That evening I couldn’t miss the Home for the Holidays Christmas Concert with the Bakersfield College and the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra. Everyone’s favorite Christmas classics were performed, such as “Merry Christmas Merry Christmas” from the popular seasonal comedy Home Alone. I’m continually amazed by the level of talent our student performers display. I was so proud of our students and thank the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra for inviting our students to perform. Monty Byrom was his usual wonderful self with the swagger and great voice and all….  Ken Burdick and Monty performed “Drummer Boy” in a David Bowie-Bing Crosby style and it was fabulous.  You must listen to it.

Our very talented choral director at BC, Jennifer Garrett, conducted “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” that brought me to tears. And one more favorite of mine was the Nutcracker. What an incredible ending to a wonderful day.


Jen Garrett conducting the BC Chamber Singers at the BSO Home for the Holidays Dec 17th

 Education Roundtable at BC hosted by CSUB-BC-KHSD


On Wednesday, December 21st, BC hosted an Education Roundtable with CSUB and KHSD.  The morning consisted of two parts – the first being presentations from Kern Tax CEO Michael Turnipseed, CSUB President Horace Mitchell and Kern High School District Superintendent Bryon Schaefer, which shared educational partnership accomplishments and a continued commitment to move forward jointly to improve student success and persistence through the education pathway.


The second portion of the morning consisted of a roundtable discussion facilitated by Dr. Kristen Barnes of the Kern Community Foundation, our very own Dr. Janet Fulks, Vickie Spanos of KHSD, and Dr. Jacqueline Mimms from CSUB. These women focused on developing strategy for the collaborative direction ahead as a College Promise is made to students and members of the Kern community.


Janet Fulks (BC), Vickie Spanos (KHSD), Jacqueline Mimms (CSUB)

It was such a delight to have three of KCCD trustees attend this event.  Trustee and President of the KCCD Board Kay Meek, Trustee and Congressman Bill Thomas, Trustee Romeo Agbalog.  Also, really enjoyed having incoming Chancellor Tom Burke at the event and mayor elect Karen Goh.

Distinguished guests in attendance included Mayor-elect Karen Goh, CSUB President Horace Mitchell, KHSD Superintendent Bryon Schaefer, and Kern Tax CEO Michael Turnipseed. From Chevron: Adam Alvidrez.


From Bakersfield City School District: Rob Arias. From CAPP: Emerson Case. From CSUB: Jacqueline Mimms, Jennifer Sanchez, Evelyn Young Spath, and Kim Flachman. From KCCD: Bonita Steele, Leticia Garza, and John Means.

From KCSOS: Sarah Brooks, Lisa Gilbert. From KHSD: Vickie Spanos, Brenda Lewis, Jose Morales, Roger Sanchez, Ryan Geivet, Kenny Seals, Christy Fraley, and Ben Sherley. From Panama Buena Vista School District: JP Lake, Keith Wolaridge. From Kern Economic Development Corporation: Cheryl Scott, Richard Chapman. Assemblyman: Vince Fong. Representatives: Romeo Agbalog (Jean Fuller), Lauren Skidmore (Vince Fong), Michael Bowers (Andy Vidak). Kern County District Supervisor: Leticia Perez.



From Kern Community Foundation: Kristen Barnes, Alyse Braaten. From Kern Taxpayers Association: Michael Turnipseed. From Shafter Education Partnership: David Franz.

From Klein Denatale Goldner: Jay Roselieb From Bakersfield College: Cindy Collier, Emmanuel Mourtzanos, Janet Fulks, Jennifer Achan, Marlene Herse, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg,  Grace Commiso, Nick Strobel, Rich McCrow, Stephen Waller, Steven Holmes, Steven Watkin, Anna Levan, Danyel Owens, Jennifer Marden, Shanell Tyus, and Renegade Promise Program Student Magdalena Pantelon.


We collected great feedback during the roundtable discussion and will use the great synergy and sharing to fuel us as we continue work on submitting our California College Promise Innovation Grant.

The workgroup will reconvene at our next College Promise Education Roundtable breakfast on Wednesday, January 18th at 8:00 am in the Fireside Room at Bakersfield College.

President Mitchell, Superintended Schaefer will come back on March 8th at 10:00 a.m. for a College Promise Education Press Statement at 10:00am in the Levan Center at Bakersfield College.

Thank you Cara Jackson and Jennifer Marden for uploading the photos today.  I asked them to send me a photo.  Here it is.


Star Wars Rogue One

On Sunday I watched the latest Star Wars movie Rogue One.  Of course I loved the movie and did not like reading NYTimes film critic A.O. Scott’s scathing review of the movie.  My favorite chatterer was the droid K-2SO known as Kaytoo to his friends. He is part of the Rebel Alliance team tasked with stealing the plans to the original Death Star to stop it from becoming fully operational.

In January 2016 the theme of Opening Day was The Force Awakens.  Manny de Los Santos did a phenomenal piece of work with this video.  Enjoy this blast from the past.  Thank you Manny!

Preparing for Jan 2016 Opening Day

The Force is with BC!


Family Literacy Night 

Education in Kern County is on a roll. From elementary school to college and career training opportunities, the educational leaders of our communities care about students. I received an email from Bernadette Towns, BC Child Development Professor, who shared with me Family Literacy Night.

literacy She says,

Students were invited by Hort Elementary to participate in their Family Literacy Night. They went for two hours in groups and set up fun literacy activities. Some of the students modified games like Jenga writing a sentence on each piece then having students read the sentence when they pulled the piece out. Other groups of students invented new literacy games. One student even dressed up like a book character! The students provided enough activities to fill four classrooms for the families to experience.  There were approximately 450 participants including Parents and children that night. The event was a huge success! So much so that the next day the contact from Hort Elementary emailed me thanking me for bringing the students out, applauding how prepared our students were and  declaring the fabulous accolades our students received from both staff and families that attended that night. She even asked if next semester the Elementary Education students could come and do a Math/Science Night on March 14! I have been here at BC for 16 years and I can say that night was one of my most memorable. I was so proud of the activities our students came up with and how well they represented Bakersfield College.

 Congratulations Coach Dahl

In case you missed it, Bakersfield College women’s basketball took a win against Monterey Peninsula tournament which counted as Coach Paula Dahl’s 300th win.  This is a great picture of Coach Dahl on the www.gogades.com website


We have been so fortunate to have her with us for 23 seasons and hopefully many more. Check out the article at http://www.bakersfield.com/sports/bc-downs-monterey-peninsula-for-dahl-s-th-coaching-win/article_08f2a705-39a1-54fa-b55a-9fc8bd3296c6.html

 Executive Office Team

I am the luckiest and happiest college president in the whole world! Because of my community, my students, and my colleagues. Each year, a survey is sent out to evaluate and review each area of the college and as I read through the comments of the fantastic team working within the offices of the President and the three Vice Presidents, I knew I had to share a few of my favorites.


  • “One never leaves this area without the answer to their question (or where to find it.) They are able to navigate the greatest of challenges, which often puts one at ease!”
  • “The President’s Office is unique team and produces work that hasn’t been seen before. Seems to all have support for each other and cares about the college community and assisting in any way- so the needs are met in a timely manner.”
  • “Classified staff provide great service, very helpful, and their personality and people skills reflect very well on the college.”
  • “These Ladies are TOP Notch! Very friendly, engaging, professional, and knowledgeable.

Chris Glaser the young man in the picture above pulled together this video.  Check it out.

 Winterfest is now open!

If you don’t already have plans to go, make sure to check out the schedule and stop by Winterfest at Memorial Stadium! Enjoy public outdoor ice skating, zip line, bounce house, obstacle courses, snowman building, and more! There’s no better time to come back to Bakersfield College.

 Hours are:

Sat., Dec. 24: NOON-6 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 25: CLOSED
Mon., Dec. 26: 4-9 p.m.
Tue., Dec. 27: 4-9 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 28: 4-9 p.m.
Thu., Dec. 29: 4-9 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 30: NOON-9 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 31: NOON-9 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 1: NOON-9 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 2: 4-9 p.m.
Tue., Jan. 3: 4-9 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 4: 4-9 p.m.
Thu., Jan. 5: CLOSED
Fri., Jan. 6: Condors Public Open Practice, NOON-1 p.m.; Winterfest, NOON-4 p.m.

I received a text from Manny De Los Santos. It said “Winterfest with my girls!” So fun to see the good looking, talented Manny with Elsa and Anna. You don’t want to miss this fantastic once in a lifetime outdoor event!


All of us at BC kept stopping by the Memorial Stadium to watch the ice rink take shape.  This short video is from my iphone on Dec 21st when the ice rink had just been opened for the Condors to practice.

Merry Christmas all




That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — the luckiest and happiest college president ever blogging from Tom Bradley International at LAX heading to Toronto.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Good morning Bakersfield.  Have you bought your tickets for Winterfest!

I woke up to the headline in The Bakersfield Californian “Obama signs $12 Billion Water Bill” and a wonderful piece by Nick Strobel “Longest night of year, winter is approaching” in his column Stargazing.  Definitely a good way to start the morning.

But let me get back to Winterfest ….

Winterfest is coming

Excitement is building up around campus for the upcoming Winterfest celebrations! Did you ever think you’d see a Zamboni parked at Bakersfield College?  Thanks to the Condors and the upcoming Three-Way Chevrolet Winterfest and Outdoor Classic hockey game, we’ve got one! Construction has taken over Memorial Stadium and the rink is coming to life.  In an article this week titled, “It’s Twice as Nice Outdoors on the Ice,” Ryan Holt of the Bakersfield Condors had some awesome things to say about BC!

“We’re thankful they believed in our project,” Holt said. “Memorial Stadium was the spot. It’s iconic. I’ve never seen a community college with a stadium like that. It’s going to be perfect for hockey. Every seat is a perfect seat for watching the game. Winterfest, the Outdoor Classic and the Alumni game are “a way to highlight not only the Condors organization, but the city of Bakersfield,” Holt said. “That’s what we’re all about.”


See this whole article at http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODN/BakersfieldCalifornian/shared/ShowArticle.aspx?doc=TBC%2F2016%2F12%2F15&entity=Ar01800&sk=6A9B2023

The Bakersfield Californian said, “It’s beginning to look like hockey at Bakersfield College” and I couldn’t agree more! Check out the article at http://www.bakersfield.com/sports/it-s-beginning-to-look-like-hockey-at-bakersfield-college/article_bb9b4aac-6bc7-517d-a527-10e99ee3af31.html.


immigrationpoliciespanelLast week Thursday, an open forum with panelists, H.A. Sala and Win Eaton took place in the Levan Center on the topic of U.S. Immigration Policies. This discussion was presented by members of the Immigration Justice Collaboration, a group of over 20 local attorneys from different fields of practice, including immigration law. The panel discussed imminent changes in immigration policies, including how DACA may be affected, and basic due process and constitutional rights, among other topics of interest to our communities. Thank you to Dr. Manny Mourtzanos, Dean of Instruction, for moderating the panel and Manny De Los Santos for recording and live streaming the event.


International Ag Expo

On Tuesday (Dec 13, 2016) morning, I was on a quick field trip with the Ag faculty to check out the COS farm and do some planning for our Ag program.  The ride in the 16-year-old bus was enjoyable with Bill Kelly leisurely at the wheel when we headed north, and Chris McCraw putting pedal to the metal but definitely keeping it at the legal limit on the way back to get me to a meeting on time.  I love our Ag department!  Bill Kelly, Lindsay Ono, Bill Barnes, Greg Cluff, and Chris McCraw.  We missed Heather Baltis who could not go with us.

I learned that we cut back on our classes during the recession, and once had horse riding classes when Gay Gadella was with us.

Our ride in the bus took us past the home of the World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA. I was surprised to learn this global convention started at BC and moved to the Bakersfield Fairgrounds before going to Tulare, where it is now a global event. Wow!

The International Agri-Center now hosts this annual event boasting 2.6 million square feet of show space, and calculating an annual average of 100,000 attendees. Learn more by visiting https://www.worldagexpo.com/


There’s a new chief in town

Join me in welcoming Lyle Martin as the new Bakersfield Police Chief. After serving as the assistant chief of police since 2008, Lyle was sworn in on Wednesday replacing Greg Williamson who is retiring. The Bakersfield Californian reports that “Williamson called Martin a ‘man of character,’ and said the city is in good hands.”
Check out the article at The Bakersfield Californian here.

I love this picture by Felix Adamo in The Bakersfield Californian of outgoing BPD Chief Greg Williamson and incoming Chief Lyle Martin.


The Bakersfield Police Department is a great partner of Bakersfield College.
Check out my past blog when I showcased the National Night Out on August 6, 2016.

ASTEP Student Appreciation

I attended the ASTEP Student Appreciation awards this week. If you haven’t heard, the African-American Success through Excellence and Persistence (ASTEP) program at BC is one that integrates academics, support services and African-American culture. ASTEP seeks to educate the whole student — body, mind and spirit — through an ethic of love. African and African-American histories and voices are deliberately and intentionally acknowledged and are woven into the learning experience, and this integration is seen as being empowering to students and foundational for their academic and personal success.  Students are full participants in their learning and growth. ASTEP aims to develop students into leaders and role models in their college and larger community.astep-mentors

The mentors of this program are fabulous people and we are lucky to have them with us at BC.

For example, here is Keith Wolaridge, President of the Panama Buena Vista District Board, supporter of Measure J, and leader of our community. And another great supporter of ASTEP is Joe Coughlin – local business owner of the delicious Coconut Joes. Check out my blog including Joe from September 24th. Also, our very own June Charles is a mentor, and her mentee took all three awards of the night. Congratulations!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dr. Paula Parks has greatly improved our student success numbers through this program.  You can see her dedication in this email that she sent me after the event.


Thanks for attending the ASTEP Umoja Community Mentor Appreciation and Milestone Celebration. The best part for me is hearing from the students what the program means to them and how much they treasure the support provided, including that from the mentors. They talked about how much the mentors encourage them and help keep them focused to finish the semester. I also loved hearing how much they enjoyed reading and discussing black authors in the English class as well as how much they learned about themselves in the student development class. They formed such a loving, supportive community, and I know they’ll do well next semester in English 1A, Student Development 2, and Library 1. The Mentor Appreciation and Milestone Celebration always end the semester on a high note for me. I just love those kids.

Thanks again,


Centennial High School Holiday Concert

Holiday festivities are one of my favorite things about the end of the year. I attended the Centennial High School Christmas Concert on Thursday, Dec 15th, to watch Gracie, Jennifer Marden’s daughter perform.  Gracie is a very talented young woman and sings with both the Chamber Singers and Concert Choir at Centennial High School.  I hope Gracie comes to BC and sings with Jen Garret’s group and goes to Sydney Australia in Summer 2018.  Friends, please mark your calendars and head out to Sydney with us to watch your Bakersfield Choir perform.  I guarantee you that this will be your best vacation ever!

Patrick Burzlaff is the Director of Choral Activities and the students are just so incredibly talented. Music programs are constantly in danger of being cut from shrinking schools budgets, but they’re important for the success of our young people and have been proven to improve academics. The College Entrance Examination Board found that students involved in public school music programs scored 107 points higher on the SAT’s than students with no participation. Check out all the facts at http://www.musicforall.org/who-we-are/advocacy/quick-facts


Fire Tech graduation

On December 16th BC’s Firefighter II candidates graduated. Trained through BC we are proud of you. Outgoing Mayor Harvey Hall got his own hard hat.  And Mary Jo Pasek, thank you for the photos.


Thank you Tim Capehart, Director of Fire Tech, for your vision and hard work.  I enjoyed the field trip with you earlier this year.

Jean Fuller’s Holiday Gathering


Cheryl Taylor, Dick Taylor, Jean Fuller

Have I told you that I love Senator Jean Fuller?  The Senator is a great partner, friend, and alumna of BC! She earned her AA degree at Bakersfield College in 1970. After more than 30 years as an educator and Superintendent of Bakersfield City School District, she was elected in 2006 and right away was widely recognized as a leader.

I took this photo of Jean Fuller with Dick Taylor and Cheryl Taylor. Dick is the Director of Kern County Veterans Service Department. Born and raised in Bakersfield with a history of service in the Marines and traveling the world, Dick is an ally for local veterans and is a great advocate for our student vets.

We are Bakersfield!



Member of the California Board of Governors and self-described Social Entrepreneur Arnaldo Avalos is leading an effort to bring musical, cultural, and educational awareness to the central valley through PuebloFest.  As Arnaldo shared with BC’s student organizations and their advisors, PuebloFest isn’t like any other music festival; it’s a music festival with a purpose: non-profit and educational organizations can actually use the event to earn money for their organizations!  When BC’s soccer coach, Vayron Martinez, heard about the opportunity, he showed up in force with three of his student athletes even after the close of the season.

Be sure to use code “BCSoccer” when you purchase your tickets for PuebloFest online for a discount and to support your local BC team.  Children 12 and under are free and those ages 13-17 earn discounted admission.

This isn’t the first time Vayron has stepped in to encourage his athletes to contribute to the greater good through community involvement.  Check out this post on the BC Soccer Team volunteering for Measure J!

Buy tickets using “BCSoccer” code online: https://pueblofest.frontgatetickets.com/?utm_source=frontgate&utm_medium=fdp&utm_term=banner&utm_content=pueblofest&utm_campaign=fgt-website

Like PuebloFest on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pueblofestca/photos/a.558781277655516.1073741830.530404543826523/581580685375575/?type=3&theater

doc_erwinMidweek morning meeting with a great educational leader!

This week, I also had a small window of time to catch up with Doc Ervin, Bakersfield City School District Superintendent.

Get to know more about Doc in an article at the Bakersfield Californian from earlier this year:  http://www.bakersfield.com/news/from-farm-to-city-who-is-doc-ervin-bcsd-s/article_428ee4e8-1654-56ac-b16d-87dcab77bbdf.html


Accreditation on a rainy friday

Kate Pluta said it best, yesterday at a gathering at BC doing a “soft launch” to our accreditation self evaluation work in anticipation of our site visit in October 2018 — “It is friday, it is after the semester ended, and it is raining.  But here you all are to participate in accreditation work.”  I love my colleagues at BC!  Enjoy a few photos


I love BC! We Are BC!

sonya at polynesian cultural center april 2 2015


That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — the luckiest and happiest college president ever