Hello August

As I was preparing for Opening Week of activities prior to the start of the fall semester, I enjoyed this video which was put together for the #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation production. Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” is such a powerful piece. Enjoy!

Thank you to web content editor Valerie Urso for the care in producing this video.

Good morning Bakersfield
It is Saturday, August 8, 2020…A great day to be a Renegade

This week, I headed out to our physical campus, to check out the Measure J construction work.

Express Enrollment

Bakersfield College is holding an extended One-Day Virtual Express Enrollment Event for new and returning students on August 12, 2020 from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Counselors and support staff will be available to assist students with their registration process, placement, enrollment and financial aid.

Thank you to Ashlea Ward, Program Manager for Outreach and Early College, and our entire Outreach team for your hard work in ensuring students are still able to easily register for courses while we continue our social distancing.

John Lewis

On Wednesday, July 29, Bakersfield College and Danny Morrison teamed up again to celebrate John Lewis and his legacy of #GoodTrouble.

Today, I will begin to share the videos from that production, starting – naturally – with the opening segment.

Steve Watkin, Executive Director of Outreach & Early College, provided the opening remarks:

Danny Morrison of Danny Morrison Media also provided opening remarks. (And a special thank you to Danny for using his Facebook to livestream the production.)

Julian West, Program Lead for Racial Equity, recited the speech John Lewis gave at the 1963 March on Washington.

Community member Nina Grae performed “We Shall Overcome”:

You can learn more about the production, and see all the videos, on the Bakersfield College website.

#LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation

As you may know, Bakersfield College created a multi-day #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation series of programs back in June. I am continuing to share videos, today from the June 17 production.

Assembly Member Vince Fong shared his remarks:

And Kern County Board of Supervisors Chair Leticia Perez also shared a message:

Please visit https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/aai/lightacandle-a-juneteenth-conversation to see all the videos from each day of the #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation programming.

Immigration Clinics Full for August

Bakersfield College has partnered with the UFW Foundation to provide free legal consultations for BC students, faculty and staff who need assistance with immigration legal aspects. These free clinics are held monthly, on the 2nd Tuesday and Friday and the 4th Thursday and Friday of every month. 

August has already been fully booked – the next available session will be held September 11, 2020. In order to schedule your appointment, fill out the request form. All appointments are conducted virtually via Zoom for the duration of the pandemic. 

BC Nursing Students help pass out PPE

Ema Sasic of The Bakersfield Californian wrote a wonderful article about how BC nursing students helped pass out PPE to about 155 Kern County medical practices on Thursday.

The California Medical Association partnered with the California Office of Emergency Services for the event, and more than 40 BC students volunteered to help out.


I’m continuing to share the video segments from the 106th Commencement, which aired on July 11.

As part of the programming, we shared a feature on Bakersfield College’s Industrial Automation program:

And then, of course, we celebrated this year’s recipients of our Baccalaurate Degree in Industrial Automation:

All the videos from our special 2020 106th Commencement Televised Event can be seen at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/admissions/2020-commencement-ceremony.

Early College

Our Early College Celebration was held virtually this year. I’m sharing some more videos from that production today.

Elysa Vargas, Director of Ag Prep at The Wonderful Company, addressed our graduates:

Emily Phelps, Associate Director of College Readiness at The Wonderful Company, also shared a message:

Transfer Graduates

Did you know Bakersfield College also has a virtual Transfer Celebration web page?

This week, I’d like to share a few of our transfer students:

Kayla Wilson will be studying Political Science and History at CSU Sacramento.

Andrew Raymond will study Mechanical Engineering at CSU Fresno.

CSU Mid Year Transfer Workshops

For all students interested in transferring and starting at a CSU in the Spring of 2021! Join for CSU application help and transfer advising! All workshops will be online, please fill out an interest form to receive Zoom details, visit the Bakersfield College transfer website for more information or email bc_transfer@bakersfieldcollege.edu.

Workshops will be held on:

  • Tuesday, August 11, from 2-3 pm
  • Wednesday, August 12, from 4-5 pm
  • Monday, August 17, from 5-6 pm
  • Thursday, August 20, from 2-3 pm

Closing Week

On Tuesday, IT Director Todd Coston (and his pet tiger) concluded our daily production:

On Wednesday, the Budget Committee received a President’s Leadership Award:

And the COVID-19 Response Team also received a President’s Leadership Award:

Also on Wednesday, Academic Senate President Steven Holmes honored our faculty retirees:

And this is the last of our stretch break photo rolls, looking back at the 2019-2020 academic year:

You can see all the videos from Closing Week 2020 at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/president/events/closing-week-2020.

We are coming up quickly on Opening Week 2020, which will also be virtual. Opening Week 2020 will be Monday through Thursday, August 17-August 20.

Spotted on Social Media

BCSGA’s Facebook page sent out a congratulations to our CDC Graduates:

“Congrats to our youngest BC grads of the Child Development Center who will move on to kindergarten next year! 27 families participated in the curbside graduation.

We can’t wait to see you back in 2033!”

Performing Arts Department Chair Jennifer Garrett shared on Facebook that her family got a new puppy:

“Today was the greatest adventure! We have a puppy! We arrived at the house and played with the puppies for a little while. They immediately fell in love with her. Each of them carried her around and watched as she wrestled with her brother. When we told them she was our puppy they did not believe us. … Meet the newest member of Team Garrett: Remi!”

Lesley Bonds, Director of Student Success & Equity, also shared a photo of her dogs this week:

Shannon Musser, who has returned to BC to work with the Marketing and Student Success & Equity departments, was able to take a break last week and go houseboating on Lake McClure with her family:

I loved this quote that Bill Moseley shared on Twitter:

I also wanted to share this photo of Norma Rojas, Director of Communications and Community Relations, reminding everyone to #WearAMask while supporting BC! #WeAreBC!


Men’s Basketball Program Coaching Change

Last week Coach Rich Hughes stepped down temporarily from leading the men’s basketball program for one year. As the winningest coach in program history, Coach Hughes has lead the men’s basketball program for the last 15 seasons and successfully guided many student athletes to the next level. Long-time assistant coach Aaron Chavez was hired in his place to be the interim head of basketball operations. We are excited for Aaron to lead the program and know he will bring about much success.

To read the release on Coach Hughes stepping down click here: http://gogades.com/sports/mbkb/2019-20/releases/20200730rznau4

To read the release on Coach Chavez being named the head of basketball operations click here: http://gogades.com/sports/mbkb/2019-20/releases/20200805izsxgf


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

Wrapping up July – a fun week

The last week in July is always a very special week for me…. the last hurrah before administrators start tuning back in to get ready to welcome our students back to another academic year. Spent the last week on the coast enjoying cooler temperatures and some quiet time. Here are a few photos for you.

Neo in the car heading to the coast. July 27, 2020
July 29, 2020

Good morning Bakersfield
It is Saturday, August 1, 2020…A great day to be a Renegade

Residential universities and COVID-19

On Tuesday, PBS Newshour correspondent Hari Sreenivasan took a deep look at how residential universities are managing the stay-at-home orders that are keeping thousands of students away from their campuses. According to the report, many students are struggling without a supportive community of peers, with a lack of a quiet study area, and with new family responsibilities at home as a result of others sheltering in place along with them. Sreenivasan also talks to Michelle Asha Cooper of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, who points out how the traditional residential experience is not accessible for many low-income and community college students who don’t get the kind of networking opportunities afforded to those within the residential system.

Honoring John Lewis

BC partnered with Danny Morrison to present a program on John Lewis, the late civil rights leader and US Congressman, and his legacy of “good trouble”. Steve Watkin gave the opening remarks for our hour-long celebration of John Lewis that live-streamed on social media on Wednesday via Danny Morison‘s facebook live. Danny gave a moving retrospective of how John Lewis influenced his own social justice work. Julian West read John Lewis’ speech from the March on Washington in 1963, and Traco Matthews read Lewis’ 2015 speech from the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. 

Several BC faculty and staff, including including Oliver Rosales, Keith Wolaridge, Allen Bolar and Paula Parks, gave historical context to John Lewis’ life. BC students Zariyah Hall, Sha’ron Bradley and Blake Burton also spoke about how John Lewis paved the way for other young activists to follow in his footsteps.

I’d like to thank all of the community leaders who contributed to the John Lewis presentation, including Michael Bowers and Cindy Pollard.

I’d also like to thank both of the amazing musical performers who bookended our presentation – Nina Grae, who performed “We Shall Overcome”, and former BC student Jaimi Banks, who closed out the presentation with “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.

Finally, I’d like to thank the entire Marketing and Public Relations team at BC, who put together an hour-long video in just two days.

You can view the full video on the Danny Morrison Media Facebook page.


Last week, I finished sharing the videos from our first day of #LightACandle Juneteenth programming. Today, I’m continuing with videos from June 17.

English Professor Paula Parks opened our program with this moving retelling of her family’s history:

Music Professor John Gerhold then performed his rendition of “Stand By Me”:

Please visit the Bakersfield College Juneteenth website for an archive of all the videos and programming, as well as testimonials and other resources as we continue this important work.

Nick Strobel featured on podcast

Nick Strobel, was featured this week on the Experiences You Should Have podcast.

He spoke about the Perseids Meteor Shower that runs from approx. mid-July through mid-August. This year, the meteor shower will peak on August 11 and 12. To view the shower, find a spot with a dark sky, where you can see the little dipper.

Hopefully we can all get a chance to unwind and spend some time enjoying the beauty of the night sky in the next few weeks.

Umoja Community orientation

Due to the number of applications, Umoja Community African-American Success Through Excellence and Persistence (ASTEP) held a pop-up unscheduled information session on Wednesday.

Paula Parks

Umoja Coordinator Dr. Paula L. Parks discussed the philosophy of and benefits of the program, which is designed for motivated African-American students. Students are part of a supportive network that includes faculty, staff, and mentors. That encouragement will be even more important in a fully virtual environment.

Students who joined were excited about the prospect of being involved. “It’s a good program for me, especially since I’m just starting at BC,” said Donavan.

Available Umoja courses with African-American culture woven throughout include English 1a/Library taught by Dr. Parks and Faith Bradham, Small Group Communication taught by Mychael Phillips, and Statistics taught by Michael Little.

Students will also have the opportunity to participate in special activities that celebrate their culture and give them tools to persist.

“I like how it has a lot of support, and I like the unity,” said Ebony.

Next scheduled information session is Aug. 5 at 11 a.m. Students who apply at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/student/aai/umoja will receive the Zoom link to participate in the info session where they learn about Umoja and enroll in classes.

Former BC Choir Director honored

Selfie Sonya Christian and Joe Huszti Dec 4, 2015

Joe Huszti, former BC Choir Director, was just awarded the Howard Swan Award for Lifetime Achievement by the California Choral Directors’ Association. 

Big honor in the choral directing field!!

Please enjoy this video that Joe’s wife, Melinda, shared from the virtual ceremony:

More information on Joe can be found in the Archives Newsletter of Spring 2015, which tells of when the BC Choir under his direction won the choral music award at the Eisteddfod Music Festival in Wales in 1965.

I previously wrote about the BC Choir from 1965 reuniting 50 years after their historic victory. I invite you to take a look – there are some wonderful photos that choir members shared from their trip to Europe.

Congratulations on a well-deserved honor, Joe!

Thank you to Jerry Ludeke for tracking down this story from Joe and the BC Choir in our Bakersfield College Archive Newsletter.

Jerry Ludeke

BC, Wonderful Company partner for summer camp

This July, 72 middle school students from Delano, Wasco and Lost Hills were given the opportunity to join a two-week summer camp hosted in a partnership between Bakersfield College and The Wonderful Company. This was the first time this camp was held virtually, and focused on careers in agriculture.

During the first week the students participated in a class called Product Development, Marketing and Leadership taught by Bakersfield College faculty members Heather Baltis and James Selgrath. In this class, students created a new product along with all the branding needed to bring this product to market, including logos, slogans and a sales strategy focused on their product. Students learned the leadership qualities needed to successfully market a new product.

The second week students joined a class entitled Engineering and Careers in Agriculture taught by Bakersfield College faculty Travis Steele and counselor Jesus Oropeza.

During this week students learned about the field of engineering and robotics. These students constructed a robotic arm, given as a kit of basic parts that they were required to fully assemble, involving everything from placing gears in the gear box to wiring a motor to a computer chip.

After completing their robots, students created their own robotic challenges. These ranged from sorting fruit loops by color to balancing markers on end. The culminating project saw students compete head-to-head in a race to place paper balls into an empty water bottle.

All of these students will have the opportunity to enroll in Early College pathways in their 9th grade year at Wasco High School or Wonderful College Prep Academy.

Big thank you to the Rural Initiatives team who coordinated this camp, including Alma Feathers, Raquel Lopez, and Carolina Madrigal. And a big thank you as well as our innovative and amazing faculty Travis Steele, James Selgrath, Heather Baltis, and Jesse Oropeza.

Camp leads and mentors

Measure J Update

Even as we continue to shelter in place leading up to the start of the Fall 2020 semester, our construction projects funded by Kern County taxpayers via Measure J get closer and closer to completion. While the Campus Center is currently under construction, we are entering the final stages of designs for the Campus Center Annex, which will house administrative services.

Last week, we started construction on new signage around the campus and held a kick-off meeting for the design of the new parking and sports fields. Other projects in the design or planning phase include the combined gym fields house, the Welcome Center, the Agriculture Building, and the Delano Learning Resource Center.

New courses support online learning

This fall, Bakersfield College will be offering new courses that will support online learning – both for students and for teachers. EDUC B30: Introduction to Online Learning Environments and EDUC B31: Cultivating an Online Learning Community are new courses aimed at current and future teachers. EDUC B55: Bridge to Online Learning for Students is intended for students new to distance learning or who otherwise want gain skills for success in a online learning environment.

You can find out more about these offerings at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/news/2020/0728-now-offering-courses-to-support-online-learning-for-current/future-teachers-and. You can also check out the KGET piece about these classes.

I’m so proud of our BC faculty for quickly finding ways to provide these needed courses as online learning becomes more essential during this time of COVID-19.


Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh shared a message for our graduates:

Congressman Kevin McCarthy also offered his congratulations:

And please enjoy Part 3 of our graduate recognition:

All the videos from our 106th Commencement Televised Event are available on our 2020 Commencement Ceremony website.

Closing Week

Before we began on Tuesday, we were treated to a photo presentation looking back at the past year at Bakersfield College:

And these photos during our Tuesday stretch break:

Also on Tuesday, I presented the Nursing Department with a Presidential Leadership Award for their hard work in getting our students prepared to fight on the front lines against COVID-19.

And on Wednesday, Todd Coston provided our closing remarks:

All the videos from our closing week celebration can be found on the Closing Week web page.

Early College Celebration

Today, I’m sharing the final two graduate recognition videos from our Early College Celebration.

The second part of our graduates from Wonderful Company Prep Academy:

And the second part from Wasco High School:

Find out more about our Early College Program at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/earlycollege.

Corny & Sandi Retirement

During the Virtual Retirement Celebration for Corny Rodriguez and Sandi Taylor, we shared the videos from when they received President’s Lifetime Achievement Awards during our Closing Week celebration.

Corny Rodriguez:

Sandi Taylor:

Outgoing BCSGA President Samantha Pulido also shared this video announcing a new scholarship in their honor – the BCSGA Taylor Rodriguez Student Leadership for Equity Scholarship.

And finally, the Executive Office shared a farewell message:

Thank you again for your years of service, Corny and Sandi, and best of luck in all your future endeavors.

Spotted on Social Media

Great video by Dr. Jen Garrett about our Applied Music Program. Check it out.

Found this great visual representation on how distance and masks can keep us safe during from COVID-19. Lori Carter shared this on her Facebook page:

I love seeing the virtual transfer celebration continuing on the BC Twitter:

Mayra Diaz
Sociology and Spanish Major
CSU Bakersfield
Zach Hartsfield
Eastern Michigan University

The BCSGA Instagram shared this archive photo from the 1980s. You can see the front of the original CSS building and Fireside building as students walk around campus.

BC Nursing shared this photo of the 105th RN Graduating class from this spring:

BC Librarian Mindy Wilmot is preparing for this fall’s courses:


#NationalSoccerDay 2020

This last Tuesday – July 28, 2020 – was #NationalSoccerDay. While observing this social media holiday this year, we are proud of our men’s and women’s Renegade soccer teams and also very eager for them to return to action. This coming fall season of athletic competition has been postponed to the spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to the time when we’ll be able to cheer on our Renegades once more!


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

Let’s keep our community healthy! Wear masks. Do physical distancing. Regularly wash our hands.

BC Family – Let’s be role models for our students and community.
Wear masks. Do physical distancing. Regularly wash our hands.
These are tough times that call for tough measures.

Path to Zero Dashboard: In early July, I started using the Path to Zero dashboard from the Harvard Global Health Institute that tracks the county-by-county risk level by number of daily new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in the last seven days. When I checked the numbers today, I was disheartened to see that Kern County is the highest in this index at 83.3 cases per 100,000.  This is more than three times higher than the state’s average of 23.8 cases per 100,000.

The Harvard Global Health Institute uses a color-coded system to indicate risk level. Green is 0.0 cases per 100,000; yellow is between 0.1 and 10 per 100,000; orange is 10.1 to 25 per 100,000; and red is anything higher than 25 cases per 100,000.

Kern County is over three times the limit for a RED designation!

The graphic below gives a color-coded picture of California’s COVID-19 threat level on a county-by-county basis.

The following table demonstrates the rates of daily new cases per 100,000 for each county in the “red” category. Kern County tops the list and has 15 more daily new cases per 100,000 than the next highest county on the list.

CountyDaily New Cases Per 100K
San Joaquin40.2
San Bernardino30.9
Los Angeles27.6
Santa Barbara25.9

The Exec Team at BC is asking that we all take this seriously….spread the word on safe and healthy practices during this pandemic. Plz share this video with colleagues, friends, and family members.

Good morning Bakersfield
It is Saturday, June 25, 2020…A great day to be a Renegade

Yesterday, I received these photos of the progress on the construction at our BC Southwest site. As you can see, the campus is coming along nicely!

BC expands Early College program with KHSD

Kern High School District and Bakersfield College have partnered to expand BC’s Early College program by offering four new pathways for KHSD students.

KHSD students can now work toward earning a college degree in Industrial Automation, Public Health, Administration of Justice, or Psychology, as they simultaneously complete their high school coursework.

You can read Ema Sasic’s article about this partnership here.

Since we are talking Early College let me drop a few of the video that from the Early College celebration in June.

Remarks from KCCD Trustee Romeo Agbalog:

Remarks from Abel Guzman, Executive Director of our Delano Campus and Rural Initiatives:

And the second of four videos recognizing our graduates. This one is from Wonderful Company Prep Academy:

Bakersfield College Launches Contact Tracing Course to Train “Coronavirus Detectives”

Bakersfield College announced the launch of a week-long infectious disease Contact Tracing Course running from July 27, 2020 to July 31, 2020.  As the need for more contact tracers ramps up, This one-week course will allow individuals to gain the skills needed to provide contract tracing for employers and the community.  

You can find out more on the Bakersfield College website.

Fire Department conducts training at BC

This week, Bakersfield Fire Captain Chris Campbell  and several fire fighters from Station #8, conducted Rescue Systems training at the Bakersfield College P7 parking lot.

According to Captain Campbell, the training is designed to teach firefighters the proper techniques for rescuing victims from areas of steep terrain, such as the Panorama bluffs. Participants in the training included a number of probationary “rookie” fighters.

Executive Director of College Safety Shelly Castaneda and Chris Glaser were on hand to greet Captain Campbell and his crew, and observe some of the training. This is just one of the examples of the cooperative working relationships that Bakersfield College maintains with our community partners.

Shelly Castaneda takes photos of the training session

Commencement 2020

Here are a few more videos from our 2020 Commencement broadcast event from July 11.

Remarks from KCCD Chancellor Tom Burke:

Remarks from BCSGA President Samantha Pulido:

Graduate Recognition, Part II:

You can find more videos and photos on our 2020 Commencement website.

3 Community Voices pieces in The Bakersfield Californian

I wanted to share a piece from Jack Hernandez published this week in the Bakersfield Californian.

“Most of all, let us treasure our families and friends. Talk more with them, and as the pandemic eases, spend more time laughing and listening to their deepest voices. Sharing our stories, fears and hopes, weeping and laughing. Sharing our souls.”



And then today, here is a piece by Nick Strobel about how we consume information via social media which could be one of the causes for the polarization that is deepening in our society. Strobel brings in Harari’s framewok of large scale cooperation among Homo sapiens as a standout feature that contributes to the power of the species.

Instead of creating a more connected world, social media has enabled us to gerrymander our social interactions so effectively that unfamiliar experiences and ideas that would challenge our beliefs or intuitions are excluded from our lives. The different sides of an issue rightly claim that people on the other side are living in an echo chamber, acting like “sheep,” but they don’t acknowledge that they themselves behave in the same way. With all the choices we have now, we can construct whatever reality that suits our tastes and technology has enabled us to build electronic communities of individuals from anywhere on the planet and exclude all others.


Also this week, Vladimir Romilus, one of our international students, wrote a piece for the Bakersfield Californian about the importance of international students to our campus community.

Vladimir, who is from Haiti, is studying architecture and architectural drafting.

“International students are important because the knowledge and perspective we bring will shape the future of America. This country is a place where people from around the world come together to build new things, and international students bring a motivated, entrepreneurial spirit that strengthens the American economy.”


CSSO statement on international students

Less than 24 hours before ICE rescinded the F1 Visa decision, the Chief Student Services Officers Association of the California Community Colleges (CSSO) released a statement in support of international students and the F1 visa program.

Dr. Zav Dadabhoy

“[International students] contribute to America’s scientific and technical research and bring international perspectives into US classrooms. We must be more resolved than ever to open our doors wider and embrace the global knowledge our international student community has to offer.”

CSSO represents all student services professionals in California’s 113 community colleges, and their current President is BC’s own Dr. Zav Dadabhoy.

Comet Neowise makes closest pass to Earth

You may have been lucky enough to spot the Comet Neowise in the Bakersfield sky recently. It made its closest pass to earth on July 23.

“Comet NEOWISE is now moving to high above the orbit planes of the planets, getting closest to Earth on July 23 at a distance of about 64 million miles. When the comet was coming into the inner solar system, the elliptical orbit was shaped to have a period of about 4,500 years (so this is a once-in-a-civilization visit).”

You can read more on the Bakersfield Californian’s website, and you can read an archive of all Nick’s Bakersfield Night Sky articles on the Bakersfield College website.

Corny & Sandi Retirement Celebration

Last week, I shared two videos of testimonials from colleagues of Corny Rodriguez and Sandi Taylor, as part of heir retirement celebration.

This week, I am sharing Part 2 of their testimonials.

Corny Rodriguez:

Sandi Taylor:

Portraits in Their Own Words: National Endowment for the Arts Grants BC $10,000

The National Endowment for the Arts has granted Bakersfield College an award of $10,000 for its project entitled Portraits in Their Own Words. This is in addition to the $5,000 grant previously awarded for the project from California Humanities. 

The grant is part of the Arts Engagement in American Communities program which supports arts projects in all artistic disciplines, extending the National Endowment for the Arts’ reach to communities across the United States. These grants engage the public in diverse and excellent art, in geographic areas underrepresented in national arts funding.

Portraits in Their Own Words will entail the creation of an art exhibit and digital archive featuring autobiographical narratives and portraits of Bakersfield College students who have been previously incarcerated. The goal is to lift their voices and experiences through the written word and visual art in order to encourage conversations about imprisonment and the stigmas associated with it. 

Professors Andrew Bond (English), Kristopher Stallworth (Art), and Shawn Taro Newsom (History) are directing Portraits in Their Own Words and  plan to use the additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to expand the project’s reach and offer more opportunities for students and faculty to participate. More information is available on the Bakersfield College Social Justice Institute website.

To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit: www.arts.gov

#LightACandle: A Juneteenth conversation

Today, I am wrapping up our videos from our June 15 program. I will continue to share videos from programming on other days, so please check back next week.

Remarks from BC Student April Whitfield:

Remarks from community member Bernita Jenkins:

A message from Pastor Robin:

A message from Traco Matthews, Adjunct Professor and social pastor

Please visit the Bakersfield College Juneteenth website for more videos, testimonials, and other resources. And please, continue the conversation and remember to #LightACandle.

Crazy Hair Day with the Child Development Center

Dean of Instruction Jessica Wojtysiak shared this photo from the Child Development Center‘s Sand Dollars virtual classroom.

The Sand Dollars classroom occurs entirely through zoom. Here, some of the students are engaging with their teachers for “Crazy Hair Day.”

It’s great to see our CDC teachers continuing to find ways to connect with their students, even at a distance.

Spotted on Social Media:
Wear A Mask Edition

I was thrilled to see our BC sharing their safe mask wearing practices on social media this week.

Kalina Hill, program manager for our testing and placement center, stays safe with her family:

Endee Grijalva, Adult Education Program Manager, wore her mask while checking out a new homeless shelter as part of her work with Project HireUp.

Matt Jones from our Academic Technology

Bill Moseley — Dean Academic technology

I also enjoyed this post from Prof. Gloria Dumler in our English Department reminding us all what not to do:

Love this Facebook video on our BC Choirr.

BC Choir

Closing Week

On Monday, we took a stretch break and enjoyed photos from the year:

On Tuesday, we enjoyed a tribute to our Nursing Students:

On Wednesday, Todd Coston treated us to another humorous welcome:

On Thursday, I shared a message for our faculty to thank them for their hard work during an unprecedented semester:

You can view all of our videos from Closing Week on the Closing Week website.


Jim Ryun Awarded Medal Of Freedom

Jim Ryun, who set a world record in the mile (as a high schooler) at 3:51.1 in our very own Memorial Stadium on June on 23, 1967 (53 years ago!), was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor on Friday when he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House by President Trump.

Originally from Kansas, Ryun made world news with his record in the mile that day in 1967 and then went on to represent the U.S.A. in three Olympic Games. He would then go on to a career in the U.S. House of Representative in Washington, D.C.

In 2017 we had a special ceremony at Memorial Stadium to honor the 50th anniversary of Jim’s phenomenal world record. We are thrilled to see Jim awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and remain proud of what he accomplished on that summer evening in 1967 on our beautiful campus.

To read the official White House release, click here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-award-medal-freedom-072120/

You can also read the Bakersfield.com story here, or the story from The Hill here.

You can also watch the story from our 50th anniversary celebration of Jim’s world record: 

I was honored to meet Jim when he visited Bakersfield College back in 2018 for the State Track meet. I wrote about that visit in two blog posts: here and here.

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

BC faculty & staff always engaged in “good trouble”

Ten days before he passed, John Lewis posted on twitter.

And two years ago on June 27, 2018 he posted

Good morning Bakersfield
It is Saturday, July 18, 2020 (Nelson Mandela’s birthday) … and a great day to be a Renegade

Spent this past week at my daughter’s place in Marina del Rey. Neo and Bessie were ecstatic to see each other and enjoy the southern cal beach together.

Bessie and Neo in marina Del Rey July 13 2020

Here is another great poem by Jack Hernandez:

In its green nest
the gardenia blooms
pure white
sweet scent
stunning the air,
not seeking applause
for its beauty,
content with beaming in the sun.

Remembering John Lewis

I was deeply saddened last night to hear of the passing of civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis.

He was a great man whose contributions to this nation cannot be overstated. It has been especially poignant to recall his story, including how images of his beating at the Selma to Montgomery “Bloody Sunday” march, in light of recent events and subsequent protests.

John Lewis is beaten following the “Bloody Sunday” Selma march in 1965.

I hope that each and every one of us can call upon his memory and courage as we navigate the uncertain times ahead. President Barack Obama awarded Lewis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and said:

There’s a quote inscribed over a doorway in Nashville, where students first refused to leave lunch counters 51 years ago this February. And the quote said, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” It’s a question John Lewis has been asking his entire life. It’s what led him back to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma after he had already been beaten within an inch of his life days before. It’s why, time and again, he faced down death so that all of us could share equally in the joys of life. It’s why all these years later, he is known as the Conscience of the United States Congress, still speaking his mind on issues of justice and equality. And generations from now, when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind — an American who knew that change could not wait for some other person or some other time; whose life is a lesson in the fierce urgency of now.

And on the topic of courage – as I think about John Lewis’ legacy, I can’t help but go back to the #RealTalk conversation with Reggie Bolton and Danny Morrison about Dr. Martin Luther King during our #LightACandle program:

“You gotta have the courage to do what’s right when it’s not popular.”

You can see an archive of all our #LightACandle programming in partnership with Danny Morrison on our Juneteenth website.

#RealTalk on Race in America

Good Trouble. Necessary Trouble

On Tuesday, June 30, Bakersfield College and Danny Morrison Media again teamed up to host a #RealTalk on Race in America with a multicultural panel of Generation Z students. 

I am always filled with pride when I see our student journalist’s work in the Renegade Rip and especially enjoyed reading Editor-in-Chief Haley Duval’s coverage of this talk. 

It’s a must-read: https://www.therip.com/news/2020/07/05/generation-zs-perspectives-on-racism-with-danny-morrison/

Haley caught a great quote from panelist Amy Melton who is a BC agriculture student:  “White privilege does not mean they haven’t gone through anything bad. It means that they have more opportunities because of the color of their skin.” 

You can view the full stream on Danny Morrison Media’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=579893912729216

International Students Update

In my last post, I shared about the importance of international students and immigrants not only to our college community, but to our community beyond as well.

I was so pleased to learn about the decision to rescind the policy that would have prevented international students from staying in the US as their studies turn to online.

Our international students have always been and will always be an integral part of our Bakersfield College family. I am glad that our leaders are recognizing the key role the F1 Student Visa program plays in our education system and allow these students to remain in this country as they safely continue their studies.

You can read more about the decision here: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/07/14/891125619/ice-agrees-to-rescind-policy-barring-foreign-students-from-online-study-in-the-u

Women’s Caucus

Good Trouble. Necessary Trouble.

Last week, I participated in the first ever California Community College Women’s Caucus.

This effort was organized by Linda Wah, Trustee from Pasadena City College, and Daisy Gonzales, Deputy Chancellor for the CA Community Colleges.

I look forward to sharing our progress and updates with all of you.

Commencement 2020

Last Saturday, we celebrated our fantastic Class of 2020 with a special televised event that was broadcast on KGET and Telemundo, as well as a Facebook livestream. I hope you all tuned in to share in the accomplishments of these graduates who overcame great adversity in their final semester at Bakersfield College.

We began with a video of Professor John Gerhold performing the National Anthem. This was from the 2019 graduation that we included in the televised 2020 commencement. We had to follow our tradition!

Here are my opening remarks from this year’s event:

Due to the nature of the broadcast, we grouped graduates into sections.

Here is the Part 1 of our graduates – please check my blog in the coming weeks to see the rest:

Early College Celebration

Last week, we also celebrated our Early College graduates. Students from Wonderful College Prep Academy and Wasco High School earned not only their high school diplomas, but an Associates degree at Bakersfield College as well.

Here are my opening remarks from that celebration on July 7:

And remarks from Senator Emeritus Jean Fuller. Senator Fuller’s support has been instrumental in the success of our early college program. Thank you Jean!

We honored these graduates in 4 sections; 2 from each school.

Here is the first set of graduates from Wasco High School – I will share the other sections in the coming weeks:

You can view all the videos from the Commencement Televised Event and our Early College Celebration on our 2020 Commencement website.

Celebration of Nelson Mandela and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Last Tuesday, July 14th, Krista Moreland, professor of Anthropology, hosted a virtual talk honoring the birthdays of two of the world’s great leaders and peacemakers: Nelson Mandela and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

This program, livestreamed on Facebook, had two speakers, Paballo Lengane, a University post-graduate student in Pretoria, South Africa; and Minyak Rinpoche, a Buddhist monk, currently at the Tashi Gomang Dharma Center in Kentucky. The presentations were inspiring and insightful, highlighting the importance of compassion, kindness, reconciliation and peaceful protests to enact positive change.

Read the full story on our website at the Celebration of Nelson Mandela and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama… and catch the Facebook Recording on the BC SGA’s Facebook.

Micro-credentialism podcast

Dean of Academic Technology Bill Moseley was featured in a podcast last week.

“Micro-credentialism: Bite-sized stories from the world of digital credentials” explores the digital badging landscape and celebrates individuals that create opportunities for achievement for their communities.

Closing Week Videos

I am still working through sharing all of our closing week videos with you all. Today, I am sharing one video from each of our four days of programming:

On Monday, Todd Coston wrapped up our day with a short message:

On Tuesday, Carlos Barbaran received a Presidential Leadership Award:

On Wednesday, VP of Instruction Billie Jo Rice shared the faculty that have reached tenure this year:

And we started Thursday’s program with another set of Year in Review photos:

As always, you can view all the videos from Closing Week at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/president/events/closing-week-2020.

And you can review previous opening/closing day celebrations on the President’s Events website.

Spotted on Social Media

Performing Arts Department Chair Jennifer Garrett shared this post about networking with her fellow Kern County choral directors:

Today I was able to look into the faces of so many incredible colleagues from middle school, high school and college choral directors in Kern County. We gathered via zoom to welcome new colleagues, talk with Dr Jessica Napoles from UNT about the ACDA response document, and start helping each other plan for the future. I know we are all desperately trying to figure out how to help our students experience music in the Fall and it is so wonderful to know we have each other and many more. Thank you everyone for gathering today. Can’t wait until next Friday to do it again! #KernCountyChoralThrives

I spotted some Renegade representation on the California Community Colleges Twitter:

Astronomy professor Nick Strobel shared these photos of comet NEOWISE C/2020 F3 (check out his update in the Bakersfield Night Sky column):

I also wanted to share this great message from our Renegade Athletics Twitter:

Corny & Sandi Retirement videos

At our retirement celebration for Dean of Instruction Corny Rodriguez and Athletic Director Sandi Taylor, we enjoyed video testimonials from their friends and colleagues. Today, I’d like to share two of those videos.

Corny Rodriguez Testimonials Part 1:

Sandi Taylor Testimonials Part 1:

You can see all the videos from their retirement celebration at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/president/events (click on Staff/Faculty events).


Vince Damelio Moving on to Dean College

Vince Damelio from Renegade Men’s Basketball announced this week that he is headed to play basketball and continue his academic career at Dean College located in Franklin, MA. Damelio, a product of Primero HS in Weston, CO, played just the 2019-20 season at BC for Head Coach Rich Hughes. He finished the year having played in all 28 games with an average of 6.4 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game and 2.4 assists/game. Good luck to Vince and Go Gades!

CCCAA Board of Directors announces implementation of Contingency Plan for return to sports in 2020-21

The California Community College Athletics Association (CCCAA) Board of Directors overwhelmingly approved implementation of its Contingency Plan this last week, providing a return to intercollegiate athletics for the 2020-21 academic year that shifts all sports, including football, to the spring season. The Contingency Plan was among three potential scenarios approved by the Board in early June.

Each plan was wholly dependent on which phase of reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic the state of California was in on the CCCAA’s previously announced July 17 decision date. The return to athletics in January will only occur if it is safe to do so, a decision that will be guided primarily by state and local health guidelines. The Contingency Plan can be viewed here. The full release can be viewed here.

Renegades, let’s continue to transform lives by never shying away from good trouble…. necessary trouble.

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

BC faculty & Staff — peacemakers, healers, restorers

The eastern sky, friday morning, was unusually soft given that it was bringing in a scorching hot day of triple digit temperatures. Here is a photo gallery from 5:00 a.m. friday morning to 5:40 a.m.

Softness is what I seem to be seeking these days in every context of my life. So, I enjoyed getting this Dalai Lama quote in a text from a colleague. Yes, we need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers.

Good morning Bakersfield
It is Saturday, July 11, 2020 … a great day to be a Renegade

I finally watched the musical Hamilton on Disney Plus yesterday. Whoa! Lin-Manuel Miranda… what a genius! I read Ron Chernow’s Hamilton in preparation to watch the show on stage. Then COVID happened and what a delight it was to be able to watch the original cast with Miranda himself playing Hamilton. Check out this one-minute youtube clip from Hamilton with Aaron Burr performing Room Where it Happens.

A Message About International Students

As someone who came to the United States as an international student, I wanted to take a moment and talk about how important the F1 Student Visa program is for our country’s economic strength and the holistic wellbeing of our world.

The United States is home to some of the best institutions of higher learning, and thousands of people come here every year to take part in groundbreaking research and engage with a diverse range of perspectives. International students are some of our country’s most successful entrepreneurs. Approximately 25 percent of the 91 start-up companies worth more than $1 billion had a founder who came to America as an international student, and international students contribute $41 billion to the economy every year.

Important political leaders from around the world came here to study. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, two former UN secretaries-general, and many world leaders have studied at our universities. This is the best way to build global understanding and fellowship and also to inspire communities around the world on the value of democracy and a free society.

Within the next few weeks, I hope that we can find some common ground to keep our international students in the US while safely preventing the spread of COVID-19.

This issue has really gotten to me so much it has put me in the space of the Hamilton inspired phrase #ImmigrantsWegettheJobDone.

Check out Lin-Manuel Miranda at the White House in 2009 (yes, several years prior to the play premiering off-Broadway) while he was working on the lyrics and music for Hamilton based on Ron Chernow’s book. A key line for me was “Another immigrant coming up from the bottom.” Check it out.

Commencement & Paint the Town Red

Marketing Director Norma Rojas delivers BC swag to help Paint the Town Red

Our 106th Commencement will be broadcast tonight, July 11, at 6 p.m. on KGET Channel 17, or at 7 p.m. on Telemundo Valle Central Channel 13 (with antennae, 17.3). This event will also be live-streamed on social media as well.

I look forward to sharing snippets from this broadcast with you in future blog posts – our team has done a phenomenal job putting together a great show to celebrate our amazing graduates! Thank you Norma Rojas-Mora for leading this work along with Nicky Damania.

This week, we celebrated our Early College graduates from Wasco High School and the Wonderful College Prep Academy. I will be sharing videos from that celebration starting in next week’s blog as well.

Also this week we were very busy delivering yard signs and flags to Paint the Town Red in support of our graduating class of 2020.

On Memorial Hospital Facebook: The sun is shining on the graduating class of 2020! ☀️ We’re excited to congratulate this year’s Bakersfield College graduates! We wish you the best and know your futures will be bright!

Ken Keller, Robin Mangarin-Scott

And here is Adventist Health celebrating the class of 2020

Community Voices

Outgoing BCSGA President Samantha Pullido wrote a piece in the Bakersfield Californian about why Bakersfield College is the best college.

“I want to thank each and every person from BC — from the department assistant who answered all my questions, to each faculty member, each counselor and all the individuals who made sure I was set up for success and on the path to achieving my goals. While I am going to miss my BC family, I know I have been equipped with the skills and educational foundation I will need to succeed on the next step in my journey. Why? Because BC is the best college.”

Thank you for your kind words, Samantha. And I want to wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors at Cal State Berkeley – I look forward to seeing what amazing things you will do during your time there and beyond.


This week, I am sharing three videos from strong women that were part of our June 15 program.

Jennifer Achan, BC Financial Aid Director:

Kimberly Mallory, Medical Administrator:

And this video of Maya Angelou‘s poem “Still I Rise.” Thank you, Valerie Urso, for your work in putting together this wonderful video:

Please visit our Juneteenth website for all the videos from each day of programming, as well as additional information and resources, and testimonials from Bakersfield community members and BC faculty, staff and administration.

Celebrating Corny & Sandi

I wanted to share a few more videos from our retirement celebration for Corny Rodriguez and Sandi Taylor.

Here is my introduction from the event:

And photo roll for Corny Rodriguez:

Photo roll for Sandi Taylor

You can see all the videos from this celebration on the President’s Events website. (Click on “Staff and Faculty Events.”)

Express Enrollment

The Office of Outreach helped approximately 300 students with registering in classes at BC during our express enrollment event on Wednesday. Thank you to Ashlea Ward for helping organize the event, the Marketing team for helping promote the express enrollment on social, and all of the counselors and ed advisors who got our students ready for classes in the fall.

Be Red Cross Ready

The Levan Institute’s series of lectures with the American Red Cross was a huge success this week. The American Red Cross spent three days teaching people in the community some survival essentials for COVID-19, earthquakes, wildfires and extreme heat.

The Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning provides essential courses for all members in the community to enrich their understanding of the world. The Levan Institute course offerings for Fall 2020 will be announced on Sunday, July 19th. For more information, visit the Levan Institute website.

Thank you to the Red Cross and Suzan Pinza of the Levan Institute for putting together these important workshops.

Measure J Update

This week, I was elated to find out that one of the interns working with AECOM on Measure J construction projects is a former BC student.

Bryson Zuspan, a senior at San Jose State studying civil engineering, will be one of two interns helping AECOM on the new Campus Center, Science and Engineering building and other renovation projects. Diana Johnson, a Vice President with AECOM, shared this message from Bryson:

“Before transferring to SJSU, I spent a great deal of time at Bakersfield College figuring the right path for my career. As luck would have it, I have the opportunity to work at AECOM and be a part of a project for my old community college. It feels great to give back to the institution that taught me so much and gave me the resources to become successful in university.”

Thank you to Bryson and AECOM for giving back to the Home of the Renegades!

I also wanted to share these photos that our Astronomy faculty Dr. Nick Strobel took of some of the construction on campus:

Renegade Student Experience

Ramon Carreido, a student worker in the BC Marketing Department, has launched a new podcast offering a student perspective on everything that’s going on at BC. For the first episode of the Renegade Student Experience, Ramon talked to his swim coach Matthew Moon about the swim team’s recruitment process and how they reacted to the season being shortened by COVID-19.

Thank you Ramon and Coach Moon for sitting down to have this conversation. I look forward to more conversations between Ramon and other BC faculty and staff in the future.

Fun Social Media

Our Director of Rural Initiatives and the Delano Center, Abel Guzman, had a nice July 4th holiday with his family:

Dean of Instruction Billie Jo Rice walked the Golden Gate Bridge with her mom. Good job, ladies!

Closing Week

On Monday of Closing Week, we looked back at all of our past Presidential Leadership Award winners:

On Tuesday, we heard from Academic Senate President Steven Holmes:

Also on Tuesday, we shared a message for our students from BC Faculty and Staff:


Please see our Closing Week website for all of the videos from this year’s celebration. You can also see videos from previous year’s closing and opening days on the President’s Events website.


Blake van Uden Headed to New Mexico Highlands University

Blake van Uden from Renegade Men’s Basketball announced this week that he is headed to play basketball and continue his academic career at New Mexico Highlands University located in Las Vegas, NM. Blake played the last two seasons for Coach Rich Hughes, coming all the way from New Zealand to become a Renegade. Blake’s father also played basketball at BC, making the van Uden’s a multi-generational Renegade family. We are excited for Blake and thank him for his contributions to Renegade basketball and our campus this last few years.

Keep Your Zoom Game Updated with New Backgrounds

Elevate your Zoom game on your next video conference call with these official Renegade themed backgrounds! You may also click here to save them to your desktop.

Click Here to learn how to use custom backgrounds on Zoom.

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