Tag Archives: Achieving the Dream

Making a Difference for our community & students



Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, April 24th. A good day to be a Renegade.

Feels great to be back home after being on the road for two weeks – Berkeley, Washington DC, San Diego.  Looking forward to my exercise class at 9:30 a.m. which I have missed for several weeks.  Besides my class in the morning, I plan on catching up on emails etc at home, two faculty interviews on skype and an event this evening.  Talking about faculty interviews, I am excited that BC will be hiring a total of 39 faculty to start in August 2016.  What an amazing opportunity.  It is indeed a good time to be at BC!

In my blog last week, I shared with you about the Guided Pathways work that a team from BC was doing in Washington DC.  You can find it at http://tinyurl.com/zq24br5

Sonya ASUGSV San Diego April 18 2016

Jubilant in San Diego after my presentation

Earlier this week, I was in San Diego presenting at the ASU GSV summit.  This was my very first non-education conference in a long time, and I learned a lot from the different sessions.  The conference focused on the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship and education.  I found myself walking the waterfront wrestling with the ideas presented at the conference.  Just wonderful.  Mostly what became clear to me is that Bakersfield College has the right ingredients to accomplish the goal for all students to have equal opportunities to advance their learning and engagement. Talented faculty and staff, who are hard working, passionate and dedicated to the students and the college.

The keynotes (excerpted from the conference website):

Bill Gates: He revolutionized global computing as we know it and is now a philanthropist investing in health globally and education in the United States.

Condoleezza Rice: Former Secretary of State and currently the Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business

Common:  Common is one of Hollywood’s most sought after leading men and is a world­-renowned lyricist, actor and entertainment icon.

Jim Collins: Legendary author of the book from “Good to Great”. An influential expert on leadership and how to build great, enduring businesses.

Anant Agarwal is the CEO of edX, an online learning destination founded by Harvard and MIT. Anant taught the first edX course on circuits and electronics from MIT, which drew 155,000 students from 162 countries. He has served as the director of CSAIL, MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT.

Rick Levin is the Chief Executive Officer of Coursera. In 2013, he completed a twenty-year term as President of Yale University, during which time he played an integral role in growing the University’s programs, resources and reputation internationally.

Sal khan: Salman Khan is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Khan Academy, a not-for-profit with the mission of providing a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Khan Academy is a learning platform which is comprised of instructional videos, practice exercises, dashboard analytics and teacher tools which empower learners in and outside of the classroom to study at their own pace.

Stanley McChrystal: Described by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as “perhaps the finest leader in combat” he has ever seen, four-star general (retired) Stanley McChrystal is the former commander of U.S. and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan and the former commander of the premier military counter-terrorism force, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

Michael M. Crow is an academic leader and educator, designer of knowledge enterprises, and science and technology policy scholar. He has been the sixteenth president of Arizona State University since July, 2002. He is guiding the transformation of ASU into one of the nation’s leading public metropolitan research universities, an institution that combines the highest levels of academic excellence, inclusiveness to a broad demographic, and maximum societal impact—a model he designed known as the “New American University.”

Ted Mitchell is the Undersecretary of Education. He has served in this post since his confirmation by the U.S. Senate on May 8, 2014, following his nomination by President Barack Obama on Oct. 31, 2013. Mitchell reports to Acting Secretary of Education John King and oversees policies, programs, and activities related to postsecondary education, adult, career and technical education, federal student aid, five White House Initiatives — Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Educational Excellence for Hispanics, Educational Excellence for African Americans, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and American Indian and Alaska Native Education— and the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Team Bror Susan Jim Sonya April 18 2016I was part of a panel (Jim Shelton-President of 2U; Susan Cates-COO of 2U; Bror Saxberg-Chief Learning Officer of Kaplan) that presented on the Value of Higher Edcuation: Outcomes that Matter.  Here is the program blurb.

Free higher education via MOOCs or government programs are dominating higher education conversations. Meanwhile, emerging transparency and accountability regimes and the rapidly evolving expectations of students, faculty, institutions and employers are forcing post secondary institutions to demonstrate and in cases defend their value. How will the value of education be measured? How will providers prove their worth and to whom? If it is still the responsibility of universities to deliver the fundamentals that enable students to succeed and society to advance, which outcomes matter most?

I had the opportunity to brag about our faculty, staff and administrators at BC.  An easy task since there is so much that is being accomplished across the 153-acre stretch of the campus on Panorama Drive as well as at our Delano Campus, locations at the Weill downtown, Fresno Pacific in the southwest, at Arvin High as well as across our online course and program offerings.  There are so many accomplishments by our approximately 26,000 students and approximately 1000 employees.  Did I already tell you that it is a good time to be at BC?

Remembering Caren Floyd

Caren Floyd March 2015.png

Caren Floyd on Bakersfield College Equity TV

Bakersfield College lost a truly inspirational alum on April 2nd when Caren Floyd died of Ovarian Cancer at 71.

But she packed a lot of life into her years, and made the most of her time on Earth.

On the April 4 episode of “Success and Equity on BCTV”, host Francis Mayer remembered Floyd’s visit to the show a little over a year ago, and shared memories of Caren with guest Karen Goh.

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Karen Goh on Bakersfield College Success and Equity TV

In 1980, Caren was working as an attendance clerk at Highland High School, when she decided to pursue a teaching career. But first she met with a guidance counselor at BC who was stunned by the transferable credits she’d piled up while raising her family.

She was quick to praise the mentors and folks who invested energy in her, like the guidance counselor at BC who urged her to transfer to CSUB, and Dr. Carl Miller who guided her through to the next level and wouldn’t give up until she got her Doctorate of Philosophy in Education from Claremont McKenna!

Floyd started her educational journey at BC in 1967, and got her P.h.D in 1995. She did it one class per semester for many years, and important to her success, she allowed others to help her along the way.

Karen Goh pointed out that Floyd was honored more than once for giving back to the community that educated and invested in her, and that those investments we make in others are what change lives and improve our society.

Goh worked with community-based non-profit Garden Pathways before being appointed to serve as Fifth District Supervisor by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. After completing that term of service, she returned to Garden Pathways where she currently serves as President and CEO.  Karen Goh is a great friend of education and Bakersfield College.

You can watch our EquityTV segments online. Karen Goh’s segment is at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-jNggke2Ek, and Caren Floyd’s is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3adYlajKkmA.

Financial Empowerment

This week, Achieving the Dream and Bakersfield College announced that BC will receive $25,000 over a two-year period to expand and strengthen financial empowerment activities designed to strengthen students’ money management skills and knowledge. Bakersfield College is one of the five community colleges in the ATD network that are receiving grants to expand student financial empowerment efforts.

Thank you so much to Jennifer Achan, Connie Garza, Claudio Felix, and the rest of our amazing Financial Aid team for bringing this fabulous opportunity to our students!


Connie Garza, Claudio Felix, Jennifer Achan


Alpha Phi Alpha Black honors Paula Parks


BC Colleagues supporting Paula Parks

Earlier this month, BC English Professor Paula Parks was honored at the Alpha Phi Alpha Black and Gold Scholarship Banquet. She received the fraternity’s Community Service Award in part for her work with ASTEP (African-American Success Through Excellence and Persistence).

ASTEP is a program that integrates academics, support services and African-American culture. The program aims to develop students into leaders and role models in their college and larger community.

Kate Harvey Josie Sonya Jackie April 2016.jpg

Kate Pluta, Harvey Warren, Josie Triplett, Sonya Christian, Jackie Fisher

Many from BC turned out to support Paula as she received her award. It was a pleasure to see retired colleagues Harvey Warren (Counseling), Jackie Fisher (BC Fire Tech & Dean and AVC President), and Josie Triplett (Child Development).  Harvey Warren was on the hiring committee in 1991 that hired me as a math faculty right out of graduate school.  What a memory.  I love BC!

For more on ASTEP at Bakersfield College, check out https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/student/astep.


Dream Builders

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Mickie Hay and the 2016 Dream Builders

On April 7th I was invited by Chad Manning to be one of the judges at the Dream Builder’s program by the Ford Foundation.  What a treat!  Everything about the program is inspiring — the quality of the students, the program design by Mickie Hay, the efficiency with with the event on April 7th was conducted….all top notch.  In the end there was a surprise check of $32,000 presented, $1000 going to every student in this year-long program.  Jennifer Marden, one of my colleagues at Bakersfield College, told me that her son Connor was was in the program last year said that it was the best thing that happened to him. Mickie Hay, you totally rock!

Enjoyed hanging out with the judges for the program — Bryon Schaefer, Superintendent of Kern High; Kevin Charette of KGET, and Chris Frazier, Superintendent of KCSOS. I learned that Kevin is the co-founder of the “Thumbs-Up, Cancer-Down” non-profit that was established in 2014.  Pretty cool.


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Judges–Bryon Schaefer, Sonya Christian, Kevin Charette, Chris Frazier

Check out these two pieces in The Bakersfield Californian about the Dream Builders Program and about Mickie Hay:

Dream Builders…Building a better Bakersfield. Nov 27, 2013: http://tinyurl.com/j4dwkgl

Bakersfield’s behind-the-scenes Dream Builder. May 31, 2014: http://tinyurl.com/zbfz4m5

John Boydstun at Kern Kiwanis April 7 2016

with John Boydstun

Kern Kiwanis Club and the Boydstuns:

Earlier that afternoon on April 7th, I spoke to the Kern Kiwanis Club about What’s New at BC.  I really enjoyed the camaraderie in the club and was thrilled to connect with the Boydstuns — Jay, Midge and John.  Here I am with John Boydstun one of the biggest supporters of BC.

Check out the blog on December 19, 2015 that includes all the three Boydstuns. You are…BC! We are…BC!  http://tinyurl.com/hozrypd

Nursing students and BoyScouts

I wanted to share a photo that Jay Rosenlieb sent me this week. Our BC students joined the Boy Scouts to support Hoffmann Hospice at their Voices of Inspiration event held on April 20 at Rabobank Civic Center. Voice of Inspiration is an annual event to raise awareness about hospice services, and to raise funds for Hoffman’s patients & programs.

It’s so wonderful when we are able to go out and give support back to the community. Hopefully many of these Boy Scouts will be Renegades someday!

Boy Scots and Nursing April 2016 cropped

Student Success and ATD: Post #4

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Corny Rodriguez, Pam Boyles, Sonya Christian, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Pat Serpa

Achieving the Dream (ATD) post #4


Vicky Coffee

From Vicki Coffee:

Looking through the lenses of Achieving the Dream.

I was watching the Tour De France race and to the average eye, it looked as if all things were equal.  Every athlete had access to the race, a bicycle, and an opportunity to be successful.  The rider’s determination would decide who wins or finishes.  The truth is, every aspect of the race is calculated, based on data, to increase the chances of victory.

Instantly, I thought of the valuable training received at the Achieving the Dream conference and the students who ambitiously grace the campus every semester. ATD demonstrated how obtaining institutional data will increase student success and close the achievement gaps.  ATD tracks students according to multiple variables which allows the college to focus on being proactive in meeting the student needs.

To be competitive in the Tour de France, data is collected, analyzed and adjusted for the individual rider. A team of experts review the variables, such as the experience of the rider, road, wind, weight of the bicycle, and terrain.  A game plan is established specifically for the individual rider, coupled with his determination, if the formula for success.  This analogy reflects the attributes of “equity” according to Achieving the Dream standards. Likewise, our efforts must be as deliberate as the experts to ensure that we are treating all students with equity to increase their chance for graduation.

Bakersfield College has been great at providing access, equality and education to students.  ATD will assist Bakersfield College in preparing all students to cross the academic finish line and achieve his or her dream. I’m happy to be part of the ATD team.

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Pam with Manny Mourtzanos

Pam Boyles:

What I like most about out district’s and colleges’ involvement in Achieving the Dream is that it provides a mechanism for us to focus on getting the data so that we can better assist our students in completing their educational goals. Important to me is the understanding that these changes (whatever they turn out to be) are expected to be expanded (inherent scalability).  In this way, our campuses will be built on a foundation of principles that we live on the large scale, not boutique courses or projects that come and go with grant monies.

From the team meetings at the conference in Orlando, it’s easy to see that we are already involved in projects that aim to bridge the gap so that a greater percentage of our struggling students complete their goals.   Before we begin targeting the interventions that are likely to assist the most students, we need to first find out what the greatest barriers are–and for that we will examine the data already collected (CCSSE, etc) and data that has been disaggregated.  Our IR people will be instrumental, as will all staff’s ability to have access to this information.  This ATD path is a good one for us to be on.

BC at ATD Post 2

BC Team at ATD with coaches June 18 2013

BC Team at ATD with coaches

Sitting L to R:
Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Zav Dadabhoy, Pam Boyles, Patrick Serpa

Sanding L to R:
Corny Rodriguez, Sonya Christian, Manny Mourtzanos, Ron Head (Data Coach), John Nixon (Leadership Coach), Vikki Coffee, Sue Vaughn



Check out Post 1 on our ATD kickoff in Orlando at


Let’s hear from Manny Moutrzanos, our team lead:

The Achieving the Dream conference has created many eye-opening revelations for me. As educators, we are very sincere and well-intentioned in our desire to help students succeed, but can be very unaware of how our personal academic experiences differ from those of our students, which can create a barrier to empathizing and understanding their struggles. I’m also realizing how our institutional policies and practices can create inadvertent barriers to student success.

The data is clear; students are not achieving success. As a result of this conference, I feel a greater sense of responsibility to address this issue on an individual level, as well as an institutional level.

The highlight of this conference was listening to a student from Valencia College recount his personal journey…dropping out of high school, involved in a gang, incarcerated at the age of 16, and being released from prison without a home. Living in a homeless shelter, he committed himself to completing his college degree. Overcoming obstacle after obstacle, he was able to succeed, which he attributed to a combination of his ‘will’ and the compassion of a college that cared about helping students succeed. It made me wonder how many of our own students are willing to succeed, but are struggling, and are in desperate need of our support to help them succeed.

There is much work to be done in increasing our support for students, but I approach it with much energy, a clear vision, and resolute determination. The time we invest in supporting our students will not return void.

I was able to catch up with that student, Angel Sanchez, and get him to talk a little about his experience.  Here is 3:34 minutes of Angel Sanchez.


BC Team at ATD Orlando Day 1

BC Team at ATD Orlando Day 1

This week, a cadre of my colleagues from Bakersfield College, the Kern Community College District, and our two sister colleges, ventured across the country participate in the Achieving the Dream (ATD) kick off conference in Orlando. You can read more about ATD at http://www.achievingthedream.org/

Day 1, June 17th, started with a dinner session where we heard from four students at Valencia College.  I will post a 3-minute video clip of one of the students, Angel Sanchez, who was incarcerated at 16.  It really brings to mind that our students start at different places in terms of their academic preparation and their readiness to engage with college education and the question is how do we create the learning environment to meet each of them where they are and support them in their progressions towards their educational goals.

Here is an activity on day 3 of the conference.  Zav Dadabhoy, Vice President of Student Services, captured a brief 54-second clip on his iphone to share on this blog. Senate President Corny Rodriguez (left), Chair of the English department Pam Boyles, and Job Placement coordinator Vikki Coffee playing a game which focuses on the different types of students that come to a community college and their experiences in the classroom as well as the services provided to them. Just to prove we aren’t all work and no play, Corny finds it very amusing that Pam, an English professor, would draw a question centered on English courses.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uixe5uX9wVA&w=560&h=315

Achieving the Dream focuses on equity and excellence and closing the achieving gap is a primary focus of the work.  By adopting a rigorous approach of studying the data by drilling down, interventions can be developed that are laser focused on a certain target population with the goal of improving their progression towards goal attainment.

Sue, Manny, Pam

Sue Vaughn, Manny Mourtzanos, Pam Boyles

Sue Vaughn, Bakersfield College’s Director of Enrollment Services, is here at the Achieving the Dream kickoff with me. She said two ideas have stood out to her as very important. “Equity doesn’t mean treating all students the same, but it means meeting each of their needs. Also, everyone needs to know more about what data we currently collect on students.”





Nan at Bongos June 18 2013

Nan with a fashionable orange, grapefruit, mango drink

Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Bakersfield College’s Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, says Achieving the Dream places emphasis where it is most needed. “Achieving the Dream gives us a focused approach to look at our own data to shape our student success practices. The work of student success resides in every classroom and every office, with every person. To ‘move the dial’ it will take dialogue and full engagement.”






Stay tuned for more as the week continues.