Tag Archives: Bakari Sanyu

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

2016: The Force Awakens

Happy New Year Bakersfield!

It’s 2016, a new year, and The Force is with Bakersfield College!

Promising Professionals 1 fall 2015

Sonya Christian with the Promising Professionals

The year just completed (2015) was a great one for BC.  With over 24,000 students and an annual Full Time Equivalent Student (FTES) exceeding 13,500, the college’s student-to-faculty productivity remains high, and total operational cost-per-FTE remains low at $3,789. Student Education Plan completion has increased, with most disciplines seeing completion rates of over 70%. Matriculation percentages have increased, with 88% of first-time students completing Orientation and 87% completing Assessment. 100% of Student Support programs completed Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs), 100% of programs completed Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs). BC offers 23 Associate Degrees for Transfer and 24 dual enrollment courses at high schools. BC developed three new programs last year—Applied Music, Public Health, Multimedia and hired 35 new faculty. BC has deepened its ties with the community and has developed the Renegade Scorecard to advance the accountability of the college and the transparency to the community. check it out at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/scorecard

BC’s key strength is its people.  Faculty and staff are talented and dedicated to the students and to the institution.  As such, they are motivated to do what it takes to “Make It Happen” in advancing student learning and progression towards their educational goals.


Especially with all of the hectic activity of 2015 this past week was a relatively quiet one with students and employees alike taking a break to spend time with family and friends, rest and rejuvenate for the spring term.  I was happy to attend the Kwanzaa celebration held at the MLK community center on Owens Street.

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This was the the first time that I attended the celebrations here in Bakersfield.  The event was fun and inspiring all at once.  I found the drum beat in the music mesmerizing and felt as if my own heartbeat was in rhythm with the drum.  Another favorite part of the program for me was the story telling by Lynell Moore  who just retired from Owens Elementary School.  Moore had us in the first 30 seconds of the story about Anansi, the spider, who tried to figure out the names of the King’s daughters.  Anansi, as I understand from Wikipedia,  is an African folktale character. He often takes the shape of a spider and is considered to be the spirit of all knowledge of stories. African folklore, Moore said, always has a moral and as it turns out the moral of the very engaging story for the day was that we should focus on long-term goals rather than-short term.  “Short-term goals are good. But long term goals are better.”  Good to hold this for 2016.

For more on the Bakersfield Kwanzaa Celebration check out KBAK at: http://tinyurl.com/pbgpmdl.  Also a special thank you to Bakari Sanyu for organizing the event.

I also thought you might enjoy as I did the seven principles (Nguzo Saba in Swahili) that describe the spirit of Kwanzaa. Particularly appropriate as we start a new year.


Nguzo Saba The Seven Principles

Talking about the core principles of Kwanzaa, I am reminded about BC’s core values  that were developed in 2013 with Professor Wesley Simms finalizing the language and Professor David Koeth creating the symbols.  Sit back and immerse yourself in the words and the images.

BC Core Values

New Year’s eve was very special this year, bringing in the new year with friends at Buck Owens Crystal Palace.  This was very different from the last three years where I watched the the Hobbit movies  on Dec 31st (2013, 2014, 2015), a phenomenal movie series btw, and also a great way to bring in the new year!  I love the song The Misty Mountain Cold in the Hobbit. There is a 3:00-minute version of this on youtube, but I thought I would share the extended 8:06-minute one instead.  I am sure you will be enchanted with it.

This New Year’s eve saw the passing of the legendary Natalie Cole.  I absolutely love her redo of the song “Unforgettable,” a beautiful love song, by her father Nat King Cole.  It is not surprising that it won several Grammy awards in 1992 including song of the year.  Please take a moment (3:48 minutes) to slip into the heartfelt and elegant world of this song.


To close out this post, let me share with you what a friend shared with me recently; an amazing verse from Rudyard Kipling’s If.

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
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!