Tag Archives: Bakersfield Californian

Bakersfield College – a Place of Dreams

Good morning Bakersfield…It is Saturday, September 9th.  A great day to be a Renegade

The man who believed in love, music and magic passed away yesterday.  As a little girl, I remember my grandfather Arthur playing Don Williams on his little cassette player.  It is amazing how the young mind learns and is able to remember the lyrics and the music so clearly after all these decades.

From the New York Times:

“I Believe in You,” a gently cantering ballad in a similarly intimate vein written by Roger Cook and Sam Hogin, spent two weeks at the top of the country chart and crossed over to the pop Top 40 in 1980.

Here is I Believe in You…a song that I must have heard a million time growing up with the verse that is burned in my mind and heart.

But I believe in love
I believe in music
I believe in magic
And I believe in you.

How many of you line danced to Tulsa Time? Well, this is a Don Williams tune that hit top of the charts in 1978 and Eric Clapton got it on the top 40s in the 1980s.

Tulsa Time

 

Thank you Don Williams for your music and thank you grandpa Arthur for always having music float through the entire house from your room at the front of the house.

Milt Younger

 

Talking about music, many of us were at Greenlawn cemetery Thursday morning at 10:00 a.m. to honor Milt Younger, the man who had a large positive impact on so many individuals and so many causes in our community.  Mayor Karen Goh’s remarks about Milt were organized on the theme of the “music of his life.” This was apropos given Milt’s love and knowledge of music.

Karen Goh:  “I heard the music of caring, the music of generosity, and the music of a mentor.” Karen gave examples of Milt’s caring, Milt’s generosity, and Milt being a mentor.  She concluded her comments with:

Milt, thank you for the music that you so beautifully played for us.
We, as your orchestra, will be honored to play the encore.

John Heffner Betty Younger Milt Younger from FB

John Heffner was the second of the three speakers to honor this great man.  John, a dear friend of Milt’s. was a great story teller, painting the picture of the brilliant lawyer, the talented lover of the arts and music, the great civic leader, mentor of bright young minds, and a fabulous friend.

Milt Younger and Horace Mitchell from FB

Milt Younger, Horace Mitchell

Speaking last, President Horace Mitchell powerfully described Milt’s long-term patronage of CSUB.  President Mitchell presented Betty Younger with a framed photo of the CSUB flag flying half mast in honor of Milt.

We had a large group from Bakersfield College attending the service.  To mention a few — Chancellor Tom Burke;  Dr. Manny Mourtzanos, Dean of Instruction;  Corny Rodriguez, Dean of Instruction; Tom Gelder, Executive Director of the Bakersfield College Foundation.

My introduction to  Milt Younger’s deep relationship with Bakersfield College was when I was in Oregon preparing to interview at Bakersfield College for the position of President.  I came across a 24-page newsletter, Kern IQ, published by the Kern Center for Political Action (KCPA) in Winter 2011.  The quality and deep treatment of issues was immediately visible.  And the KCPA was housed at Bakersfield College under the umbrella of the Bakersfield College Foundation.  How very cool!

Here are a few screen captures of the 24-page publication.  You can see why I fell in love with the team that pulled this together.

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Issue, Page 1:

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Page 1

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Issue, Page 2:

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Page 2

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Issue, Page 3:

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Page 3

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Issue, Page 6:

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Page 6

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Issue, Page 9:

Here is an article by Milt Younger, Answering the call for tomorrow’s leaders.  Love the picture with Milt Younger, Jack Brigham, Norm Levan, and John Collins

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Page 9

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Issue, Page 13:

My first introduction to Michael Turnipseed.

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Page 13.jpg

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Issue, Page 20:

My first introduction to the amazing We The People program at Arvin High School, Jose Gurrola who went on to become a BC Renegade, and Jim Young’s passion for Arvin and its youngsters.

Kern IQ Winter 2011 Page 20.jpg

Since then, most of my encounters with Milt have been early mornings on the weekends, when I would be in my office at BC and Milt would be walking his scotties.

Milt Younger was the co-chair with Mayor Harvey Hall of the inaugural Leadership and Equity faculty group at Bakersfield College.

Milt Younger planned the August 3, 2016 A Tribute to Jack, at Bakersfield College, on the passing of his dear friend Jack Brigham.

Jack2

 

Both Milt Younger and Betty Younger were recognized as among the 100 Stars during the centennial year celebrations of Bakersfield College.

 

Betty Younger completed a art piece, Circle of Friends, in honor of Jim Young, chancellor emeritus of the Kern Community College District.

Circle of Friends April 28 2014

Circle of Friends Spring 2014

Sandra Serrano, Jim Young, Milt Younger, Betty Younger, Sonya Christian

To read more, check out my September 12, 2014 blog at:

https://sonyachristianblog.com/2014/09/12/a-circle-of-friends-milt-and-betty-younger-and-jim-young/

Milt Younger, we will miss you.

The Bakersfield Californian had a nice piece by Susan Scaffidi: “Local arts community will miss champion Milt Younger” – check it out here.

Dreamers 

Of course, talking about Milt Younger immediately brings to mind the activities this week that surrounded the announcement from Washington DC on September 5th related to DACA.

Alexx Dominguez and Sonya Christian March 10 2016

Christian, Dominguez

BC’s former SGA President Alex Dominguez highlighted the successes of the DACA program in a Community Voices piece for the Bakersfield Californian.

Alex said,

“As student government president of Bakersfield College (2014-15), student trustee of the Kern Community College District (2014-15), and president of the Associated Students Inc. of CSU Bakersfield (2016-17), I have had the opportunity to learn about DACA in depth. I had the immense honor of representing these students on a local, state and federal level. Both Bakersfield College and CSUB have a significant number of DACA recipients. These students are actively working towards improving not their own lives, but also the lives of the communities they live and work in.”

Here is a message for our current SGA president Dezi Von Manos

 

 

immigrationpoliciespanelWe will be holding a campus forum about DACA and AB 540 in the Levan Center on September 21st from 5:30 -7 p.m. Panelists will include:

  • Win Eaton, Esq. – Immigration Attorney
  • H.A. Sala, Esq – Criminal Defense Attorney
  • Sarah Rich, Esq – Immigration & Criminal Defense Attorney
  • Vanessa Sanchez, Esq – Immigration Attorney

 

Welcoming New Faculty to BC!

F17newfacultyreception13

Last Saturday, I had the annual President’s New Faculty Reception prior to our first football home game.  And I was delighted with the dignitaries who were also able to join the event — Mayor Karen Goh, Trustee Bill Thomas, and Trustee Romeo Agbalog.  BC hired 55 new faculty which is one of the largest cohorts of new faculty.

The Food Services department put together another lovely dinner of garbanzo bean salad, a choice of tri-tip or chicken, wine, and a smorgasbord of desserts. Chef Sabella and his team always serve and prepare a lovely spread at our events, and I’d like to personally thank all of our Food Service workers for leaving a memorable first impression on all our new faculty.

 

F17newfacultyreception04Mayor Goh was exuberant in her welcome of new faculty, leading everyone in a chant of “We Are BC”. She encouraged our new BC family members, many coming from outside of Kern County, to become engaged with their new community and familiarize themselves with our culture, leadership and community outreach programs.

F17newfacultyreception12Academic Senate President Steven Holmes told the infamous story of how he applied to work at BC in March, not realizing the intensity of the Central Valley heat until when he moved to Bakersfield from the coast to take his first teaching position here. Over time, however, he’s grown to love Bakersfield and this campus like we all have, and he’s been privileged to see people he’s taught over the last 20 years go on to take important leadership position in the community. Holmes then got to introduce one of his former students, KCCD Trustee Romeo Agbalog.

F17newfacultyreception14

Agbalog shared the story of how BC and teachers like Holmes helped shape the person he is today, while urging the new faculty members in the audience to take pride in the hundreds of people they’ll get to directly influence during their time here.

Before the deans and department chairs got the opportunity to formally introduce the new members of their various departments, Bill Thomas, our former congressman, told stories about teaching political science at BC in the early 60s when Kern County was a much smaller place.

Bill Thomas New Faculty Sep 2 2017Through his experience as both a student and teacher at BC, Thomas got to meet his future wife, Sharon (who also joined us), influenced scores of students to take interest in civic discourse, which gave him the power to change the lives of millions nationwide while securing important funding for infrastructure here at home during his time on Capitol Hill.

Some of the new hires welcomed were adjunct faculty for a number of years who finally got their shot as full-time tenure track faculty, while several others come here from all over the country, with extensive knowledge and experience to help our students learn what they need to maximize their potential. We wrapped up the event that started at 6:45 p.m. at 7:45 and then headed over to the Memorial Stadium for the late-start football game with an 8:00 pm kickoff.

 

 

 

Loved this picture that Chris Glaser snapped of Jennifer trying to make sure that Earl Parsons would not fall back as he was trying to get a good group photo.

Jennifer Marden making sure Earl Parsons is safe.jpg

New faculty reception Sep 2 2017.jpg

I’d like to thank Jennifer Marden, Mary Jo Pasek, Tarina Perry and Christopher Glaser for helping organize and plan this year’s new faculty reception, and I’d like to thank our Web Content Editor Earl Parsons for taking pictures.  Our entire web content team, including Monika Scott, Aricia Leighton, and Earl Parsons, works throughout the year to keep our New Faculty website updated. Please visit the link for photos and departments of all the new faces of BC!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Renegade Football

Nick Ellis. www.aNickPhoto.com.   661.706.7999

At the advice of Dr. Bill Baker, we had moved the game against Alan Hancock from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  And what a game — BC won 21-6, with KGET televising the game.  Thank you KGET. Thank you TBC.  Our cheer team was fabulous.  Heather Foss was great.  And here is a shout-out to Becki Whitson — missed you Becki!  The drumline as usual…superb!

Thank you to the Bakersfield College Foundation for hosting a VIP tent for the home games.  Dana Gelder snapped these pictures for me.

Love these two pictures!  Chris Glaser with Jennifer Marden and Francis Mayer

Judy Caras posted this comment on my blog last week about the Renegade Fight Song and BC’s Alma Mater

Sandi Taylor, Judy Caras and her husband Fall 2017

Sandi Taylor, Jevin and Judy Caras

Let’s pass those words out so we can learn them again. Also reinstate the singing of the Alma Mater with the football team present.

I went to the game, 9/2, for the first time in many, many years. All that day I kept humming the Alma Mater and was so disappointed it was not done! I plan to attend all home games this year and hope at least homecoming will have the Alma Mater sung!!!! Our family bleeds Renegade Red.
Judy, here is a 14-sec version of the Fight Song from convocation
Here is the Alma Mater
Bakersfield College Alma Mater

And here are comments from the fabulous Jerry Ludeke

Jerry Ludeke April 2017

Judy Caras is right.  The Fight Song was played and enthusiastically sung at the beginning of every game and after every touchdown.  At the end of every game, win or lose, the spectators and players all stood quietly and sang the Alma Mater.  Singing of a shared song is a powerful spirit builder.

Cross Country at BC!

The Running Renegades Men return to action this week after a bye week. On the schedule is the Fresno Invitational with the men’s race starting at 9:00 AM at Woodward Park. After a great start to the season with a second place finish at Oxnard, the team is hoping to improve on their 1-5 differential.  The Gades were led over the four mile course by freshmen Marcos Mulato, sixth overall (21:18), and Angelo Benetiz, 24th overall (22:32). Rounding out the top 5 with their experience were sophomore Ben Carlson, 30th overall (22:41); Nestor Vasquez, 32nd overall (22:45); and Joe Lopez, 36th overall (23:14).  Also, impacting the scoring was Sophomore Abran Ayon, 39th (23:18); and Jose Chavez 41st, (23:27).

20994281_2065484356811207_1436398323513439671_n_ad_hoc

The Running Renegade Women opened the season at Oxnard with a fourth place finish.  The team over the 5K course was freshman Gabriella Lugo who finished first for the team and 12th overall (20:19).  She was followed by freshman Lourdes Cruz 17th overall (20:31); Natalie Estrada 28th overall (22:55); Tori Wiley 30th overall (23:18); and Esmeralda Nuno-Ascensio 38th overall (25:03). The team will be back in action on Saturday, September 9, at Woodward Park. Race time is scheduled for 8:00 AM

Women’s Soccer

Loved watching BC Women’s Soccer win 4-0 against COS yesterday, September 8th.  Our student athletes looked strong and quick and I was so proud to see them playing in the Memorial Stadium.

Coach Damron with students.JPG

 

Soccer.JPG

 

I was hanging out with Nicole and looking at photos and snagged this adorable photo of the twins Adah Gay and Taylor Gay.

Adah Gay and Taylor Gay.JPG

 

Arts, Humanities, & Communication Pathway Fair

A beautiful flier passed through my inbox this week for the upcoming Arts, Humanities, and Communication Pathway Fair. It was created and designed by the talented David Koeth for the upcoming event on September 26th. Just wonderful to see our faculty and staff always watching out for what next to do to help support students.  This is an incredible opportunity for our students and I’m looking forward to it!  Students!! – see you there!

AHC-Pathway-Poster-2.jpg

Skills: The Gateway to Employment

Yesterday, BC was at the Bakersfield Marriott for the 2017 Counselor Conference titled Skills: The Gateway to Employment. The purpose for the event is to provide a focus for high school and community college counselors, but also it’s an opportunity to learn about high demand, high paying industry endorsed jobs in the Central Valley/Mother Lode Region.

Resized_20170908_084218_3809

Thank you to the Central Valley/Mother Lode Region Deputy Sector Navigators in partnership with the Doing What MATTERS for Jobs and the Economy framework through the Division of Workforce and Economic Development at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office for hosting this event.  And thank you Dave Teasdale for inviting me to welcome the group to Bakersfield.

Here are some screen captures of tweets from Van Ton-Quinlivan, Gurminder Sangha, and Pam Gomez.

Sep 8 2017 Van Ton Quilivan

 

 

First Friday: Latination 9

DSC01920Bakersfield celebrated the work of our Latin artists on First Friday at the Metro Galleries as part of Latination 9.

Metro Galleries offers up its walls to Bakersfield’s Latin artists every year. Jesus Fidel won best in show for his piece “Gift of Roses,” while artist and local activist Jorge Guillen received the honorary Betty Leonor Award recognizing his career of achievements. Local ska/cumbia band Mento Buru provided the music, while the food at the event was catered by El Pueblo.

21246404_10155611813919174_5275169585837080960_o

nail art showing BC pride

Mayor Goh was on hand taking pictures and snapped a couple of shots with our BC delegation at Latination 9, lead by cheer coach Heather. Check out Heather’s BC nails – talk about Renegade pride!

For these pictures and more, visit Mayor Karen Goh’s Facebook page.

So what about Neo?

He is 58 lbs and growing.  Probably another 7 lbs or so according to websites that discuss Golden Retrievers.

Sonya Christian Fall 2012

 

That’s all for now.  

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya —
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

BC Students Visit The White House!

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, January 21st and such a fabulous day to be a Renegade.

It was great waking up to a piece by Nick Strobel.  Also read a piece by Harold Pierce which I tweeted. Here is a jpg of the front page of the Eye Street section of The Bakersfield Californian.  And the weblink http://tinyurl.com/h2eg6u2 

nick-strobel-stargazing-jan-21-2017

I love the way Nick starts his piece:

This was first week of the spring semester at Bakersfield College and classes are full! The week before was filled with workshops, including a two-day institute on the college GPS (Guided Pathways System), followed by Opening Day, which focused on the college GPS. Good stuff happening!

Great stuff happening up in the sky too with our two closest neighbors: Brilliant Venus continues to close in on orange-red Mars in our evening sky in the southwest. Venus is the super-bright star in the southwest after sunset and Mars will be to the upper left of Venus. By the end of the month, they will be almost within the same field of view of typical binoculars.

and I also love how he ends it

A NOTE ON SCIENCE

I’ll close with a comment about the process of science. As a science educator, I read with great interest Robert Gebelhoff’s column that ran in last Sunday’s Californian about using science as a political tool. Although we have discovered much about our universe that we’re confident enough to bet our life on, there is still a lot that is unknown and tentative. Science is a human endeavor and it isn’t perfect, but the process of science has built into it a way to take into account our human fallibility.

Instead of “arguing from authority,” the process of science uses peer review to double-check (triple-check, quadruple-check, etc.) our ideas and ultimately, nature will be the final judge of what’s true or not — nature has the final veto power over any of our ideas. Studies and theories based on facts are published in peer-reviewed journals for other research teams to pick apart and find the defects in the argument or method.

When an idea has been tested many times by many independent groups and has withstood all those tests, then the reasonable approach is to assume that the idea is close to the truth.

Here is the link to Harold Pierce’s article A hidden health crisis: Toxic stess driving up Kern death rates.  http://tinyurl.com/hbnnafk

Talking about the Bakersfield Californian, I got a text message from Francis Mayer letting me know that Louis Amestoy is back in Bakersfield.  Welcome home Louis!  So happy to have you back.

I was also excited to see a facebook post that our very own Dr. Matthew Garrett presenting to the Miller-Eccles group.

 

 

Here is a “copy and paste” from Jen’s post:

Tonight I got to accompany Matt as he spoke at the Miller/Eccles group at CSU Fullerton. They asked him to speak about his newly published book. He spoke with passion and was clearly knowledgeable, well researched, and well prepared. They were amazed by the way he connected to the audience and what a great speaker he is. He also responded well to all of their questions. He has another tomorrow night and I know it will go well also. His 10 years of work came through tonight. I am so proud of him!

Talking about being proud, here is the intro slide to Matt’s presentation:

Intro slide to Matt Garrett's lecture Jan 20 2017.jpg

Do you notice something?  It says Bakersfield College and the email is @bakersfieldcollege.edu.  Yes!  You see my dear community members, Dr. Matt Garrett is a great scholar respected widely for his work and he teaches at BC.  The Miller-Eccles group is a group of affluent professionals and retired academics that fly out big name scholars for a small private lecture each month. Next month speaker is Laurel Thatcher, a Pulitzer Prize winning professor with an endowed chair at Harvard. The following month they have Christine Durham, the first woman appointed to the Utah Supreme Court. And among this group of speakers if our Bakersfield College faculty.  Yes!

How fortunate our students are…..students most of whom are first in their families to go to college.  Matt represents many of our faculty who are recognized scholars. #WeAreBC

Well, back to last week…. Whew, what a week.  Lots of travel. And I made sure that I remembered my power cord, phone and other necessities….  The week started on Martin Luther King Jr. day on Monday January 16th.

Martin Luther King Jr. will be a person who forever stands out in people’s minds as a leader who gave voice to the injustice of social inequality and racism, and demonstrated “non-violent civil disobedience as a means to expose racial injustice.”  I was surprised to know that King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech was not his first at the Lincoln Memorial. Check out this list of ten things you might not know about MLK. How many did you know? Leave a comment after checking out the link! http://tinyurl.com/ktwjdo3

Here is a 17:27-minute youtube video …I have a dream

mlk_img_0573The week was off to a wonderful start when on Monday, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Awards Breakfast. The morning was hosted by Danny Morrison, local radio personality and columnist with the Bakersfield Californian. The keynote speaker, Bishop Broderick Huggins, is a pastor at St. Paul Baptist Church in nearby Oxnard, CA. As an advocate for higher learning, he earned his Bachelor of Theology, a BA in Religon, a PhD in Religious Philosophy and a PhD in Theology. In 1995, he founded the Saint Paul Seminary and Bible Institute where he currently serves as President and Principal Professor. Bishop  Dr. Broderick Huggins spoke truth to power. He told the audience, “Change will not happen unless people are uncomfortable.  Justice, mercy, humility work together. We need the hearts of people to change.”

It was fantastic to see the BC gang in attendance at such a great celebration.

mlk.JPG

shanell-tyus-and-familyI was sitting next to Shannel Tyus, manager of our Student Success Program, and Destiny, a student who wants to get into our nursing program. Loved getting to know both of them.  Here is Shanell with her beautiful family.  A young mom juggling family with little ones and committed to a greater calling of working with our first generation students and transforming their lives.  The Student Success Program that Shanell oversees focuses on best practices of educational planning and others that have had a very positive impact on our students. #WeAreBC

The room was packed and it felt as if the entire community turned out in support.  Our political leaders here in Bakersfield and in Sacramento were there in full force. Now for some photos of the event – see for yourself!

Bishop Broderick Huggins, Steve Watkin, Sonya Christian;
Sonya Christian with BPD Chief Lyle Martin;
NaTesha Kindred, Karen Goh, Jay Tamsi, Shannon Grove, Vince Fong

 

Sonya Christian, Pastor Martha Johnson; David Valadao, Jay Tamsi, Rudy Salas

Shanell Tyus, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Harlan Hunter

shanell-tyus-nan-gomez-heitzeberg-harlan-hunter-jan-16-2017
Join me in congratulating this year’s award recipients who were recognized  make a difference in our community:

Sgt. Claton Madden, Bakersfield Police Dept.
Steven W. Schilling, President & CEO of Clinica Sierra Vista
Manuel Carrizalez, Director & Founder of Stay Focused, Reach for Greatness
Dr. Rhonda Williams, President of The Bakersfield Chapter of the Links, Inc
Dr. Evelyn Young, CSUB, Executive Assistant to the President
Pastor Josephate Jordan,  Christ First Ministries
Raquel Jones, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Bakersfield Chapter
Rev. Dr. Oscar J. Anthony, Pastor St. Peter R.C.C.M. for his passion in unifying the Pastors
Danny Morrison, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2017 Host
Dr. Bishop Broderick Huggins, Pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church and MLK 2017 Keynote

Guided Pathways and Board of Governors

bog_eloy

On Tuesday, Jan 17th, I attended the Board of Governors meeting in Sacramento.  I think this was the first meeting with our new California Community College Chancellor, Eloy Ortiz Oakley. If you haven’t had a chance to learn a little about him, check out  http://tinyurl.com/3jzbryw for his bio and this recent article from The Los Angeles Times, “Long Beach educator will be first Latino to lead California community colleges.

bog_garyThe Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges sets policy and provides guidance for the 72 districts and 113 colleges that constitute the system. The 17-member Board is appointed by the Governor and formally interacts with state and federal officials and other state organizations.

I was happy to see Gary Reed who warmly welcomed me and was supportive as I got ready to present to the BOG on Guided Pathways. Member Reed lives in the Tulare area and spoke positively about the linked learning program with Porterville College, the High School and the community. So happy to have one of our very own from the Central Valley on the BOG.  I also learned that Pauline Larwood was also on the BOG when she was on the KCCD Board of Trustees.

I co-presented with Vice Chancellor for Institutional Effectiveness, Theresa Tena who is wonderful to work with.  And Mario Rodriguez, Vice Chancellor of Finance, who presented the Governor’s budget to the BOG is just fabulous.

cropped-image-arnoldo-avalos-connie-conway-sonya-christian-romeo-agbalog-april-29-2016The other two BOG members that I have blogged about are Arnoldo Avalos and Connie Conway. Here is a picture of both of them with Trustee Romeo Agbalog from April 29, 2016 when they visited Bakersfield College.

I was really impressed with the level and sophistication of discussion.  As I opened my remarks, I told them that the CA Community Colleges were in very good hands under their leadership.  The president of the BOG Cecelia Estalano is one smart person and facilitated complicated discussions in a very skillful manner.  Wow!

I am not sure if I’ve already blogged about an article written by Nick Strobel and me about Guided Pathways that was published in the League for innovations, but here it is….
https://www.league.org/leadership-abstracts/what-guided-pathways-model

BOG Member Pamela Haynes who is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Los Rios district mentioned that 9-page article as a must-read in understanding Guided Pathways.  Yes!  Here is a picture of Pamela Haynes.

I also want to give s shout out to the student member of the BOG Eman Dalili.  He is a smart, caring young man and I was so proud sitting in the audience watching him engage with the discussions.

 

 

Kern Education Round table

group-education-roundtable-jan-18-2017

You may recall I shared with you information regarding the California Community College Chancellor’s Office announcing their investment of $15 million to support local communities in coming together to guarantee students a mechanism to complete their first two years of higher education in a community college, where they can seamlessly transfer to a university, or become competitively employable for careers with family-sustaining wages.

Bakersfield College is answering the call in response to the California College Promise Innovation Grant request for applications by proposing to introduce The Bakersfield Promise Program (a scaled iteration of The Renegade Promise) in close partnership with Kern High School District (thank you Superintendent Bryon Schaefer) and California State University Bakersfield (thank you President Horace Mitchell). On December 21st, educational, political, and business community leaders in Kern met at BC in the Fireside Room for the first of three College Promise Education Roundtables. Check out my Dec 24, 2016 blog https://sonyachristianblog.com/2016/12/24/happy-holidays-from-bc/.  The third will most likely be on March 8, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. with a potential public statement from the three institutions.

BC staff joined together this past Wednesday, January 18th with community partners from Kern Community Foundation (thank you Kristen Barnes) and educational partners from Kern Community College District (KCCD), Kern High School District (KHSD), as a smaller operational work team to continue the conversation and narrow in on the strategy for our collaborative work ahead. Dr. Janet Fulks and Shanell Tyus (BC) facilitated the discussion by providing an overview of our grant application and goals, and solicited feedback from attendees.

Vickie Spanos led members of KHSD in a discussion about their successes to date in closing achievement gaps among Kern High School District students as they prepare for graduation and college entry. Recommendations on opportunities to partner further as the promise unfolds were shared and received with great enthusiasm! The information shared will continue to guide not only the final development of the grant application, but the direction of The Bakersfield Transfer Promise.

 

Kristen Barnes Philanthropy-Matters

Kristen Barnes

Dr. Kristen Barnes from Kern Community Foundation (KCF) shared highlights from the work done through the College Access Convening Committee and the importance of continuing the great work shared among these educational and community partners. She also shared information regarding the potential for financial partnership opportunities through scholarships made possible by Kern donors.  Kristen is a rock star!

 

Guests in attendance included:

KCCD Associate Vice Chancellor John Means,
From KHSD: Vickie Spanos, Christy Fraley, Ben Sherley, and Ryan Geivet,
From Kern Community Foundation: Dr. Kristen Barnes,
From Bakersfield College: Dr. Janet Fulks, Dr. Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Rich McCrow, Dr. Stephen Waller, Keri Kennedy, Dr. Nicky Damania, Steve Watkin, Cindy Collier, Dr. Emmanuel Mourtzanos, Jennifer Achan, Marissa Marquez, Michelle Pena, Dr. Zav Dadabhoy, Tom Gelder, Sandi Taylor, Shanell Tyus, Cornelio Rodriguez and
Renegade Promise Program Student Magdalena Pantelon.

As we near the completion and submission of our grant application we are thankful for close educational, industry, and political partners. The synergy surrounding this promise to students and members of the Kern community is taking us through the home stretch!

 

Coach Paula Dahl

coachdahlOur Renegade Women’s Basketball team is led by Coach Paula Dahl, who recorded her milestone 300th win earlier this season, and in my opinion she’s one of those folks whose influence transcends even her athletes and students.

Her team opened the season with five straight losses. And while Coach Dahl was dejected, she never gave up, and she showed us all what a “Coach Dahl-type team” is; it’s a group of athletes who each have specific skills but not necessarily the complete package as individual athletes. But Coach Dahl’s superpower is in bringing together those individuals where each of their strengths can shine, and benefit one another. Yes, Coach Dahl builds TEAMS.

If you think about it, this is what we should all be doing – helping peers, family members, and friends put their best strength forward while not drawing attention to their faults, and having folks in your circle doing the same for you.

I’ve learned that saying “it’s not about the wins” is more than a well-worn sports cliché at Bakersfield College; it’s part of the Renegade Way…and I’m learning more and more about that hallowed code with every athletic event I attend!

East Hills Mall

On Wednesday, big plans were revealed by the owners of the East Hills Mall. The plans for a 350,000-square-foot “destination open-air lifestyle center” are showcased in an article by the Bakersfield Californian. Check out the exciting news at  http://tinyurl.com/z9qxjql

Spring 2017

Even though the weather this week did not quite feel like “spring has sprung,” the Spring 2017 semester is very much alive at Bakersfield College. It’s an incredible sight to see eager students already at-home on campus when I drive in every morning. They’re excited to learn and browsing through books, checking their cell phones, and chatting with fellow students. The first week of a new semester is always a fantastic time… Isn’t there something great about opening up a brand new book, or writing on the first page of a new notebook?

Healthy Campus Designation

Our campus is lively, and we’re also healthy! On Jan. 13, First Lady Michelle Obama joined representatives from BC and the other Healthy Campus Challenge winning schools for a group photo. Alexa Rivera, Ray Purcell, and Vincente Lopez visited on behalf of our campus and I’d love to share an email from our two students sharing their experience.

whitehouse_healthycampuschallengewinningschools

“Dear President Christian,

As representatives of the Student Health Advisory, thank you again for the opportunity to represent Bakersfield College at the White House to receive the Healthy Campus Challenge Award. Both Vicente and I are extremely grateful. As expected, Vicente and I were able to gain valuable information from our current government leaders about, not only health care reform, but also about student leadership and advocacy. Throughout the White House Healthy Campus event, Vicente and I were able to converse with several influential leaders ranging from individuals that not only represented the 60 campuses in attendance, but also the Senior Manager of Partnerships, for the Partnership for a Healthier America. In addition to expanding our professional networks, we were also able to listen to several government leaders, such as the Senior Advisor to the President, emphasize the importance of student involvement. They explained that students are the most influential voice in a college campus. Because of our understanding of our student body, we, the students, have the ability to positively impact our college campuses through our involvement. After the panel discussions and speakers at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, we were fortunate to be invited to the East Wing of the White House. There we met First Lady, Michelle Obama, and a portrait was taken of the campus participants with the First Lady. Mrs. Obama explained that although all of our present healthcare may soon change as a result of defunding the Affordable Care Act, the goal of making sure that people throughout the nation are insured in healthcare is and will always be an important issue that we as a nation have to continue to work towards. The First Lady was also very appreciative of our work throughout the White House Healthy Campus Challenge, building on the increased enrollment among the demographic group who is most inequitably under covered and who’s academic careers are vulnerable to unexpected illness. All in all, the experiences Vicente and I have gained have not only empowered us to continue to improve the overall health and well being of Bakersfield College, but it has also motivated us to continue to work hard and be engaged. We are hopeful that after we are able to relay our gained experiences and knowledge to our student body, that they too will be motivated to continue to work towards their goals. This has truly been a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Thank you,

Alexa Rivera and Vicente Lopez”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

sonya-christian-bc-holiday-party-2015

 

That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — the luckiest and happiest college president ever

 

Thank you Kern County!

Measure J Passes! Thank you Kern County

50058052351__d475d29b-01c3-43e5-b511-163349ebdf77

With a vote of 96,589 to 58,155, Kern County supported Measure J with 62.42% of the vote. Measure J also received 59.99% of the vote in Tulare County, and 63.6% of the vote in San Bernardino County. After months of hard work, I am so grateful to our voters for supporting our community colleges! And I am grateful to the many volunteers who turned out over the past few months to get out the vote and spread the word about the great things that this bond will do for Bakersfield College and all of the college in the Kern Community College District.

And a special thank you to my friend who reminds me everyday to Keep the Faith!

And thank you Tom Moran who responded to my early morning call on Saturday and taught me how to sign my thank you message to the voters.

We had an amazing group of volunteers that came out to assist in our final push on Election Day. It was a busy day that began around 6 am and lasted until midnight! The guy behind me in the picture is Dave Mason who worked with us through the campaign.  He drove in from Oakland to spend election night with us.  Thank you Dave!

Here are two great pictures of Nick Strobel on November 8th.  One was taken when he was relentless in phone banking to get out the vote.  The picture was taken at 7:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the polls closed.  And the picture on the left is when we had a table give way, sending an ice bucket and the melted water in it crashing to the floor. (I guess you could say the election center took the ice bucket challenge…) Nick, true to himself, we the first one up and helping to clean the floor.

A few of our volunteers shared some memorable moments from the campaign:

 

The weekend leading up to Election Day was hectic at campaign headquarters.  Here are pictures of Nov 5th (Saturday) and Nov 6th (Sun) including the half-time show that Congressman Bill Thomas (or should I say KCCD Trustee Bill Thomas) did with Vance Palm on the Damron Deck with a great view of the city and the valley.  Vance Palm, you do a real nice job with Renegade Football and the half-time show with the congressman was fantastic.

November 5th;  Here is Rick Kreiser, owner of Carney’s saving the day and saving the campaign by replacing the toner Saturday late evening so that we could continue printing materials for our GOTV (Get Out the Vote) campaign.  Thank you Rick Kreiser for all of the donations and all of your time in support of passing Measure J.

 

I love this picture of Chief Counts and his beautiful daughter Faith who volunteered their time through the entire Measure J campaign.

And pets were also part of the campaign. Here’s Tom Gelder with canine friend Lexy and Bruce our election dog on November 10th helping clean up Campaign HQ.

Measure J was a “whole family affair.”  Andrea Thorson and her son James.  Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg holding Lily Ann (Grace’s baby girl), who was sleeping peacefully while Nan phone banked.  I love both these pictures.

Dr. Kimberly Bligh, Dr. Janet Fulks, Bruce Meyer all phone banking on Nov 7 2016

Grace Commiso and Sue Vaughn.

I loved the cookies Bill Moseley baked using a 3D printed cookie cuttter.  Yes on J!

Bill Moseley Cookies Nov 7 2016.JPG

On November 7th night, I was trying to get these folks out of the office and get them to go to bed before the big day.  It was a hard task! Lesley Bonds, Nicky Damania, Chris Glaser, Nicole Para.

Nov 7 wrapping up the night.JPG

The Election Day 6:00 a.m. pictures

On the right, our fabulous campaign manager Nicole Parra. In the group picture on the left: Chris Glaser, Lesley Bonds, Sue Vaughn, Ashley Ward, Todd Coston, Bill Potter, Liz Rozell, Asha Chandy, Nicole Parra.

Polling location teams at Aera Energy and at Delano

Polling location team at the Kern County Fair and first-time voters who were so excited. Thank you Olivia Garcia for the photo.

 

Polling location teams in South East Bakersfield and at Wasco.

 

Veterans Day. Nov 11, 2016

On Veterans Day, our BC Veterans Club took part in the annual Bakersfield Veterans Day parade. It was such an honor to meet with them at the parade. We are truly grateful for their service, and for the service of all this great nation’s veterans. Thank you!

IMG_0282.JPG

doug-and-martha-miller-and-sonya-christian-nov-11-2016-vets-paradeThank you Karen Goh for some great pictures.

It was also a treat running into Martha Miller nee McCuen at the Vets Parade.  Martha is the daughter of Theron McCuen who was the Superintendent of Kern High and Bakersfield College when BC was on the Kern High campus. Martha’s husband Doug Miller retired as Superintendent of the Panama Buena Vista School District in 2007.  I am so glad Martha recognized me and called out as I was dashing towards my car.  With the work we undertook related to campaigning for Measure J, I was always fully aware of BC’s past, particularly 1956 when the campus moved from Kern High (Now BHS) to the Panorama Bluffs, while we were forging BC’s future.  So to run into the daughter of Theron McCuen whose name is on the Administration Building where I have my office felt like an auspicious moment.

So, of course, I went searching in BC’s archives.  Thank you Jerry Ludeke for your commitment to the archives.

 

Here is a 1958 photo that includes Theron McCuen at Ralph Prator’s retirement dinner. From Left: Ralph Prator (outgoing BC President), Ed Simonsen (incoming BC President), Marvene Simonsen, Theron McCuen (Superintendent), Hazel McCuen. 1958.

1958-ralph-prator-outgoing-bc-president-ed-simonsen-incoming-bc-president-marvene-simonsen-theron-mccuen-superintendent-hazel-mccuen

Also from the archives this newspaper clipping from the Bakersfield Californian.  From Left to Right: H.E. Woodworth, Ralph Prator, Ed Simonsen, Dorothy Donohoe, Theron McCuen.  This is the first time that I have seen a picture of Dorothy Donohoe, who as Assemblywoman was responsible for the development of the California Higher Education Master Plan.  It seems appropriate to have her picture in my post Measure J blog to recognize the leaders from our community who had the vision for what we are today.

may-15-1958-newspaper-clipping-woodworth-prator-simonsen-dorothy-donohoe-mccuen

 

BC Veterans

Let’s salute our faculty, staff and students who are veterans.

Bernadette Martinez in the counseling department put out a call to our faculty & staff to share out who on our BC campus is a veteran, which I’d like to repeat here:

United States Marines

  • Jeremy Staat, 2005-2009, Corporal (E-4). — Welding
  • Armando Trujillo, Marine Corps –Veterans Educational Advisor
  • Felix Ramirez from 1980-1985.  1985-2002 Army National Guard (E-7) —Public Safety Officer
  • Juan Torres, United State Marine Corps from 1988-1994—Site Operations  (Delano)

United States Navy

  • Lieutenant Manuel Fernandez, 11 years—Electronics
  • Jahnea Palfrey, 1999-2003, Law Enforcement—Department Assistant
  • Di Hoffman,  1992-2001 – Nursing
  • Eddie Rangel, 1998-2001 (E-4) –Information Technology
  • Diana Alcala, 2002-2008—Human Resources Assistant
  • Paul Beckworth, 1989-1993, Guard 1997-2003—History
  • Richard McCrow, 30 years –Director Delano Campus

United States Army

  • Pat Smith, 5 yrs —Criminal Justice
  • Patrick Fulks, 1969-1971,(E-5) Biology

United States Air Force

  • Bernadette Martinez, 1993-1997 (E-4)—Office Supervisor
  • Christine Dunn 1995-1998 (Captain) Nursing

Veterans Celebration at Porterville College

On November 10th we had the KCCD Board meeting at Porterville College.  They had their Veterans event on the same day and it was wonderful wandering the campus hearing from student veterans and visiting the Veterans Resource Center.  Steve Schutlz has done a real nice job with the facility and I was warmly greeted by the counselor for PC’s student veterans Maria Roman.

I learned from the keynote speaker, a Vietnam Vet, that it was important to remember our history…particularly the local history.  He shared that there was a former airport and military airfield located in the area that conducted flying training during World War II.

During our lunch with the Board, Dr. Carlson had organized a presentation on the Pathways work undertaken by the community over the last decade; a large scale collaboration with business and industry and K-12 partners.  Both Trustee John Corkins and President Rosa Carlson have worked in leadership roles to advance this work on student success. Pretty cool stuff.  Great results!

At the Board meeting, I enjoyed the presentation by Jay Rosenlieb on behalf of the Measure J Honorary Committee.  Jay reviewed the work done by hundreds of volunteers that resulted in the successful passing of Measure J.  Board members too commented about this great accomplishment.  YesOnJ!

 

vets-parade-2016-with-glenn-porterWounded Heroes Fund

The Kern County Wounded Heroes Fund is a local nonprofit that supports veterans and their families with a focus to help ease the transition back to civilian life through ongoing support and appreciation. When veterans come home, sometimes they’re unsure of what to do, not knowing what’s next – that’s where Wounded Heroes comes in, offering everything from a cup of coffee and good conversation to marriage retreats, couples counseling, financial counseling, and even housing.

On November 5th at the Kern County Fairgrounds, a BBQ Steak Lunch helped raise money for these great causes.  At the Veterans Parade on November 11th, Paul Beckworth introduced me to Glenn Porter who is on the Board of Directors for the Wounded Heroes fund and he talked about this event and that it was sold out this year.  It was wonderful getting to know Glenn.

To learn more about the Wounded Heroes Fund, check out http://thewoundedheroesfund.org/.

BC was out at the Fairgrounds for the Wounded Heroes Fund event.  Here are three pictures..the first with our nursing students and the second with Paul Beckworth’s family (Andy Lopez, Eileen Lopez, Adam Lopez, Sandra Beckworth, Paul Beckworth, Sonya Christian) who came out to support the event and the last one, a selfie with Wesley Barrientos.  Wesley, I am so happy to see you!

woundedheroes

 

 

Renegade RIP covers Driven by Art

The Renegade RIP, BC’s student newspaper recently highlighted the unique and individually painted trucks you’ve spotted around town. J.R. Hensley, the RIP Reporter notes, “the trucks will be in their current locations until the January 6, 2017, at which time the businesses that purchased the models will take possession of them or they can donate them to the city, which will put them on permanent display on the Westside Parkway.”  I hope you’ll have a chance to spot them all – many are in various places throughout Downtown Bakersfield.

The RIP has been around for over 85 years at Bakersfield College reporting on news and events across campus and our community. To learn more about The RIP, visit www.therip.com and to see my previous blog about the BMOA’s Driven by Art Trucks, see https://sonyachristianblog.com/2016/10/08/so-many-reasons-to-celebrate-we-are-bc/.

EOP&S Takes Off to Museum of Tolerance

eopsI found this draft blog entry from March 2016.  Enjoy!

A group of 42 EOP&S students and staff gathered before sunrise on March 18, 2016 and boarded a bus headed southbound to the Museum of Tolerance. During the drive, the movie Anne Frank was played to get an insight of the holocaust.

Her spirit was felt on the bus and students were left thinking about the horrific events that happened in the early 1930s.

The Museum of Tolerance provided an interactive experience for students ranging from digital storytelling, films, artifacts, personal testimonies and thought provoking questions. Students were also guided to the Tolerance center exhibit where they were exposed to major issues of intolerance that happen on a local and global level. Topics on contemporary events such as bullying, hate speech, discrimination, human rights exploitation, and terrorism were covered, all which affect our community. “Don’t be a standby” was a phrase that the docent kept repeating as he challenged us to think what we can do to work to end injustices, discrimination, hateful behaviors and concluded with “History has a tendency to repeat itself.”

After the tour, a few students shared this was an eye-opening experience. One student expressed “this education[al] excursion [taught] me a lesson about the power of words.” Another student said “every minute was filled with learning about history” and others shared this was just not a visit “but also an educational trip, it teaches us about what we should do about eliminating discrimination.” When students were asked to identify steps to be more personally responsible for positive change, many responded to “speak up, help others, and care more.” One student summed it up and said “Speak up because someone needs to take initiative. Be the change I want to see.”

Their visit to the Museum of Tolerance was impactful. Over 85 percent of the group had never visited the museum. In the evaluation of their learning experience at the Museum of Tolerance, only about 26 percent indicated they had a great deal of understanding of the Holocaust prior to visiting the museum — after visiting the museum, 75 percent of the students indicated they gained a greater understanding of the Holocaust. Overall there was a 77 percent student consensus that visiting the Museum of Tolerance increased their awareness of past social injustices and the different types of prejudice and discrimination that exist in the world we live in.

Academic Senate

Its been a while since I visited with our Academic Senate.  BC has a great group of faculty serving on the senate with exceptional leadership from President Steven Holmes, VP Andrea Thorson and the Exec Board of the Senate.  I stopped by on Wednesday, November 9th, after the election to thank the faculty members from the senate who helped with the Measure J work.  One of my colleagues took these pictures and I so enjoyed seeing them that I thought I would share them with you. We Are BC!

 

bruce-the-election-dog-nov-9-2016

 

That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — signing off with a picture of Bruce and reminding everyone that I am the luckiest and happiest college president ever.

Vision for the Valley: Kern County Leaders Look to the Future at BC

IMG_9116

Sonya Christian

Whether you’re titans of industry, learned academics or pre-schoolers on the playground, there’s a simple rule that holds true — talking through problems is usually the most effective path to workable, sustaining solutions.

 

Unfortunately, we’re all so busy with our daily lives (especially this time of year) that we have a hard enough time identifying the problems, let alone crafting the complex answers needed to settle them.

So how do we as a community solve the multi-layered puzzle of addressing Kern County’s critical infrastructure needs?

IMG_9122

Richard Beene (TBC), Nick Ortiz (Chamber), Victoria Rome (NRDC),    Tupper Hull (WSPA)

Well, there are few experiences more energizing than listening to a collection of very smart people talk about very important things — so BC was thrilled to host the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Vision for the Valley summit this week.

Nick Ortiz and our friends at the Chamber really outdid themselves, creating a half-day symposium that assembled some of our area’s most knowledgeable business, legislative and analytical minds to examine issues we all face every day (whether we think about them or not) — issues around energy, water, agriculture, housing, transportation and their interlocking impacts on Kern County’s economy.

Before I get into the content of the summit’s multiple panels, a quick congratulations to the Chamber and our team at BC for the great visual presentation on the Simonsen Performing Arts Center stage.  From the Scandinavian type furniture to the backdrop to the impressive lighting package, the production crew behind the summit did a phenomenal job.

As for the panels themselves…well, delving into “big think” topics like this can be an enormous challenge, but the summit’s roster of insightful speakers — under the well-orchestrated direction of moderators Richard Beene and Louis Amestoy of the Bakersfield Californian — crystallized the major points around these complex issues, making them all very relatable.  Elizabeth Sanchez did a piece in the Californian on the summit which can be found at

http://www.bakersfield.com/news/2015/12/08/thomas-urges-county-to-seek-half-cent-transporation-sales-tax.html

The Energy, Sustainability and the Economy panel, for instance, brought together natural opponents for a spirited discussion of where the oil industry is headed, particularly focusing on its impact on Kern County, the San Joaquin Valley and the rest of the state’s transportation needs.

Much of the conversation with conservationist advocate Victoria Rome with the National Resources Defense Council and Western States Petroleum Association vice president Tupper Hull centered on state regulation, both its impact on oil producers and whether California was going too far — or not far enough — in overseeing the industry’s activities.

While Victoria was encouraged that California’s 140,000 electric and hybrid cars on the road today could hit the 1 million benchmark by 2030, both agreed the state’s need for oil would likely remain strong for years to come.

“We need to stop looking for simplistic answers to complex questions,” Tupper said.

water panel dec 2015 cropped

John Burtchaell (Wells Fargo), DeeDee D’Adamo (State Water Resources Control), Lois Henry (TBC), Louis Amestoy (TBC)

That was a theme that held true throughout the day, including a deep-dive look at the impact of California’s drought on our groundwater demand during the Agriculture and Water Resources panel. DeeDee D’Adamo, a board member with the State Water Resources Control Board, defended and explained, and in some cases, commiserated over the state’s water use policies. Lois Henry made the issues clear in a pragmatic and a “let’s cut to the chase” approach of addressing these complex issues.

Water use in California has reduced by 27 percent in the five months since emergency conservation regulations began in June.  While there was general agreement that it will be a long-term,  multi-year effort to replenish state water reserves, there was a sense that some form of permanent conservation measures would remain in place even once the drought is declared over, helping to protect the state from future water shortage issues.

IMG_9149

Louis Amestoy (The Bakersfield Californian), Greg Bielli (Tejon Ranch),   Bill Thomas (former Congressman), Dave Cogdill (former State Senator)

The third and final panel of the day, a round-table talk about housing, land use and transportation, was also a strong contender for highlight of the day, particularly thanks to the spirited engagement and effusive charm of panelist, retired congressman and luminary BC faculty emeritus Bill Thomas.

I wasn’t here during Bill’s teaching career on this very campus from 1965 to 1974, but those nine years as a political science faculty were part of the beginnings of one of Kern County’s most storied political careers.  Bill’s 27 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, highlighted by his chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, grant him a unique perspective on issues that few others could offer.

One of Bill’s political passions is transportation — and like the true statesmen he is, Bill didn’t hold back, crusading for Kern County to keep pushing through apathy and threats of adjudication to complete the scores of local transportation projects undertaken by his namesake Thomas Roads Improvement Program (TRIP).

Ret. Rep. Bill Thomas and former state Sen. Dave Cogdill on the Housing, Land Use and Transportation panel

Ret. Rep.Bill Thomas, former state Sen.Dave Cogdill 

For those who don’t know the history, TRIP has been overseeing the use of $630 million in federal funds secured by Thomas in 2005 to tackle Bakersfield’s specific transportation problems.

He repeatedly framed it as transportation issues that arise when an “east-west” county resides within a “north-south” state. The projects include the completed construction of the Westside Parkway, the State Route 178/Fairfax Road Interchange, the State Route 58 gap closure and the State Route 178/Morning Drive Interchange.

Right now, one of TRIP’s top priorities is to begin work on their largest project, the Centennial Corridor, which will ultimately connect State Route 99 and Interstate 5.  But Thomas warned about the danger of obstructionist attorneys using CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) statutes to slow Corridor construction via unnecessary litigation.

“Adjudication takes a long time and costs a lot of money,” Thomas said. “That’s their way of trying to control the outcome.”

Bill also made some news during the summit, coming out in support of Kern County voters approving a half-cent tax measure that would mark Kern as a “self-help” county, earmarking funds for future county transportation projects.  More importantly, the designation would significantly boost Kern County’s ability to secure state and federal money to carry such projects to completion.

As a staunch Republican acutely aware of Kern County voters’ pervasive anti-taxation stance, Bill told the crowd he understood initial bristling to the idea — but warned the cost of not attaining “self-help” status and losing out on federal transportation dollars to other areas made passing the tax infinitely more cost-effective for the county and its residents.

Talking through water regulations and oil production restrictions and transportation funding can seem like dry policy wonk chatter, capable of making anyone’s eyes glaze over. But at the end of the day, all of these critical conversations come back to some simple questions — how does this affect the people of Kern County and how do we make everyone’s lives better through our collective decisions?

IMG_9146

Sonya Christian (BC), Mary Jo Pasek (BC), Karen Goh (Garden Pathways), Michael Turnipseed (Kern Tax)

It was wonderful to see the community out at the college to engage in these discussions. Events like the Vision for the Valley summit help point us toward ways of enriching the life of every single Kern County resident…and we at BC couldn’t be happier to play our part in making events like this happen.

Ramon Puga Cropped Dec 7 2015

Ramon Puga from BC. Helping with the take down

BC Faculty Spotlight

It has been one heck of a week and I thought life would slow down after graduation 🙂  I got back to Bakersfield on Friday after travelling on work related business and woke up this morning to see the picture of one of our colleagues in the Californian.  Nick is a regular expert contributor to the Californian with his Stargazing feature, and this morning I was filled with pride to read this well written piece that is content rich and has a nice style.  Nick tells us about “Dawn” and “New Horizons,” two spacecraft exploring dwarf planets. He then zooms out to the edge of the universe and the stretching of spacetime with a super-luminous galaxy with 300 trillion times the power of the sun that is visible as it was only 1.3 billion years after the Big Bang. Finally he takes us home for a look at the planets from our familiar night sky, Venus and Jupiter to the west and the rings of Saturn to the east of the evening sky.

Nick's article on June 6 2015

Nick Strobel’s article in the Californian. June 6, 2015

I could not find Nick’s piece on the Californian’s website hence you get an iphone photo image of the front page of today’s Eye Street.  But I found it on BC’s website.  Here it is:

https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/planetarium/bakersfield-night-sky/bakersfield-night-sky-june-6-2015

Here is a “copy and paste” from the website.

Bakersfield Night Sky — June 6, 2015

Bakersfield Night Sky – June 6, 2015
By Nick Strobel

Both of NASA’s dwarf planet spacecraft continue to get closer to their targets. Dawn has been in orbit around the dwarf planet, Ceres, in the main asteroid belt, since the first week of March and has now spiralled down to its second mapping orbit at a distance of 2700 miles from Ceres. The two bright spots in earlier images have been resolved into multiple smaller bright spots, so they are very likely exposed ice. Dawn will remain in this mapping orbit until the end of June. After that it will spiral down for an even closer look at Ceres.

Because Dawn uses an ion engine, instead of regular chemical rockets to propel itself, the accelerations are very small so the orbit changes are very gradual. Therefore, it takes days to a few weeks to spiral downward or upward to whatever orbit the scientists want.

New Horizons is speeding toward dwarf planet Pluto at about 750,000 miles a day, so today it is approximately 28 million miles away. You can check its distance up to the minute using the dashboard on the left side of the New Horizons homepage at http://pluto.jhuapl.edu . At the end of May, the images posted on the website were slightly better than the best maps derived from months of heavy computer processing of data from the Hubble Space Telescope. The view over the next few weeks will get thousands of times sharper!

In other space exploration news NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has discovered a very distant galaxy, called WISE J224607.57-052635.0, shining with the power output of over 300 trillion suns. Since the galaxy is very distant, we are seeing it as it was 12.5 billion years ago. Because of the stretching of spacetime due to the expansion of universe, I don’t say it is 12.5 billion light years away. At short distances of just a few million light years away, the light travel time matches up with the distance number in light years. For example, a we see a star 150 light years away as it was 150 years ago. But when we’re talking about billions of years of light travel time, then the distance the object is from us at this particular cosmic time is much greater. That’s why the press releases from the astronomers will be careful to give how far back in time we’re viewing something and not give a light years distance number.

Having said that, though, I’ll sometimes slip up myself and confuse the light travel time with the distance because my brain is hardwired for Newtonian space and time. Well, the news story about the super-luminous galaxy wasn’t about light travel times or even so much about the large luminosity. The surprising thing is that supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s core that is responsible for the huge power output is so darn young, just 1.3 billion years after the Big Bang. The light is coming from the huge disk of gas and dust spiralling into the black hole. Bigger black holes can have bigger (brighter) disks of gas and dust surrounding them.

The black hole at the core of WISE J224607.57-052635.0 was already billions of times the mass of our Sun when the universe was only 10% of its present age. How did it get so big in so short a time? Three months ago in a previous column, I talked about another supermassive black hole that had grown huge in “too short” a time. Well, one can expect a few oddballs to crop up in nature due to chance but the latest study from WISE talks about 20 new very distant galaxies that have been found with have very large black holes that have been added to the oddball list. That’s enough to indicate our understanding about what’s powering these super-luminous galaxies is incomplete or how these black holes grow is incomplete. Probably both are incomplete!

Something we do understand very well are the motions of the planets in our sky. The two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, continue to draw closer together in the western sky after sunset. Jupiter is still between Cancer and Leo. In May Venus scooted through Gemini and is now on the right (west) side of Cancer about a fist and a half width at arms length from Jupiter (see the first star chart below). On the night of June 19th, a thin Waxing Crescent Moon will be below Jupiter and Venus making a very nice photo opportunity. At the time of the free public star party hosted by the Kern Astronomical Society on the 27th, Jupiter and Venus will be about two knuckles at arms length apart from each other. At the end of the month, they’ll be less than a thumb width apart from each other.

Saturn is shining brightly in the eastern sky in the evening. It continues moving retrograde (backward) and is now at the edge of Libra in front of the head of Scorpius (see the second chart below). Saturn’s rings are tipped almost fully open from our perspective on Earth, so this is a good time to check them out in a telescope.

Want to see more of the stars at night and save energy? Shield your lights so that the light only goes down toward the ground. See www.darksky.org for how.


Nick Strobel
Director of the William M Thomas Planetarium at Bakersfield College
Author of the award-winning website www.astronomynotes.com