Tag Archives: Connie Conway

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 

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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“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”

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That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — the luckiest and happiest college president ever

 

The little things we do!

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, December 10th….a good day to be a Renegade!  a good week to be a Renegade.

Campus was buzzing this week as students crammed in last-minute studying, raced to complete finals and closed out fall 2016 as another successful semester – but life has a humorous way of always making the busiest of times also some of the most memorable.

On Wednesday night, multiple gas leaks were reported on campus and immediately the BC team jumped into action. The President’s Cabinet received news at approximately 9:30PM that PG&E disconnected gas to the main campus and that’s when the work began. Without heat and throughout the night, Bill Potter, Chris Counts, Ramon Puga, Michelle Pena, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, and Zav Dadabhoy worked to make sure Thursday’s finals and events could resume as normal. In addition, all of the deans were on standby to respond to whatever was the outcome of work of the technical team.  Also a shout out to Liz Rozell, who answered my call from Sacramento and went immediately to work.  Stephen Waller who headed out to campus.  Manny Mourtzanos, Cindy Collier, Corny Rodriguez, Shannon Musser, …..

Approximately 365 finals were scheduled for Thursday, so a list of alternate spaces and a plan B was drafted. However, by 1:00AM, repairs were estimated to be complete within 3-5 hours, and by 7:30AM, campus was up-and-running like nothing had happened!

Thank you Zav Dadabhoy for taking this picture on Wednesday, Dec 6th night, and sending it to me while I was in Sacramento.

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Chief Chris Counts, Bill Potter, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg on campus with Zav Dadabhoy

BC is a gem because of its people – the dedication of our staff, faculty, administration, and students make this campus a great place to be. Thank you again to everyone who pulled together to make sure classrooms had heat and finals could resume as scheduled on Thursday morning. #WeAreBC #TodosSomosBC

Caroling and Culinary extravaganza:

Saturday, December 3rd: Our BC Chamber singers, faculty and staff sang Christmas carols to us, and our Culinary students and faculty chefs cooked an incredible meal.  Two of our trustees, Kyle Carter and Romeo Agbalog, attended the event. Thank you trustees.  It is always a treat to have you on our campus.

I also enjoyed seeing many community members out to support BC as well as our faculty and staff.  Pauline Larwood, so wonderful to see you!

 

I enjoyed catching up with Brian Burrows, past CEO of the Bakersfield Symphony orchestra, as well as Phil McDermott, son of Greg McDermott whom I have known for many years.

bryan-burrows-sonya-christian-phillip-mcdermott-at-caroling-and-christmas-dinner

And the icing on the cake was a surprise guest, Senator Jean Fuller and her husband Russell Fuller.  Senator Fuller is a Renegade and I enyoyed hearing her talk about her time at BC, how she was in the Fireside Room listening to President Simonsen and about how BC made a tremendous difference in her life.  Senator Fuller is just amazing….smart, beautiful, and so caring.  She is a warrior for issues important to the Central Valley and her negotiating skills have served us very well.  Let’s take a moment to toast this incredible human being.  To Senator Jean Fuller!

And I love this picture of my mom, Pam Christian, who, after dinner wanted a more comfortable chair and found herself this cozy corner.  She loves Christmas music, and I was so happy watching her relaxing and listening to her favorite songs. You can even spot her in the background of the group picture above, staying warm and having a good time.  So glad you came to the event mom!

Glad to see faculty, staff and their families out to support this event.  Loved having the young Strobel, Kelly, with us who had just completed a physics project with cranes, pulleys and weights.  How fast our children grown up.

And thank you Camilla for triggering a bidding war on a live auction item!

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Rob Parsons, Isabel Stierle, Becki Whitson

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Nick, Kelly and Lisa Strobel

 

I captured a few videos on my iphone.  Yes, I have a new phone, the iphone 7.  So you should be seeing more videos in my blog posts.  Except, only a week after I got the phone, I dropped it and there is a crack across the front face 😦 … I’m told it can be repaired at the mall, or maybe I’ll leave it as a reminder to get the iphone 8 as soon as it comes out.

Pat Davis is the best.  Here are 26 second of Pat doing Santa Baby.  Jen Garret we need Pat to do this again in December 2017!

 

I so loved this Christmas rendition of Santa and his Sleigh performed extravagantly by Dr. John Gerhold to the tune of Bennie and the Jets.  I found myself responding to the music the moment the first chords exploded from the keyboard, matched by the power of John’s voice, and sent the music reverberating across the room.  Turn on your sound and turn up the volume, because Heeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeee’s John Gerhold!!

 

If anyone could have followed John Gerhold with a stellar performance, it was Ken Burdick doing The Impossible Dream from The Man from La Mancha with his fabulous voice and great presence.  This is what we do at BC…  The Impossible Dream, transforming lives.  Let’s look at these magical lyrics and then turn up the volume and listen to Burdick.

To dream … the impossible dream …
To fight … the unbeatable foe …
To bear … with unbearable sorrow …
To run … where the brave dare not go …
To right … the unrightable wrong …
To love … pure and chaste from afar …
To try … when your arms are too weary …
To reach … the unreachable star …
This is my quest, to follow that star …
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far …
To fight for the right, without question or pause …
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause …
And I know if I’ll only be true, to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
when I’m laid to my rest …
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach … the unreachable star …

 

Finally, I am glad Jen Garrett caught a video of Mason Edwards and Kelsey Celeste singing this duet. https://www.facebook.com/jennifergarrettdma/videos/10209738052381028/

The evening before the event, Jen Garrett and her students were in the cafeteria late into the night getting the place ready for us.  Jen sent this txt: “You should see the cafeteria! And we aren’t finished yet. It will be even better. The snowflakes aren’t showing on the ceiling yet!”  Talk about a faculty member going the extra 100 miles to engage our students, the single most important ingredient in student learning. #WeAreBC

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Here are more pictures:

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Guided Pathways:

We were excited to hear on December 6th that the College Futures Foundation funded the California Guided Pathways Proposal a major initiative that BC is promoting as a framework statewide to build on and integrate the work of student learning and achievement in California’s Community Colleges.  Harold Pierce of  The Bakersfield Californian covered the story on Thursday, December 8th.  Check out Pierce’s coverage at http://tinyurl.com/hz7tqfn.

Here is an excerpt

The model provides structure to students selecting classes. Counselors would plan course schedules based on whether students want to receive two-year degrees, or transfer to a four-year university, check in on them regularly and create pathways for success.

Students would be assisted from point of entry through employment in a chosen field, according to the Foundation for California Community Colleges, which spearheaded the effort.

 

Guided Pathways would limit the number of students taking courses not necessary for their goals and move them through the community college system faster, clearing enrollment backlogs that districts have for years faced.

“The Guided Pathway model provides a structured framework for colleges to lead institutional change and improve student success,” said incoming California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley. “I applaud the colleges and partners who’ve taken an innovative leadership role tailoring a national model to benefit students in California.”

Btw, Eloy Oakley is the incoming Chancellor of the California Community Colleges.  He starts on Janaury 1, 2017.  We also have a new Chancellor for the Kern Community College District, Tom Burke.  Let’s welcome Chancellor Eloy Oakley and Chancellor Tom Burke to their new roles.

So proud of the work done by the BC team who has been helping with the statewide work — Lesley Bonds, Nick Strobel, Jessica Wojtysiak, and Janet Fulks.  It has been great partnering with Kay McClenney, Rob Johnstone, and Kathy Booth.

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Shawn Whalen

But the man who connected the dots and worked hard behind the scene to make it happen is Shawn Whalen.  I am sure he is going to hate it that I am calling him out.  But truly he is the person who has worked diligently bringing us together, asking the tough questions, keeping the equity conversation front and center, and stretching for high levels of performance from the colleges.  Here’s to Shawn Whalen! I am so glad to be working with you!

 

Talking about Guided Pathways, there was a statewide Guided Pathways workshop in Sacramento on Wednesday (Dec 6th) and Thursday (Dec 7th). This workshop was funded by the Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative led by the statewide Vice Chancellor Theresa Tena and BC took a leadership role in pulling together the programming for the event.  It was also a treat to have a fabulous BC team attend.  I rode back on the train with the team and so enjoyed hearing the group work, talk and laugh together.  The best part of working at BC is the camaraderie, the love, respect and admiration we have for each other.

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Andrew Haney, Matthew Garrett, Janet Fulks, Eleonora Hicks, Maria Wright, Steve Watkin, and Grace Commiso took time out of their busy schedules to attend the IEPI Guided Pathways Workshop in Sacramento this week. #WeAreBC

 

NEH Grant for Delano

delano-grant-logo-neh_logo_horizontal_rgbThere is always something to celebrate at Bakersfield College and I’m so excited to share that the Delano Campus Library has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a digital project to record Delano’s past. Our rural campus and neighboring communities deserve this kind of recognition and attention. Their stories are one-of-a-kind and the difference education can make in their neighborhoods will forever change the people, families, and generations that reside there. I could not mention such a great achievement for the Delano campus and community without thanking Dr. Oliver Rosales for his continued passion and dedication to improving the lives of our students in rural Kern. I so look forward to seeing the project, “Digital Delano: Preserving an International Community’s History” come to life through the fantastic resources provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities!!

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Oliver Rosales

It’s POSSIBLE

Higher education makes a world of opportunities possible, but what do young people do when they don’t know where to start or where to find the answers?

That’s where the BC Outreach team steps in with events that make enrolling in college an easy and successful experience. The goal is that students walk away from this one day event with a class schedule in hand, ready to take on the college adventure – and that’s just what the BC Outreach team does. Last Saturday, December 3rd,  at It’s POSSIBLE, new students were helped individually, regardless of status within the enrollment process to enroll, find courses, and set up their educational plan for the next couple years depending on what they were trying to achieve. Different goals include certificates and different types of degrees. There’s a lot you can accomplish at BC and there’s so many resources offered to help you achieve your goals. And the whole family comes out to help.  Here is Debi Anderson with her husband Jerry and their cute grandson.

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Kaleidoscope

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The next day, BC’s Renegade Band, Concert Band, and Orchestra had their concert in the Edward J. Simonsen Performing Arts Center. Tim Heasley opened the evening with the extraordinary talents of the Bakersfield College Renegade Marching band, where they did something a little different than expected in an indoor concert. With stage choreography, they performed Bolero, composed by Maurice Ravel and arranged by Jay Bocook.

kaleidoscope_band-orch_4dec16-1Kathryn Kuby then took the stage as she conducted the Bakersfield College Concert band and Orchestra. This was her first performance at BC and she surely did not disappoint. Kuby selected a wide variety of pieces for the audience ranging from Holiday classics, a John Lennon medley, a piece by John Williams, and a personal favorite Symphony no. 25 in G Minor, Allego con brio. All in all the performance from these exceptionally talented renegades was definitely a treat for all who were in attendance.

Vision for the Valley

On Wednesday, The Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, along with event partners including The Bakersfield Californian, Wells Fargo, Chevron, Aera, and San Joaquin Community Hospital hosted a crowd of over 300 people in BC’s indoor theater for the Vision for the Valley conference.

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Over 300 local professionals were greeted by Nancy Ortiz, President  & CEO of the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, followed by Michelle Chantry, CEO of The Bakersfield Californian, and myself  to kick off the multipart event.

 

The first panel focused on election impact on California businesses and the San Joaquin Valley.  I got this nice picture of Richard Beene, Dan Walters and Michelle Chantry in the green room.

richard-beene-dan-walters-michelle-chantry-dec-6-2016

 

STEM Education was in the spotlight for the second panel and I had the joy of joining my fellow panelist, Adam Alvidrez of Chevron and our moderator, Nick Ortiz of GBCC on the stage. Local STEM education programs for workforce development are of vital importance to Kern County and the future success of our region.

visionofthevalley3

 

The final panel on healthcare innovations wrapped up the event by exploring the future of key programs and exploring how to provide effective and innovative healthcare.

Thank you to all the fantastic partners, presenters, and attendees who contributed to making this event one-of-a-kind. It was great to see Bakersfield Mayor Elect, Karen Goh upcoming KCCD Chancellor, Tom Burke in the audience, JP Lake, Cathy Butler, Jim Scott, Bob Meadows, and so many friends of BC.

When Students say Thank You

Mariah Earl just successfully completed her first semester of the Registered Nursing program and sent a thank you email to her professors. After making its way to my inbox, I just knew I had to share —

mariah-earl-photo-2Dearest Professors, As my first semester of the Registered Nurse program draws to a close, I wanted to take a moment and thank you for your instruction that has played a vital role in my success as a nursing student thus far. We have to take a lot of pre-requisite classes before beginning the program, but none are nearly as valuable as Anatomy and Physiology and Microbiology. The time I spent mastering the topics of the courses you teach was time well spent as an investment in my future success, not just as a student, but as a nurse giving care to patients.

I recognize that it takes an extra effort on the part of the professors to offer instruction that is relevant and emphasizes real-life public health issues. Thank you for taking those extra steps on behalf of your students.

I’ve had study groups with many different classmates this semester and I’ve noticed that the students who are struggling the most are the ones that are weakest in their A&P and Micro knowledge. Their struggles are partly related to not mastering the material at the time they took the classes and partly due to how long it took them to get accepted into the program after taking the courses. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity I had to do Supplemental Instruction for Profs. Fullks and Tavoni. Those two semesters kept the material fresh in my mind, and teaching others helped cement the knowledge in my brain.

If I were to be so bold as to offer any advice to your future students, it would be to treat your classes as seriously as they would treat the classes in the actual nursing program. Microbiology and Anatomy and Physiology are not classes that should be taken just to check off of the pre-req list. They should be taken with intention of mastery. All of the organ systems and disease conditions (plus more!) will be revisited in the nursing program. If they take the time to learn it now, then they will get to sleep a little more at night during the program and worry less about exams. Speaking of exams, thank you for the exam questions that require a lot more critical thinking. I didn’t necessarily enjoy them at the time, but they helped train my brain to think in a new and improved way.

I don’t want to bore you with all the topics that have helped me so far, but here’s a quick bullet list:

  • Nervous system and neurotransmitters
  • Hormones (origin, target, and action)
  • BP regulation (short term and long term, especially the R-A-A system)
  • Immunity (humoral, cell mediated, active/passive, natural/acquired, and antimicrobial therapy)
  • Principles of gas exchange, and respiratory diseases
  • Carbonic acid formula
  • Fluid, Electrolyte, and Acid Base Balance (especially this!)
  • Diabetes

Truly, I can’t thank all of you enough. I appreciate your knowledge and the ways you’ve challenged me to grow as a student. Warmest Regards, Mariah Earl”

When a student says thank you, there’s an instant feeling of purpose, of making a difference, and of knowing that what you do each day as an educator is and will change lives.  It’s something I can’t accurately describe in words, but I hope Mariah and all of our students know… we at BC… staff, faculty and administrators – we can’t thank you enough as well. You are the heart and soul of what drives us each day. You are the future so be brave and follow your dreams boldly. Thank you for your dedication to your studies – it’s the most important thing you could do. You’re an inspiration for us, your fellow students, and your community.

BC’s Nursing Students Graduate!

Here are some pictures of our RN and VN students graduating.  Thank you Nan and Cindy.  And Nan wanted me to include the Nightingale Pledge a modified “Hippocratic Oath” composed in 1893 by Lystra E. Gretter and a Committee for the Farrand Training School for Nurses, Detroit, Michigan. It was called the Florence Nightingale Pledge as a token of esteem for the founder of modern nursing.

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.

Community Voices: Jack Hernandez

 I loved seeing Jack Hernandez’s piece in the Californian. He begins by saying,
“When I came to BC many years ago, I saw by the front door of the administration building a plaque dated 1955 with the words, “Only the Educated are Free.”

Did you know that plaque still resides on the right-hand side of the admin buildings entry doors?  Jack’s article made me take a moment and pause Monday morning when I arrived on campus. Thank you for the reminder Jack, of what it means to be free.

bc_plaque

If you haven’t read the piece, make sure to take a moment. It’s worth your time and available at http://www.bakersfield.com/opinion/community-voices-only-the-educated-are-free/article_0e788a32-0784-58a7-b775-5eedf25ceff8.html

BC Adjunct Faculty Olivia Garcia on BC Public Safety

oliviagarcia_fromopeningdayAny time a tragedy strikes at a school or college, it affects all educational campuses across the globe and we feel it, right at home on the campus of BC. Last weekend Olivia Garcia, a local journalist and adjunct faculty member, featured BC public safety Director, Chris Counts, in a published piece. Olivia said, “The recent attack at Ohio State University has left a somber mood at colleges and campuses throughout the nation.” Check out the piece at http://www.bakersfield.com/columnists/olivia-garcia-bc-public-safety-official-reflects-on-ohio-state/article_3858defc-bd72-5a7c-9574-ac4da11df084.html

Equity TV and David Moton

Kate Pluta sent me the link to Equity TV episode featuring David Moton, Department Chair of English.  I loved watching and hearing from both Francis Mayer and David Moton.  Check it out.

Pueblo Fest — Mark your Calendars, March 17th, 18th, 19th, 2017

Recently I had dinner with Arnoldo Avalos, member of the Board of Governors for California’s Community Colleges and he talked about this music festival he is bringing to the Central Valley.  Very exciting.  Guess where I am going to be on March 17th, 18th and 19th…

Here is a picture with Arnoldo Avalos when he visited Bakersfield College in his official capacity as a member of the BOG. From left to right: Arnoldo Avalos, Connie Conway, Sonya Christian, Romeo Agbalog, Vince Stewart

Avalos Conway Christian Agbalog Stewart April 29 2016

Arnoldo Avalos, Connie Conway, Sonya Christian, Romeo Agbalog, Vince Stewart

Here is an excerpt from an email he sent me.

I want to introduce you to Pueblofest – the first ever regional Mexican music festival in the history of the United States being held at the international ag-center in Tulare CA. Pueblofest is a family friend event with a social purpose. The venue holds up to 100k people. The music will attract our community now we need to inspire them! We plan to have over 100 nonprofits at the music festivals to help educate and provide services to concert goers.

Pueblofest has an amazing line up of artists like Tigre del Norte, Tucanes de Tijuana, Intocables, Voz del Mando, Original Banda el Limón, Cheque Peña, and others coming to the Central Valley. In addition, we will have many motivational speakers like Jose Hernandez (US astronaut), Dr Raul Ruiz MD (3 degrees from Harvard – US congressman), Amanda Renteria (1st Latina Chief of Staff for US Senator) and many others.

Check it out http://pueblofest.com/

 

 

The Bakersfield Californian, a community gem!

Did you notice that I referred a lot to The Bakersfield Californian in my blog.  TBC is a local treasure.  Been with us for over 100 years.  As an aside, in response to a question posed by Richard Beene, Lois Henry at the Vision for the Valley sent a call out to the community to support the work journalists do!  I agree!

Cindy Collier — BC’s gem

On Friday, I was interviewing a candidate for a position here at BC and she talked about why she wanted to come to BC.  She said it was because of the people who work here.  They seem to watch out for each other and care for each other.  And the example that she gave me was our Dean for Allied Health and CTE Cindy Collier.

condy-collier-and-grandkids-nov-2016

So I went back and read an email Cindy recently sent me.  So, you see Bakersfield, this is why BC is so special

Good morning Sonya,

Just wanted to share a few photos with you from our VN and RN pinning ceremonies that were held this week.  I was particularly moved by the story of Brandy Billingsly one of our VN graduates who shared her journey through nursing school.

brandy-billingsy-dec-9-2016A single mom with 3 children, spoke of the challenges of nursing school, the long hours in class and studying that kept her away from her children, she cried as she apologized for the countless football games missed, the early mornings that she had to wake her children up to take them to their “Nana’s” house so that she could be in the clinical setting at 6:00 a.m., the weekends that she had to give up because she had to work,  but at the same time she graciously thanked her employer for allowing the opportunity to work every weekend for the past 18 months so that she could complete nursing school.  She thanked her classmates for being her family and allowing her to cry on their shoulders when she failed a test or just couldn’t understand her material, and she thanked her professors for showing up each and everyday teaching and re-teaching her the material so that she could be the best nurse possible. As she wiped the tears from her eyes she looked out into the audience and told them that she wasn’t very strong, but she had to be strong so that she could do this (complete nursing school) for her family so that they could have a better life. And she then looked back at her classmates and told them “WE ARE SIMPLY AMAZING”!  And I looked around the audience of family members, friends and faculty totally moved by her story, I thought yes she’s right – our students are simply amazing.

 After coming home, I had the opportunity to reflect upon my own week and I was reminded why I chose to work at a Community College, it’s because of our students and the way that we (BC) change their lives.  Leaving our doors this week we have over 75 nursing graduates (RN and VN) who will very soon enter the workforce and will have the opportunity to earn beginning wages of greater than $50,000/year which is a family sustaining livable wage. This is huge, not only for our students but our community as well.

As I continue to reflect on why I am so blessed to work at BC, I also am amazed and awed by the support that we have from our community. Yesterday’s advisory board meeting for our Industrial Automation Baccalaureate degree was just awesome.  I listened to these high-powered business men and women who were so thankful for BC to take on the challenge to be one of the 15 pilot college’s, but at the same time had no problem being very frank with us on how we market our program, use data and systems to track our students and program’s success and quite frankly meet their needs for the 21st century employee.

Listening to our partner’s from KHSD who talked about the shared vision for students, through Dual Enrollment and Pathways that align curriculum and programs from 9th grade on, made me proud of the work that we’ve done with Dual Enrollment (despite its challenges). But most importantly what awed me the most was our students; they spoke of how this new degree has opened the door of possibilities for them.  One student who is currently working full-time in the field, while attending our program shared how he knows completing this degree will provide him with so many other career opportunities, he will no longer be stuck in an entry level job.  Another student shared how she really wanted to be an engineer, but last year while in the Calculus, Chemistry, Physics series she discovered she was pregnant with her 3rd child and she just couldn’t ask her family to take on the responsibility of raising her children for the next 4+ years while she completed the necessary courses to earn this degree, but the Industrial Automation degree now provided her with an achievable degree and on-top of it all she really loved what she was learning – she was enjoying putting things together and this program really made sense to her.

So, my dear president even though I am really exhausted and I believe your speech at the President’s Cabinet retreat in August about our 20-mile march this semester was a bunch of baloney, because this semester really has been a 20-mile sprint, I am grateful for you and the fact that you allow each and every one of us to be a part of this privilege to change student’s lives.  So, thank you for inspiring us to think beyond the status quo and for empowering us to move exciting ideas forward.

Cindy, thank you for your email!

It is the holiday season friends.  We have so much to be thankful for.  Reach out to the person close to you and give them a hug.  I am right now in my office and I walked over to say hello to Jackie Lau working away in Admission and Records to give her a hug.

 

jackie-lau-and-sonya-christian-dec-10-2016

 

That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — with Jackie Lau on campus on Saturday, Dec 10th.

A community together

 

Calla Lily June 4 2016

A calla lily for you

Good evening Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, June 4, 2016…the day the community came together at St. Francis to celebrate the life of Tharrell Ming, a diehard driller and a Renegade.  The church was packed by the time I got there at 10:53 a.m. for the 11:00 a.m. mass and they had already run out off the stack of booklets.  I spotted Coach Jeff Chudy, Trustee Kay Meek at the service and noticed that Carl Bowser‘s name led the list of honorary pall bearers followed by  Don James, TH Lockard, Bob Millinich, Bob Morton, Richard Russell, Sid Thompson, Gene Toschi, Rick Twisselman.

 

Bakersfield is a great community and as I am writing this blog, unusually at the end of the day instead of the beginning, I see the burst of flowers in the backyard and the burst of yellow from the calla lily. 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.

Tharrell Dean Ming June 4 2016 Booklet

Now, back to Tharrell Ming…..Monsignor Craig Harrison was his usual remarkable self, funny, warm, comforting and efficient with the mass.  We are blessed to have  Father Craig (as he is warmly referred to) in our community.  The music was minimal and powerful and here are two songs that I listened to throughout the rest of the day.  And whatever your religious leanings or non-religious leanings for that matter, I am sure these two songs will move your spirit and soul as it did mine sitting with hundreds of community members this morning at St. Francis.

Shephard me O God with acoustic guitar on youtube.com

I googled the musical composition of Psalm 23 and learned from the United Methodist Church website that Marty Haugen had composed the haunting melody for the lyrics.  For more on Marty Haugen, check out:

http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-shepherd-me-o-god

How Great Thou Art.  Maybe this is a non-traditional approach to have the Elvis version here in my blog.  But here I go…..

Here’s to a great Renegade, Tharrell Ming.

I started my day early today preparing for a morning meeting with the two Vice Presidents, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg and Zav Dadabhoy, of Bakersfield College at Starbucks.  There were a few things that came up that required this early morning meeting on a Saturday during summer.  I know…. crazy…. but that’s what faculty and staff do at BC!  The talent, commitment and dedication of faculty, staff and administrators at the college is just remarkable.  We are…BC! It is a good time to be at BC!

Nan Sonya Zav FM EDIT

Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Sonya Christian, Zav Dadabhoy

Here are a few highlights from the week:

 

Transfer Award from College Opp June 2 2016

Beebe, Koeth, Christian, Pluta, Siqueiros

BC wins an award for transfer degrees.
Earlier this month we received an email from the President of the Campaign for College Opportunity, Michele Siqueiros, that Bakersfield College was one of 13 community colleges in the state being recognized for the growth in the number of transfer degrees.  The event was held in Sacramento in June 2nd, Thursday, and the BC team that headed north to receive the award included: Trustee Dennis Beebe, Dean of Instruction Kate Pluta and Faculty member David Koeth.

 

 

The Bakersfield Group at College Opp awards June 2 2016

Beebe, Chavez, Koeth, Huerta, Christian, Pluta

The Campaign for College Opportunity is a group dedicated to advancing the educational attainment levels in California by impacting policy at the state level.  The staff are great.  A special thank you to Michele Siqueiros, President; Audrey Dow, Vice President, External Affairs and Operations; Linda Vasquez, Regional Affairs Director. For more check out their website at http://collegecampaign.org/.

 

Here is a picture with the group from Bakersfield that included Dolores Huerta who received a lifetime achievement award and her daughter Camilla Chavez. Congratulations Dolores!

We also connected with Connie Conway, a wonderful member of the Board of Governors for California Community Colleges and now a member of the Board of Directors of the Campaign for College Opportunity.  Also, the fabulous Dean Florez, who is an advocate for education and in particular Bakersfield College.

Dean Florez Connie Conway Dennis Beebe June 2 2016

Dean Florez, Connie Conway, Dennis Beebe

Thank you Trustee Beebe for making this long trip to support BC receiving the award.  It is always wonderful to have our Board members celebrating with us.

In the Bakersfield Californian:

The piece on Corny Rodriguez which was in the Bakersfield Magazine was published in the June 2nd issue of the Californian along with Odella Johnson’s piece on BC’s promising professionals.

I loved the opening by Laura Liera about Corny

On his 10th birthday, Cornelio Rodriguez was picking strawberries in Artesia during the early hours of the morning instead of making a birthday wish. He spent summers picking okra in Indio and Coachella and was even driving his dad’s gardening truck by the age of 12.

 

Here is another excerpt from the article:

But after a conversation with his dad, a visit to the career center led to the applications of Cerritos College, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, UCLA and USC.

It was a Tuesday when the first college acceptance letter came in. Rodriguez was accepted to USC.

“I got scared because we were so poor and I couldn’t afford to go,” Rodriguez remembered. “I was panicking because I thought I had gotten my family into trouble.”

The next day, the UCLA acceptance letter arrived.

“I said, ‘Dear Lord, now I have to go to TWO colleges?’” Rodriguez said.

 

Check out the Californian: http://tinyurl.com/ztwbxva

Promising Professionals:

This is a must-read piece written by Odella Johnson.  Johnson writes about the Promising Professionals and highlights the story of two students — Tamika Narvaez and Linda Esquivel. She writes about Tamika

Students like Tamika Narvaez, a mother of eight who survived abuse and arrived on campus to complete the requirements to transfer, demonstrates how BC delivers student initiatives that allow them to take critical next steps, which result in positive academic outcomes.

and Linda:

Linda Esquivel, a local graduate of South High School and a first- generation college student, left the community to attend San Francisco State University in fall 2013 and, after a semester, left to attend Bakersfield College for financial reasons. Believing that she would not fit in, she felt frustrated and uncertain about the next steps in her journey; however, when she became a student ambassador/ Promising Professional, she admitted that “BC made my future possible,” so with a renewed spirit, Esquivel’s next steps include attending a predoctoral program at the University of Michigan and Penn State this summer.

Johnson ends the article with:

Narvaez and Esquivel’s diversity as students is our strength and we recognize their potential. They embody the spirit of Promising Professionals – students who have passion and purpose.

Kristen Barnes Philanthropy-MattersFor more: http://tinyurl.com/h74g7np

On June 2nd, Kristen Barnes, CEO of Kern Community Foundation and a great partner of BC wrote a wonderful Community Voices piece–Philanthropy Matters: Growing Scholarships, Growing Futures.  Here is an excerpt:

Scholarships close the funding gap students experience. They are one way to provide critical financial support for students – to help make higher education a reality. In many cases, the financial assistance provided by scholarships is a key factor. Gifts for scholarships help students to invest their energies more fully in their course work and pursue internships and leadership opportunities that enrich their personal development and career preparation.

For more, check out http://tinyurl.com/jg47rwq

 

Misono Christian FM EDIT

Misono and Christian

At Rotary West
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to visit the Bakersfield West Rotary Club. The club went all out with BC colors for the table decorations and traditional “flying saucer” cookies that have been a staple on BC’s campus for  decades.

 

Local CPA and BC alum Fred Misono hosted the meeting in West Rotary President Roger Griess’ absence, keeping the event light and funny.

I was able to give a brief history of the College and recount some of our recent accomplishments. Jay Rosenlieb shared the podium as a member of BC’s Blue Ribbon Committee that is working on a facilities initiative for the college — A Better BC 2016…2066.  This initiative, if approved by the KCCD Board of Trustees in July, could becomes a bond measure on the November 2016 election.  Thank you Jay for taking the time to co-present with me. Check out the the website at http://www.abetterbc.com/

I must say that this is a fun club.  There is a lot of teasing back and forth and great camaraderie and fellowship.  At the end of the presentation, all about Bakersfield College, President Misono presents me with a Taft College T-shirt 🙂 I attempt to get away but he was too quick for me.

 

Acting President Misono made the day very special for Bakersfield College.  He then followed up with the photos and wonderfully warm and fun emails after the meeting. Thank you Russell Johnson, John Pryor, John Fallgatter and others at Bakersfield West for your support.  Rick Kreiser, thank you for that great introduction and your service to the Bakersfield College Foundation for so many years.  You are the best! and thank you Tom Gelder, for getting BC on the agenda.

Kreiser Christian Gelder FM edit JUN16.jpg

Rick Kreiser, Sonya Christian, Tom Gelder

Honoring Our Veterans on Memorial Day:

1000Flags2Last weekend, I hope you had a chance to stop by and walk around Riverwalk Park or at least drive by to catch a glimpse of the incredible view. Memorial Day is regularly celebrated on the last Monday of May thanks to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, but did you know its roots go back to 1868 when the day was originally known as Decoration Day?  “On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery” (History.com).

It’s always humbling to reflect on the sacrifice that so many men and women have made and continue to make for the United States and her people. The Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club (BBRC) is a group of local community members who through their leadership and friendship, get things done in our community and for the past few years, they have lead a project of planting one thousand flags at Riverwalk Park over Memorial Day weekend.

Volunteers, sponsors, and the BBRC make this annual event, including activities and formal ceremonies at the park possible. What a great way to be reminded of our freedom, liberty, and justice thanks to our courageous service men and women.  Liz Rozell, Mary Jo Pasek, Marlene, Heise, Cheryl Scott and others at BBRC, you did a fantastic job!

I would also like to share an email I received from Paul Beckworth, our veterans faculty lead at Bakersfield College. He sent this last Monday – Memorial Day:

AdminPaulBeckworth

Paul Beckworth

Memorial Day Message 2016

The warrior-poet, King David, wrote, “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.”  This quote may sound familiar to any fan of the Tom Hanks, World War II epic, Saving Private Ryan.  It is quoted in earnest by the in-residence sniper, Pvt. Jackson, during a pivotal scene in the film.  Inevitably, most of the cast is killed off, as was our popcorn.  However, we know life is not a movie and memories of comrades lost do not go away when the lights go on.

So, what of Memorial Day?  What of those men and women whose hands were taught to war and fingers to fight, who lie still in the ground on this warm May evening?  This is not about the history of Memorial Day.  You can go look that up on Wikipedia.  But, what of those who we remember and honor today?  Today, we see the aged World War II and Korean War veterans, canes in hand, gait a bit unsteady, but minds sharp when recalling battlefields of another time.  Today, they see the friends they lost on those battlefields.  Today, we see 28 year-old OIF/OEF veterans with physical and emotional scars of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Today, they see their lost friends buried at Arlington or the Bakersfield National Cemetery.  Today, we see tatted up, motorcycle riding, leather vest, patch wearing, Vietnam veterans who speak of Tet, and of Khe Sanh.  Today, they see lost buddies who did not get the due deserved them thanks to a divided nation and a callous youth population who called them baby killers.

Today is not about the bullet that barely missed its mark.  Today is about the person whose bullet that found its’ mark.  Today is about the forever young sailor who drowned on the USS Indianapolis, or was killed on the destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts, while fighting toe to toe with Japanese battleships in what became known as the “Last stand of the tin can sailors.”  Today is about the Rangers killed taking Point du Hoc on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the airborne paratrooper of the 101st or 82nd who never made it out of his chute alive.  Today is about the 1,170 corpsman killed during World War II, often cut down while responding to the blood curdling cry of “Corpsman up!”  Today is about the Marine who never left Guadalcanal, Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima, or Okinawa.  Today is about the pilots who never returned to the airfield, or the submariners who are now on “eternal patrol.”  Today is about the young Coastie who maneuvered his landing craft on to the battered shores of Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio only to stay ashore forever.

Today we remember.  We memorialize the “Frozen Chosin” dead who were carefully carried out by the living rather than being left behind in the rugged mountains of North Korea.  Today is about those killed on countless hills in Korea, so numerous to count they were simply numbered by height.  Today is about those who fell defending the Pusan Perimeter, and those who never left the beaches of Inchon.

Today is about those that this country dishonored in so many ways that it is a stain on the honor of this nation.  Today is about those nearly 60,000 Americans killed in Vietnam.  Today is about those who did not evade the draft, but answered to the nation’s call, despite often not understanding what that call was all about.  Today is about those were cut down in the hot, steamy, jungles and in the highlands, in Hueys and in huts.  Today is not about those who were cursed at when they returned home but about those who were cursed at, despite never making it home.

Today is about Cold War warriors who died doing special operations and of Gulf War warriors, whose deaths were few, yet nonetheless paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Today is about Fallujah Marines who are now at Arlington or other national cemeteries.  Today is about those who never left the Triangle of Death.  Today is about the Helmand Province men who are finally still.

The warrior-poet wrote King David wrote, “A thousand fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.”  Today is about the thousand who fell at the left side and the ten thousand who fell at the right hand.  So, today, let us, the living, be comforted and know that those whose hands were taught to fight are at rest.  Today, let us, the living, be comforted and know that today and for eternity, those who fingers were made to war are finally at peace.

Let us remember.   

Sprinting toward semester’s end

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, April 30, 2016….A good day to be a Renegade.

This day 68 years ago, in 1948, the Land Rover debuted at an auto show.  An incredible car designed by the British car company and owned now by Tata Motors was initially intended to be used for farm work but quickly became popular with the public.  Needless to say…I love my Land Rover.

It was another “normal” week at BC–with the Spring performance of our Jazz Ensemble to the One-act festival theater, Career day, High school students attending BC’s Law day, the SGA awards ceremony, baseball, track….. After being on the road for several weeks, and MIA at our athletic events it was great to catch up on baseball after completing faculty interviews late on Friday.  Nan was at the track meet and we exchanged messages from different parts of the campus celebrating our students and coaches.

Baseball finished the regular season in a dramatic fashion, winning 14 of their last 16 games to clinch a playoff berth.  Playoff seeding will be announced on Sunday, a strong possibility we will play at home on May 6th & 7th. Thank you Coach Tim Painton.

Western State Conference finals were held on the newly resurfaced track Friday afternoon with 500 student athletes vying for qualifying marks to the Southern California meet. A beautiful day with a beautiful track resulted in numerous personal best marks. Thank you Coach Pam Kelley.

Softball swept a doubleheader from Antelope Valley on Tuesday to clinch a playoff berth for the fist time since 2012.  There was no quit in these ladies with multiple lead changes throughout both games. Playoff seeding announced today. Thank you Coach Christie Hill.

Board of Governors visits

Avalos Conway Christian Agbalog Stewart April 29 2016

It was a treat having two members of the Board of Governors, Arnoldo Avalos and Connie Conway, visit BC on Tuesday, April 26th.  Rather than doing a special series of presentations, we decided to fit their itinerary into what was happening at BC.  The morning started with them attending an annual event where we connect with leaders from high school and share with them the advances made on the goals set the previous year.  After that, they toured the campus and connected with faculty and students in the sciences, music, CTE etc. Thank you Joe Saldivar, Jen Garrett, Liz Rozell, Manny Gonzales, Clayton Fowler, Nicky Damania and others who helped.  And the fabulous Jennifer Marden who pulled all this together.

Both Arnoldo and Connie were open, direct and clearly enjoyed being on a college campus and interacting with faculty, staff and students.  Here is a blurb about them from the Chancellor’s website:

Arnoldo Avalos has been the founder and chief executive officer of the Avalos Foundation since 2013. He was head of compensation and the global compensation manager at Facebook from 2008 to 2013 and senior global compensation manager for Google from 2006 to 2008. Avalos held multiple positions at Cisco Systems from 1999 to 2006, including compensation manager, corporate recruiter and manager of business operations. He was a system consultant at Andersen Consulting from 1996 to 1999 and farm manager for Avalos Farms from 1989 to 1996. Avalos is a member of the Latino Community Foundation Board of Trustees and a founding member of Hermanos Unidos. He earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Connie Conway has been a member of the California Women Lead Board of Directors since 2008. She served as a member of the California State Assembly from 2008 to 2014, where she was Minority Leader from 2010 to 2014. Conway was a member of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors from 2000 to 2008, serving as chair in 2005 and 2008. She was chair of the Cities Counties Schools Partnership in 2007 and president of the California State Association of Counties in 2006.

It was a wonderful surprise to have Trustee Romeo Agbalog join us. He was able to rearrange his schedule and connect with both Avalos and Conway.

I enjoyed meeting Vince Stewart, Vice Chancellor of External Affairs from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, and hear about the great things being undertaken statewide.

Pre-Law Program: First Graduates & Law Day Conference

Prelaw2As many of you know, Bakersfield College has developed a Pre-law Program over the past two years. We are one of 24 of community colleges in the state of California participating in this program.

This program is designed to help students matriculate more easily from Bakersfield College to a four-year university and on to a participating law school.

We are happy to report that this year our first graduating class of three students has completed the recommended courses for our Pre-Law Program. Bailey Bryson, Michael Esqueda and Fernando Singh were honored at a Pre-Law celebration on Monday. We are estimating that we will have at least 15 graduates in 2017!

We are so excited that members of our Advisory Council were able to attend. Thank you Steven Katz, Courtney Lewis, Mark Pafford, Bethany Peak, Brett Price, H.A. Sala, Rebecca Murillo, Roberta Tafoya, David Torres and Alekxia Torres-Stallings.

On Friday, April 29th,  over 200 students from local high schools packed the Indoor Theater for our annual Law Day Conference. It’s always inspiring to see so many young people enthusiastically pursuing their interests and future career goals, and choosing to visit Bakersfield College.

BrandonStallings_SonyaChristian_MannyMourtzanosShortly before the event, I met Brandon Stallings, a deputy District Attorney and representing the State Bar Board of Trustees. He shared that our local rural communities suffer a real lack of attorneys, and that for our justice system to work we need dedicated students who are interested in a law career and want to stay local.

To help inspire these young people and foster their career goals, local professionals were on hand to share stories and answer questions. Thank you to all attorneys and volunteers involved, especially Honorable Louie L. Vega, Adayinka Glover, Esq., Christian Zoller, Bethany Peak, Esq., Michael J Yraceburn, Esq., Honorable Steven M Katz, Esq., H.A. Sala, Esq., and Alekxia Torres-Steallings, Esq.

EricHogan_DeanMWe have great faculty and staff at Bakersfield College, like Manny Mourtzanos, our Dean of Instruction, who makes these events fun and captivating for our future students. While opening the program, Manny asked if anyone could recite the Miranda Rights by memory. Surprisingly, hands flew up and Eric Hogan from Bridges Academy was chosen to come up. Without hesitation, Eric was able to say aloud the entire Miranda Rights before a packed theater of fellow students – Well done, Eric.

In fact, did you know this year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1996 Miranda vs. Arizona ruling? It’s a great day when you can learn something new. And as time has gone by, the Miranda Rights have become an icon in pop culture, as seen in some of our favorite movies, but also as an integral part of American culture.

During my opening remarks I referred to the two movies that capture the creativity, sharpness, and performance abilities of a young lawyer played by Tom Cruise in both instances — The Firm and A Few Good Men.  Sydney Pollack’s The Firm was done in 1991 where Cruz plays a young lawyer who joins a prestigious law with a sinister dark side and the strategy he adopts to bring them down.  A year later Rob Riner has Cruise playing the lead role along with Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men.  You have got to check out this classic scene from A Few Good Men.

 

SonyaChristian_DouglasGrimsleySpeaking of great faculty, it was fantastic to see Professor Douglas Grimsley, who is involved with our inmate education plan. Grimsley is one of our pioneering faculty who knows that his investment is helping folks get back into society – something that is true to the mission of Bakersfield College; Providing opportunities for students from all diverse backgrounds to engage productively in their communities and the world.

GroupShotAs you may know, Bakersfield College is selected by the State Bar of California to participate in the Community Colleges Pathway to Law School Initiative, which provides a transfer-pathway for students to one of at least six prestigious law schools in our state.  But beyond that, the law program at BC is a rigorous path that is a true investment and will sharpen any student’s critical thinking, writing skills, and leadership qualities.

 

Project BEST

 

 

HOrace Mitchell Sonya Christian Project BEST April 23 2016Fuchsia Ward Project Best April 23 2016

Steve Watkin invited me to attend the Project BEST event last Saturday, April 26th.  In fact it was great seeing an entire BC gang at the table–Harlan Hunter, Reggie Bolton, Paula Parks, Christopher Anderson, Ishmael Kimbrough, and our ATEP students.

This was my first introduction to Project BEST and I was impressed and inspired by the caliber of our High School students as well as the commitment from our community. Project BEST (Black Excellence in Scholarship and Teaching) is a partnership between the Kern High School District, California State University, Bakersfield, the local business community, parents and students. It is privately funded and financially administered by the Kern High School District Education Foundation, a 501(c) 3 organization.  It was wonderful connecting with Dr. Horace Mitchell, President of CSUB, who is clearly committed to this program and on the spot increased CSUB’s financial support for these students.  The icing on the cake was when Fuschia Ward, the KHSD administrator in charge of the program, received an award for her leadership.  For those of you who do not know Fuschia, you are missing out on someone very special.  I met Fuschia when I spoke at the Kern Kiwanis Club and immediately could sense that this woman is passionate and makes things happen.  On Saturday, she read a beautiful poem that she had read in previous Project BEST events.  This last week I must have read it a 1000 times….. well, that might be a slight exaggeration 😉 Here it is:

Don’t You Quit – An Inspirational Poem

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out –

The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Renegade Promise at the Kern County Alliance

 

 

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Jacqueline MimmsOn Thursday, Kristen Barnes, CEO of the Kern Community Foundation, invited us to present the Renegade Promise to a group of Educators across Kern County.  The story of the Renegade Promise is a story of collaboration and partnership, a story about adaptation, a story about saying “yes” rather than “no”, a story about making this happen despite the odds.  The heroes in this story are the faculty, staff and administrators from KHSD, BC and CSUB who have been laser focused on moving students through our educational pathways faster and not compromising their learning; on the contrary, enhancing their learning.  Presenting along with me were Dr. Jacqueline Mimms from CSUB, Vickie Spanos from KHSD, and Lesley Bonds from BC.  These three women are brilliant, beautiful, passionate and work tirelessly.

Vickie Spanos 2Lesley Bonds

Check out my Feb 5, 2016 blog to learn more about this collaborative work being led by Kristen Barnes.  http://tinyurl.com/jptv4xh

Wasco High Summer Bridge

Wasco Sumer Bridge April 2016.jpgSummer Bridge is an essential part of a student’s journey to becoming a college student.  Throughout summer 2016, BC will engage 2,000 new students in this extended orientation where they’ll learn how to access important campus information, discuss success strategies for the transition into college, take a campus tour, and hear from important academic and student affairs support services about the many offerings available to them.  Thank you Dr. Kimberly Bligh for your leadership.  For more information about Summer Bridge, email bcsummerbridge@gmail.com.

This week, BC hosted 60 Wasco High School future Renegades on the Panorama campus and the Delano campus for the first Bridge of the season!  These attendees arrived to campus bright and early Monday morning for a campus tour led by one of our amazing Promising Professionals, Sharita Knowles, and Educational Advisor Claudio Felix.  Title V Director Kimberly Bligh and Counselor Keri Kennedy led the group through success strategies and resources as they transition from high school to college.  Monica Huyck at the Delano pitched in to host the students at the Delano campus on Thursday for a campus tour and review of the new facilities and support services available to our Rural Renegades.

Student Leadership & Recognition Awards Ceremony

On Friday morning, the Office of Student Life and the amazing Dr. Nicky Damania held the Student Leadership and Involvement Awards Ceremony. The ceremony is intended to recognize the accomplishments of student organizations and student leaders at Bakersfield College. This annual event, offers chance for all registered student organizations and student leadership to present their achievements to the rest of the College community, and be recognized for their accomplishments.

Romeo Agbalog SGA Awards April 29 2016.jpgA special thank you to Trustee Romeo Agbalog for attending the event and for your powerful words that leadership is about building others up – not just building oneself up.  And thank you Tom Moran for all that you do for BC.  Do you see Tom signing to the left of Romeo?

Clayton Fowler and Sonya Christian April 29 2016Before I get into the many honorees, I should first recognize a student who has been working hard to engage students and make BC a better place for future Renegades: our BCSGA President, Clayton Fowler.  It has been Clayton’s advocacy for students that has catalyzed our work on a number of projects; most notably, our Renegade Promise.  Stay tuned for details!

Onto the awards…

Student Employee of the Year: Awarded to an outstanding student in recognition of exceptional contributions to their office or department of service during the academic year.

  • Bradley Parrot, EOP&S/Care/CalWORKs
  • Paulette Rodriguez, BCSGA

Most Valuable Renegade (MVR): Awarded to intercollegiate student athletes who through their involvement at BC have made significant contributions to the quality of life for their fellow athletes.

  • Daryan Heathcott, Women’s Volleyball
  • De’Andre Dickson, Men’s Basketball

Renegade Spirit Award: Awarded to student leaders who bring spirit and enthusiasm to the Bakersfield College community through their involvement on campus.

  • Allison Guzman, American Sign Language Club

Service Award: Awarded to a student whose behavior embraces civic responsibility and service to the community on a campus, local, regional, national, or global level.

  • Anhelica Perez, Office of Student Life at Delano

President’s Leader of the Year Award: Awarded to student leaders with a distinguished record of extraordinary leadership, service, spirit, advocacy, and involvement within the college community.  Recipients will have a history of positive and significant accomplishments resulting in major contributions that enhance the quality of life at the college.

  • Alia Brost, ACS Chemistry Chapter Club

Event of the Year: Awarded to a registered student organization that sponsored an event promoting social interaction among students.  The effectiveness of the planning, publicity, and execution of the event will be considered.

  • Def-Nation, American Sign Language Club
  • Relay for Life, Relay for Life Club

Renegade Spirit Award (Organization): Awarded to a registered student organization that brings spirit and enthusiasm to the Bakersfield College community through their programs and activities.

  • Disabilities Inspire and Support Change Club
  • Gender and Sexuality Awareness Club

Student Organization of the Year: Awarded to a registered organization that is organized, active, and maintains strong membership.  This student organization continually strives to increase their impact and influence on the campus community. You should follow them on Twitter @WECOMMBC

  • WECOMM Club

Outstanding Student Organization Advisor(s): Awarded to a faculty or staff member that goes above and beyond their expectations of an advisor, is an integral part of the organization, and shows dedication to the mission of the organization.

  • Jonathan Hernandez, WECOMM Club

Grace Van Dyke Bird Leadership Scholarship Award: Given annually to one freshman student attaining the highest standards of leadership, citizenship, service, and overall accomplishments while a student attending Bakersfield College.  This award is dedicated to the first president of Bakersfield College who showed great pride and shared a great vision for education in Kern County.

  • Arthur Tondin

Alumni Association Honor Trophy Scholarship Award: Given annually to one sophomore student attaining the highest standards of leadership, citizenship, service, and overall accomplishments while a student attending Bakersfield College.

  • Tania Bernal

Samuel W. McCall Outstanding Professor of the Year Award: Given annually to a Bakersfield College faculty member who has been nominated and selected by the students.  The award spotlights the college’s “super teachers.”  The finalists include:

  • Bernard Scanlon, Mathematics
  • Deborah Rosenthal, Chemistry
  • Reggie Williams, Philosophy
  • Paula Parks, English
  • Jennifer Garrett, Performing Arts
  • Stephen Tavoni, Biological Sciences
  • Nick Strobel, Physical Science/Astronomy
  • Paula Dahl, Athletics

Congratulations to Reggie Williams, Philosophy, for your selection as the Samuel W. McCall Outstanding Professor of the Year!

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Here is a picture of Trustee Agbalog with Bill Parker.  Bill has been at BC for 39 years and he absolutely gives his heart and soul to the campus.  We love you Bill Parker!

Bill Parker and Romeo Agbalog April 29 2016.jpg

Fourth Annual High School Leaders Breakfast

Presbreakfast1On Tuesday, we hosted the 4th Annual President’s Breakfast. About 60 education partners (counselors and administrators) from our high school service area came to our Fireside Room for a quick and insightful update and discussion. We talked about our strides in collaboration with Guided Pathways, Dual Enrollment, Multiple Measures, and our High School Matriculation Visits.

Mr. Arnoldo Avalos (Board of Governors Member, CCCCO) told the story of how, in higher education, personal connections matter. “That first week, so difficult, completely frazzled and I met one person. A counselor for Chicano Studies…she took me aside and said, ‘Are you ok?’”

Vickie Spanos (Director of Instruction, KHSD) spoke about the Kern High School District and how the “seeds of partnership,” have been sewn with BC. Connie Conway (Board of Governors Member, CCCCO) touched on how important the role the Board of Governors has in supporting California’s Community Colleges. And Vincent Stewart (Vice Chancellor for External Relations, CCCCO) expressed his excitement at visiting Bakersfield College for the first time and getting to interact with our charismatic administrators, faculty, staff, and students.

The work that we do for our students is paramount. It was so exciting to celebrate our collaboration successes this year, even as we begin the conversations about where we are headed for next year! Thank you! And here is BC’s Outreach Team.  You make BC look good. Thank you!

Outreach April 29 2016 cropped.jpg

 

Alex Victoria April 27 2016Kern’s Poet Laureate:

On Wednesday I attended a poetry reading hosted by the Bakersfield Arts Council. The event featured the poetry of Kern Poet Laureate Don Thompson who read from several of  his published works, provided context for the poems he read, and offered comments on his life in poetry. The evening started with original readings by  students from Taft College, CSUB and BHS. (Pictured at right is Taft College’s Alex Victoria.) I so enjoyed attending the event.  Don Thompson is Kern’s Poet Laureate for the next two years. It was a treat seeing several friends taking in an evening of poetry.  To know more about Kern’s Poet Laureate check out http://writersofkern.com/2015/12/29/poet-laureate/

2016 Phi Theta Kappa induction.  Thank you Prof. Charles Kim for your leadership.

PTK Induction April 2016 cropped.jpg

Thank you Delano Chamber and Janet Rabanel for your generosity.

Donation from Delano Chamber Janet Rabanel April 28 2016.jpg

It truly is a great time to be at BC.

PS …

As we finish our Spring 2016 semester, I wanted to extend an invitation to our community to join us as we celebrate our students.

Our Performing Arts joint music concert in the Outdoor Theater on Wednesday. May 4th at 7:00 p.m.

Our Chicano/Latino celebration will be on Thursday, May 5, at 5 pm in our beautiful Outdoor Theater. Latina icon Dolores Huerta, founder of the Dolores Huerta foundation, will be the featured speaker. The celebration will feature food, art, music and dancing.

Our Black Graduates Recognition Ceremony will take place on Tuesday, May 10, at 6 pm in the Indoor Theater. We welcome the public to this free event.

Our Delano campus will hold a Pre-Commencement celebration from 11:30 am – 3 pm on Friday, May 13. Food and entertainment will begin at 11:30, with a recognition ceremony beginning promptly at 12 pm. This event will be on our Delano Campus, 1450 Timmons Ave. in Delano.

And of course, our 102nd Bakersfield College Commencement will be held on Friday, May 13 at Memorial Stadium. Gates open at 5:30 pm, and the ceremony will begin at 7. We will conclude with a spectacular fireworks display. Don’t miss it!