Tag Archives: Eileen Pierce

I heard the bells on Christmas Day – Christmas 2020

Merry Christmas!

I hope you are all staying safe and enjoying a wonderful holiday – even though it likely looks very different from other years. It is a holiday season of pain and suffering for many as our nation continues battling the Coronavirus pandemic. But it is also, I think, a season of hope and unity.

David French

On Christmas Eve, a friend sent me this article from David French in Time Magazine. In it, he describes how difficult it can be to get into the Christmas Spirit when there is so much going wrong around us.

“But times of great suffering are also times that can reveal deep truths, he wrote.

He then discussed the Christmas hymn “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” which is based on the poem “Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

It ends with the line:

The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.

It shows us that even in the darkest moments, we must face the world together and find those glimmers of hope.

The bells of Christmas this year bring a reminder of the difficulties of this past year – but they also bring hope.

Jack Hernandez

Check out this piece by Jack Hernandez in the Bakersfield Californian, where he looked at John Donne’s poem “For whom the bell tolls.”

The poem begins:

No man is an island
Entire of itself.

Jack talked about how we are all connected – and we must recognize this connection both now, during the pandemic; and later, when we are past this difficult time.

“If this pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that we are all connected, all one with each other, our family, our friends, our neighbors, strangers and those of other nations. Yet, we too often stress our islands of individuality, forget that we are all linked as a community. In a philosophy class I taught years ago at Bakersfield College, a student from Africa, who later transferred to Stanford University, mentioned that when he first came to our country, he was struck by our emphasis on individuality in contrast to his home’s emphasis on community. The lesson for that day. The lesson for us now.”

After this year of pandemic and turmoil, I hope that we all come out with one positive idea – the idea of unity. I hope that everything we have experienced together over the past 12 months will in fact bring us together to face our new world and create a better tomorrow through unity.

The Christmas bells are tolling for each of us, to find our strength in unity and push through the end of a tumultuous year.

This week, we saw a sign how everyone and everything is connected on a cosmic level when we witnessed a truly once-in-a-lifetime event. In fact, it was once in many lifetimes. The Great Conjunction of Jupiter & Saturn is something that hasn’t been seen in our night sky for nearly 800 years. A conjunction occurs when planets appear very close to one another due to the way they line up with Earth in their orbits. Jupiter and Saturn align about once every 20 years, but haven’t appeared this close since 1623. And it hasn’t been viewable at night in nearly 800 years.

Our resident astronomer, Nick Strobel, shared these photos he took of the event:

Nick also wrote about the conjunction in his Bakersfield Night Sky column.

And check out this webcast of the winter solstice “Great Conjunction,” provided by the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.  You can read more at space.com.

Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, December 26, 2020…My last blog entry for 2020.
A great day to be a Renegade.

Becki Whitson — A Renegade Legend

Bakersfield College lost one of our greatest cheerleaders last week. Our hearts are heavy with the news that Becki Whitson passed away.

Becki Whitson

Becki was a BC alum, and she also was a faculty member in the Behavioral Sciences department for many years – and served as department chair for 7 years. She is perhaps best known as the former head cheerleading coach. I remember when she retired in 2017, KCCD Trustee Kyle Carter said, “Becki Whitson is Bakersfield College.”

Becki was always an ardent supporter of Bakersfield College, serving as president of the Bakersfield College Alumni Association for over 25 years. At Opening Day this year, she helped me announce the Renegade Alumni Council. Becki’s Renegade pride is evident in the way she speaks about Bakersfield College:

There will be a celebration of life on July 26, 2021, and I will share that information at a later date.

The obituary in the Bakersfield Californian starts with Both the choir and cheer team in heaven have gained a new member…. Read more at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bakersfield/obituary.aspx?n=becki-whitson&pid=197363311

Community Voices: Eileen Pierce

Eileen Pierce Program Manager, Academic Support

Eileen Pierce wrote this piece in the Bakersfield Californian about the importance of the tutoring program.

“BC’s tutoring program is vibrant, boasting nearly 100 thoroughly trained tutors to serve all BC students, even while running virtually. The tutors are all students themselves, so a student reaching out for help need not feel intimidated as might happen during a professor’s Zoom office hours. The staff is extremely involved in the entire appointment-making process and will carefully match a student with the best tutor. Drop-in and recurring appointments are available. Staff, several faculty and tutors are in the Zoom lobby over 40 hours a week, ready to greet potential tutees warmly and direct them to a breakout room with their tutor.”

Community Voices: Kayla Moore

Kayla Moore BC Alum

Critical care nurse & BC RN program graduate Kayla Moore also wrote in the Californian about the importance of education.

“We hear a lot of talk about “gifts” during the holidays. This seems like the perfect time for me to thank our generous community — and the BC nursing team — for their gift to me: the gift of education. Their kindness has made a lasting impact on my life, and without it I would not have had the opportunity to complete my education and begin my career as a critical care nurse. I will never forget the generosity that was extended to me and I plan to pay it forward by contributing to scholarships in the future.”

Umoja Community Celebrates Kwanzaa

Umoja Community held a pre-Kwanzaa Celebration and acknowledged both students and mentors.

Kwanzaa is celebrated December 26 through January 1. It is a non-religious celebration focused on African values. Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1965, each day of the seven-day holiday has a theme.

Umoja students explained each of the Nguzo Saba (seven principles). Zariyah noted that “each principle is to reinforce a basic value of African culture that contributes to building the family, the community, and the culture.”

Then, all participants played a Kohoot game to test their knowledge of the seven-day celebration. It got competitive, with some faculty trying to win against some of the students, or a particular faculty member.

The winners were Hortense (first place), Mercedez (second place), and Umoja Librarian Ms. Faith (third place). While all three got all the questions right, it came down to speed in answering.

Mentors were also shown some love. In this virtual environment, the Umoja mentors were even more needed. Hortense appreciated the “uplifting emails every week to get me through the day to make sure that I stayed on track” from her mentor Ms. Kathleen Hicks.

The caring Umoja team that also includes Michael Little, Mychael Phillips, Gilbert Ayuk, Steve Agard, Melissa Gonzalez, and Coordinator Dr. Paula Parks is truly dedicated to students.

Steve Watkin, AAI lead, expressed appreciation from and offered the continued support of the administration. The administrative team, including the deans, are an invaluable support and much appreciated partner in the success of Umoja.

Dr. Parks added that the students are always part of the Umoja Community and should consider the whole amazing team part of their forever support system. She added, “I was so impressed last semester with how engaged, inquisitive, and kind the students were.” She gave a shout out to peer mentor Alexis, who went above and beyond to tutor and encourage students and to help them form a community.

Sha’ron said, “I would like to say a big thank to Dr. Parks. There have been times when I’ve been at my lowest. . . and I really appreciate you.” Dr. Parks is like “your second mom that you can just go to for anything. I want to say thank to her and Ms. Faith because I’ve cried in her office too.”

Kaleb’s ending comment reminds us of the importance of the program and its values. He said he remembered having a 1.3 gpa. “Now its almost a 3.0, and I only have one more semester until I graduate. I wouldn’t be where I am without the Umoja program.”

The Umoja Community program includes courses with an African-American focus, mentoring, counseling support to stay on track and graduate, and academic and cultural trips. Available classes for spring are the following: English b1b, Comm b1/Lib b1, Astron b2, Music b23, Math b22, and Psych b5.

Happy Kwanzaa!

Spotted on Social Media

Mary Jo Pasek shared this story & photo:

Months before the picture with Santa my only sibling died in a tragic accident. My Mother and Dad did the best they could to hold it together. This was taken in early December at Dayton’s in St Paul. I was NOT having any part of this man. Nothing my Aunt or Mother could say made me smile. He simply looked so suspicious and all I wanted was my brother back with me. Along with this cute hat and fur piece I had a muff. Always decked out for the cold weather. A precious keepsake for me!

Maria Wright shared this photo of her husband, Dr. Jamal Wright, receiving his degree on his birthday:

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness had a virtual holiday party:

Matt Jones continued his Daily Discern & Draw project with a measuring tape hockey player:

Craig Hayward shared this cozy Christmas scene:

Shannon Musser made holiday craft treats with her kids:

Bill Moseley and his wife Dominique celebrated their anniversary by taking their kids on a Christmas lights drive:


Athletics Opts-In to Compete This Spring

In order to maximize options for Renegade Athletics, this last week we opted-in to compete in the abbreviated Spring I and Spring II sports seasons under the framework of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Contingency plan. We know our student athletes are eager to get back in action and we hope they will have the opportunity to do so. As the Spring I and Spring II seasons of competition approach, the decision to compete will also come in accordance with the state of California and Kern County Public Health COVID-19 guidelines. Ron Stapp from the Bakersfield Californian wrote and excellent article on the situation this week. To read the article click here: https://www.bakersfield.com/sports/college/if-health-restrictions-allow-bc-taft-choosing-to-play-this-season/article_9069cd1a-44c4-11eb-b829-df1466691494.html

Renegade Athletics Team Store

BC Athletics Nike Team Store

There is still time to order your Nike Renegade Athletics gear from their official team uniform supplier – Eastbay. Items available for purchase include T-shirts, Long-Sleeves, Polo’s, Hoodies, Sweatshirts and more in both men’s and women’s sizes.

Show your Renegade pride and get that piece of Nike BC Renegade team gear you’ve always wanted. The store is open from now until Jan. 1, 2021. Items will ship once the store closes. All proceeds from sales will directly benefit BC Athletics.

BC Athletics Nike Team Store: https://eastbaystore.com/OFTS8558

Signing off with more performances from our choir


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

Talent, Dedication and Passion at the Home of the Renegades

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, October 27, 2018….. a great day to be a Renegade.

In Eugene, Oregon this weekend, wearing my Renegade Athletics shirt and enjoying the soft moisture filled air and fall colors.

Missing the two little ones.

Homecoming Week


Cheer Team serving Ice Cream!

Homecoming exceeded all expectations this year, as Renegade pride was in full force throughout the week.  While the highlight of Homecoming will be at the football game tonight, the weeklong celebration has been an exciting time to be on campus.  Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members have come together to honor our history by participating in events like the homecoming parade, student organization competitions, talent show, office decoration party, pep rally, tailgating, and more!

On Thursday, students came out to the Crossroads for “Rally of the Renegades” to get fired up for Saturday’s Homecoming football game .  Carnival games, music, and food got everyone in the mood to celebrate. Our BC cheerleaders served up some delicious ice cream, which was a welcome treat on a warm October day.


Students also enjoyed listening to music as they took  turns playing some carnival games. The bean bag toss presented a challenge as students attempted to toss bags into the mouths of cardboard pigs and cows.

Several students gathered around the miniature basketball hoop, trying to one-up each other to see who could make the longest shot. There were a lot of makes, and a few misses, but fun was had by all. Thank you to all the teams who participated in the festivities and the cheerleaders for dishing up that fantastic ice cream.  Go BC!

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The enthusiasm displayed from everyone who participated in the various events made Homecoming an exciting time to be at BC!


BC Hosts 6th Annual Bioenergy Day

Liz Rozell at Bioenergy Day at BC 2018

Liz Rozell at Bioenergy Day at BC 2018

BC hosted the 6th Annual National Bioenergy Day earlier this week where local renewable energy producers Mt. Poso Cogeneration, Macpherson Energy Corporation and DTE Energy Services were recognized by Mayor Karen Goh, Assemblyman Salas’s office, Congressman McCarthy’s office, Assemblyman Fong’s office, and Supervisor Mick Gleason’s office.  Our Career and Technical Education department co-hosted this event, and works closely with our industry partners. Because of these connections, our students have a better chance of landing jobs, internships or work experience.

Russell Johnson, Common Sense Consulting

Russell Johnson, Common Sense Consulting

Mt. Poso is a great example of this since the types of jobs that are located at the plant are closely related to our Industrial and Transportation Technology pathway. Having a company like Mt. Poso and its partners at our campus gives our students the opportunity to learn about the different type of employment options they can obtain with their degree or certificates they earn at BC.

Companies were represented at Bioenergy Day that generate electricity and heat from wood and organic materials.  Ruth Santos from DTE led a presentation educating attendees on this sustainable, reliable, renewable, and carbon-friendly energy source.

Mayor Goh wrapped the morning up by proclaiming October 24, 2018 as “National Bioenergy Day” in our city. I loved getting to see so many of our amazing community members here on the BC campus!  Thank you to Russell Johnson of Common Sense Consulting for reaching out to host the event here, Norma Rojas-Mora, Tony Cordova, Carlos Medina & Jessica McGrath for your help in organizing this event, as well as Mary Jo Pasek and Leah Prendez for your hard work.  Also, thank you to Stephanie Stuart and her team for providing the lunches! See all the pictures at BC’s Smugmug! 

Tony Cordova, Liz Rozell, Karen Goh, Sonya Christian

Tony Cordova, Liz Rozell, Karen Goh, Sonya Christian

Disability Awareness Day

IMG_1274October is an active month for bringing awareness to many issues. One of those issues is disability employment. National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) begins each October 1st. As part of this movement to “educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s worker with disabilities,” BC’s own DSPS held a Disability Awareness event. On Thursday, October 25th, DSPS hosted an Exhibitor Fair in the Renegades Crossroads, held a DSPS Awards Ceremony and showed a free movie for the students and employees of Bakersfield College.

Among the exhibitors were the Special Education Department, the LBC Deaf Church, Inclusion Films, the Kern Regional Center, the Independent Living Center, and the Department of Rehabilitation. The Valley Achievement Center’s booth talked to parents about their non-profit school for children with autism. The Sorenson Video Relay Service (SVRS) was there to explain their technology that “enables the Deaf community to communicate with both Deaf and hearing families” through technology, according to their flier. We have really made great strides in aiding the disabled with technology.

Disability Awareness Day Monika and Tamara

Monika and Tamara had to visit the pups.

Of course the scene-stealer and most popular booth was Canine Companions for Independence. At least three volunteers brought their Canines-in-training to Bakersfield College to promote awareness of the impact assistance dogs has on improving the life of a person with disabilities. Volunteer puppy raisers accept a specially bred puppy to keep safe and healthy while they train for about 2 years. Once the pups are raised, they are returned to the Canine Companions and tested to see if they will make a good assistance dog. Those that qualify are then trained as assistance dogs and provided to qualified disabled people. The volunteer puppy raisers are truly amazing people that dedicate two years to the animal to benefit the life of another person. As puppy raiser Barbara Raines said, “it is truly a gift of the heart.”

IMG_4461Another highlight of the event is the awards ceremony where departments, faculty, staff and students are recognized as allies for those with disabilities. These are departments and people that go out of their way to remove barriers and obstacles for our students with disabilities. These employees and students epitomize our mission to provide a supportive learning environment and represent the Core Values of integrity, diversity and community. Thank you Academic Technology Department, Marketing and Public Relations Department, Faculty Matthew Garrett and Eleonora Hicks, staff members Maria Elizondo and Helen Calip, and students Kristen Ponce and Parker Lancaster for being allies to those with disabilities.

Marketing and Public Relations

Marketing and Public Relations


Maria Elizondo and Helen Calip

Parker Lancaster

Parker Lancaster

In the afternoon we were treated to a free movie about Temple Grandin, a child born with autism that grew up to overcome her disability to become a professor of Animal Science, prominent author and speaker. Grandin will be speaking at BC on February 12, 2019 as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. We will also have Oz Sanchez speaking on November 8, 2018. Sanchez is a Marine, Paralymic and will speak to us about “Know No Limits.”


As a large part of the Bakersfield Community it is important for us to embrace the diversity of our community and bring awareness to our differences and embrace them. I would like to thank Terri Goldstein and the DSPS staff for putting together such an important event to make our students and employees aware of the help available to those with disabilities AND the help that we can give.

BC In the Vineyards Project

In partnership with CVFF, the Central Valley Farmworker Foundation, Bakersfield College Rural Initiatives visited various Farmworker crews to promote higher education in the vineyards. It is incredible to share the programs and services available to these people in our community. The week-long outreach plan will be covered in depth during next week’s blog. Be sure to come back and read the highlights.

BC in the Vineyards (1)

Renegade Report

If you missed watching the Renegade Report live this last Thursday at 11a, check out the segments from this week’s show from the links below. This week’s highlights include segments with Former BC Football Coach – Carl Bowser, Former Renegade QB (and 1988 National Champion) – Stan Greene and local businessman and former Renegade – Paul Pavletich.

Segment with Paul Pavletich

Segment with Stan Greene and Linzy Collins

Segment with Stan Greene, Linzy Collins and John Rose

Renegades of the Week

Renegade Athletics is proud to announce this week’s (10/14-10/20) Wells Fargo Renegades of the Week:


Gabriella Lugo, Cross Country (2nd RotW honor) – Ran a PR of 18:59 to finish 5th overall individually at the WSC Championships and helping the team to a 4th overall finish. Her performance also qualifies her for 1st team All–Conference and ranks her as one of the top ten in Southern California.

Nathan De Jager, Football – 5/5 on field goals (ties school record) in helping team to 22-17 win over Long Beach. Through seven games on the season he is 12/12 on FG’s and 20/21 on PAT’s.  Congrats to Nathan De Jager for being named SCFA Player of the Week.


De Jager was also named The Southern California Football Association (SCFA) National Division Special Teams/All-Purpose Player of the Week for his 5/5 field goal performance in a 22-17 win at Long Beach on Saturday (10/20). De Jager totaled 16 points in the 22-17 win at Long Beach. He was 5/5 on field goals (43yd, 34yd, 50yd, 38yd, 45yd), which ties a school record for most FG’s in a game and 1/1 on PAT’s. Through seven games on the season he is 12/12 on FG’s and 20/21 on PAT’s.

Renegade Athletics Roundup

It was a full week of athletics events for our Renegades teams. Highlights from the week include:

Distinguished Speaker: Dashka Slater

Dashka Slater (3)

Author Dashka Slater spoke to BC students, staff and fellow community members on October 24th about her book The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives, and the lasting impact that it had on not only those involved, but the entire city of Oakland.  On Monday, November 4, 2013, in Oakland California, a 16-year-old junior at Oakland High School, Richard Thomas, set fire to Sasha Fleischman, an 18-year-old senior at a private high school, when both students were traveling on the AC Transit 57 bus. Dashka Slater investigated the story after hearing of the horrifying crime from her neighborhood email list. Her questions: What does it mean to be a gender and how should we think about a teenager who commits a bias crime?

Dashka is a journalist, novelist and children’s book author with nine books under her belt.  She explained how The 57 Bus began as an article for The New York Times Magazine and evolved into a fully-fledged book with numerous accolades.  She spoke with students about the story evolved, and how her past career in journalism helped with investigating the story fully.  Thank you Dashka for coming to Bakersfield College, and thank you to our faculty coordinator Jeannie Parent for organizing this great event! You can read the original article on the NY Times.

Connecting BC Students with Industry to Launch STEM Careers

MESA Students

BC’s MESA Students at the Conference

Talented Bakersfield College students gathered in downtown Los Angeles in a step towards becoming the diverse leaders of tomorrow’s tech and engineering workforce. MESA’s Student Leadership Conference brings together hand-picked engineering and computer science students with industry professionals to develop the next generation of STEM leaders.  Held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel Oct. 4-5, this year’s conference theme was A Bounty of Homegrown Talent.  

The Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program guides diverse students from underrepresented backgrounds into STEM careers. Unlike job fairs or speaker-only conferences, MESA students got the unique opportunity to interact one-on-one and in small groups with company executives, engineers and recruiters. Many often leave the conference with internship offers that lead to full time employment. Students participated in mock interviews, communications, team building, emotional intelligence and financial literacy workshops, and watched entrepreneur and alumni panels.

Companies recognize the importance of engaging with and supporting our students — so much so they fully fund the conference with donations.  These enlightened corporate partners understand these are not simply underserved and underrepresented students, they are an underutilized pool of talent that has been long overlooked.  Companies simply cannot afford to ignore this talent pool. This year’s partners and sponsors included: Edison International, Southern California Gas Company and Pacific Gas and Electric as top sponsors and Applied Materials, San Diego Gas and Electric, Cisco, Intuit, California Resources Corporation and Lyft. Miriam Aguirre, SVP of engineering for e-sports company Skillz was the keynote speaker.

Each year MESA serves over 25,000 students at the pre-college, community college and university levels across California. MESA bridges classroom learning with real-world applications, and employ rigorous academics, leadership preparation, a peer community and collaborative problem-solving training to produce highly-skilled college graduates who meet 21st century STEM workforce needs. The White House, the Ford Foundation, and the Silicon Valley Education Foundation have all recognized MESA for its innovative and effective academic development model.

MESA high school students have a 92% college-going rate, as compared to the statewide average of 42%. MESA’s UC acceptance rate: 70% (vs 60% for all CA students); Community college transfer rate into STEM majors: 97%; Graduates with STEM bachelor’s degrees: average of 500 per year.

Accessible Document Training

Aricia Leighton leading web training

Aricia Leighton offering web training earlier this year

While not a part of the Disabilities Awareness activities, I was proud to see June Charles, Jo Ellen Patterson and Cathy Rangel participate in a training on creating accessible documents in Word. Thank you Chris Glaser for facilitating and organizing the training and Aricia Leighton for sharing her expertise. It is so important to learn the little thing that we can do to make our documents accessible to people with disabilities that may need assistive devices to read the document. I appreciate the staff taking the initiative to learn how they can make documents accessible. That is truly disability awareness.

Health Career Fair

Health Career FairOn Wednesday, October 24, the Bakersfield College Office of Student Employment hosted the Health Careers Connection Fair at the Gym Huddle.  Students who were majoring in or considering the Health Science Pathway were provided with an opportunity to connect with various industry employers, learn about available jobs, and gain career insight. Health industry employers also had the chance to meet their future workforce.

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Vendors included Kern Medical Center, Lags Medical Center, Sierra View Medical Center, Davita Kidney Care, Maxim Healthcare Services, Delano Regional Medical Center, Brookdale Senior Living, Valley Children’s Healthcare, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, Adventist Health, Kaweah Delta Medical Center, Sendas Northwest Urgent Care, and Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital.  Thank you to everyone who came out to make the Health Careers Connection Fair a success!

Agriculture Career Fair

On October 19th, the Agriculture Department and the Kern County Farm Bureau hosted our 2nd Annual Agriculture Career Exploration Day. Over 400 high school FFA students came to Bakersfield College to learn about different career opportunities in the agriculture industry and participate in a Career Fair.

A special thanks to the industry professionals, faculty and staff that hosted each breakout sessions.

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After the breakout sessions, students came to the Renegade Park for a great lunch provided by our BC Food Service. This event was made possible by the support of our amazing agriculture industry professionals, BC faculty and staff, the Agriculture Leadership class, BC’s Agriculture Ambassadors and the amazing Event Staff – Mary Jo and Leah.

A special thank you to our sponsors Kern County Farm Bureau, The Wonderful Company, Kern Machinery, CAPCA and Lynn Citrus Seed for helping to make this event possible.

Elena Rhodes

Elena Rhodes, Wonderful Citrus, Director of Product Management

Seen on Social Media:

Via Arte

Congratulations to the talented professor Diego Monterrubio and his students for representing BC at Via Arte 2018 and receiving an award! Professor Monterrubio said,

As you can see, it takes a lot of integrity and dedication to spend your whole weekend sitting, kneeling, sweating over the hot pavement all for the love of artwork. I have never been more proud as a professor and a human being of these people. The drawing is 12ft × 12ft and consisted of 18 hours of work and it came out magnificent. Thank you very much to the faculty and friends that came out to support me and my students.

Diego Monterrubio, Sonya Christian and students at Via Arte Oct 21 2018

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BC at BYP Street Party!

Last Friday evening, Bakersfield College was well represented at the Bakersfield Young Professionals Annual Street Party; connecting arts, culture and industry. Not only was BC a proud Sponsor but was a highlight of the night featuring it’s automotive and industrial automation departments.

Andrew Haney with BC_s electric car

Professor Andrew Haney with BC’s electric car!

Carpenters Skills Competition

Last weekend I visited the Carpenters Apprenticeship Skills Competition. It was incredible to watch BC students compete in the Olympics of Carpentry, where industry professionals will put their skills to the test in Concrete, Drywall and Scaffold events! Special thank you to Ryan Nance for the personal invitation!


Principal Partners Day at the Job Spot

A team of community member and partners paid a visit to the Job Spot on Wednesday, for KHSD’s Principal Partners Day. This collaborative, innovative space features BC’s one-stop where students can receive full enrollment support and take classes who live and work in south Bakersfield. Special thanks to our Rural Initiatives team, especially Endee Grijalva, seen in the photos below sharing about BC.

Visiting the migrant labor camp in Arvin and La Paz

As part of the grant program, a select group of faculty participants spends each year attending talks like Dr. Wald’s and taking part in workshops to learn about local issues, history, and culture and how to bring those things into their classrooms. This year’s cohort is Nicole Carraso (History), Esmerelda Chapa (Communication), Christine Cruz-Boone (Communication), Jessica Flores (English), Daniel Gomes (English), Rae Ann Kumelos (English), Carolyn Lane (Child Development), Shawn Taro Newsom (History), Isaac Sanchez (English), and Brenda Valadez (Communication).

Andrew Bond, Joshua Ottum, and Oliver Rosales direct the grant and its programming.

visitingsunsetlaborcamp.jpgOn Friday, the faculty cohort, Dr. Sarah Wald, and visiting UCSB scholar Francisco Beltran visited the Sunset Migratory Labor Camp in Arvin to learn about the Okie experience in the site’s historic buildings from community members who lived there in their youth. The site served as inspiration for Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and is featured in novel as the “Weedpatch Camp.” After that, Mia Woods, Kern Housing Authority’s site manager for the present day migrant labor housing nearby, gave the cohort and visitors a brief tour of one of the housing units rented out to field workers during the annual growing and harvest seasons.

VisitingChavezMonumentSeveral of the attendees went on afterward to visit the Cesar Chavez National Monument and Villa La Paz in Keene. The site is jointly managed by the Cesar Chavez Foundation and the National Park Service, and it features a museum of Chavez’s life and the farmworker movement, buildings and residences on site once used by the United Farm Workers movement, and Cesar and Helen Chavez’s graves. Coincidentally, Andres Chavez, Cesar and Helen’s grandson, was on site that day and took over the tour, speaking with the visitors from BC and their guests while showing them around the grounds.


I’d like to thank the grant directors and everyone involved who helped make these events happen. Our community and its history are important resources for our students, and when faculty share this with their students, it makes BC a better place.

BC Food Services

Fajita Lunch Special Oct 23 2018On Tuesday, I enjoyed the lunch special from BC Food Services, which was chicken fajitas with rice, beans, and salad. I am so proud of our food services team and I continue to be impressed by their skilled and creative work to provide a variety of great meals on campus. From staples like our famous breakfast burritos, salad variety, and sandwiches, to the daily specials, I am the luckiest and happiest college president ever to have such a talented team preparing treats and meals at BC.

There are longstanding traditions at BC Food Services like the famous BC cookies made each and every day, and the BC cookbook has the special recipes used. Students and staff are always able to purchase our crispy chicken tenders, fresh-baked personal pizzas and other regular items, but the Food Services Department also prepares a special soup and entrée for lunch every day.


i-jrwpxg5-x2The staff in our kitchen and cafeteria always greets me with a smile and I’m proud whenever the BC Food Services team is providing catering, because I know each detail will be taken care of by Penny and Pam. The precious details like beads on mirrors or the Renegade Knight lifted above the display of breakfast pastries… it’s amazing!

Exciting things are happening in Food Services starting next year with a kitchen relocation and addition of a new Renegade food trailer called Gades Grub! The unveiling will take place when the semester kicks back up in 2019 with Spring!

It’s the special things which make the Home of the Renegades a true home-away-from-home. Thank you to Stephanie Stuart, Jennifer Sanderson, Theresa Rodriguez, Penny Loos, Deanna Urias, Chad Martin, Diana Murrell, Mirian Fuentes, Rosa Castro, Clarissa Williams, Shannon Worley, Lupe Wheeler, Michael Brooks, and Maria Gastelum for the beautiful meals, warm lunches, and treats you provide to keep students, faculty, and staff satisfied throughout the day.

Latinas Unidas Ribbon Cutting

Latinas Unidas, BC’s newest student organization, commemorated its first meeting with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday afternoon. Elizabeth Sanchez of South Kern Sol reported on the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the club, which aims to provide resources, promote academic development, participation in community service and a support system for Latina students at BC.


“We want to provide a space for women to come together and support each other,” Latinas Unidas president Gabriela Gomez said. “I just want to offer students a support network where they feel wanted and included.”

Gomez said she was inspired to start Latinas Unidas when she noticed that many of her classmates were first-generation students who didn’t know how to navigate the college experience. The club offers study sessions and moral support for Latina students, and future plans include a Thanksgiving potluck on November 15 and an event titled “Latte Latinas” during finals week on December 3-7.

Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government

David Krane, Norma Rojas Mora, and Mike G

David Crane, Norma Rojas Mora, and Mike Giacomini

It was a great to be at the “Evening for Kern County” hosted by Kern Citizens on Thursday evening at the Kern County Fairgrounds. Keynote speaker businessman, educator, and policy expert David Crane is a lecturer in Public Policy at Stanford University and president of Govern for California. Crane served as a special adviser to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and from 1979-2003 he was a partner at Babcock & Brown. He also serves as a director of Building America’s Future and formerly served on the University of California Board of Regents and as a director of the California State Teachers Retirement System, Society of Actuaries Blue Ribbon Panel on the Causes of Public Pension Underfunding, and Volcker-Ravitch Task Force on the State Budget Crisis.

Kern Citizens Group Photo

I was very pleased to see the organization honoring Senator Jean Fuller with the Impact Award. The Bakersfield Californian shared the news in their report “WORTH NOTING: Sen. Jean Fuller receives local Impact Award.” The article mentions, “The Impact Award is given out to people who have demonstrated that they are committed to affordable, efficient government, education and economic development in Kern County and have had success in furthering those efforts.”


McFarland HS welding students and Trustee Romeo Agbalog on the right

The icing and cherry on top for the event was seeing a group of youth from McFarland HS welding program in attendance who designed and produced the award presented to Senator Fuller. It’s always a great day to support community leadership including KCCD Trustee Romeo Agbalog who also serves at the Executive Director of Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government.

Scholarships at BC

Halloween Hands for ScholarshipThe BC scholarship application opened on October 1st and there have been a strong stream of applications coming in bakersfieldcollege.edu/Apply4Money. On Wednesday, October 31st the Scholarship Team will be connecting with students at the Renegade Crossroads from 11:00am-1:00pm and handing out treats and tricks for success. November is National Scholarship Month and on Thursday, November 1st the team will host a National Scholarship Month KICK-OFF Celebration in CSS-151 from 2:00-4:00pm. Students are encouraged to come by for games, prizes, refreshments and most of all help with scholarship related questions. Computers will be available to start the application process. Don’t let it haunt you, apply for scholarships today!

Fun Photos

Last week, I had to chance to meet President of Fresno Pacific Univeristy, Dr. Joseph Jones. You can read about Dr. Jones in the Fresno Bee article “From Pakistan to the Valley

Sonya Christian and FPU President Joseph Jones

Jordaun Bennett, assistant to the President’s Office celebrated her 26th Birthday this week! Happy Birthday Jordaun!

Jordaun Bennetts 26th Birthday

I was also interviewed on Thursday by BC Student, Francis Benavente for his podcast. I suspect it will come out in the coming weeks so stay tuned to find out what makes me the happiest and luckiest college president ever!

Sonya Christian, Francis Benavente

Math Professor, Patrick Serpa was interviewed earlier this week on Lotto fever! Check out the video snippet here!


Professor Serpa being interviewed on lotto statistics and probability!

Deans Andrea Thorson and Steve Waller provided AB705 training for counselors and advisors on Monday morning.

Steve Waller and Andrea Thorson leading AB705 Training

Deans Thorson and Waller leading a workshop on AB705

Mary Jo Pasek is ready for Homecoming!!! Are you?

MJ ready for Homecoming

Did you catch the Industrial Automation program on the news?  Swing by and see them at the Homecoming Game!

Supplemental Instruction Program Manager, Eileen Pierce made me the most beautiful custom shirt. Can you read it?!

We are BC

Sonya Christian Eugene Oct 27 2018


That’s all for now.  

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya —
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Another Great Week to be a Renegade

Good morning Bakersfield.  What a beautiful Saturday morning in July.  Sitting outside on the patio, it is 4:30 a.m., July 8, 2017…a great day to be a Renegade.

FlagDayIn fact, it was a great week to be a Renegade with a special day off on Tuesday to relax and celebrate a holiday with friends and family. On July 4th, the United States commemorates the start of a grand experiment in self-governance.

On that day 241 years ago, Thomas Jefferson gave words to the birthright of liberty and free expression that is not granted by kings or governments, and which we fight to preserve if our leaders attempt to deny. From that simple idea, forged by the philosophical works of John Locke, Voltaire, Rene Descartes and other contributors of the Enlightenment, a new society emerged, and blueprint for governance.

Over the last 241 years, the blueprint has proved to be difficult to realize, and society has had to change – and continues to change – to remain true to its ideals as inalienable rights once denied are progressively regained, by women, by immigrants, by people of color, and many more. The experiment continues, even today, as an intrinsic privilege of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – and intrinsic denial of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness – are gradually seen as such.

This dynamic defines our work as community college educators, as we struggle to educate everyone, anyone, faced with the systemic effects of poverty, lack of health care, lack of safety, physical disability, and mental disability, that we now recognize as a self-perpetuating status quo.

As educators, it is our responsibility to keep the public informed on what their rights are, the history of how those rights were earned, and what we’re able to do on both an individual and community-wide level to protect and recognize those rights. It is a profound responsibility, but it’s also an incredible opportunity to be the scientists on the front lines of the great American experiment. As an immigrant I have a unique understanding of what a great country this is!

How did you celebrate Independence Day? Leave a comment below. I’d love to know how you spent your holiday.

I had a relatively quiet fourth at home – the kind I like – and this year with a sense of anticipation to see how Neo would react to the fireworks.  He did surprisingly well especially considering how dramatically he reacted to the gardener’s demon leaf blower.

June 30 2017 Neo with a stick

Neo, chewing on a twig. His favorite pastime.


I’ve been congratulating myself on having the calmest, most enlightened puppy in town as I heard stories of puppy destruction from others… and then he turned three months old at 30 lbs and I began to understand…  I sent an SOS to several friends. Lesley shook her head wisely and said “You have got to tire him out.  I take Blue for runs, and then there is the formidable battle with the water sprinkler that is intentionally planned.”  Here is the evidence.

Blue chasing water

So, I took my instructions very seriously and this has now become part of Neo’s evening routine..

Neo has his last set of shots scheduled for July 19th.  After that the vet said we had permission to take him to the dog park.  Can’t wait to get him exercised and exhausted in the dog park.  I have been there several times when Ken visited me from Oregon with the one and only Woody, his chocolate-colored Lab.

I know you have seen this 27-sec video of Woody swimming many many times, but here it is again in my July 3, 2016 blog post.

Thomas Roads Improvement Project

In an op-ed from last week’s Bakersfield Californian, Bakersfield City Manager Alan Tandy laid out his case for Trustee Bill Thomas’ Thomas Road Improvement Program, or TRIP.

When Retired Congressman and Trustee Thomas brought in a $630 million federal earmark for road repair in Bakersfield shortly before retiring from the House of Representatives, he established a partnership between Cal Trans and local and county government to outline a plan to fix the city’s aging, insufficient road infrastructure. One of TRIP’s most successful and notable projects so far is the Westside Parkway, which linked the suburban communities of Northwest Bakersfield with our burgeoning and resurgent downtown area.

TRIP May 2017

Photo by Dorothy Mills-Greg from The Bakersfield Californian. Mayor Karen Goh and Retired Congressman Bill Thomas

TRIP has grown its initial $630 million federal budget into a $1.4 billion budget through grants and contributions, adding 24 bridges and nearly 100 lane miles of roadway to Bakersfield’s transportation network since 2007. Upcoming projects, including the Hageman flyover road, the 24th Street widening and the first phase of the Centennial Corridor project, will ease congestion further as Kern County continues to have some of the fastest population growth in the nation.

TRIP is essential to making our city functional, especially as our growth continues to outpace our infrastructure. Thank you Trustee Thomas! And thank you Alan Tandy for the great article.



On Thursday, July 6th, Rich and I had the pleasure of meeting with the Dream Team from Grimmway Academy — Greg West, Director of School Support Services;  Paul Escala, Executive Director of the Grimmway Schools; and Casey Yeazel, Chief Academic Officer.  The Grimmway Academy just graduated their eigth grade class and most of them will be starting their ninth grade at Arvin High School.  There was great chemistry in the room and I can’t wait to see the results of our planning.

Group Photo

Sonya Christian, Greg West, Rich McCrow, Paul Escala, Casey Yeazel

The Grimmway Academy is a great example of #EducationDoneRight.  Barbara Grimm, a true visionary, made this happen.  I visited the Grimmway Academy in in 2014.  Check out my blog post on July 1, 2014

Academic Support Services Retreat Day

Let me introduce you to BC’s Academic Support Team.

Left to right:  Kimberly Arbolante, Grace Commiso, Laraine Rosema, Susan Abbassi, Eric Weis, Maria Wright, Stephanie Vega, Barry Ramirez, Monica Huyck, Eileen Pierce, Christopher Anderson, Kim Collins, Sonia Avila, Yvonne Armendariz, Bradley Cramer, Alana Austin, Jessica Flores, and Miguel Cuate.

Academic Support Team July 6 2017.jpg


I am always happy to see Monica Huyck since she was one of the very first people I met when I arrived on campus in 2013.  Here is my blog post from March 6, 2013 that has a picture of me with Monica and the team from the tutoring center in Delano.  Gosh I look so young in that picture and Rich McCrow was still tall then 🙂  Check it out



Dr. Janet Fulks

The Retreat was very good and I felt hugely energized listening to the different presenters and the comments from the group.  Janet Fulks, of course, gave an inspiring talk when she shared data about our students.  And Rich and I were whispering to each other how fortunate we were to have the amazing Janet Fulks in our midst.


As BC continues to aggressively make changes to get more students to and through the college in an efficient and effective manner, we have realized the importance of being more intrusive with our students, over 80% of them are first generation college going, and get them to make use of our academic support services like tutoring, supplemental instruction, the writing center etc.  The team you see above have been redesigning their systems and practices to get more students to participate in these services as well as engage with faculty regularly to track student progress so that they minimize the risk of having these students fall between the cracks.



Maria Wright addressing the group. Rich McCrow, Sonya Christian, Criag Hayward, Michael McClinnick

Here are some of the concluding thoughts shared by team members at the end of the retreat.

What was the most important piece of information gained from this retreat?

  • The accountability of faculty and staff to students via completion teams & “permission” to hammer team members to participate in success of our students.
  • The strengths quest workshop. It was a real joy and very informative.
  • A more clearly defined path for guided pathway.
  • Hearing about the programs and services being implemented as a result of the data
  • Clarification about the goals of the campus.
  • Points of connection and defining our identity through students.
  • I think the most important piece(s) of information I gained from this experience are the utilization of our talents as well as the massive amounts of support the Academic support team receives.
  • Clarification of our roles in Academic Support Services in the context of Pathways.
  • How collaboration will happen on each team.
  • Gaining insight on the “what” and “why”
  • Understanding the role of academic support services within the meta-majors and affinity groups
  • The enforcement of the effectiveness of support services

How will your role be affected as a result of the information shared today?

  • My role is more “global” now.
  • I understand the relationship between my role as a guided pathway leader and my everyday tasks
  • I will have to take a more holistic approach when working with students.
  • I like to think that my program will have so much support.
  • I will be able to contact the correct people with a support attitude.
  • I will reach out more to my colleagues in order to coordinate our efforts in serving students.
  • I have gained confidence that I can help students reach goals.


Maria had invited several of the senior administrators and other key leaders of campus to the retreat for the first hour.  During this time, she asked me to address her team on Guided Pathways and the new direction for Academic Support.  She wanted to make sure that we had this larger group for this segment so that we could integrate the work and the key strategies as a whole rather than in isolation.  Maria Wright rocks!

Let me introduce you to those in the photo.

Back row: Pedro Ramirez, Julian West, Abel Guzman, Eric Weis, Richard McCrow, Christopher Anderson, Monica Huyck, Kim Collins, Sonia Avila, Bradley Cramer, Alana Austin, Michael Mcclenic, Miguel Cuate, Craig Hayward,  and Stig Jantz

Front row: Imelda Valdez, Lisa Kent, Alyse Braaten, Laraine Rosema, Susan Abbassi, Maria Wright, Stephanie Vega, Barry Ramirez, Eileen Pierce, Yvonne Armendariz, Shohreh Rahman, Jessica Flores, and Grace Commiso.

Academic Support Retreat Larger Group July 6 2017.jpg

I was sorry to miss being in the photos since I had a dignitary stop by my office at exactly the time the photo was being taken 🙁

Here are a few more pictures.


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Agriculture Career Camps

TweetTwo weeks of Agriculture Career Camps were a success! Bakersfield College’s partnership with The Wonderful Company allowed 8th grade students to explore different career options in the agriculture industry.

Food production may start with a farmer, but the employment opportunities to get food to the end-consumer are endless. Each week 50 campers were exposed to different careers options.

Marko ZaninovichThe camp started with industry guest speakers and a tour of Sunview Vineyards. Thank you Marko Zaninovich for allowing us to visit Sunview Vineyards! They are leading the agriculture industry by using beneficial insects to control unwanted pests in lieu of spraying pesticides.

Scott, Sunview Vineyard’s Entomologist, was very passionate about his career and he had an amazing insect collection that the students got to view. Cristina monitors the beneficial and invasive insects and she was an inspiration for our young campers.

Bakersfield College’s new Agribusiness professors, Jim Selgrath and Leann Riley, along with Lindsay Ono, Katie Tune and Arian Hallum put together branding and marketing curriculum where students were able to create and brand a new flavor of pistachios, almonds and papayas.

Scott2Matt RileyScott1

Bakersfield College’s new Agriculture Mechanics professor Matt Riley, along with Ernesto Marcial and Scott Trimble had students building water pumps and filtration systems. Campers also got the chance to weld (a first for most!).

Rock wallIn the evenings, campers tackled rock walls, swam and went bowling! It was a dynamic week and with support from The Wonderful Company, students were exposed to various career option in agriculture. Thank you Rebecca Farley and Tony Alteparmakian for facilitating this amazing opportunity.

Campers were also introduced to the dual-enrollment programs in Agribusiness and Agriculture Mechanics between The Wonderful College Prep Academy and Bakersfield College.

Raquel Lopez did an amazing job at orchestrating the camp activities and Heather Baltis helped to run it. A big thank you to our camp mentors: Jessie McCraw, Vanessa Mendoza, Kaitlyn McCoy, Jisel Silva Cornejo, Cristal Diaz, Jessie Oropeza, Dylan Klawitter, Zac Ojeda, Mario Solorio. They spent 24 hours a day with our campers. Many were past Renegades and were an inspiration for our campers.  Thank you Youth 2 Leaders for your help in coordinating our mentors and keeping our campers hydrated. Thank you CSUB for housing our campers in your dorms and providing us with fun evening activities.  And thank you Heather Baltis, faculty member in the Ag department, for being the lead for this year’s Ag Academy.

Manny De Los Santos put together a great video, check it out here. Our next generation of agricultural leaders are bright, talented and full of new ideas!

Lynda Resnick Sonya Christian Jan 2015

I want to also take a moment to recognize Lynda Resnick the creator of the Wonderful Academy.  She has invested a lot in promoting education in rural communities.  The work in Los Hills had David Brooks of the NYTimes writing a piece on the incredible work that Resnick has been doing in Lost Hills.  Here is a quote:

“In Lost Hills there are new health centers, new pre-K facilities, new housing projects, new gardens, new sidewalks and lights, a new community center and a new soccer field. Through the day, people have more places to meet, play and cooperate with their neighbors.”

Lynda has also been a great friend of Bakersfield College.  Thank you Lynda Resnick for your commitment to the Central Valley

Check out my May 21, 2016 blog post that includes the Lost Hills article.

Culinary Arts Academy

With the support of BC Delano Auxiliary Foundation, Bakersfield College was able to partner with Delano Joint Union High School District and Delano Union Elementary School District to run a Culinary Arts Academy. Eleven incoming 8th-grade students from various Delano area middle schools took part in the pilot program. The program was designed to create a pathway in culinary arts starting in middle school. This is all part of KCCD’s K-14 Pathways initiative to develop and promote career pathways.

Cesar E. Chavez High School home economics instructor, Jill Pickett, developed a four-day curriculum to teach students the basics of safety, cooking, and etiquette. Mrs. Pickett had the support of three amazing student leaders, including two Bakersfield College-Delano students (Karla Gonzalez and Dalila Rodriguez).

Culinary ARts (1)

Each day the students learned how to prepare a hearty meal from scratch, which they would ultimately eat as their own lunch. One of the highlights of the program was when our very own Chef Eric Sabella and his wife, Chef Lupe Sabella (Executive Chef at Kern Medical), stopped by to speak to the students about their experiences in the culinary arts field. The students truly enjoyed learning about their journeys in the field. I’m so very thankful that Chefs Eric and Lupe took the time out of their busy day to meet with the students.

Culinary ARts (2)

The program concluded on Friday, June 30th. The students were treated to a nice lunch at Perko’s Café in Delano where they were given a tour of the kitchen facilities from the owner himself. He also shared his experience in the restaurant industry with the students. The academy was a great success, and showed a great pathway partnership between two secondary school districts and a community college. We hope to expand this enrichment opportunity in 2018.


BC Golden Empire Drum Corps

Congratulations to the Drum Corps!! This past weekend, the BC Golden Empire Drum Corps had back-to-back competitions at the Rose Bowl (Pasadena) and Riverside Community College. Under Tim Heasley’s leadership and instruction, I’m pleased to announce that our students won the Open Class division at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, and placed 2nd at their competition in Riverside (Sunday). The Drum Corps heads up the coast to Oregon and Washington this week for more competitions. Our music pageantry programs have flourished significantly in the last several years as a result of Tim’s investment of time and endless energy. The future for music pageantry at BC is bright and strong. You can view some recent pictures of our Corps on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/gedrumcorps/


Then on Thursday, I received a photo from Maribeth Heasley with the following email:

“Thought you might like to see this beautiful shot of the Bakersfield College Golden Empire Drum&Bugle Corp as they caravan to the Northwest.  The corps (100 students plus instructors, and about 15 volunteers) spent the night, ate and practiced, all in the shadow of Mt Shasta at the College of the Siskiyous. Now they will continue North, performing in Portland, Seattle and Tri Cities WA, before heading home next week.  Having done volunteer work with these students, I know they are wonderful kids, and great ambassadors of BC!”


What an incredible and beautiful photo!!

And I snapped this picture July 4th morning when Tim Heasley appeared on KGET with Jason Galvin.

July 4 2017 Tim Heasley on KGET.JPG

Jason Galvin, Tim Heasley


Into The Woods Opening Weekend

“Into the Woods” had its premier show last night and will have 3 more performances tonight, and July 14th and 15th. The Bakersfield Californian showcased an article highlighting the passion and dedication that goes into making these performances great.  The article says,

The Bakersfield College production has involved a large number of faculty: In addition to Jennifer Garrett and Sivesind, instrumental music professor Kathryn Kuby will conduct an 18-piece pit orchestra of students, community members and also music professors Robert Martinez and Marcia Maynard and staff accompanists Patrick Bender and Marla Hansen. Voice instructors Ken Burdick and Cayley Mayhall and BC English professor Andrew Bond are featured members of the cast. Theater staff Kevin Ganger and Leslie Aldridge are directing students in creating sets, lighting and costumes.

Thank you Susan Scaffidi for the great article.


Turnipseed shaking things up

It really is wonderful living in a community of leaders who are on the move  Loved the Community Voices piece done by Michael Turnipseed recently in The Bakersfield Californian.  He talks about the importance of government agencies disrupting the status quo.  Here is the link to the full article.  http://tinyurl.com/y8sclc4a

Community Voices July 6 2017 County Government must disrupt status quo


Registration Rocks at Bakersfield College

College is an exciting and sometimes challenging time for new students – that’s why BC staff and faculty are dedicated to hosting events that support our students. Coming up this Tuesday, we’re hosting Registration Rocks from 8:00AM to 3:00PM. There will be an introduction to BC, campus tour, financial aid, assessment, counseling, help for enrollment, and assistance finding classes. Did I mention free food and prizes? Even though registration has already begun for Fall 2017, it’s possible to become a Renegade and leave this one-day express registration event as a student of Bakersfield College! You can be enrolled in classes after just one day! Want to attend? Sign up now!

Tweet of the Week

I loved this tweet from Science Faculty, Joe Saldivar and the short video he posted too. Check it out on Youtube.


Wonder Woman

If you have not seen Wonder Woman yet, cancel all plans for this weekend and make time for the movie.  It has been out since June 2nd…..come now.  It is a must see.

Check out the trailer

I am an avid reader of reviews from the NYTimes.  Here is what A.O.Scott has to say.

Excerpt 1:

Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins from a script by Allan Heinberg, briskly shakes off blockbuster branding imperatives and allows itself to be something relatively rare in the modern superhero cosmos.  It feels like yet another installment in an endless sequence of apocalyptic merchandising opportunities than like ……what’s the word I’m looking for? A movie. A pretty good one, too.

Excerpt 2:

Wonder Woman, though, resists the reflexive power-worship that drags so many superhero movies – from the Marvel as well as the DC universe – into the mire of pseudo-Nietzschean adolescent posturing.  Unlike most of her male counterparts, its heroine is not trying to exorcise inner demons or work out messiah issues.  She wants to function freely in the world, to help out when needed and to be respected for her abilities.  No wonder she encounters so much resistance.

For the full review:

Music by the Fountain at the Market Place

I love summers and the month of July since the administrative team goes mostly dark in July.  That is, no regularly scheduled meetings.  Other than wishing temperatures would be lower than 102 degrees, life in Bakersfield in July is just perfect.  This includes relaxing at the fountain by the Market Place on Thursday evenings listening to music.


What I missed this week

I bought tickets to join my daughter to watch Blondie and Garbage perform in Santa Barbara.  But because of the new addition to the family, Neo, I did not go.

Here is one of my favorite Blondie songs — Call me.

And my favorite Garbage song Crush featured in the Caprio/Danes version of Romeo and Juliet.


From Facebook: 

Summer Bridge photo posts:

July 7 2017 photo 1 Summer Bridge.png


July 7 2017 photo 2 Summer Bridge.png


Thank you Kimberly Bligh.

Kate Pluta posted this poem on grief which I thought I would share with you


by Gwen Flowers

Calla Lily June 4 2016I had my own notion of grief.
I thought it was the sad time
That followed the death of someone you love.
And you had to push through it
To get to the other side.
But I’m learning there is no other side.
There is no pushing through.
But rather,
There is absorption.
And grief is not something you complete,
But rather, you endure.
Grief is not a task to finish
And move on,
But an element of yourself-
An alteration of your being.
A new way of seeing.
A new definition of self.

Sonya Christian July 6 2017 at the Market Place


That’s all for now.  

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya —
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Providing pathways to the future and building a better BC

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, July 23rd and I woke up to a wonderful piece by Jeff Evans in The Bakersfield Californian above the fold.  Indeed, a wonderful day to be a Renegade.

Here is an fuzzy image of the article taken on my iphone.  For the entire web version check out http://tinyurl.com/h2f79wy.  There is also a 15-minute video segment of Louis Amestoy interviewing Jeff Evans on the gymnasium and other athletics facilities that are on the BC facilities needs list.  Note this is a “needs list” not a “wish list”.  I particularly appreciated the comment that these facilities serve all of our students and not just our student athletes.

Jeff Evans Californian July 23 2016


The “Athletics facilities” is only one project of the numerous facilities needs on this 60 year old campus on 153 acres with over 30 buildings.  80% of the projects are capital improvements focusing on buildings where we have instruction in Math, Science, Agriculture, Humanities, etc. For the entire project list check out www.abetterbc.com.

The college faculty and staff have been focused on student success for over a century, and in the last three years have particularly focused on connecting with students when they are still in high school and gearing them up for college and the workforce.  Approximately 80% of BC’s students are first in their families to go to college, so the faculty and staff take the time to be their guides and their coaches as these first-time students learn to navigate college and learn how to be learners and gain the skills to enter the workforce.  Nick Strobel describes it well in about 500 words in his Community Voices piece on Wednesday, July 20th in The Bakersfield Californian.

Nick compared our new pathways initiative to the GPS in a car. Just as a GPS will help you get back on track if you make a wrong turn, the pathways we are creating can help guide students through life events that may “knock them off the college path.”

Nick Strobel July 20 2016

This is such an exciting initiative, and I am so happy that BC was one of just 30 colleges chosen to be part of the AACC Pathways Project.

Nick’s piece is online at http://www.bakersfield.com/news/opinion/2016/07/20/a-road-for-community-college-students-bc-s-gps.html.

So you see dear community members, BC meets students where they are and provides incredible opportunities for them to find their calling, whether in athletics, the arts and humanities, social sciences or in math and science.  What our faculty do for our students is nothing short of incredible.

Eisenhower Fellowship

Here’s a note I received from a talented Bakersfield College student:

My name is Rey Fernandez, a mechanical engineering major. From Fall 2015 to early Spring 2016, I had the opportunity to be one of the Dwight Eisenhower recipients because of the MESA program. This research opportunity exposed me to the transportation field, and taught me the role of engineers in the Transportation Research Board. Attending this TRB Conference in Washington D.C. gave me a lot of professional experiences.

I just want to thank you for bringing this research opportunity to MESA students last year, and again, for this upcoming year.

Washington DC.jpg


Former BC student featured on SiriusXM

Brandon McNaughton—who is from Bakersfield, attended BC, and received his BS in Physics from CSUB—was featured on SiriusXM in February.

He was interviewed for 30 minutes by Steve Blank on “Entrepreneurs Are Everywhere” about his biotech company, and the importance of understanding customer needs when developing a product or solution. The episode can be heard via SiriusXM on Demand.  Here is a link http://tinyurl.com/jyvzg9l

His company, Akadeum Life Sciences, is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has developed a new method to separate individual cells from biological samples, such as blood. He is also one of the 100 stars of Bakersfield College. A proud Renegade!

Here are some previous blog posts highlighting our faculty and staff and what they do to create a wonderful learning environment for our students.

April 3, 2015: Levan Center: St. John’s Lecture. Greg Schneider and The Brothers Karamazov


September 1, 2014: Arts and Humanities:


June 22, 2015: BC faculty and staff are rock stars


Speaking of our amazing faculty and staff,  let me tell you about a project that has surfaced this summer among a small group.  The idea is to get students to do their homework at the college in a structured environment so that they develop the habits of learning.  Being disciplined, persevering with their school work etc.  Just amazing dedication and commitment from the faculty!  I got to hang out with some of them.  Here are photos to prove it 🙂


Thank you all for your work.  A special shout out to Eileen Pierce, Kim Arbolante, Maria Wright, Kate Pluta, Stephen Waller, and Isabel Castaneda as well as Kimberly Bligh and Erica Menchacha who piloted Ac Dev 72 in the spring.

Political Leaders and their connections to BC.

kevin-mccarthy-sonya-christian-art-gentry-may-6-2016Regardless of your political views and affiliation, it is truly inspirational to consider what leadership and strength blossoms from our own backyard – Bakersfield, Kern County, and of course, at Bakersfield College. House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, took the stand on Tuesday evening to address the convention attendees and the nation, but Mr. McCarthy’s road to becoming the successful and influential political figure he is today, is one that began in our hometown.

He enrolled at BC after high school, opened a little local sandwich shop named Kevin O’s Deli, and earned a degree from CSUB. As his interest in politics peaked, he volunteered to clip newspapers in the office of Rep. Bill Thomas, to gain insight and learn from a fantastic role model.

Congressman Bill Thomas also has roots at BC – from beginnings as a political science faculty at BC to chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, there is so much to say about Bill that’s inspirational. We are so fortunate to have him as the senior advisor to our Blue Ribbon Committee and as a friend and supporter of Bakersfield College.

Mayor Harvey Hall is not shy to share his love of BC and he details his relationship in an article published on Bakersfield.com regarding the recent bond measure announcement.

Senator Jean Fuller, another political leader, earned her AA degree at Bakersfield College in 1970. After more than 30 years as an educator and Superintendent of Bakersfield City School District, sh e was elected in 2006 and “immediately recognized as a leader by her colleagues and has used her administrative experience to make impactful decisions that focus on increased efficiency and accountability.” (Source)

Our first female mayor, Mary K. Shell, also attended BC and continues to support Bakersfield College today. During the time of her retirement, the Bakersfield Californian even referred to her as “the most popular politician in Kern County history.” We are so lucky to have insightful and influential political leaders likes these and many others, including Rudy Salas, Andy Vidak, and Shannon Grove.

The people of Bakersfield and BC students, past and present, continue to make a difference in our community, state, and nation. I can’t wait to see what our current students have in store for the future of our country.

Latina Leaders

Last Saturday, July 16th, BC was present in full force at the Latina Leaders banquet.

This is my second year attending the event and I am even more impressed by the work they do. For more information check out their website at http://kernlatinas.com/.  Congratulations to ISABEL BRAVO, LOURDES VARGAS NILON, and GABRIELA MELLO on their recognition.


Norma Rojas Mora the president of Latina Leaders is a remarkable woman who in on our Bakersfield College Foundation Board of Directors and she is also the co-chair of the Community Connections group and the Blue Ribbon Committee on the Bakersfield College bond measure.

Here are the Bakersfield College folks who attended: Isabel Casteneda, Evette Lara, Janet Tarjan, Maria Wright, Paul Beckworth.  Thank you Karen Goh for the photos.  You are a good friend of Bakersfield College.

Check out my post from last year’s Latina Leaders banquet when Lisa Kent and Camilla Chavez were among the recipients of the leadership award.


Staff Retreats


Summers at Bakersfield College involve less instructional time, which gives the staff and administrators an opportunity to meet for one-day on-campus retreats. These provide a foundation for fostering positive connections, critical planning, and preparing our teams to better support the needs of the faculty and students.

Entertaining themes for these retreats keep everyone refreshed as group activities, informational talks, and fun competitions re-energize and re-focus everyone for a new academic year.

Check out more photos from our summer retreats at https://bakersfieldcollege.smugmug.com/2016-Retreats/.

It’s hard to believe – we are beginning to count down the days until opening day of Fall 2016!

Here is a picture of my Cabinet during our retreat in June.

Cabinet June 2016 1.jpg

Sonya and Maggie July 23 2016


That’s all for now.  

Until next Saturday.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya ….. with Maggie who is visiting for two days.

Welcoming our students and the community to BC

sonya washington monument april 16 2016

Sonya Christian April 16, 2016

Hello from our nation’s capital.  Washington DC in the spring is the best.  The glittering Potomac, the cherry blossoms…. it appears that folks in DC are out and about and the whole world has come to visit DC all at the same time.

I was at the AACC Pathways Institute with a team from Bakersfield College.  BC was one of 30 colleges selected nationwide through a competitive process to participate in a 3-year Guided Pathways initiative.  The work is focused on getting students to, and through, college quickly while enhancing their learning through coherent and structured pathways.  The three days in DC were intense, attending institute sessions and then coming together as a team to work on our homework.  I was happy to spend an hour in the national mall and walk the pathway between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument on my way to the airport.  Just perfect.  I did read, yet again, Lincoln’s Gettysberg address inscribed on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial.  Read it in my January 30, 2016 blog at http://tinyurl.com/zhnw9fb.

Day 3 AACC Pathways April 16 2016.jpg

Cindy Collier, Diane Troyer, Sonya Christian, Lesley Bonds, Jennifer Johnson, Paula Parks, Eileen Pierce, Marisa Marquez

Here are some highlights from BC in the last two weeks.

Jared Diamond speaks at Bakersfield College


Jared Diamond, Mary Jo Pasek, Jack Hernandez

On April 6th,  BC’s Indoor Theater was packed with students, faculty, staff, and community members to hear Jared Diamond give the first annual Levan Lecture, in honor of Dr. Norman Levan whose great generosity provided many scholarships for BC students, established the Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning, and created the Norman Levan Center for the Humanities, which sponsored Dr. Diamond’s talk.

The audience was enthusiastic and enthralled as Dr. Diamond’s presentation, “The World Until Yesterday: What We Can Learn from Traditional Societies”. Dr. Diamond compared modern society with traditional societies in the areas of recognizing danger, health, raising children, and solving conflict. His thoughtful and engaging talk was filled with vivid examples from his personal life and field work in New Guinea. After his talk, he answered questions from audience members and was given a standing ovation. He then signed books for the many who had brought them.

BC was fortunate to have Jared Diamond, UCLA Professor of Geography, Pulitzer Prize winner, and recipient of many awards, give the first annual Levan Lecture.  The Norman Levan Center for the Humanities intends to sponsor such outstanding speakers in this continuing series of lectures at Bakersfield College.

Thank you to Jack Hernandez and Mary Jo Pasek for helping bring this fabulous speaker to BC!



Grand Opening In Delano


Trustee Agbalog with the Delano group

On April 7th, the brand new Delano Center Library, Writing Center, and Tutoring Center held a grand opening on the Delano campus.  Thank you Trustee Romeo Agbalog and Michele Bresso for attending this event.

The project began as a joint venture two years ago between the library and academic support services who shared the vision of bringing the same services available at Bakersfield College’s main campus to the Delano Center. Through careful collaboration and planning that vision has come to fruition in the form of two, redesigned and newly furnished buildings on the Delano campus.

DelanoWritingCenter2The room formerly used for tutoring has become the new Delano Library, complete with computer lab, a variety of books and materials for check out, and enough space to offer a study area for students. Elisabeth Sundby will serve as Delano’s resident 25-hours-per-week librarian, and she will be joined once a week by other visiting librarians from BC in order to extend the hours.

The spacious, 50-unit computer lab adjacent to the new Library has been transformed into a shared area that now holds the Tutoring Center and the brand new Delano Writing Center.

Located right next door to each other in rooms 1101 and 1102, the Library, Tutoring Center, and Writing Center are a welcome addition to the Delano Center, which will certainly have a positive impact on the success of rural students in northern Kern County!

Tutoring services began at the Delano Campus in September of 2006, and have been available to students since that time. In fall of 2006, Tutoring had 7 tutors who saw 18 tutees for a total of 91 hours. Currently, tutoring has grown to include as many as 35 tutors; and these tutors see, on average, 250 tutees for more than 450 hours each semester during fall and spring. Summer statistics vary depending on classes. These statistics have Delano Campus Tutoring seeing close to 15% of the campus student body.

Monica Huyck was brought on in February 2011 as the then-part-time Tutorial Coordinator. then in August of 2011 as the Tutor Trainer and full time Assistant Professor of ACDV. Monica and Michelle have worked very hard to expand tutoring while maintaining the high standards and services of the center.  Tutoring is now available for Bakersfield College courses in rural areas.

A Sweet Partnership

em's treats with just jeff

Emily Aldritt and Jeff Green

In 2011, 11 year old Emily Aldritt started Em’s Treat’em Sweet. The goal was simple – to prepare, package and sell her family’s favorite holiday sweet treats (Muddy Buddies), and donate 100% of the proceeds to two local charities: The Bakersfield Homeless Center and the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.

Jeff Green, president of the board of the Homeless Center, reached out to the Bakersfield Culinary Arts department to help Emily increase production to raise more money.

The Bakersfield College Culinary Arts department has helped Emily to extend her reach. Leah Carter and Suzanne Durst helped Emily’s team all get their California Food Handlers cards.

BC also opened up the Renegade Room kitchen to Emily & her team over 2 days in December, helping them bake and package the final product. Chef Suzanne’s culinary arts students chipped in and volunteered to help for an entire Saturday of producing and packaging the treats.

Today, the project’s outcome has grown to more than $10,500 donated for 2015, and Bakersfield College is proud of the partnership between the college and this young entrepreneur.

On April 2, Emily received a Youth Hero Award at the American Red Cross Real Heroes Award ceremony. I am so proud of this young lady, and excited that Bakersfield College has been able to assist her!  And Jeff Green, you are amazing and a great friend of Bakersfield College.



Women’s History and More

As Spring Fling Week ends here at BC, we address a very serious issue: rape on school campuses. On April 7 and 8, Professor Kimberly Chin and her students held a Dramatic Reading entitled: Violence in The Lives of Women. This black box theater presentation portrayed the heart wrenching facts about on-campus rape through numerous readings performed by Monique Hansen-Garcia, Jason Glenn, Ashley Neufeld, and Carlos Noriega; songs performed by Victoria Colley; dances by Evan Alvarado, Liz Bolton, Jason Glenn, and Daniel Ochoa; and dark comedy portrayed by Lily Phillips.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 in 4 women experience sexual assault in college, and many do not report the assault due to fear of judgement, embarrassment, and blame. One scene performed by Carlos Noriega and Sara Alaniz, The Inner Monologue of a Rape, portrayed the mind of a female during her assault. These performances were the finale to Women’s History and More. Since the 1980s, Bakersfield College has participated in National Women’s History Month with a month-long series of programs presented by local and regional leaders among women.

I wrote about some of this year’s other Women’s History and More activities in a previous blog: https://bcpresidentblog.com/2016/03/19/a-whirlwind-week-at-bakersfield-college/. For more about Women’s History and More at Bakersfield College, check out their website at http://womenshistorymonthatbc.weebly.com/

Future Renegades at BC

On April 8th, Bakersfield College welcomed over 700 prospective students to our beautiful outdoor theater on campus as we hosted an open house for the Kern High School District.

After a classic Renegade Welcome in the Outdoor Theater at 09:00 AM, these prospective BC bright minds had the opportunity to participate in engaging, extended orientation style workshops.

Financial Aid 101 teaches the basics of navigating the intense world of paying for college. Student Services Campus Tours places these students directly in the invaluable departments that will guide them to academic success. College 101 encourages these students to discover life at BC through an exciting, Jeopardy-style game show setting.

Thank you to Steve Watkin and our fabulous outreach department for putting on such a great event – and showing prospective students how wonderful it is to be a Bakersfield College Renegade!OpenHouse_3

Kern High School District Open House

This event on April 8th was followed by another event on Saturday with high school students and their parents as we selected our first cohort of students for the Renegade Promise.  It was wonderful interacting with the students and their excited families.


Steve Watkin bragging about the 2,045 ASEPs


Sonya Christian with Alyssa Ramos and her parents


Sonya Christian with Janae Franklin from Independence High


Sonya Christian with Alexandra and Andrew Apatiga 

Delano Relay for Life:

After welcoming the high school students and their parents Saturday morning, I rushed over to Delano to say hello to the Relay for Life team.  Our BCDelano Team just does an awesome job with Relay for Life.  It was great connect with Loy Salarda, Helen Calip, Jason Stratton etc.  And BC took the first place in the auto race event.

Delano Relay for Life April 9 2016.jpg


My dear friends and colleagues in Bakersfield and Delano, do you see why you and I love Bakersfield College? We are….BC!