Tag Archives: Jean Fuller

BC — Commitment to Quality Education

US Capitol Photo snapped Jan 28, 2020

When our founding fathers settled on this stretch of land along the Potomac River, it was the result of a compromise in 1790 between Hamilton and the duo of Madison and Jefferson. My trip to DC this time was especially stirring because I am on chapter 18 of Ron Chernow’s book Alexander Hamilton. This book is so engaging that I find myself ignoring work and other pressing matters to steal away a few hours to read…. reminding me of my growing up years when I curled up with a mystery novel, sacrificing the completion of my homework for school the next day.

Alexander Hamilton was appointed as the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury in 1789, and he sought to create a stable foundation for the newly-established federal government. He pushed for passage of the Residence Act in 1790 and negotiated the selection of the capital of the United States in a spot we now know as Washington, DC, near the colonial port cities of Georgetown and Alexandria, and the navigation head of the Potomac River.

Since I have been reflecting on the history of this great country, let me also reflect on the history of this great college founded in 1913. Here is a piece from the 1964 Raconteur that I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Print from 1964.

This is your book, your story-
It covers a span of time in your life
Which is small but a scope which is large.
It is the story of Bakersfield College

A Raconteur is a French storyteller,
And indeed your Raconteur is telling a very important story.
A story about an important part of your life.
Within its covers lie your hopes and dreams,
Your successes and failures.

Your life is but in the molding here,
You are being prepared for the complicated world
Which you will enter when you leave Bakersfield College.
A life which will be complex,
A world of science and technology which will make your hectic
Days here seem like a moment of brief rest.
You will look back upon your years here and see
The preparation that took place,
How your classes and teachers used science for your enrichment

Whether you majored in Humanities or Physics
Art or mechanics, your preparation has been scientific,
As our world is scientific.
This then is a capsule summary of that preparation.

A montague look at your life here.
Your preparation has been fast and efficient
Brief and complete.
Whether you transfer to another institution of preparation
Or go into the world directly,
You will fall back on your education here.

The life of science,
And the science of life –
This is the story of Bakersfield College,
And this is what story. 

-Published by Associated Students, Bakersfield College, 1964 Raconteur

Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, February 1, 2020… A great day to be a Renegade.

I spent the week in Washington, DC attending the CHEA (Council on Higher Education Accreditation conference during which I accepted the CHEA-CIQG Award on behalf of BC.

CIQG Quality Award

with framed award from CHEA.
Sonya Christian & Jean Fuller

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) International Quality Group (CIQG) awarded Bakersfield College the CIQG Quality Award at the annual plenary CIQG meeting in Washington, DC.

The Council annually awards colleges and universities for outstanding performance based on the rigorous standards set forth by CHEA/CIQG.  The criteria calls for high-quality performance across seven categories ranging from the institution’s impact on student outcomes to its impact on community and society.

Posing on stage with the award.
Stephanie Droker (President Elect ACCJC), Jean Fuller (Senator Emeritus), Sonya Christian, Judith Eaton (President CHEA)

It is beyond awesome that Bakersfield College is being recognized in an international arena for the transformational work that we embarked upon seven years ago. BC’s faculty and staff have courageously redesigned what we do and how we do it, to ensure at every step that the sole focus of our work is the success of our students.  To be evaluated against CIQG’s rigorous, high-performance standards and win this award is a validation of the quality and efficiency of our whole-college redesign effort. This recognition especially calls out the high quality, impactful work of our faculty and staff in specific programs such as Early College, Kern Promise, and the Program Mapper, as well as in the daily functions of the college.

Sonya speaking at the CHEA.
Sonya Christian addressing the conference after receiving BC’s award

Both presidents of CHEA, Judith Eaton, and CIQG, Chita Pijano, expressed appreciation for the significant work accomplished by Bakersfield College.

To read more about the CIQG Quality Award, visit BC’s website.  

Special thanks to The Bakersfield Californian for mentioning this prestigious recognition as well. 

The Welcome Continues

BCSGA’s welcoming festivities continued into the second week of the Spring 2020 semester with a full slate of events to keep students in the Renegade spirit. We wrote about the first Welcome Week in last week’s blog, along with a preview of what to expect from BCSGA and the Office of Student Life in 2020, so please do check it out if you haven’t already. Next week, BCSGA’s Department of Legislative Affairs has invited South Kern Sol Executive Director Reyna Olaguez to speak in the Levan Center at 1 p.m. on February 4 during the first BCSGA Power Lunch of the semester.

Super Smash Bros. Tournament

Many of our student Renegades love to play video games, so BCSGA set up a Super Smash Bros. tournament to kick off the second week of Welcome Week festivities on Monday. Students converged on Levinson Hall, where BCSGA holds their meetings, to sit down and compete against each other in “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” for the Nintendo Switch. 

BCSGA Super Smash Bro's Tournament plaque in front of computer.

After signing up, each student was placed in an elimination bracket and played against each other until one champion was left standing. The event got pretty intense, with students bringing their own controllers and consoles to practice before the start of the tournament. Jesus C. Rodriguez was the winner of this year’s competition, beating everyone in the tournament with the characters Ganon and Kirby. As a reward for winning the tournament, his name is displayed on a trophy that hangs proudly in Levinson Hall.

Thank you to Benny Balderrama and BCSGA for getting our students who love to game invested in the campus.

Churros with Prez Pulido

Samantha with thumbs up behind a tray of churros.

BCSGA President Samantha Pulido shared churros with students and listened to their concerns in the Gym Huddle as part of a Welcome Week outreach event on Monday afternoon. Pulido wants the BC student body to get to know her a little better, so she made herself available to answer any questions that students wanted to ask.

Renegades lined up to get their free churros and share a moment with their student body president. Thank you to Prez Pulido for making all of our students feel welcome and accepted.

Renegade Rage

Students geared up in jumbo-sized boxing gloves and faced off for a friendly showdown in the Gym Huddle on Tuesday. A team of organizers got together to host the “Renegade Rage: Jumbo Boxing” event, including Student Life Assistant Sarah Aguirre, BCSGA Vice President Daniel Escobar, Director of Student Activities Christopher Hernandez, Senator Gian Gayatao, and student volunteer Alex Bridges.

Students were encouraged to put their dukes up and get in the ring, and all participants received free Renegade Student Planners. Thank you to all of the organizers and participants in this year’s “Renegade Rage”.

#SelfiesAtBC: Renegade Scavenger Hunt

Ready! Set! Go! BC students had 24 hours to share their #SelfiesAtBC and win prizes from BCSGA as part of this year’s Renegade Scavenger Hunt during Welcome Week.

BC Got Talent

Welcome Week concluded with the “BC’s Got Talent: Entertainment Gauntlet” showcase in the Gym Huddle on Thursday. BCSGA students set the stage for our talented Renegades to show off their creative abilities.

The panel of judges for the performance showcase included BCSGA members Jackie Gutierrez, Samantha Pulido, Daniel Escobar, Perla Villegas, Christopher Hernandez and Gian Gayatao. A group of singers and performers took the spotlight, including Forestry student Andrew Ramos, who sang Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” for an excited audience. Andrew said that music and singing are some of his favorite hobbies, and he enjoys all genres of music.

The panel graciously congratulated all of the participants for having the courage to share their talents with the world. Thank you to BCSGA and all of the performers for coming together at “BC’s Got Talent”.

Last Sunday’s Tragedy

Like so many basketball fans around the world, I was saddened at the passing of five-time NBA champion and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. The terrible helicopter crash on the hills of Calabasas last weekend was a shock to us all.

If you go to the intersection of Rosedale Highway and Mohawk Street in Bakersfield, you can see a billboard paying tribute to Bryant with the words “Legend: 1978-2020”. On Friday, the Dignity Health Memorial Sports Complex held a candlelight vigil for Bryant, who was nicknamed “The Black Mamba” for his lethal shooting ability. Local Lakers fans wore their jerseys and other memorabilia to pay respects to one of the best players in the history of the NBA.

The world of community college athletics is also in mourning after the death of John Altobelli, the baseball coach of Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California, who was among the nine people involved in the crash. Altobelli coached the Orange Coast Pirates for 27 seasons, winning four CCCAA titles during his tenure. In 2019, the American Baseball Coaches Association named him the National Coach of the Year. Renegade baseball coach Tim Painton knew Altobelli for 30 years and reflected on his legacy in a video posted by KERO on Tuesday.

The Pirates held an emotional tribute to Altobelli at their home game on Tuesday, with several hundred of his former players coming out to reminisce about their coach, including New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole. You can read more about the John Altobelli tribute  in the LA Times.

Heartfelt condolences from the BC Athletics Department and the whole college to all the students, faculty and administration at Orange Coast College, and all of the friends and family that lost loved ones in the tragic accident. 

Anna Laven Picked to Lead Homeless Collaborative 

Anna Lavan.

Anna Laven, manager for BC’s Dual Enrollment and AB 540 programs, has been appointed as the first executive director of the Bakersfield-Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative (BKRHC). The newly-reorganized collaborative will guide the city and county’s efforts to curtail homelessness and provide resources for people in our community dealing with housing insecurity.

Laven has extensive experience in public affairs in addition to her experience as a college administrator, serving as a Field Representative for the Kern County Board of Supervisors and a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Kern County Behavioral Health boards. Over the last three years at BC, she has managed grant funding and developed programs focused on the recruitment and success of disadvantaged students.

The Bakersfield Californian and KGET covered the announcement on Wednesday. The BKRHC is currently working on developing a point-in-time homeless count, which would help the collaborative determine the type of services needed for homeless programs while securing additional funding and support.

BC is proud to be one of the community partners in this collaborative, which includes membership from the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault, Garden Pathways, the Kern Housing Authority, CityServ and The Mission at Kern County. For more information,  visit the BKRHC website.

Agriculture Ambassadors

Bakersfield College’s Agriculture Ambassadors are a group of students that were hand-selected by faculty members in the Agriculture Department. These students have become knowledgeable in what it takes to get one of our agriculture degrees at Bakersfield College. With this knowledge, they participate in all of our outreach events, whether it is a career expo, a booth at the World Ag Expo or visiting high schools.

Group of agriculture ambassadors.

This past weekend, they had the unique opportunity to go to the Agriculture Ambassador conference at Cal Poly, SLO.

Ag ambassadors speaking to students.

So proud of our students! WE ARE BC!

Community Voices: Principal Justin Derrick 

Justin Derrick speaks at the press event
Justin Derrick speaks at the press event

It was great to see McFarland principal, Justin Derrick, in the Community Voices section of The Bakersfield Californian.  He shared his personal story of being a small town boy; one who experienced real struggles of exploring colleges and feeling supported to attend and be successful. He spoke of relating to the students he knew in McFarland and how proud he is of them today as Cougar-Renegades. He said, “Now I find myself here in McFarland, a small town like the one where I grew up, and I’ve been given the opportunity to be the principal that shepherds the Early College program, guiding our very first cohort to graduation with a Bakersfield College degree. I have a front row seat to the transformations underway in our district and across our entire community. From kindergarten through eighth grade, we’re instilling in our students that going to high school in McFarland also means starting a college pathway with Bakersfield College as a Cougar-Renegade.”

See the full Justin Derrick piece at The Bakersfield Californian Community Voices webpage.

Community Voices: Coach Paula Dahl

Coach Paula Dahl and winning team

Women’s basketball coach Paula Dahl also published a Community Voices piece looking back on her 26 years of coaching at BC. The piece is titled “the best job in the world”.

I am blessed to work with some of the greatest women I know. They battle daily to become the best version of themselves on and off the court. I’ve watched them develop lifelong friendships and learn to sacrifice and compete for each other. I’ve watched them completely leave everything they have on the floor and fall short and pick themselves up and be ready to compete again the next day for a win.

Read the full Paula Dahl piece at The Bakersfield California Community Voices webpage.

Eisenhower Fellows

Received some more fun photos from the group I wrote about  in last week’s blog

Fun Video

Let’s enjoy Tarina Perry’s sister’s well trained Chocolate Lab.

Renegade Athletics

Kern Schools FCU Renegades of the Week – January 19 – 25

Renegade Athletics is proud to announce this week’s (1/19-1/25) Kern Schools Federal Credit Union Renegades of the Week:

Renegades of the week Devon Lee and Neshara Smith.

Neshara Smith, Women’s Track & Field– Neshara qualified in the long jump for the SoCal Regionals in the first meet of the year with a jump of 18’5 at the AVC All-Comers meet.

Devon Lee, Men’s Track & Field – Devon also qualified for the SoCal Regionals in the first meet of the year with a jump of 47’8 in the triple jump at the AVC All-Comers Meet. 

Renegade Report

Watch this week’s edition of the Renegade Report on the Bakersfield College Athletics Facebook page featuring our Renegade Baseball team from Gerry Collis Field. Head Coach Tim Painton and student athlete Alejandro Murillo, Matt Patton and Ryan Darbee sat down with host Kenny Calvin to discuss the 2020 season.

Renegade Athletics updates from this past week:

Athletics ‘Action’ Photos From This Week.

Athletic events ‘On the Hill’ this coming week

Be sure to put on your Renegade Red and cheer on our student athletes as they compete this coming week. If you can’t make it in person, check GoGades.com to catch the livestream. Events include:

  • Tue. 2/4 – Men’s Tennis vs Glendale at 1pm
  • Tues 2/4 – Softball Doubleheader vs. Porterville at 1p and 3p
  • Thurs. 2/6 – Baseball vs. El Camino at 6pm
  • Fri. 2/7 – Track and Field hosts Battle of the Regions
  • Fri. 2/7 – Baseball vs. El Camino, 2pm
  • Sat. 2/8 – Baseball vs. El Camino, 12pm
  • Sat. 2/8 Softball Doubleheader vs. Riverside at 2:30p and 5pm
Sonya speaking at the CHEA conference.


That’s all for now.

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.

sonya-
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Wrapping up Fall 2019

Pearl Harbor Anniversary Sunrise. Dec 7, 2019.

Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, December 7, 2019… A historic day for America. A day of reflection for me, an immigrant to this great country. Proud to be an American. Proud to be a Renegade.

I searched my blog for “Pearl Harbor” and found this post, published on July 30, 2017 when I was in Hawaii. It brought back great memories on my visit to Pearl Harbor. Check it out https://sonyachristianblog.com/2017/07/30/live-love-ohana-aloha/

The video clip of Franklin Roosevelt addressing the nation after the Pearl Harbor attack (see blog link above) reminded me of the other President Roosevelt whose biography I am reading — Edmund Morris’ The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, a remarkable piece of work done by a great biographer of a great leader. Thought I would share a tidbit on Theodore Roosevelt’s influence positioning the US as a naval powerhouse.

Teddy Roosevelt was only 23 when he published his first book The Naval War of 1812. This piece of work and his continued interest in naval matters resulted in Theodore Roosevelt playing a critical role in the Spanish-American war, resulting in the US displacing the Spanish in Cuba, as well as in the US gaining exclusive use of Pearl Harbor initially in the late 1800s, leading to the establishment of a full fledged naval station after 1908.

Enjoying BC Choir Carols in December

December at BC is a just a great month. We have so many music performances where our choir fills our hearts with the spirit of Christmas with fabulous music. In my four December blog posts, I will include a sampling of their music to bring joy to your hearts as they do mine. Here is the first installment from the BSO-BC annual Home for the Holidays event at the Rabobank on December 6, 2019. More on that in my next blog.

We Need a Little Christmas — BSO and BC Home for the Holidays Concert Dec 6, 2019
Henerot Halalu BSO and BC Home for the Holidays Carl Topilow on the Clarinet

Jean Fuller Podcast

“Hello Bakersfield” is one of my recommended podcasts because it spotlights local people doing wonderful things in our community, as well as highlighting the culture, traditions, and positive happenings in our growing town. Recently, “Hello Bakersfield” co-hosts Andrae Gonzales (Bakersfield City Councilman), Rachel Magnus, Jesus Gonzalez, and Carla Barrientos chatted with Jean Fuller, who many know as our retired State Senate and Republican Leader Emeritus in the California Legislature.

Since her retirement, our campus has been fortunate to have her attention as she has become an ambassador for educational attainment in our rural communities. She is a leading advocate of the Early College Program, which aims to provide a pathway to college for our rural high school students, with hopes that by the time they graduate from high school, they will have earned a certificate or degree from our college. It’s an innovative program that is a part of a national conversation to increase college attainment. The need is even greater in Kern County.

Olivia Garcia and Jean Fuller

Do listen and hear what Jean Fuller has to say about Early College.

Employee Holiday Lunch Reception

BC faculty and staff gathered in the Renegade Room on Wednesday for this year’s Employee Holiday Reception.  Guests were able to enjoy some quality time with their colleagues, as well as live music from our amazing music department faculty and students.

Manny de los Santos put together this great highlight video that showcases the event.

The menu consisted of items courtesy of Chef Alex, Chef Suzanne, Chef Anna, and our fabulous Culinary Arts students.  Some of the most popular items were deviled eggs, Chinese chicken salad, stuffed mushrooms, and bread pudding.  Check out the gallery below for some great photos of the hard-working staff and delicious food.

Seeing all of the smiling faces at the reception really warmed my heart. We truly are a Renegade family.

This event was made possible by the Management Association, BC Foundation, CCA, CSEA, and individual donors.  Another special thanks goes out to Barnes & Noble, BCSGA, BC Athletics, CTE, EOPS/NextUP/Care, Loma Linda Restaurant, and the Renegade Room. I’d also like to thank our Holiday Party Planners for putting on this event, including Judy Ahl, Kristin Rabe, Leah Carter, Pat Smith, Susan Pinza, and Tracy Lovelace.  Happy holidays, everyone!

Tom Gelder’s Retirement Party and Foundation Board Holiday Dinner

The annual BC Foundation Board Holiday Dinner was held on Thursday evening in the Renegade Room. The group of sixty was entertained by a performance by the choir, and the singers enveloped the room in beautiful renditions of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Jingle Bells”.

The students of the Culinary Arts program prepared and served a delicious meal of Beef Wellington and a trilogy of cheesecakes for dessert. The Foundation dinner is the final exam of the semester for the students in the program.

The night was made even more special as Tom Gelder was celebrated for his five and a half years as Executive Director of the Bakersfield College Foundation.

Foundation’s chairman of the board, Jeff Bell, spoke about Tom’s time with the Foundation and the connection that was developed through working together. And board member, Rick Kreiser and Corny Rodriguez roasted Tom about his golf game not being up to par. After comments from Jennifer Achan about the rivalry of their Michigan home town teams, Tom stood on his chair to show off his Michigan State, winning team socks.

Tom and I worked very closely on the two-year campaign for Measure J and the various Sterling Silver events that we hosted over the five years of Tom’s tenure as Exec Director of the Foundation. I described Tom’s writing as the coming together of the clear thinking of a Thurgood Marshall and the character descriptions and storytelling of a Charles Dickens.

Tom Burke, Kevin McCarthy, Jerry Ludeke, Sonya Christian, Tom Gelder
Tom Burke, Kevin McCarthy, Jerry Ludeke, Sonya Christian, Tom Gelder

Manny de los Santos sent over this little video of Tom Gelder’s retirement party. Great work, Manny!

Want to see more from the party? Check out SmugMug for the full photo gallery of the party.

Patriots From the Barrio

Author Dave Gutierrez shared passages out of his book “Patriots From the Barrio” in the Levan Center on Tuesday as part of the final Vet Month event before the Veterans’ Resource Center unveiling next week.

“Patriots From the Barrio” tells the story of Company E, a United States Army combat unit from World War II made up entirely of Mexican-Americans from the barrios of South Texas. Dave’s relative Ramon Gutierrez served with Company E and was awarded the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts for his efforts. Actor Wilmer Valderrama recently purchased the film rights to “Patriots from the Barrio” and plans on shooting a TV series based on the story.

I’m very happy that the Levan Center helped put on this event, and grateful for Dave Gutierrez coming to speak and sign books for students. Lastly, I would like to thank our BC student veterans for all their hard work and sacrifice. I hope to see you all at the Vernon Valenzuela Veterans Resource Center unveiling on December 10.

Arun Gandhi Video

Bakersfield College is fortunate to have talented faculty who connect our students with opportunities to develop their skills and talents. One of those faculty Jeff Huston, connected his students with our marketing department to experience on-campus events and activities to develop their video skills. Through this connection, Monika Scott invited two students to BC’s event with Arun Gandhi in September.

Arun Gandhi speaks at Delano High School in September 2019.

Mario Esquer captured the special event through a short, engaging, and video. So proud of Mario’s work. Check out the video.

Burritos with BCSGA Prez Pulido

Burritos! Burritos! Burritos! On Thursday, BCSGA hosted another fun Burritos with Prez Pulido event in Levinson Hall. This event brought students together to discuss what is going on at BC. Director of Student Organizations Samuel Schissler hosted the event.

The meeting gave students the chance to voice their concerns and get questions answered about parking, the health center, student constitutions, Distinguished Speakers, and the new Veterans Resource Center. Schissler made sure to acknowledge the students’ opinions and speak on behalf of BCSGA to address their needs.

Holiday Ceramics Sale

On Wednesday, students in our ceramics classes displayed their projects in the Fine Arts building as part of a sale held at the end of every semester. Students and members of the community were invited to tour the facility and purchase cups, bowls, sculptures, and other materials created by BC students.

Fine Arts professor Darrin Ekern said the overwhelming majority of the projects made by students are food safe; however, the pieces developed using a Japanese technique known as Raku firing were not food safe. Beautifully-decorated figures were displayed on the shelves next to hand-sculpted plates, bowls, and cups, as well as ornamental vases, necklaces and pendants.

Thank you to the BC Art Department, professor Ekern, and our Fine Arts students for putting their work on display for the Ceramics Holiday Sale.

New Employee Orientation

Our December New Employee Orientation included four new employees: Jacqueline Petrini (Executive Secretary to Dean Mourtzanos), Sabrina Aguilar (Program Manager for Early College and Inmate Education), Maribel Lopez (Teacher’s Assistant in Delano), and Cristal Rios (Budget Analyst).  These new Renegades were welcomed into the BC family by our New Employee Orientation Team of Michele Bresso, Todd Coston, Dena Rhoades, and Pam Rivers).

Our newest Renegades, left to right: Jacqueline Petrini, Sabrina Aguilar, Maribel Lopez, and Cristal Rios

They had the chance to hear about technology use, the culture of BC, emergency preparedness, Human Resources, and much more. They ate at the Huddle and ended their day with a tour by Todd Coston. Welcome to the team, everyone!

Renegade Football Players Help the Homeless

Renegade Football’s Fano Maui, Justin Harrington, Larry Harrington, and Darius Richardson helped serve the homeless at The Mission at Kern County on Thanksgiving, and even snagged a picture with Mayor Karen Goh. It’s great to see these student-athletes choosing to serve the community during the holidays.

The best thing about this is that these young men did this on their own, out of the kindness of their hearts.  Pearl Urena happened to overhear them talking about it one day and volunteered to go with them.  Way to go, Renegades!

Athletics Updates From This Past Week

Check out the links below for the latest scores and updates.

Football Highlight Video

We had many spectacular plays made throughout the season by our Renegade Football team. Enjoy this movie edited by BC media student Jacob Amado, who was there to capture the action on the sideline throughout the season.

Next Level Renegades

Congrats to three of our Renegade student-athletes for committing to continue their academic and athletic careers at the next level. Zach Hartsfield from Renegade Football has committed to play for Eastern Michigan University located in Ypsilanti, MI. From Renegade Women’s Soccer, Rhyan Acosta has committed to play at Cal State Bakersfield and Emma Gross has committed to Fresno Pacific.

Congratulations to Zach, Rhyan, and Emma!


That’s all for now.

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.

sonya-
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

BC building bridges

Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, January 25, 2020… A great day to be a Renegade.

BC building bridges always…..

2019 Convocation BC Chamber Singers with Bridge Over Troubled Water

I have to start by welcoming BC’s 39 newest faculty to the Home of the Renegades! This year is going to be the best one yet because of the leadership and engagement of faculty and staff. At BC, we create engaged learning environments, strengthen support so students are successful, and we create bridges towards a better BC, a healthier community, and a stronger college going culture with a goal of increasing baccalaureate attainment in Kern County.

Welcome new faculty, I am so happy you are at the Home of the Renegades.

Browse our new faculty online at the New Academic Faculty webpage on the BC website.

Opening Day

Faculty and staff came together in the Indoor Theater on Thursday for the biggest Opening Day celebration that I recall. It is always a joy to arrive in the morning and feel the buzz as staff and faculty mingle and connect over a beautiful spread of breakfast goodies provided by Food Services.

I had so much exciting news to share with everyone in my annual State of the College report, which is why our team put together an Opening Day extravaganza. Samantha Pulido is the BCSGA President this year and her opening remarks were inspiring. She spoke of short term goals and long term goals, like graduating next year.

I opened State of the College with an overview of enrollment and student success data, which continues to rise. Since the 2013-14 semester, BC has seen 4.6 percent growth in annual headcount… we now serve 37,000 students. A 25.9 percent growth in Full Time Equivalent Student (FTES) over the last 5 years, and 10 percentage point growth in distance education.

In that same time period, the course success rate for traditional students is up 7 percent, and course success for distance education students is up 10 percent. It’s amazing that we’ve been able to improve our course success rates while our student population continues to grow significantly at the same time.

With this growth, our need for more faculty has also gone up, and we’ve increased our Full Time Equivalent Faculty by 46.9 percent since 2013-14 to carry out our high-tech, high-touch strategy via the Guided Pathways model.

We also reviewed a visual created by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness which shows the student body distribution by Meta-Major. As you can see, Health Sciences is in the lead at 18% with Arts, Humanities, & Communication close behind at 14%.

Our two Vice Presidents Zav Dadabhoy and Billie Jo Rice introduced the new faculty, classified staff, and managers,

Steve Holmes and Mike Giacomini
Steve Holmes and Mike Giacomini

Vice President of Finance, Mike Giacomini was joined by Academic Senate President, Steven Holmes for a report on budget. They shared the news that the College is financially healthy and being fiscally responsible. Bakersfield College and Kern Community College District have been well positioned to respond to the new Student Centered Funding Formula, and we’ve been fiscally prudent during the transition. 

Trustee Romeo Agbalog spoke about how he is proud to be a Kern Community District Trustee and he is proud of the work of BC’s faculty and staff. He spoke about Early College being the solution for rural communities to advance college attainment levels — a strong leading indicator of economic and social mobility. BC is truly blessed to have a trustee with so much commitment to our rural students and approached solutions that are results oriented and fiscally smart.

Senator Fuller moderated a panel of community leaders — Barbara Grimm, CEO and Founder, Grimm Family Education Foundation; Aaron Resendez, Superintendent of McFarland Unified School District ; David Franz, director of Shafter Education Partnership . I will cover this in my August 30th blog.

Aaron Resendez, Barbara Grimm, David Franz
Ken Keller, Sharlet Briggs, Jeet Singh, and Norma Rojas-Mora
Manny De Los Santos
Manny De Los Santos on Opening Day

BC’s videography specialist, Manny De Los Santos is editing some special videos for upcoming blogs so stay tuned!

After our panelists, the BC Drumline led faculty and staff out of the Indoor Theater to have lunch on the lawn next to the gym.

In the afternoon we spotlighted the need to increase baccalaureate attainment in the Central Valley and we know it will be increasingly important in an era where automation is on the rise. The slide below spotlights a data point from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) that by 2030, California will need an additional 1.1 million in the workforce holding baccalaureate degrees.

Bakersfield College is rising to meet this demand, with various complementary strategies, each bolstered by a number of initiatives and support services. The first strategy is community colleges throughout the state offering more baccalaureate degrees. BC has been fortunate to be one of the original 15 community colleges to pilot a baccalaureate degree, and we’ve done this successfully with the Industrial Automation program.

Blair Pruett from Kern Steel Fabrication took time out of his day to talk about his role on the Industrial Automation advisory board and the importance of preparing Kern County’s workforce for our automated future. He said:

Blair Pruett at BC
Blair Pruett, August 23, 2019

I applaud you for being here today. Education is the ticket to financial independence, to personal growth and understanding, and it will open doors for students, they don’t even know exist.
The world is fast approaching another paradigm shift where Automation and Information Technologies will work together to facilitate useful Artificial Intelligence. A.I. will allow us to solve vexing problems in every industry. BC stands ready to support the Automation needs of Kern County businesses.

At every opportunity, Kern Steel has Automated our processes. We robotically cut steel plates, beams and tubes with lasers. We weld with robots. We design in 3D and we track all our materials electronically. If there is a process that we can automate, we do, or at least we try.
Automation is key to our success and the success of many industries in Kern County. Whatever career students choose, Ag, Oil, Manufacturing, Distribution or many others, they will find that Automation is a key process. Kern County is full of opportunities for advanced Automation and new technologies and Kern Steel is just one example.

Blair Pruett, President of the Industrial Automation Advisory Board at Bakersfield College

Additionally, the second strategy is to expand transfer. BC’s Finish in 4 collaboration with CSUB is closing the gap for Renegades who are transitioning into Roadrunners, and enrollment in our Bachelor of Science in Industrial Automation continues to grow.

Sonya Christian, Richard Winn, Stephanie Droker, Mary Okada, Ian Walton
BC President Sonya Christian at the NACIQI meeting where the recommendation was made

With NACIQI’s recommendation to expand the baccalaureate programs at community colleges across California, we hope to provide more opportunities to empower the next generation of students with the education they need to turn their dreams into reality.

The new BC SouthWest campus will be triple the size of our current facility, and after lunch, we heard from Jessica Wojtysiak, Jason Stratton and Fernando Lara about their plans for the future of BC SouthWest.

Jessica, Jason, and Fernando – BC’s SouthWest Team

We then heard from our constituent leaders such as CSEA, CCA, Academic Senate, and the Management Association. I was especially humbled by the kind and thoughtful remarks by Tina Johnson and the recognition from our classified staff. This will be one of the top honors I will receive during my tenure as president… one that I will cherish always and hold dear to my heart. BC’s classified staff are a core pillar of strength which allows the college to serve an every increasing number of students each and every day.

We heard from Ann Tatum, President of CCA as well as from Susan Pinza, Director of the Levan Institute and Reggie Williams, Director of the Levan Center.

For the awards portion of the program, Talita Pruett introduced Helen Acosta and Donna Starr introduced Regina Hukill for the Shirley Trembley Distinguished Teaching Award. Erin Miller announced Bernadette Towns as the winner of the Levan Faculty Colloquium Award, and Kimberly Bligh introduced Kimberly Nickell for the Margaret Levinson Distinguished Leadership Award.

I’m proud to report that the State of Bakersfield College is strong, and it will only continue to get stronger as our initiatives grow and expand. I’m looking forward for 2019-20 to be another great academic year for Bakersfield College. Thank you to everyone who attended, packed the Indoor Theater, the two overflow rooms, and watched online. I can’t wait for the new year to begin next week

New Student Convocation and Family Bridge to BC

On Tuesday evening, the BC community prepared new students and their families for life as Renegades during the BC Open House and New Student Convocation in the Outdoor Theater.

History faculty welcoming students and families

This year’s convocation featured a scavenger hunt where students had to familiarize themselves with the campus. Representatives from each building stamped completion of tasks for scavenger hunt participants as they made their way through the campus. The first students to finish the hunt received prizes courtesy of the Bridge to BC program.

Ag table at convocation
BC’s Ag crew had a booth too!

In addition to the scavenger hunt, there was a resource fair in front of the entrance to the Outdoor Theater featuring booths from the Student Health Center, Public Safety Training, BCSGA, and a number of our student organizations. There was also a pathways booth on the lawn in front of the Counseling area, which offered more information about all ten of our learning and career pathways. Walking throughout the campus, you could hear the sound of spinning prize wheels reverberating off the walls.

After a delicious Indian dinner catered by Food Services, the processional started promptly at 7:13 p.m., or 19:13 in military time, to commemorate 1913, the year that Bakersfield College was founded. After a beautiful Bhangra Dance performance in honor of Mahatma Gandhi and a performance of the national anthem by the BC Chamber Singers, emcee Nicky Damania gave a brief introduction on the meaning of the word “convocation”, which is a call to bring people together.

Renegades! Can I hear you?!

I spoke very briefly about our amazing faculty and academic support programs before turning it over to Steven Holmes, Kimberly Bligh, and BCSGA President Samantha Pulido, who lead the audience in oaths for faculty, parents and supporters, and students, respectively.

It takes a village to help just one student finish their education, and these oaths help all of the stakeholders in that journey stay accountable to themselves and each other.

Public Safety Officer Ricardo Orozco also reinforced the importance of BC’s motto – “If you see something, say something, and let’s do something about it.”

The entertainment for the evening was spectacular, from the Chamber Singers’ performance of “You Will Be Found” and “Bridge over Troubled Water” to the closing performance of the BC Call and Fight Song by the Renegade Cheerleaders.

Kimberly Bligh and Isabel Castaneda
Kimberly Bligh and Isabel Castaneda

This year’s convocation was a beautiful way to start off the new semester, and I’d like to thank Dr. Nicky Damania, Office of Student Life, Dr. Kimberly Bligh, Isabel Castaneda, the Bridge to BC Team, Outreach, and everyone who attended to make this year’s the best yet.

It was great to see the event covered in The Bakersfield Californian’s “Incoming BC students, families attend convocation to ease fears” written by Ema Sasic.

Director of Counseling and Student Success, Marisa Marquez even shared this fun photo from the event! She said:

The wonderful Advisors, Counselors, Student Assistants and Administrative Staff of Counseling and Student Success hosted a Pathways welcome fair for the class of 2021! GO RENEGADES!!!

Marisa Marquez, Director of Counseling and Student Success
Steve Watkin and Andrea thorson take a selfie
Outreach Director, Steve Watkin and Dean of Instruction, Andrea Thorson

Flex Week

Matt Jones leads a flexweek workshop
Matt Jones leads a session for Flex Week

This week we celebrated the start of a new academic year with a very successful Flex week. We welcomed New Faculty at our new faculty seminar and had record attendance for our workshops. We received trainings from the CCC Accessibility Center on accessible word and PDF documents and video captioning. We welcomed a faculty member from Peralta College to train on equity and the online equity rubric. Our adjunct faculty seminar was one of our largest in recent years and gave our adjuncts a chance to hear about equity, accessibility and enrollment management.

Given recent current events all of our staff had the opportunity to learn about Active Shooter Response in several sessions throughout the week. We also had other unique offerings this year that ranged from Foundation training, to several Canvas courses, including Canvas Mastery Paths. These workshops have provided valuable information for faculty and staff as they gear up for a new academic year.

Special thanks to Pam Rivers and Bill Moseley for their dedication and commitment to continued learning.

Industrial Automation is Brought to BC’s Delano Campus

With funding presented by Assembly Member Rudy Salas this past July to expand our baccalaureate program in Industrial Automation in Delano, Electronics faculty Tom Rush and Michael Larson were able to work diligently this past week and over the weekend to assemble and prepare three portable Electric Motors and Controls lab training systems.

Tom Rush, Mike Larson, Lora Larkin, and Abel Guzman
Tom Rush, Mike Larson, Lora Larkin, and Abel Guzman

Professors Rush and Larson transported the units to the Delano campus themselves to get the classroom ready for Industrial Automation students’ first day! They were joined by Lora Larkin and Abel Guzman. Thank you Tom and Michael for taking the Industrial Automation program out to our Delano community, and Abel for helping to make this happen!

Project Next Step

Bryon Schaefer, Karen Goh, Lyle Martin, Sonya Christian, Vernon Harper, Steve Watkin (photo: from Mayor Goh’s website)

On Saturday, August 17th Bakersfield College hosted approximately 500 guests for the 3rd Annual Project Next Step Conference. The Project Next Step Conference is an opportunity for new and continuing high school students, made possible by the collaboration of the Kern High School District, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the Bakersfield Ivy Legacy Foundation, Bakersfield College, and the Bakersfield City School District. Several organizations from the community also participated as sponsors and hosted a table at a resource fair that was provided during lunch. 

Sonya Christian and Bryon Schaefer
Sonya Christian and Bryon Schaefer

The day began with welcoming remarks from myself and other community representatives, including Kern High School District Superintendent Dr. Bryon Schaefer, Dr. Vernon Harper from CSU Bakersfield, and Linda McKnight from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Then James Burton Jr. from Farmers Insurance gave a motivational speech on the important of having a goal in mind and taking strategic steps to get there.

Students and parents then left the indoor theater to attend a series of workshops prepared for them on topics like dressing for success, applying for financial aid, participating in dual enrollment, and different college options available to them. The day was a great opportunity to instill students and parents with the confidence that they need to find success in high school and college.

Project Next Step wrote about the event in their blog as well! Check it out!

BC’s Renegade Pantry

Last week, I shared in my blog that BC’s Renegade Pantry announced that they will be receiving a $20,000 grant to help students with hunger and food insecurity. The pantry is run by student employees and is continuously getting restocked thanks to donations and sponsorships from the community. In addition to food, the pantry offers many different types of hygiene items.

Group Photo with check for the Renegade Pantry
Thank you Kern Partnership for the support of the Renegade Pantry

A check presentation on Monday included Cindy Uetz, a Board member of the Kern Partnership for Children and Families and the Chief Deputy Director for the Kern County Department of Human Services and Social Service Supervisor Jana Slagle. Representing BC, we had Nicky Damania, Danyel Ritter, Tom Gelder, and BCSGA President Samantha Pulido.

Umoja Orientation Prepares Students for a Successful Semester

Incoming Umoja Community African-American Success Through Excellence and Persistence students engaged in activities designed to prepare them to make the most of their fall semester.  Umoja offered two orientations for students enrolled in the core courses of English 1a, Library 1, and Student Development 6. During the two days, students participated in team building activities, learned about how to apply for on-campus jobs, found out how to avoid academic probation, and learned about the ins and outs of financial aid.

Thanks go to Vikki Coffee, Dr. Michael McClenic, Angela Williams, respectively for presenting informative sessions. In addition, Umoja student leaders gave the new students tips for being successful at BC. Umoja Counselor Jonathan Ward talked with students about taking personal responsibility.  Umoja Coordinator Dr. Paula Parks led students in cultural activities that helped them learn more about the Umoja Community and about its educational philosophy.

For more information about the Umoja program, visit the Bakersfield College website and check them out on social media!

Early College Workshops Happening Now!

BC team with Justin Derrick at McFarland High School
Principal Justin Derrick with the BC Team

Our high school partners welcomed students back earlier this month and our Early College and Outreach teams were there to partner with them and help kick things off! This year, Early College has teamed up with Outreach to offer enrollment services to each of our 31 high school partners who offer dual enrollment courses on their campuses. Since the first day of school, the team has been busy going out to schools to assist students with applications and updates and to tell them more about the early college opportunities that they are embarking on. 

Thank you, Early College and Outreach teams for providing these services and this support to our young early college Renegades! 

Continuing to Level the Playing Field

The Rural Initiatives Early College team has also been active this past week assisting students with matriculation steps in order to enroll in their second course in their pathway. All incoming freshmen at Shafter High School will be taking a minimum of two college courses and over 50 students have taken advantage of the opportunity to join the General Education pathway to complete up to 38 college credits while in high school.

Thank you Rural Initiatives team for continuing to level the playing field for these underserved communities in Kern County, especially to the lead Counselor, Jesse Oropeza and lead Program Manager, Jaime Lopez.

Safety First

BC Sidewalks

With school starting next week, we ask that everyone on campus please make sure to pay attention to signage and follow the designated walking paths.  Please be aware of the temporary sidewalk closure on the east side of the Campus Center area and when in doubt, check out the current footpaths at A Better BC’s website under the Construction Maps link.

Campus Center Virtual Tour

We’ve been lucky to work with some great companies on the Measure J construction, and we’re just starting!  Ordiz-Melby Architects, Inc. created this great virtual tour where you can really feel what the campus atmosphere is going to be once the Campus Center is completed.  I loved unveiling it at this year’s Opening Day, and hope that others will share it as well!

Keeping it Local

Community Relations Manager Tamara Baker unveiled the newest Measure J project: the “Keeping It Local” video series.  These videos will highlight the work of local companies working on these construction projects. It’s important for Bakersfield College that we share these stories as these projects evolve.  BC is excited to collaborate with the local construction community as we all work together to build A Better BC! Thank you to Danny Ordiz and Jeannie Bertolaccini of Ordiz-Melby Architects, Inc. for participating in this video, and for all of your hard work! Also, thank you to videography student, Thanh from Jeff Hustons class for recording and editing the video.

Visiting the Getty

Raji Brar, Jean Fuller, Barbara Grimm, Lynette Zelezny, Sonya Christian
Raji Brar, Jean Fuller, Barbara Grimm, Lynette Zelezny, Sonya Christian

I visited the Getty Villa on the Malibu Coast with a group of friends, including Senator Jean Fuller to take in sculptures, art and other antiquities that are thousands of years old. We are fortunate to have such beautiful and magical places nearby.

Getty Villa
Getty Villa, photo from Wikipedia

The Getty Villa is an amazing place. In 1954, billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty started building two museums at his property in the Pacific Palisades to share the beauty of ancient Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities with the people of Southern California. The Getty Villa was inspired by the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, now known as Ercolano in Southern Italy, which was buried under the ashes of Mt. Vesuvius until its excavation in 1750. The Getty Villa opened in 1974, and Getty himself never got to visit the museum before he died in 1976.

Every year, Nicky Damania takes a group of BC students out to attend college night at the Getty, where they get to learn how ancient artifacts are restored by conservationists. I’m so grateful for the Getty foundation’s work of bringing the art of ancient cultures here from halfway across the world.

BC students at the Getty
BC students at the Getty

Emails Worth Sharing: From Mayor Goh

Mayor Goh is a cheerleader for BC students. She cares about our students and the positive impact they make on the community. Last weekend she shared with me:

This morning I attend the 6th annual CALIFORNIA KAREN YOUTH FORUM – celebrating the culture of the Karen people and commemorating the 69th Karen Martyrs Day that pays tribute to Karen fallen soldiers. Attached is a photo of Bakersfield College students Dah Dah Khu and Praise Oo . They were excited when I said I’d share their photo with you.

Mayor Karen Goh, August 2019
BC Students with mayor Karen Goh

Community Voices: Jack Hernandez

I enjoy seeing a glimpse of Jack Hernandez every time he has a Community Voices piece printed. You can read the digital version on Bakersfield.com.

Community Voices article by Jack Hernandez

Community Voices: Eileen Pierce

Eileen Pierce
Eileen Pierce

Speaking of Community Voices, it was great to see Eileen Pierce as well.

She wrote a piece on BC’s support services titled “BC academic support program promotes knowledge through interpersonal relationship building.”

Fun Photos: Dean Rodriguez Area Meeting

Dean Corny Rodriguez sent some fun photos from his area meeting.

Fun Photos: Dean Area Meetings

VP of Instruction, Billie Jo Rice, attend many Dean area meetings this week. Here are some of her fun photos.

Fun Photos: Making Wreaths

Program Managers, Kylie Swanson and Monika Scott took a small break from their focus on BC to create beautiful succulent wreaths at Flourishing Art this past week.

Monika Scott and Kylie Swanson hold wreaths
Monika and Kylie

Fun Photos: Happy Birthday Dylan

On Wednesday, the crew in A17 which makes up BC’s Marketing and Institutional Effectiveness offices celebrated Dylan Wang’s birthday with some delicious cake. 

Staff in A17 gather around for birthday cake

Renegades Continue to Lead the State in Football Attendance

 This fall we look forward to continuing the streak of leading the state in football home attendance. In 2018 we drew an average of 3,671 fans per game. The second place school, College of the Canyons drew an average of 2,671 fans per game. The complete list of total attendance and average attendance figures from the 2018 season can be viewed on the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) website.

Renegade Volleyball Set to Open the Season One Game at a Time 

Our back to back to back Western State Conference Champion volleyball team is set to begin another year dominating the court. Coach Ferreira, the 2018 California Community College Women’s Volleyball Coaches Association (CCCWVCA) Coach of the Year and 2018 Western State Conference (WSC) South Coach of the Year, and his team are looking for a fourth conference title in a row and also to make a run at the state title. Their season opener is on Saturday, August 31 when they host the  ‘Bakersfield Quad’ playing against Mt. SAC at 10am and Fullerton at 2pm in the Gil Bishop Sports Center. To read a preview of this years team visit GoGades.com

 Men’s Soccer

Men’s Soccer begins their fourth season as a program after rebooting the Men’s Soccer team here on campus four years ago, Coach Vayron Martinez is looking to build on the success’s of the past few years and go for the Western State Conference title this season. Come join them for their season opener against West Hills Lemoore on Tuesday, August 27th at 4pm on the BC Soccer Field. To read a preview of the team visit GoGades.com or click this link: http://gogades.com/sports/msoc/2019-20/releases/20190820mv54yl.

Mens Soccer Home Opener Graphic


That’s all for now.

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.

sonya-
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Let’s celebrate women

Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, March 2, 2019… A great day to be a Renegade.

Women in Leadership

Five women sitting and talking

To celebrate the kickoff of Women’s History Month at Bakersfield College, yesterday I hosted a panel discussion on Women in Leadership.  California Senator Emeritus and Early College champion, Jean Fuller served as the guest moderator while four esteemed panelists shared their stories, accomplishments, challenges, and more. Thank you to guests Shannon Grove, Republican State Senator, 16th Senate District;  Blanca Cavazos, Taft Union High School District Superintendent; Cynthia Giumarra, Local Attorney and minister;  and Rosalina Rivera, Delano Union Elementary School District Superintendent for participating on the panel.

The fabulous Manny De Los Santos recorded the event and I hope to have many photos and videos for you in next week’s blog. Stay tuned!

One on One with Robert Price

On Wednesday afternoon, I enjoyed being a guest on One on One with Robert Price, @stubblebuzz . The Bakersfield Californian is a great resource for this community with engaged reporters, like Joseph Luiz who visits BC often and always ensures he has the right info to create the best report possible for the people in our community.

Thank you, Robert, for having me on the show to share with our community the latest on Measure J, BC Southwest, Early College, and education transforming the Central Valley.

Check it out: One on One with Robert Price: Guest Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian.

Bob Price, Sonya Christian, and Joseph Luiz
Robert Price, Sonya Christian, and Joseph Luiz

Behind the Scenes

One on One Behind the Scenes Video

Some fun pictures of behind the scenes. For more, visit the One-on-One photo gallery.

2019 Diversity Champion Award

Bakersfield College received the 2019 Diversity Champion Award from the California LAW Pathway for its excellence in building the Community College Pathway Program.  The awardees were chosen at the California LAW Board of Directors meeting in November and winners were announced to the to the California State Bar and the CPA Advisory Council. Deans Corny Rodriguez and Manny Mourtzanos, and Pre-Law Advisory Council Member Yinka Glover accepted the award on behalf of BC at the Omni Hotel on February 22, 2019.

Bakersfield College is honored to receive the award.  I would like to thank the California LAW Pathway for the recognition, as the Pathway to Law Program at BC was designed with innovation and creativity in mind in order to keep Bakersfield College Pathway Students engaged and inspired to achieve success in the law.  Congrats to our Pathway to Law program and to our amazing prelaw team including Corny Rodriguez, Christian Zoller, Edward Borgens, Charles Kim, Marilynn Sanchez Avila, and Pearl Urena! I would like to recognize Foothill College President Thuy Nguyen for her statewide leadership in establishing this program.

Finally thank you to the Pathways to Law advisory committee chaired by David Torres. Thank you David for your unwavering commitment to Bakersfield College and our students. Here is the list of the committee members — Adeyinka Glover, Steven Katz, Jeannie Kraybill, Courtney Lewis, Cynthia Loo, James Maddox, Rebecca Murillo, Bathany Peak, Brett Price, H.A.Sala, Robert Tafoya, David Torres (Chair), Alekxia Torres-Stallings.

Cal Law Diversity Champion Award
Manny Mourtzanos, Yinka Glover, Corny Rodriguez, and President Thuy Thi Nguyen with BC’s award

Celebrating Black History Month

In conjunction with the community organization Harlem and Beyond, Bakersfield College was honored to have Dr. James Chaffers, Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of Michigan. Dr. chaffers was the Senior Design Juror for the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial statue in Washington, D.C. See the Bakersfield Californian Article: Bakersfield College celebrates Black History Month.

BC students and staff with Dr. James Chaffers

Gades Grub Grand Opening

Food Services celebrated the launch of the Gades Grub food trailer with a grand opening event in the Gym Huddle on Wednesday, February 27, 2019. The event featured a live DJ, free samples of some of the delicious food that Gades Grub has to offer, and other giveaway prizes. Students were eager to try some of the delectable options that will now be available to them from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Thursday.

BC at Startup Grind Global Conference

BC was represented by Professors Rudy Menjivar and Valerie Robinson at the Startup Grind’s Global Conference in Silicon Valley. This is for startups everywhere, especially the who’s who of the Silicon Valley startup scene. With more than 8,000 individuals, mostly entrepreneurs, venture capital investors, and professional service providers attending the two-day event, the conference provided an environment unlike anything else – a community coming together for invaluable education, connection, and inspiration.  The event had a roster of world-class speakers and thousands of entrepreneurs looking to build relationships, and it was great to see that BC was well represented.

Fox Theater Marquee
Fox Theater Marquee
Professor Rudy Menjivar and Professor Valerie Robinson
Professor Rudy Menjivar and Professor Valerie Robinson

Culture of Power

On Valentine’s Day, Daniel Rios, a Ph.D. student in Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego and a BC graduate, shared his passion for researching communities of color in East Bakersfield with BC students and staff. Rios presented research at A Culture of Power: Race, Youth, Labor and Sound in East Bakersfield, 1966-1974, in the Levan Center. The event was organized by commercial music professor Joshua Ottum as part of the Energizing Humanities in California’s San Joaquin Valley grant.

Daniel Rios talks about labor and music in East Bakersfield during the 1960s.
Daniel Rios talks about labor and music in East Bakersfield during the 1960s.

Rios’ presentation began with an overview of race and labor relations in Bakersfield in the early-to-mid 20th Century. Communities of color in Bakersfield were locked into low socioeconomic status via discriminatory housing practices that persisted until the 1970s and forced into low-level employment as farm, sanitation and domestic workers. In 1966 and 1972, black, Chicano and Latino sanitation workers in Bakersfield went on strike to fight for unionization and protest unhealthy working conditions and the dehumanizing way they were treated by white property owners. Protesters were met with heavy resistance by police and organizations such as the White Citizens Council.

Daniel Rios plays music from Kern County Soul and R&B artists from the 1960s.
Daniel Rios plays music from Kern County Soul and R&B artists from the 1960s.

At this same time, an often-overlooked music scene was booming around dance halls frequented by communities of color across East Bakersfield. While many music historians have documented the local country music scene known as the Bakersfield Sound, the contributions of doo-wop, soul and R&B groups are rarely discussed in academic circles. Groups from Kern County such as the Paradons, the Montereys, and Little Ray Jimenez were recording Billboard Top 40 hits while performing in local venues such as Salon Juarez and Fraternity Hall.

Billy Haynes from the Original Souls and Johnny Gomez from the Paradons perform in the Levan Center.
Billy Haynes from the Original Souls and Johnny Gomez from the Paradons perform in the Levan Center.

The majority of the groups, such as The Original Souls, were multicultural, composed of a mixture of Filipinos, Latinos and blacks. In 1969, the Original Souls beat out country and psychedelic rock bands to win a Battle of the Bands competition at Lake Ming attended by approximately 4,000 people.

Daniel Rios, Billy Haynes and Johnny Gomez answer audience questions in the Levan Center.
Daniel Rios, Billy Haynes and Johnny Gomez answer audience questions in the Levan Center.

After Rios’ presentation, Johnny Gomez of the Paradons and Original Souls bassist Billy Haynes, who went on to perform with Tina Turner and Lou Rawls, performed a few songs in the Levan Center and talked about their history in what is commonly referred to as the East Bakersfield Sound. “There was a lot of oppression in our town back then,” Haynes said. “We made people feel proud of our community.”

Thank you Daniel Rios for sharing his important research on the intersection of labor relations and music in Kern County, as well as Joshua Ottum and the Energizing Humanities cohort for organizing this event and Reggie Williams for the use of the Levan Center.

The Girl who Smiled Beads: Clementine Wamariya

Clementine Wamariya
Clementine Wamariya

On Thursday, Distinguished Speaker Clementine Wamariya gave several speeches in the Levan Center, sharing the powerful story of traveling through 9 different countries as a refugee to escape the Rwandan genocide.

Wamariya read from her memoir The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After, which was written during a major crossroads in her life. She was several years removed from the traumatic experience of fleeing the genocide with her sister at the age of 6, living in refugee camps and illegally crossing borders to seek freedom in the United States before being reunited with her parents on an episode of “Oprah”. In 2014, she had returned to Rwanda to attend an event in a soccer stadium where the history of Rwanda and the genocide was being re-enacted and memorialized, and she was so triggered by the memories that the re-enactment brought out that she had to immediately leave and fly back to the United States. She listened to Nina Simone’s cover of “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles on repeat and cried the whole way home, and the message of that song inspired her to write her memoir.

Clementine Wamariya speaks emotionally with hand gesture.