Tag Archives: Joe Saldivar

June 2020 — A month to remember

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Woke up early this morning with a feeling of spaciousness…. a feeling that has been elusive for the last several months, with the last two weeks being especially intense. Thought I would start my Saturday blogging with a fun and sweet Facebook video post by our very own Joe Saldivar.

Good morning Bakersfield
It is Saturday, June 20, 2020…A great day to be a Renegade

Happy Father’s Day all.


It was another very active week at Bakersfield College as we launched a full week of conversations leading up to June 19 – or “Juneteenth.”  I will continue to upload a few videos from the program each week until we cycle through all of the contributions.

June 15: #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation Part I

On Monday we launched our first program of the week at 6pm.  If you missed it, you can still watch the program in full on Danny Morrison Media’s Facebook page HERE.

Here is my video message introduction, pulled from my letter to the campus 6 days following George Floyd’s death. Pump up the volume as you read the words and listen to the music of this 3:48-minute video. The song is performed by Caley Mayhall in The Journey of Harriet Tubman composed by Dr. Ron Kean and conducted by Dr. Jen Garrett.

Congressman and House Republican Leader, Kevin McCarthy noted the work of Bakersfield College and the Bakersfield Police Department in strengthening the curriculum of the Police Academy to include topics of micro aggression, racial bias, and community policing.

Congressman TJ Cox recalled the hurt he has felt in his life when he has experienced racism, and called upon us to stand against injustice.

Congressman and House Majority Whip, James Clyburn gave a brief history of Juneteenth and emphasized that communication is as much what we seek to understand as it is about what we are saying.

Thank you, Congressman Cox, for securing a video message from Congressman Clyburn to BC.

June 16: #RealTalk on Race in America with Generation Z

On Tuesday night, Bakersfield College hosted our third #RealTalk on Race in America – this time with Generation Z.  Moderator Danny Morrison spent an hour and a half with three young leaders in our Black community: Caleb (age 13), Amaya (age 19), and JaNell (age 20).  Amaya and JaNell are BC students.

Listening in to these three teens talk about how racism has not only affected them personally, but the ways they have engaged personally to be a part of the change was both heartbreaking and inspiring.  It is a must-listen.  You can watch the full stream on Danny Morrison Media’s Facebook page HERE.

June 17: #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation Part II

On Wednesday, we held part II of the celebration.  If you missed it, you can still watch the program in full on Danny Morrison Media’s Facebook page HERE.

Supervisor Leticia Perez talked about the ways in which she has witnessed unintentional, yet deeply rooted implicit biases affect sentencing, jury selection, and other elements of the criminal justice system.

Lyle Martin, retired Chief of Police of the Bakersfield Police Department and Chief District Attorney Investigator of Kern County, shared his rules to live by.

Assemblymember Vince Fong, acknowledged the hurt our community is experiencing and called upon all to make an ongoing commitment to do, show, and experience tolerance, acceptance, and love daily.

June 18: #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation Part III

On Thursday, we held part III of the celebration.  If you missed it, you can still watch the program in full on Danny Morrison Media’s Facebook page HERE.

Bakersfield City Councilman Andrae Gonzales made a call to action for everyone to take a seat at the table and make their voices heard.  He encouraged us to attend city council meetings, make comments at public forums, and engage fully in the path forward.

Dee Slade, Executive Director of the African American Network of Kern County reflected upon her decades long fight for justice in Kern, disappointed but hopeful in our current march for basic freedoms – to be seen and to be heard. 

Assemblymember Rudy Salas proudly shared that the assembly recently passed the Assembly Constitutional Amendment “ACA-5” to reinstate affirmative action in California colleges and government agencies, a step closer to it reaching the ballot in November.

June 19: #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation Part IV

After a very full week of difficult conversations, it was nice to take a moment and celebrate the significance of Juneteenth with local artists from our community.  You can view the full program HERE.

Here is a list of artists who performed on Friday night:

  • Jerome Wheeler (Song: “Keep Praying”)
  • JaNell Gore, BC student (Spoken Word)
  • Dat Krew (Dance Routine)
  • Charles Spotwood (Praise Dance/Mime)
  • Jovon Dangerfield (Song: “Resilient”)
  • Christopher Anderson (Spoken Word)
  • Jehdiah Woodrow (Song: “A Change is Gonna Come”)
  • Charles Spotwood (Praise Dance/Mime)
  • Trendsetter 003 (Rap Song)
  • Andreu “Dance Fever” Jones (Interpretive Dance – Anthony Hamilton)
  • Mike Jenkins (Gospel Song)

Bakersfield College prepared a brief program in which we called together key partners to make commitments to our community on how they will be a part of the change. 

Bakersfield College also unveiled our four renewed commitments to racial equity:

Over the summer and into the fall, our Equal Opportunity & Diversity Advisory Council (EODAC) will lead our campus in developing our institutional, departmental/committee level, and individual commitments to racial equity.  Thank you to EODAC chairs Vikki Coffee, Bryan Hirayama, and Corny Rodriguez for your leadership.

For a full overview of BC’s conversation around Juneteenth, visit the #LightACandle website. We will also be posting all our videos from the week on this website.

Juneteenth in the News

Two of our Juneteenth planning team members authored Community Voices pieces in The Bakersfield Californian this week. 

Dr. Paula Parks, English faculty and Coordinator of the Umoja Community wrote about her experiences as a Black woman and the ways in which racism affects her students still today. Read it HERE.

My Umoja students also tell me about being followed around stores while they shop. More than one student has been late to class or absent because he/she was hassled by police. One student told of working outside a large store, being paid to collect survey results. A white woman accused him of hitting her. Police were called, and my student was cuffed and made to sit on the curb while they fetched the security camera footage that showed that he didn’t touch her. That incident left my student too upset and traumatized to go to BC that day.

Steven Watkin, Executive Director of Outreach & Early College detailed the commitments BC is exploring through the Juneteenth dialogue. Read it HERE.

BC has a longstanding and clearly-enacted commitment to racial equity that can be seen in our daily operations. We’ve established a team of individuals committed to the success of each and every one of our African American students. It is our endeavor to support our students academically while creating opportunities for community engagement.

Our local news stations had excellent coverage of the program. Here are a few to check out:

  1. KBAK interviewed Danny Morrison on June 15 about the week’s events HERE.
  2. Ema Sasic, and The Bakersfield Californian covered our June 15 program.  Check it out HERE.
  3. Steve Watkin joined KGET for a Sunrise Interview to discuss the significance of Juneteenth.  Check out his interview HERE.

Thank you to my core team who pulled this together

Thank you Jennifer Achan, Dr. Tommy Tunson, and Dr. Paula Parks

Thank you Danny Morrison

Thank you Steven Watkin

Fun Social Media

I loved this tweet from the Bakersfield Californian’s Ema Sasic. Please check out the Buzzfeed article showing fairy tale princesses reimagined as Black girls. These photos are powerful and stunning.

Did you see our EOPS department had a drive-through to pass out graduation regalia to their students? It is wonderful to see how our faculty and staff have adapted to the times and continued to serve our students in safe and creative new ways.

Outgoing BCSGA President Samantha Pulido shared her excitement about starting the STARS Program at UC San Diego. I am so proud of this accomplished young lady, and can’t wait to see what else the future holds for her. Best of luck, Samantha!

Billie Jo Rice updated her Facebook profile image. And I loved the new picture.

Amazon Day

Amazon was kind enough to partner up with our Career Education team for its first virtual recruitment event on Wednesday. Amazon representatives turned to Bakersfield College to help them hire more than 3,000 new employees at the Amazon fulfillment center being constructed in Bakersfield. KERO interviewed Carlos Medina in an article promoting this week’s sessions, and John Cox of the Bakersfield Californian wrote a preview for the event as well. We still have two more Amazon Day Zoom sessions available for next Wednesday, June 24 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., so register now to find out more information and participate.

Parent Info Night

We hosted two virtual parent info nights, one in English on Tuesday and another in Spanish on Thursday, to let parents know all of the opportunities available to their children through Bakersfield College. I’d like to thank all of the organizers for putting together this event.

Classes are available right now for the summer and fall semesters. Visit the BC Class Schedule page to see all of our availabilities and start your education today!

New America Brief on Bachelor’s Degree Programs at Community Colleges

A brief published in June by the think tank New America proposes that states could make higher education more attainable by offering bachelor’s degrees at community colleges.

Diverse Education reporter Sara Weissman summarized the brief and interviewed co-authors Ivy Love and Iris Palmer. The brief studies baccalaureate programs at US community colleges dating back to the first four-year degrees offered in Florida in 2001.

“Our research has shown that [four-year programs at community colleges] are for the most part complementary and they don’t end up enrolling the same students as four-year institutions,” Palmer said. “What they end up doing is expanding opportunity for a more diverse set of students.”

You can read the full report, titled “Community College Baccalaureate Programs: A State Policy Framework”, on the New America website.


Renegade Athletics Finishes 2019-2020 With #17 Finish in CCCAA NATYCAA Cup Standings

We are pleased to hear that Renegade Athletics has finished the 2019-2020 academic year tied with Hartnell College at #17 in the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) and National Association of Two Year College Athletic Administrators (NATYCAA) Cup Standings. Out of all SoCal schools, the Renegades finished 12th. The ranking moves them up 2 spots from the 2018-19 finish of #19. In 2017-18 they finished tied for #30, and the year before that (2016-17) ended in a tie for #50.

The 2019-20 athletics year will forever be remembered for the shutdown of sports in March 2020 due to COVID-19, however prior to the closure Renegade Athletics captured Western State Conference Championships in Men’s Soccer (first in program history) and Volleyball (4th consecutive) and a Southern California Wrestling Alliance (SCWA) title in Wrestling (3rd title in four years) These three titles brings the total number of team conference championships in Renegade Athletics history to 184. In addition in 2019-2020, four individual Renegade conference championships were added, all in Wrestling: Alexis Becerra (141 lb.), Scott Hokit (174 lb.), Jordan Annis (184 lb.) and Ricardo Gonzalez (197 lb.).

Closing Week Videos

As we logged on Wednesday, we were treated to some photos from the year:

CSEA President Tina Johnson shared an update for our classified employees:

And Jennifer Johnson received a President’s Leadership Award:

Sonya Christian

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

Enriching Lives through Campus & Community


This was one of the sights to be seen at last night’s Grand Opening Ceremony for the 1st Annual Arvin Hispanic Month Celebration. It was met with energy and excitement for the unveiling of the new Garden in The Sun Park for families of the Arvin community.

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, September 23…a fabulous day to be a Renegade….a fabulous week to be a Renegade….a fabulous year to be a Renegade.  Thank you Bakersfield. Thank you Kern County for always being there for your college.

Assemblyman Rudy Salas, Alfonso Noyola, City Manager, Jose Gurrola Jr., Mayor City of Arvin , Jazmin Robles, Mayor Pro Tem City of Arvin, Erika Madrigal, Council Member City of Arvin, Gabriella Martinez, Council Member City of Arvin Jess Ortiz, Council Member City of Arvin, all touched base on the outlook of the City of Arvin and the added value to the community.

Nate Meeks, Quad Knopf Engineering spoke to the effort and design of the Park itself.
Assembly member Rudy Salas also spoke and shared his perspective of the surrounding Kern Communities, and the value of bringing in a positive influence.  It was great having BC and KCCD represented in great strength.  Chancellor Tom Burke and Trustee Bill Thomas came out to support the event.

Kern Community College District Board Trustee,  Bill Thomas, spoke last, announcing KCCD plans for the new Bakersfield College Satellite campus and painting a picture of the beautiful Kern mountains creating a perfect setting for incoming students. The ROTC color-guard led a presentation of the flag, and there was a ribbon-cutting for the park, followed by a community parade with the Arvin Police Department, folkloric dancing, and the chanting of “We are BC” heard in the background.


Bakersfield College presence continued through the evening with multi-department collaborations from Delano Campus, Outreach, Student Life, EOPS, Counseling and Adult Education. Thank you to all our volunteers and BC staff who showed up to support BC, including Abel Guzman, Endee Grijalva, Nicky Damania, Steve Watkin, Beth Harrison, Alyse Braaten, Dinorah Castro, Amalia Ojeda, Stephanie Baltazar, Jesse Oropeza and more! Thank you Abel Guzman, Jennifer Marden, and Bill Potter for the planning that went into this effort.


DACA: Now What? A Community Forum

A DACA Community Forum reached approximately 300 students and community members on Thursday evening. A team of six immigration and defense attorneys volunteered their time to address questions regarding the recent announcement of a decision to rescind the Deferred Action for  Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative.

Panelists at the DACA Community Forum

Panelists at the DACA Community Forum

My heartfelt thanks to our panelists:

  •        H.A. Sala
  •        Win Eaton
  •        Vanessa Sanchez
  •        Edyta Grant
  •        Andrew Fishkin, and
  •        Sarah Rice

Assemblyman Rudy Salas was also in attendance. A very special ‘thank you’ to Mr. Salas for his participation and contribution.


After the panel, our incredible panelists made themselves available for individual questions and answers. Here is Andrew Fishkin taking time with one of the attendees.

I can’t thank everyone enough for providing this opportunity for our students and our community.

A recording of the panel discussion is available here.

A big thank you to Dr. Manny Mourtzanos for making this happen.

Distinguished Speaker Series

After the community forum, we invited student leaders to stay and listen to Yemeni grad student and public speaker, Orubba Almansouri to tell the story of how she was able to accomplish her educational goals while honoring her Muslim community’s faith and traditions.

Joe Salvadar and Orubba Almansouri

Joe Salvadar and Orubba Almansouri

Joe Saldivar was introduced Orubba, whose impassioned speech as the Salutatorian at the City College of New York’s commencement ceremonies led to an invitation to speak at last year’s United States of Women conference by none other than former First Lady Michelle Obama. From a young age, Orubba had a passion for learning, even though the tribe where her family comes from in Yemen traditionally forbids teaching girls. But after years of demonstrating to her family that her pursuit of education won’t lead her to reject her traditions or identity, she said, her family became her biggest supporters, even escorting her to speaking engagements in accordance with Muslim law. “My journey was never an individual one,” Orubba said. “I am taking my family and my community on this journey with me, whether they like it or not.”

While she had to learn the art of compromise to accomplish her goals, Orubba has provided a blueprint for other Muslim women to follow in her footsteps if they choose. “The best change, for me, is change that comes gradually,” she said. “Small changes, when sustained, can uplift generations. It infiltrates the system until it becomes the system itself. “Changing our attitudes toward education will only benefit us and our communities,” she said. Now a graduate student at NYU, Orubba has started working on a project about the influence of the Muslim mother/daughter relationship in boosting Arabic literacy rates among adult Muslim women.

Thank you to our fantastic Office of Student Life for organizing this event with such an important national figure.

230th Birthday of the U.S. Constitution

Did you know that U.S. Constitution was created on September 17, 1787, now celebrating its 230th birthday? Each year on Constitution Day, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, Mary Barlow and the Kern County Bar Association including Bonnie Thompson, Executive Director, organize an opportunity for local legal professionals and educators to speak to elementary students about the Constitution, its history, and application for kids.

This year, Manny Mourtzanos was invited to speak to over 100 students in the 4th and 5th grade at Beardsley Elementary School. Many thanks to Teresa Twisselman, KCSOS Coordinator of English and Language Arts and Tammy Barrera,Principal at Beardsley Elementary for making this incredible event possible.

Bakersfield College is very grateful for strong professional relationships with community partners such as KCSOS and KCBA.

Manny Mourtzanos Presenting

College Night

On September 11, BC was at the 18th Annual Kern County College Night at the Rabobank Convention Center. Over 100 BC staff, faculty, administrators, and students were there to represent the college, surpassing our representation from last year!

Over the course of the evening, students and parents had the opportunity to inquire about the academic and student support programs offered at BC. From the large crowd at the convention center, over 1,300 submitted an interest card requesting additional information from the college. BC is a vital option for our Kern County residents, and it definitely showed on this day! A special thanks to Bakersfield College’s Outreach team (Ashlea, Debi, Josie, Manuel, Pedro, Roseanne, and Savannah), led by Director Steven Watkin, for putting this event together. We Are BC!

College Night 2017

Child Development Center

The start of the fall semester has been busy for our childcare children and their parents. There are currently 133 students enrolled in our seven classrooms.  I’m told there are still a few openings for three and four year old’s if you know any student parents who need child care. We were very happy to see our Public Safety Department ensuring the safety of our arriving children on Monday, August 21.  Our Department of Public Safety is incredible.

CDC Crossing Guard Public Safety

All of our teachers are required to have updated CPR Training so in early August many of staff members came on a Saturday to participate in pediatric First Aid and CPR training provided by our partners at CAPK Head Start. And on September 14, KAPK also provided a petting zoo for our children to enjoy after their parents met with their teachers to get to know each other.

Last Week at The Renegade Football Game

At last Saturday’s game against Riverside, the BC Renegades honored Jonathan Garcia by displaying his Jersey on the sidelines.

Jonathan Garcia's JerseyAnd the BC Choir sang the Star Spangled Banner. You have to take a listen.

Thank you Dr. Kimberly Bligh for the video.

Trustee Romeo Agbalog and family were at the game and, and graciously agreed when Francis Mayer and Vance Palm invited him to be the half-time guest.

Romeo Agbalog and Vance Palm half time Sep 16 2017

Vance Palm, Trustee Romeo Agbalog

Romeo Agbalog and family Sep 16 2017

Dr. Zav Dadabhoy, Trustee Romeo Agbalog, daughter Victora, Lily Agbalog, Jennifer Achan, Kushnur Dadabhoy


What I love most about Renegade Athletics is that it is about family and friends. In the photo above is Trustee Agbalog, his wife Lily, daughter Victoria.

Here are the great nephews of our Athletics Director Sandi Taylor Brody Breitweiser (6) and Aidan Breitweiser (4) during and after Renegade Football.

This Week on Facebook

I’m the luckiest and happiest college president ever, and BC students always inspire me.  This week on Facebook, I saw our BC Pre-Med Club inviting fellow Renegades to their club meeting on Thursday. The Pre-Med Club at BC takes the hopes and dreams of students interested in all aspects of medicine and turn them into realities. PMC addresses the crisis our country faces of a shortage of doctors by giving our members opportunities to excel. Their mission is to solidify the decision and assist students’ journeys towards a future in medicine. PMC’s goal is to help our community in whatever way they can, which not only includes the healing professions they choose, but also volunteering and offering time for great causes. Can you see why I say I’m the luckiest and happiest college president ever?


This Week on Twitter

Grimmway Farms hosted an internship event for students on Tuesday in the Fireside Room as part of the Bakersfield Career Series. I saw a flurry of social media about this great event. Students interested in agriculture, business, food science and industrial technology got to learn about Grimmways’ hiring, application and recruiting processes while networking with important business leaders in the community. Thank you Heather Baltis, Chris McCraw, and Pam Gomez for the great posts!

The Maker Space

The Maker Space in the Faculty Technology lab is up and running.  The Academic Technology team, including Bill Moseley, Matt Jones, and Pam Rivers is kicking off this space with 3D printing workshops open to all faculty. This is a very cool new addition!

TailGade Coming Soon!

TailGade logo

Homecoming is right around the corner on October 14th. It will be a day filled with all things Renegade. I am looking forward to TailGade! What is TailGade you ask? It is the new name for the BC Alumni BBQ. TailGade will take place from 3:00pm-6:00pm, before the Homecoming game against Moorpark and will be a great way to start the celebration. Local favorite, Mento Buru will be playing their mix of Ska, Reggae, Mambo, Jazz and World Beat Dance Sounds. A delicious NY Steak lunch expertly prepared by Fred’s BBQ Factory is included and there will be beer and wine available for purchase. Your ticket to TailGade will also get you into the game. This is a community event and you don’t need to be alumni to attend. Come join old friends, make new friends and enjoy a wonderful time. Tickets are available through Vallitix.

Jess Nieto

I received news from Corny Rodriguez on Friday morning about the passing of local legend, Jess Nieto. Gonzalo Santos at CSUB, sent the following email:

Bakersfield just lost its most persistent and dedicated veteran activist, our preeminent Chicano educator, founder of Chicano Studies at BC in the 1970s, a tireless community organizer, an advocate and champion of international and local just causes since the 1960s, including the Chicano movement and the historic farm worker strikes and boycotts. He was someone that built bridges of understanding and solidarity with the peoples of China, Cuba, Chile, El Salvador, Venezuela, and Mexico. He was also a devoted husband and loving family man who generously mentored generations of our local Latino youth, a comrade in the trenches of the immigration movement, and a co-founder of the formidable coalition that organized the historic immigrant marches of 2006 in Bakersfield (the largest ever).

His family roots – the Nietos – go back to the Californio settlers of what is today Long Beach, California. Their rancho home, which prior to the U.S. annexation managed that entire area, still stands and is a museum. He drew great strength from knowing his family history before and after the Anglos dispossessed them and usurped their land.

He had a Ph.D. in Anthopology, was a learned scholar with a sharp, cosmopolitan mind, but never flouted it. He was the most formidable but humble of public intellectuals in our area.
He was also my “travieso” friend, who I greatly enjoyed visiting at his home with his life-long compañera and wife Peggy, and spend evenings plotting how best to counter the entrenched legacy of apartheid in Bakersfield still visible today, and the flawed imperial foreign policy of this country, still wrecking so much havoc in the world.

For above all, Jess was an internationalist, a citizen of the world, loyal only to social justice and human understanding.  I will greatly miss him. I am honored and grateful to have known him.

Here is a Facebook post from Prof. Oliver Rosales

Jesse Nieto Sep 2017

I found this great picture of Jess Nieto and me at the gym 21 months ago, Jan 2016, in the gym.  It was just wonderful talking to him and hearing all the stories of some of BC’s defining moments.  Check out the post at https://sonyachristianblog.com/tag/jess-nieto/

Jess Nieto and Sonya Christian Jan 9 2016

Sonya Christian, Jess Nieto



This week I presented, along with Dr. Darla Cooper, in San Diego at the NALEO policy conference.  This was my first time at NALEO and I got to appreciate the quality of the work that they do.  Their website describes the organization:

NALEO Educational Fund is the nation’s leading non-profit, non-partisan organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process, from citizenship to public service.

Trustee Romeo Agbalog attended the conference.  Here he is with Chancellor Eloy Oakley, who was the opening speaker at the conference.

Eloy Oakley Romeo Agbalog Sep 22 2017

Chancellor Eloy Oakley, Trustee Romeo Agbalog

It was great to hear from Michele Siqueiros, CEO of the Campaign for College Opportunities (CCO).  Talking about CCO, thank you Linda Vasquez for the photos you snapped of me presenting.

I enjoyed presenting with the fabulous Darla Cooper.  We had fun and I think the audience did too.

Darla Cooper and Sonya Christian NALEO

Our dedicated faculty

Dr. Deborah Rosenthal, one of our new Chemistry faculty is just tireless in her outreach to students in middle school and high school.  Getting students to think about Science in their future.  Dr. Rosenthal was excited when she shared with me that one of the BC students whispered to her as they walked into the middle school classroom–“They remember our names!”  The Standard Middle School kids were yelling out hellos as the BC team walked in.  I wondered how Debbie finds time to do all this…she said “no matter how tired I am on Friday afternoon, this is supercool for everyone.”  You see why I am the luckiest and happiest college president ever?


Dr. Jennifer Garret‘s post on Facebook

.Choir Sep 19 2017 Ready to sing in honor of Jonathan Garcia

Tonight in Chamber and last week in College Choir we were visited by members of the 1965 Bakersfield College Choir that won first place at the Eisteddfod Choral festival in Wales. They also sang for the Pope and the president of the United States. It was inspiring to hear their words. It caused me to reflect on the choirs I am fortunate to work with. Last week College Choir lost one of our members to a car accident. They immediately responded by wanting to honor him. And so since he also played football we learned the National Anthem in one day and most of the choir rearranged their schedule so they could be at the football game to honor our member who is now blessing lives in another place.

Chamber Singers gives and gives and I only ask for more. From 4 hour rehearsals, to sectionals, to ridiculous memorization, and trying to raise $140,000! Why do we do this thing called music? Because it’s who we are and how we express ourselves. It allows us to say things that cannot be said, feel things that cannot otherwise be felt, and share our deepest desires, greatest joys, and most bitter disappointments. Music is one of the greatest gifts of life. The best part is sharing it with these amazing people and then getting to share it with the world. Music is truly living.

Choir with Ramona Gia and Mrilyn Wilson Sep 19 2017.jpg


Kern Literacy Event:

The Kern Literacy Council held their “Read for Success Breakfast” this week on September 21st at Hodel’s Country Dining. It was a wonderful event with delegates attending from both local and state agencies in support of literacy in Kern County. Attendees included Senator Jean Fuller, KCCD Chancellor, Tom Burke, KCCD Vice Chancellor, John Means, and delegates from multiple community supporters and political constituencies who represent Kern County.



Kimberly Bligh, BC faculty director, Senator Jean Fuller, and Isabel Castenada, BC Education Advisor enjoyed catching up on BC Pathways initiative

Dr. Kimberly Bligh, Senator Jean Fuller, Isabel Caseaneda

The Kern Literacy Council‘s mission is “Empowering individuals to improve their quality of life through literacy education.” Programs include Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language, GED Preparation, Family Literacy, and Citizenship Tutoring. Kern Literacy Council’s sponsors include Aera Energy LLC, Chevron, Grimmway Farms, Don and Dianne Lake, and John and Sheila Lake. Supporters include Bakersfield Adult School, State Farm, and Trans-West.

The breakfast program focused on a panel discussion with Dr. Mary Barlow, Kern County Superintendent of Schools, and Barbara Grimm-Marshall, co-owner of Grimmway Farms.

Dr. Mary Barlow: The Bakersfield Californian reported when Dr. Mary Barlow took her new position, “Barlow has spent the majority of her career in education, working her way up from teaching into the superintendency at KCSOS. In her role as superintendent, Barlow will serve as the top education official in Kern County, providing daily operational oversight of county-run programs, as well as divisions that support the county’s 47 schools serving more than 180,000 students.”

Barbara Grimm-Marshall: Jed Wallace, President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association shared about Barbara, “As co-owner of Grimmway Farms, one of the largest and most respected agriculture companies in California, Barbara has been dedicated to support schools in and around Bakersfield, not only for her company’s employees, but for all students in the region.” Barbara has help to create two Grimmway Academy charter schools in Kern County in Arvin and Shafter.


KCCD Chancellor, Tom Burke, Mayor Karen Goh, Kimberly Bligh, and KCCD Vice Chancellor John Means

Chancellor Tom Burke, Mayor Karen Goh, Dr. Kimberly Bligh, Vice Chancellor John Means

After a kick-off welcome by Board of Director President, Robin Fleming, the moderator for the breakfast panel discussion, Treasurer Joel Sherman took over asking questions of the two panelist about how literacy has impacted their personal lives and how they see the importance of literacy in Kern County.

The discussion gave the audience insight into just how pervasive literacy is in the lives of Mary and Barbara.  Many of their points hit home with the breakfast attendees, often bringing head nodding, smiles, and even laughter.

Joel shared as he opened the discussion, “Literacy is the original form of thought transfer.” He added that the Kern Literacy Council “helps people overcome one of the greatest barriers to life.”

When Barbara was asked about how literacy impacted her life, she stated that “Reading has been the foundation for all of the opportunities I’ve had in my life.” Mary shared stories about her childhood, sharing anecdotal stories about her father’s reading genres that made the audience giggle and empathize in many cases. She said that reading has had a positive impact on her life, her children’s lives and how important it is to our community. Barbara made a point that resounded in the hall. She said because books and information are abundantly available online, we need to make the internet more accessible in all of our Kern communities.



Barbara Grim-Marshall and MAry Barlow discuss importance of literacy in their lives and in our community

Barbara Grimm Marshall, Mary Barlow

Both panelist agreed that literacy starts at infancy and lasts a life time. Literacy should be the number one commitment to our community. Books should be provided to families and tutoring should be provided to all who need that resource.

The closing speaker was a young man tutored by a  Kern Literacy tutor. Gilberto George closed the program sharing his story of learning to speak English with the help of the free services offered by the Kern Literacy Council. He shared a day in his life of waking at 5 am , working in the fields until 2 pm, studying English with his tutor, then going to his second job at Carl’s Jr. by evening and working until 12 or 1 am then starting over the next day.  He thanked the Kern Literacy Council staff for assisting him achieve his goal and learning a second language and shared his excitement that with his new fluency in English that he hopes to be a shift manager at his job soon. Literacy has changed his life. He was proud and emotional when he thanked his tutor as the audience applauded his achievements.


Gilberto George

Gilbert George

Every dollar donated to the Kern Literacy Council stays in our county to assist residents with Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language, GED Preparation, Family Literacy, and preparation for their United States Citizenship test.

For more information: http://www.kernliteracy.org/


Spotted in The Californian

Steffani Dias of The Bakersfield Californian highlighted our fantastic culinary arts program and students in the article, “Renegade Room raring to go this fall.”  She mentions that from now until November 30th, “the student-run facility will serve dinners on Tuesday and Thursdays and lunch on Wednesdays.” For the complete menu and details, visit The Bakersfield College Website.


Thank you Steffani for the highlight – check it out here!


Renegade Athletics

Volleyball: The 4th ranked Renegades defeated 9th ranked El Camino (25-21, 25-27, 17-25, 25-17, 15-13) Wednesday night to improve their record to 8-1 on the season.

volleyball sep 2017

This was truly a team effort for the Renegades.  Alex Paris led the team with 16 kills and 16 digs, Sarah Armendariz had 14 kills and 8 digs,  Brooke Horack had 13 kills and 4 digs, Jourdon Muro, who led the team with 17 digs, also recorded 8 kills, Reece Stevenson had 7 kills and 16 digs and Haley Sanchez recorded 12 digs.

Great video shot by Francis Mayer of Coach Carl Ferreira right after the game


Renegade Wrestling:

The Bakersfield College Wrestling team placed third at the Sac City Tournament as a team, and sent three wrestlers to the top of the podium over the weekend.

Wrestling Sep 16 2017.jpg

From gogades.com —  Pedro Corona, reigning All-American, took the top spot at 133.

184 pounder Jeremy Maas and Heavyweight Romero Macias both also brought home gold.

But the champions weren’t the only ones to climb the podium; BC placed at almost every weight class.

Zavion Roberson (197) placed third, Bradley Harper (165) placed fourth, while Nick Correa (125), Pedro Ramirez (149), and Esteban Corona all placed in the top six.

Neo on September 21, 2017 — he turned 6 months on Sep 17th.

September 21 2017 Neo

Sonya Christian Sep 22 2017


That’s all for now.  

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya —
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Tradition of Renegade Red

Good morning Bakersfield, it is Saturday August 12, 2017……A great day to be a Renegade! A week of Renegade Red everywhere.

Welcoming Kern Promise Students to BC on August 9, 2017

Let me start with the 160 Kern Promise students we welcomed on campus and completed a one-day orientation.  If you remember, Bakersfield College and Cerro Coso Community College were recipients of a $1.5M grant from the Community College Chancellor’s Office for the Kern Promise.  Cerro Coso had a kick-off to the event at Ridgecrest and BC had our kick-off in a large event in the Outdoor Theater.  If was a fun event and I invite you to click on the link that will take you to the April 29th blog titled Strengthening Kern County, One Degree at a Time.

Here is one of the great pictures from the event.  So many community leaders out to support education in Kern County.  See of you can name them all 🙂


Community Leaders at the Kern Promise

So, what is the Kern Promise? The Kern Promise is a commitment in action at Bakersfield College to help students complete their Associate Degree for Transfer within two instructional years through a Guided Pathways approach, providing support, priority access to courses, and financial assistance to those who qualify. The Kern Promise focuses on a shared responsibility model where students will work with Completion Coaches and follow a clear path to success. In return, each promise student is required to maintain good academic standing and commit to their studies.


Wednesday was a beautiful day at BC,  as we welcomed the newly admitted Kern Promise students for Promise Day, their specialized extended orientation consisting of workshops and the signing of their Promise Agreement outlining their shared responsibilities and expectations!

The program began with photos and fun with some of our awesome orientation leaders – continuing students employed in various departments on campus including Student Success & Equity, Office of Student Life, and the Welcome Center! They guided students in icebreakers, discussions on majors and career goals, and stopped at the photo wall for fun group photos to get them warmed up and excited for the day.

Shannel Tyus and Keri Kennedy

Shannel Tyus, Keri Kennedy

Promise Counselor Keri Kennedy and Program Manager Shanell Tyus welcomed students and provided an overview of the day, followed by an inspiring welcome by BC SGA President Dezi Von Manos, and additional welcoming remarks from myself.

SGA Leadership

SGA Leadership

Students then rotated between workshops designed to help them focus on transitioning to college, developing academic behaviors necessary for success, and utilizing campus resources such as Academic Support Services, Student Government Association, and the Office of Student Life. Workshops were presented by Teresa McAllister and 2nd-year Promise students Avery Gibson, Magdalena Panteleon, and Tyler Ellis, Academic Development faculty, Counselors Keri Kennedy and Jonathan Shultz, Donor Relations Coordinator Alyse Braaten, BC SGA officers Mustafa Barraj, Dezi Von Manos, James Tompkins, Monica Alvarez, Diana Martinez, Daniel Ruezga and Evelyn Hernandez, and concluded with Dr. Christine Whelan, author and professor at University of Wisconsin – Madison, who addressed students to help them “Pack their Renegade Rucksack” and plan for their academic journey ahead.


The crux of the day, was the signing of the Promise Agreement. This carefully crafted document was developed to explicitly outline the terms and conditions of this shared responsibility model that we’ve created the Kern Promise to be. Students are expected to commit to maintaining good academic standing, completing 15 units per semester, correspond with their completion coaches regularly, and seek academic support through BC resources and those in their cohort. In exchange, BC commits to providing students with priority access to courses required for their pathway, financial assistance, and the strong support of their completion team and coaches, all in efforts to ensure their timely completion (degree for transfer) within two instructional years.


We expect big things from our Promise students and are proud of their persistence to this point! Coming to BC college ready for English and Math is proof that our students can complete their time at BC in just two years and continue their journey to family sustaining wages and degrees from our neighboring universities!

Check out the whole photo album of Promise Day at BC here.

Renegade Football — A community tradition

2017-footballmediaday-16-x3 Tuesday was another exciting time at BC when Athletics hosted the 2017 Football Media Day in front of Historic Memorial Stadium! I’m counting down the days till football season begins. The date is September 2nd – is it on your calendar?

Francis Mayer emceed the event with three speakers — Mayor Karen Goh, Athletic Director Sandi Taylor and Coach Jeff Chudy.


This season marks the 67th time our Renegades have taken the field in our signature red uniforms. And Athletic Director, Sandi Taylor promised big surprises at the event. It was fun watching the giant banner being unfurled from the very top of the stadium, with a larger than life Renegade player and text celebrating the start to the season and season ticket info!

John Farrand took this great picture of the crowd cheering as the banner unfurled.  Can you spot Kimberly Bligh, Sonya Christian, Jim Lawitz, Michelle Chantry, Jennifer Marden?

Group of spectators cropped


Do you have your tickets yet? You don’t want to miss the home opener.

Also, kicking off this year is “The Knight Club”, the second surprise announcement of the day. It’s a VIP-type fan experience with membership tiers that include access to private hospitality services during games, among other benefits. It’s a fantastic way to support your BC Renegade athletes. It’s also tax-deductible and 100 percent of the proceeds go to support all 20 BC Athletics teams and their 500+ student athletes.

Thank you to all the media who showed for this fantastic unveiling. 

Media at 2017 Renegade Football Season Unveiling

Media at the Renegade Football Season Unveiling

Group picture

Karen Goh, Mia Cifuentes, Sonya Christian, Sandi Taylor, Ed Davis


And Thank you to our dignitaries, Mayor Karen Goh, American General Media President Rogers Brandon, KGET Vice President Derek Jeffries and a delegation of Helmet Club members like Ed Davis and Chad Hathaway, who were there in full force to support Bakersfield College and Renegade Football. Was happy to see our friends from the Bakersfield Fire Department — Deputy Fire Chief Tyler Hartley, Deputy Fire Chief Ross Kelly.  Thank you Mia Cifuentes, representative of Assembly Member Vince Fong for coming out.  It’s a great day to be a Renegade!


Bakersfield Fire department Tyler Hartley and Ross Kelly

Deputy Fire Chief Tyler Hartley, Deputy Fire Chief Ross Kelly


Dignitaries with cheer team Aug 8 2017

Ed Davis, Chad Hathaway, Karen Goh, Jeff Chudy, Heather Foss, Sandi Taylor with BC Cheer Team

For all the details about The Knight Club, visit gogades.com.

Two great articles followed the event by Mike Griffith of The Bakersfield Californian. They are:

Bakersfield College goes big in quest to pump up Renegade football” and

BC coach Chudy says depth a plus as Renegades open football practice.”


And speaking of our local media, it was great to see Michelle Chantry, CEO and Jim Lawitz, the VP and executive editor of TBC on our campus.

The Bakersfield Californian is a true community treasure and has remarkable history; one withstanding a revolutionized industry, new technologies, and an expanding community that continues to grow, yet at the same time, it has for me kept that traditional “hometown content” that we’ve come to love.

Was happy that Chancellor Burke joined us to celebrate Renegade Football.

Tom Burke, Sandi Taylor, Sonya Christian, Jeff Chudy Aug 8 2017

Tom Burke, Sandi Taylor, Sonya Christian, Jeff Chudy

For the full album of photos, visit our Smugmug page.

Registration Rocks

Over the summer, BC’s outreach team held three one-day express enrollment events. This week, we held the final last chance event which welcomed 609 returning students and 635 new students back on campus. Thank you to all involved with these events including Outreach, Admissions and Records, Counseling, Assessment, and Marketing. It was great to see photos from the jam packed event  in the paper on Thursday. Check it out!


Kern County Farm Bureau

This week, I enjoyed reconnecting with community leaders from the Kern Farm Bureau.  I got to know them better during the Measure J time and am so appreciative that they supported Bakersfield College through Measure J.  Here are some photos from the October 5, 2016 presentation to the Kern Farm Bureau about Measure J.


Jeff Rasmussen could not make the meeting so Mary Jo and I met with Ralph Mendes and Beatris Espericueta.  The Kern County Farm Bureau is a non-profit organization that advocates for our local farmers as part of the statewide California Farm Bureau Federation lobbying in Sacramento on behalf of all our state’s growers.

Kern Farm Bureau

Beatris Espericueta, Sonya Christian, Ralph Mendes, and Mary Jo Pasek

The Kern County Farm Bureau provides outreach, networking and scholarships to the community through their Young Farmers and Ranchers program, which provides men and women between the ages of 18 to 35 with the information, resources and business connections needed to start a fruitful career in agriculture.

Exciting things are in the works in order to find out how these partnerships can continue to prepare the future leaders of our community’s most important industry. As Van Ton Quinlivan spoke about in the video I highlighted in last week’s blog, it’s important for educators to establish close partnerships with employers to ensure that we’re providing our students with all the tools those employers need when they’re looking for applicants in the job market. With the constant advances in agricultural technology, that may even require retraining people who are already in the industry on the newest equipment and techniques.

Spotlight on Summer Bridge

This was the last week of summer bridge.  I was able to attend a small part of it.  This is just a phenomenal activity for incoming students and I got to experience how exhausting it is the the faculty and staff who work summer bridge.  It is fast paced and engaging.

Anna Laven and Mindy Wilmot

I have been covering images from Summer Bridge routinely over the last several weeks, but if you are still wondering what Summer Bridge is all about…..

Throughout the summer, students are mentored by multi- discipline faculty, peer mentors, and support services staff how to best access and utilize campus resources during engaging sessions and demystify questions that ALL new students have BEFORE their first semester begins. On a more practical level, the day focuses on introducing skills necessary for college success, including effective communication, time-management, library research and other critical skills! The topics covered at Summer Bridge to BC are designed, and proven, to ensure students are successful during their FIRST semester in college.

Summer Bridge

BC Summer Bridge Team

BC Summer Bridge Peer Mentors Ruben Chavez and Kenneth Mireles and Bridge Director Dr. Kimberly Bligh.

Summer Bridge Peer Mentors, Ruben Chavez and Kenneth Mireles with Bridge Director, Dr. Kimberly Bligh

Throughout the day, collaborative activities take place where students come up with a creative presentations to provide information to the rest of the participants about important “tools” to have in their life toolbox in order to achieve academic and lifelong success demonstrating the importance of GRIT, believing in a  growth mindset, understanding the importance of role models, and knowing how to manage their time, balance their life, stay organized, and utilize campus resources.

BC served over 400 students last year and more than doubled enrollments this year to serve 1000+ student during 25 sessions from April through August! The final four sessions take place August 7th through August 10th. Over 100 staff, faculty, and peer mentors participated in Bridge to BC in 2017. That’s how we roll at Bakersfield College.

Here is a photo of Summer Bridge in Delano

Delano Summer Bridge

Here is a 7-minute video put together by Teresa Mcallister

Cabinet Retreat

We closed out our admin summer retreats last monday, 8/7/2017. with President’s Cabinet meeting to finalize workplans for the the 2017-2018 academic year.

Let me introduce you to members of the President’s Cabinet

2017 President's Cabinet June 5 2017

Here are a few photos from the August 7th meeting


Maria Wright, Steve Watkin, Lesley Bonds, Michele Pena, Nicky Damania



Delano Team Retreat

I enjoyed visiting the Delano campus team during their retreat Tuesday, August 8th.  The passion and dedication of the faculty and staff is so visible.  Love #BCatDelano.

Delano Team

Loved this Facebook post by Endee Grijalva

Endee Grijalva Aug 8 2017

Shout out to BC Food Services

And throughout the busy week, as always our Food Services staff have been even busier taking care of us…taking care of our students.  And what delicious food.  I snapped a picture of the smiling Chef Eric Sabella and Penny Loos as they were hard at work.  Long tiring and back breaking days.  Thank you Food Services!


Here is Penny Loos and Eric Sabella from BC Food Services.


Chef Coyle came to visit!

IMG_2265And speaking of treats, I ran into Chef Coyle, former director of the culinary arts program, who deeply loves BC! Chef Coyle was on campus preparing for the class he is teaching this fall.

I’m definitely the luckiest and happiest college president ever!

Project Next Step

IMG_2260It’s always great to see familiar faces on the news sharing great info. This week, I caught Odella Johnson on KGET, along with Brenda Lewis, sharing information about Project Next Step. BC is honored to be one of the many local organizations participating in Project Next Step this weekend on Saturday, August 12th from 9:00AM to 2:30PM at CSUB’s Dore Theater.

ProjectnextstepProject Next Step is a conference and resource fair that aims to provide local junior high students and their parents with the tools they need to succeed in high school, college and beyond. Students will obtain resources on completion, college options, homework support, classroom etiquette, test-taking strategies, FAFSA and scholarships, peer pressure and leadership, and the importance of mentoring.

Presenters include Bakersfield Chief of Police Lyle Martin, Mayor Karen Goh, and Gloria Cannon, the first African-American female judge in Kern County. The keynote speaker for the conference is Arleana Waller, an ambassador for She Power.

Project Next Step is a collaboration between educational leaders and community organizations to prepare students for high school, college or a vocational career.

Bill Henry

vv-98-front-fixed-237x300There was a great article by Nancy Vigren about the new President of Porterville College, Bill Henry, formerly Porterville College’s Vice President of Academic Affairs. Bill, who has worked at Porterville College since 1998, takes over for outgoing president Dr. Rosa Carlson, finishing a term of service in education that has lasted over 40 years.

The photo of Bill on the right is from the website of the article by Vigran.

Check out the article published by Our Valley Voice.

porterville college

BC Superstar Mindy Wilmot

Mindy Wilmot Adventures in InformationBC reference librarian Mindy Wilmot presented a speech on information literacy at the 2017 International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) Conference in Long Beach last week. Along with Katie McNamara, the faculty librarian at North High School, Wilmot’s presentation focused on how to help find the research that students need through pre-search, print and online references and using booleans to narrow down the information more specifically. The IASL was founded in 1971 to provide a forum for school library professionals to network and discuss their practices together. While this year’s conference was held just a few hours away from Bakersfield at Cal State Long Beach, conferences are held around the world, and last year’s conference was hosted in Tokyo.

BC Students raise $5000 for Charities


BC Faculty, Heidi Forsythe

This summer, BC students raised about $5000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities while learning small group communication and problem solving skills.

Two of Heidi Forsythe’s Small Group Communication classes brainstormed, planned and executed a two-day donation drive in the span of a week, developing a mission statement and guidelines for their groups while developing conflict management strategies to work together for their common goal. Ronald McDonald house director Scarlet Sabin, who reached out to the media for the event to get coverage on Channel 17, Channel 23, 94.1 FM and KNZR, said that the donation drive will help the organization get through the rest of the year. Check out the video on KGET!

Fun Photos

BC faculty, Joe Saldivar and two future renegades (his sons) visited Stonehenge on their way to Normandy. I’m always amazed and filled with wonder when I think or see photos of Stonehenge. The English Heritage website, says “Stonehenge is perhaps the world’s most famous prehistoric monument. It was built in several stages: the first monument was an early henge monument, built about 5,000 years ago, and the unique stone circle was erected in the late Neolithic period about 2500 BC.”

Sebastian Saldivar, Christian Saldivar and Joe Saldivar Summer 2017

Sebastian, Christian, and Joe Saldivar at Stonehenge

Did you know it was also largely believed that the building process was so extensive that it could have lasted on and off for anywhere from 1500 to 7000 years? Check out this site for incredible facts about some of the world’s most famous places!

And Todd Coston on a cruise

Todd Coston family celebrating parent's 50th anniversary July 2017.jpg

Todd Coston and family took a 4-day cruise to Catalina and Mexico to celebrate his parents 50th wedding anniversary.  The picture is of the family in Catalina getting ready to board the ferry back to the cruise ship.

Great American Eclipse of 2017


Nick Strobel

Have you run into Strobel recently…. well if you did what is the first thing he tells you….. it is all about the eclipse….that’s all I have heard for the last 6 months 🙂

Nick Strobel recently posted that the great American Eclipse of 2017 is coming up shortly. He says, “On August 21, the new moon will come exactly between Earth and the sun and its shadow will sweep across the United States from the Oregon coast to the South Carolina coast. The narrow strip of total solar eclipse will be just 68 miles wide. Those outside of that narrow strip will see the sun partially covered by the moon.”  Learn more at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/planetarium/bakersfield-night-sky/bakersfield-night-sky-august-5-2017

And Tarina Perry has been puppy sitting and hanging out with Japanese international students

Riley bad puppyMason Blair, an Officer in Public Safety has a new 4-month old black lab puppy named Riley. When Riley got out of the laundry room, which is his holding place when no one is home, he was trying to let everyone know how unhappy he was being cooped up.  He chewed up a “memory foam” pillow and then threw up all the stuffing onto the floor!

And here is an email she sent me about Coach Paula Dahl and Coach Nick Jacobs about the experience of the Japanese students.  It is an uplifting email and so beautifully written.  Now do you see why I am the luckiest and happiest college president ever…

Somaly Boles and Tarina Perry May 12 2017

Tarina Perry with Somaly Boles

Hi Sonya,

My visit with our BC Athletics Department:

I recently had two students from Wakayama, Japan for a weeklong homestay through the Bakersfield Sister City Program.  Back in Japan, Nanaka plays basketball and Konomi plays tennis, so I set up a meet & greet with our BC coaches.  I envisioned a team working out and practicing basketball moves on the gym floor and maybe receiving directions from a really tough coach.  Instead, the entire team was sitting on the floor in a semi-circle facing three coaches.  Each teammate took turns offering up words of encouragement, acknowledgements of one another’s attributes, and sharing information on ways to better balance basketball with classes for a successful semester.  The more experienced teammates advised the newer ones to take advantage of study hall, office hours, tutoring… and simply to speak up and ask for help, because most teachers are understanding.  I didn’t expect to witness such an amazing and intimate experience! 

 This was not just a group of students or a basketball team, but this is a family!  I felt so much BC Pride!  Coach Dahl ended the experience with a team photo that our Japanese friends can take home and share with everyone.  Coach Dahl also taught them the fist-bump!

A similar experience took place when meeting our very enthusiastic Tennis Coach Jacobs.  He engaged with Nanaka and Konomi, we toured the facilities and he recommended best practices for them to focus on in order to better their playing skills.

I learned there is much more behind the title Athletic Coach.  I have just a little more understanding and a lot greater respect of our Athletics Department.


So what about Neo?

He is 48 lbs



August 10 2017 Neo



Sonya Christian cropped Aug 8 2017


That’s all for now.  

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya —
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future; Faith is the courage to dance to it today.

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, Sep 24, 2016, my mom’s birthday and a fabulous day to be a Renegade.  

September is also the month of the Kern County Fair.  For more information check out http://www.kerncountyfair.com/.  Thank you David Torris for helping us secure a table for Measure J at the fair.

Here are some photos from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 at the fair.

Day 1: Thank you Paul Beckworth for taking the lead to staff Day 1, September 21, 2016 with volunteers. I was so excited to see Mallory Moran at the fair with her dad Tom Moran and her brother Donovan Moran.  This family is beloved to Bakersfield College.  Friends, many of you along with me have been following Mallory’s precious life story.  Tom and Israel have set up with a Mallory Miracles page.  Check it out http://tinyurl.com/hb6dsgg


Thank you Paul Beckworth, Sandi Beckworth, Matt Garrett, and Zav Dadabhoy for being the first team to get this started.

Day 2, Sep 22, 2016: Zav Dadabhoy was the lead.


Here are the volunteers who staffed measure J on Day 2 — Steve Watkin and Kim Watkin, Michele Pena and her son, Jackie Lau and her son, Peggy Gonzales, Grace Commiso, Terri Goldstein, and of course Zav Dadabhoy.  Thank you all!

Day 3, Friday, Sep 23, 2016

Jerry Ludeke took the lead on the morning shift from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Jennifer Marden took the lead for the afternoon shift from 3:00 to 11:00.  Thank you Bob Allison, Liz Keranen, Heidi Allison.  Thank you Faith Counts (Chief Count’s daughter), Becky Dargatz, Cynthia Munoz, Steve Waller, and Jennifer Marden.


Steve Waller, Sonya Christian, Vickie Edden, Sandi Taylor, Tom Gelder

Here are the volunteers who staffed Measure J on Day 3 — Zav Dadabhoy, Jerry Ludeke, June Charles, Prince Charles, Steve Watkin, Kim Watkin, Tracy Hall, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Jim Heitzeberg, Jennifer Marden, Cynthis Munoz, Becky Dargatz, Chris Counts, Faith Counts, Reese Weltman and his wife, Steve Waller, Manny Mourtzanos, Sandi Taylor, Vickie Edden, and Tom Gelder.  Thank you all!  Thank you Jay Rosenlieb, who was staffing the Boy Scouts booth for coming over and helping the Measure J table.

One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern


onebook-1This week, Bakersfield College and the Norman Levan Center for the Humanities presented an academic discussion panel entitled “Water Use, Challenges, and Solutions in Kern County” as part of the “One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern” program. The panel was composed of Dr. Joe Saldivar, Professor and Chair of the Biology Department at Bakersfield College, Laraine Rosema, BC’s Writing Center Department Liaison, and Jeffrey Eagan, a former BC student who is the current Writing Center & Tutor Coordinator at CSU-Bakersfield. The night was organized and moderated by Jessica Wojtysiak, Associate Professor of Academic Development at BC.

The seats inside the Levan Center were packed as Dr. Joe Saldivar presented first. He invited six year old daughter of BC Student Alma Cortez to join him in a colorful experiment. By blowing through a straw, they were able to send carbon dioxide into the beaker, changing the liquid from pink to clear. Dr. Saldivar then discussed the importance of innovation in solving our water crisis.


Laraine Rosema, the next speaker, discussed water regulation and use restrictions. She concluded her presentation by telling the audience members how they could learn about restrictions and how to apply them to their own homes. Next up, Jeffrey Eagan explored how literature serves to illuminate the challenging relationship between humanity and water. Following these fabulous speakers, guests participated in a lively Q&A session with the panel. And finally, three BC students won a free copy of The Big Thirst: Enrique, and Alma Cortez.

The One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern project encourages the entire community to share experiences related to a single book through discussions, educational programming, and entertainment. The read is meant to pull a community together, cross cultural divides, and enhance understanding of our diversity, all while supporting literacy. First organized as a grass roots effort by Jillian Stump-Fritch, an elementary school teacher, she was inspired to support a community reading program after reading about similar projects with large cities like Chicago and Seattle.

onebook-2This year’s One Book selection is The Big Thirst by Charles Fishman. Published in 2011, the book seeks to challenge our too often casual relationship with water.  For the past 100 years, the developed world has enjoyed a cheap, safe, and abundant water supply, but The Big Thirst warns that everything about water is going to change – how we use it, how we share it, and how we value it.

This is certainly a timely selection for Bakersfield – In 2014, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported “An average of nearly 90% of Bakersfield, California, has been in a state of exceptional drought over the first seven months of 2014, more than any other large city.” In 2016, Governor Brown relaxed water use restrictions, but water availability continues to be a significant concern, particularly for those working in agriculture. For those interested, the One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern program will end this year with a visit by Charles Fishman to CSU-Bakersfield on October 27th, 2016 for a visit and book signing.

Kern Ag Foundation


Chris McCraw, Sonya Christian, JP Lake, Greg Cluff, Bill Barnes

I cherish any opportunity to be involved with organizations that prioritize education and advancement within our region. This week, I presented about Measure J with JP Lake at the Kern Agriculture Foundation. The Kern Ag Foundation was founded in 1986 as a non-profit organization by leaders in agriculture centered business and education to serve as an industry advisory committee. The Foundation assists with agriculture curriculum development, as well as soliciting and distributing funds and specialized assets to promote agricultural education, training, student activities, and scholarships. For a list of scholarships, visit kernagfoundation.com/scholarships.htm.

Special thank you to the Board of Directors: Doug Starr, President; Peter Belluomini, VP; Jared Britschgi, Secretary; Joel Bock, Treasurer; Bianca Ramirez; Roger Riley; Dr. Aaron Hegde; Ralph Mendes; and Lindsey Ono.  We received the unanimous endorsement of the Kern Ag Foundation for Measure J.  THANK YOU!

BC’s Ag faculty are the best! Bill Kelly, Lindsey Ono, Billy Barnes, Greg Cluff, Chris McCraw.  Thank you.

And a very special thank you to my co-presenter, JP Lake. It is always a joy working with him – his undeniable enthusiasm for education, the community of Bakersfield, and BC continues to inspire and amaze me. JP is also one of the many who have given their support and endorsement of Measure J. To learn more about what JP is doing in the community or about his business, Rain for Rent, check out http://jplake.com/ and http://www.rainforrent.com/.

Chamber Singers and their fabulous Director

The BC Chamber Singers men performed for 800 high school and junior high boys at Real Men Sing this morning at Harvey Auditorium.

I found this on Jen Garrett’s Facebook page.  Just loved it.  Enjoy:

The district brings together the men and they work with a guest conductor each year. This year their guest conductor is Travis Rogers. We had the opportunity to start off their day. Some of our men also spoke about what singing in choir means to them and about people that have mentored them. I appreciated that our men donated their time to such a good cause.



Gloria Urner

sonya-christian-gloria-urner-sep-22-2016I was at the Double Tree hotel heading in to do a presentation to the Hispanic Chamber and a woman stopped by to share with me that we, at BC are solving the world’s problems. We stuck up a lovely, but short conversation and it turns out that she is Gloria Urner, a retired PIO of KCCD who worked alongside Ed Simonsen when he was the Chancellor.

Thank you Gloria for the kind words, and THANK YOU Jay Tamsi and the Hispanic Chamber for your endorsement of Measure J! And thank you Jay Rosenlieb for co-presenting with me.  What an incredible afternoon!

Earlier in June, I made my first presentation to the Hispanic Chamber and this is included in my June 19th blog.  Check it out


Bakersfield Malayalee Association Onam Celebration


The Bakersfield Malayalee Association (BAMA) is a local Kerala based cultural association and a wonderful warm and friendly group that provides opportunities for our local Malayalees within the Bakersfield area to gather, communicate, interact, and celebrate with one another. It has grown incredibly over the past 20 years, as our city has flourished.

Onam was celebrated on September 13th and this special Harvest Festival is celebrated by the people of Kerala. The day, based on the Solar Calendar, is an ancient festival that still survives in modern times. It is one of the rarest festivals that is celebrated by a complete state, irrespective of religion, class, or creed. Wikipedia notes that

Kerala’s rice harvest festival and the Festival of Rain Flowers, which fall in the month of Chingam, celebrates the Asura King Mahabali’s annual visit from Patala (the underworld). Onam is unique since Mahabali (locally known as Maveli) has been revered by the people of Kerala. The King is so much attached to his kingdom that it is believed that he comes annually from the nether world to see his people living happily. It is in honour of King Mahabali that Onam is celebrated.

At our local celebration hosted by Bakersfield’s Malayalee Association, we shared traditional foods, dancing, and entertainment.  Bill Thomas was there to promote Measure J with this community.   Thank you to Congressman Bill Thomas, Zav Dadabhoy, and Kushnur Dadabhoy for attending this unique, special, and festive evening.  And thank you Shirley, President of BAMA for the invitation.

Prison University Project received the National Humanities Medal

On Thursday morning, President Obama awarded the 2015 National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal to distinguished recipients in the East Room of the White House. Jody Lewen, who is a strong advocate for the BC inmate education program, was on hand in person to accept the award presented to the Prison University Project by President Barack Obama. Jody previously sent an email recognizing this award includes everyone involved with this and similar efforts.

She said, “This award honors the extraordinary work of PUP faculty, students, friends, donors, staff, and everyone else who has worked tirelessly to make our work possible.  It also recognizes the entire community of people working throughout the country, to advance the cause of higher education in prison.  We are grateful for all of you.”

Check out these pictures, and for a video of President Obama’s comments, check out https://www.whitehouse.gov/live/president-obama-awards-2015-national-medals-arts-and-humanities

Congratulations to The Prison University Project! BC is proud to have such wonderful partners in education. We are grateful for you.

And thank you Rich McCrow, Brian Hirayama and others for your work on this!

Local Treasure: Coconut Joes


Sonya Christian, Jermale Turner at Coconut Joes

So, on friday, I had lunch at Coconut Joes for the very first time.  Just a wonderful place.  Beach setting and great music.  I found myself humming to the various tunes.  I also enjoyed talked to the owner Joseph (Joe) Coughlin the owner of the restaurant who was having a great time doing what it takes to make his customers happy.  Greeting them on one hand and then wiping down tables on the other.  He is a community volunteer who works with Dr. Paula Parks on the ASTEP program at BC.  He spoke passionately about how they were trying to get bus passes for students who could not afford them.

I was so delighted when he took me to the office at the back and introduced me to a BC student Jermale Turner who works at Coconut Joes.  Here is a selfie with Jermale.

I love seeing the entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in Bakersfield.  And I love seeing how much our community cares about Bakersfield College.  Of course, Joe Coughlin promptly endorsed Measure J and the list of endorsees is above 400 and growing everyday.  #WeAreBC and #WeAreBakersfield.

For more on Coconut Joes check out: http://www.coconutjoes.com/home

BC Athletics this week:

Women’s soccer led by Coach Scott Dameron moves to 4-2-2 with a 3-1 road win over Glendale College.  Odalys Espinoza scored her 5th goal over the last three matches. Next match at home Tuesday Sept. 27th v. West LA.

Led by Alyssa Morales, BC women finished first at the BC invitational held at Kern County Soccer Park. You can catch more action on Friday September 30th when Coach Kelley and her teams compete in the Western State Conference prelims also held at the soccer park.

sep-2016Wrestling led by Coach Clark & Coach Austin had a good showing at the Mt. SAC Duals beating Santa Ana and Sierra College before dropping their last of match of the day to Palomar College.  Sophomore wrestler Andrew Binger from North High was the male athlete of the week on the Renegade Report this week for his strong performances this past week.

Coach Carl Ferreira with the road warrior Women’s Volleyball 7-7 are steadily making progress while competing with the best teams in Southern California. Let’s welcome them home on Friday September 30th when they take on Moorpark College.

September 30th will be a busy day in BC Athletics hosting Cross Country Prelims, Women’s Volleyball and Womens’ Soccer.  Come join us in supporting these tremendous student athletes.  Be sure to check out www.gogades.com for updates.

Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future; Faith is the courage to dance to it today.

I came across a posting on Facebook by  BC Astronomy professor Nick Strobel, who said, “Sign in men’s restroom at a Thai food restaurant in Grants Pass, Oregon: ‘Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future; Faith is the courage to dance to it today.’ The food was good too.”

The quote stood out to me and I was intrigued to check it out more and to find out its author. A few websites credited it to Peter Kuzmic, a Croatian pastor who tweeted the statement on his Twitter accountothers cited no author. Whoever the author may be has inspired me to be brave and seize the day. Today, let’s dance!



That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — the luckiest and happiest College President ever.

(dressed for the Onam celebration with the Bakersfield Malayalee Association)