Tag Archives: John Lewis

Wrapping up July – a fun week

The last week in July is always a very special week for me…. the last hurrah before administrators start tuning back in to get ready to welcome our students back to another academic year. Spent the last week on the coast enjoying cooler temperatures and some quiet time. Here are a few photos for you.

Neo in the car heading to the coast. July 27, 2020
July 29, 2020

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

Residential universities and COVID-19

On Tuesday, PBS Newshour correspondent Hari Sreenivasan took a deep look at how residential universities are managing the stay-at-home orders that are keeping thousands of students away from their campuses. According to the report, many students are struggling without a supportive community of peers, with a lack of a quiet study area, and with new family responsibilities at home as a result of others sheltering in place along with them. Sreenivasan also talks to Michelle Asha Cooper of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, who points out how the traditional residential experience is not accessible for many low-income and community college students who don’t get the kind of networking opportunities afforded to those within the residential system.

Honoring John Lewis

BC partnered with Danny Morrison to present a program on John Lewis, the late civil rights leader and US Congressman, and his legacy of “good trouble”. Steve Watkin gave the opening remarks for our hour-long celebration of John Lewis that live-streamed on social media on Wednesday via Danny Morison‘s facebook live. Danny gave a moving retrospective of how John Lewis influenced his own social justice work. Julian West read John Lewis’ speech from the March on Washington in 1963, and Traco Matthews read Lewis’ 2015 speech from the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. 

Several BC faculty and staff, including including Oliver Rosales, Keith Wolaridge, Allen Bolar and Paula Parks, gave historical context to John Lewis’ life. BC students Zariyah Hall, Sha’ron Bradley and Blake Burton also spoke about how John Lewis paved the way for other young activists to follow in his footsteps.

I’d like to thank all of the community leaders who contributed to the John Lewis presentation, including Michael Bowers and Cindy Pollard.

I’d also like to thank both of the amazing musical performers who bookended our presentation – Nina Grae, who performed “We Shall Overcome”, and former BC student Jaimi Banks, who closed out the presentation with “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.

Finally, I’d like to thank the entire Marketing and Public Relations team at BC, who put together an hour-long video in just two days.

You can view the full video on the Danny Morrison Media Facebook page.


Last week, I finished sharing the videos from our first day of #LightACandle Juneteenth programming. Today, I’m continuing with videos from June 17.

English Professor Paula Parks opened our program with this moving retelling of her family’s history:

Music Professor John Gerhold then performed his rendition of “Stand By Me”:

Please visit the Bakersfield College Juneteenth website for an archive of all the videos and programming, as well as testimonials and other resources as we continue this important work.

Nick Strobel featured on podcast

Nick Strobel, was featured this week on the Experiences You Should Have podcast.

He spoke about the Perseids Meteor Shower that runs from approx. mid-July through mid-August. This year, the meteor shower will peak on August 11 and 12. To view the shower, find a spot with a dark sky, where you can see the little dipper.

Hopefully we can all get a chance to unwind and spend some time enjoying the beauty of the night sky in the next few weeks.

Umoja Community orientation

Due to the number of applications, Umoja Community African-American Success Through Excellence and Persistence (ASTEP) held a pop-up unscheduled information session on Wednesday.

Paula Parks

Umoja Coordinator Dr. Paula L. Parks discussed the philosophy of and benefits of the program, which is designed for motivated African-American students. Students are part of a supportive network that includes faculty, staff, and mentors. That encouragement will be even more important in a fully virtual environment.

Students who joined were excited about the prospect of being involved. “It’s a good program for me, especially since I’m just starting at BC,” said Donavan.

Available Umoja courses with African-American culture woven throughout include English 1a/Library taught by Dr. Parks and Faith Bradham, Small Group Communication taught by Mychael Phillips, and Statistics taught by Michael Little.

Students will also have the opportunity to participate in special activities that celebrate their culture and give them tools to persist.

“I like how it has a lot of support, and I like the unity,” said Ebony.

Next scheduled information session is Aug. 5 at 11 a.m. Students who apply at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/student/aai/umoja will receive the Zoom link to participate in the info session where they learn about Umoja and enroll in classes.

Former BC Choir Director honored

Selfie Sonya Christian and Joe Huszti Dec 4, 2015

Joe Huszti, former BC Choir Director, was just awarded the Howard Swan Award for Lifetime Achievement by the California Choral Directors’ Association. 

Big honor in the choral directing field!!

Please enjoy this video that Joe’s wife, Melinda, shared from the virtual ceremony:

More information on Joe can be found in the Archives Newsletter of Spring 2015, which tells of when the BC Choir under his direction won the choral music award at the Eisteddfod Music Festival in Wales in 1965.

I previously wrote about the BC Choir from 1965 reuniting 50 years after their historic victory. I invite you to take a look – there are some wonderful photos that choir members shared from their trip to Europe.

Congratulations on a well-deserved honor, Joe!

Thank you to Jerry Ludeke for tracking down this story from Joe and the BC Choir in our Bakersfield College Archive Newsletter.

Jerry Ludeke

BC, Wonderful Company partner for summer camp

This July, 72 middle school students from Delano, Wasco and Lost Hills were given the opportunity to join a two-week summer camp hosted in a partnership between Bakersfield College and The Wonderful Company. This was the first time this camp was held virtually, and focused on careers in agriculture.

During the first week the students participated in a class called Product Development, Marketing and Leadership taught by Bakersfield College faculty members Heather Baltis and James Selgrath. In this class, students created a new product along with all the branding needed to bring this product to market, including logos, slogans and a sales strategy focused on their product. Students learned the leadership qualities needed to successfully market a new product.

The second week students joined a class entitled Engineering and Careers in Agriculture taught by Bakersfield College faculty Travis Steele and counselor Jesus Oropeza.

During this week students learned about the field of engineering and robotics. These students constructed a robotic arm, given as a kit of basic parts that they were required to fully assemble, involving everything from placing gears in the gear box to wiring a motor to a computer chip.

After completing their robots, students created their own robotic challenges. These ranged from sorting fruit loops by color to balancing markers on end. The culminating project saw students compete head-to-head in a race to place paper balls into an empty water bottle.

All of these students will have the opportunity to enroll in Early College pathways in their 9th grade year at Wasco High School or Wonderful College Prep Academy.

Big thank you to the Rural Initiatives team who coordinated this camp, including Alma Feathers, Raquel Lopez, and Carolina Madrigal. And a big thank you as well as our innovative and amazing faculty Travis Steele, James Selgrath, Heather Baltis, and Jesse Oropeza.

Camp leads and mentors

Measure J Update

Even as we continue to shelter in place leading up to the start of the Fall 2020 semester, our construction projects funded by Kern County taxpayers via Measure J get closer and closer to completion. While the Campus Center is currently under construction, we are entering the final stages of designs for the Campus Center Annex, which will house administrative services.

Last week, we started construction on new signage around the campus and held a kick-off meeting for the design of the new parking and sports fields. Other projects in the design or planning phase include the combined gym fields house, the Welcome Center, the Agriculture Building, and the Delano Learning Resource Center.

New courses support online learning

This fall, Bakersfield College will be offering new courses that will support online learning – both for students and for teachers. EDUC B30: Introduction to Online Learning Environments and EDUC B31: Cultivating an Online Learning Community are new courses aimed at current and future teachers. EDUC B55: Bridge to Online Learning for Students is intended for students new to distance learning or who otherwise want gain skills for success in a online learning environment.

You can find out more about these offerings at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/news/2020/0728-now-offering-courses-to-support-online-learning-for-current/future-teachers-and. You can also check out the KGET piece about these classes.

I’m so proud of our BC faculty for quickly finding ways to provide these needed courses as online learning becomes more essential during this time of COVID-19.


Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh shared a message for our graduates:

Congressman Kevin McCarthy also offered his congratulations:

And please enjoy Part 3 of our graduate recognition:

All the videos from our 106th Commencement Televised Event are available on our 2020 Commencement Ceremony website.

Closing Week

Before we began on Tuesday, we were treated to a photo presentation looking back at the past year at Bakersfield College:

And these photos during our Tuesday stretch break:

Also on Tuesday, I presented the Nursing Department with a Presidential Leadership Award for their hard work in getting our students prepared to fight on the front lines against COVID-19.

And on Wednesday, Todd Coston provided our closing remarks:

All the videos from our closing week celebration can be found on the Closing Week web page.

Early College Celebration

Today, I’m sharing the final two graduate recognition videos from our Early College Celebration.

The second part of our graduates from Wonderful Company Prep Academy:

And the second part from Wasco High School:

Find out more about our Early College Program at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/earlycollege.

Corny & Sandi Retirement

During the Virtual Retirement Celebration for Corny Rodriguez and Sandi Taylor, we shared the videos from when they received President’s Lifetime Achievement Awards during our Closing Week celebration.

Corny Rodriguez:

Sandi Taylor:

Outgoing BCSGA President Samantha Pulido also shared this video announcing a new scholarship in their honor – the BCSGA Taylor Rodriguez Student Leadership for Equity Scholarship.

And finally, the Executive Office shared a farewell message:

Thank you again for your years of service, Corny and Sandi, and best of luck in all your future endeavors.

Spotted on Social Media

Great video by Dr. Jen Garrett about our Applied Music Program. Check it out.

Found this great visual representation on how distance and masks can keep us safe during from COVID-19. Lori Carter shared this on her Facebook page:

I love seeing the virtual transfer celebration continuing on the BC Twitter:

Mayra Diaz
Sociology and Spanish Major
CSU Bakersfield
Zach Hartsfield
Eastern Michigan University

The BCSGA Instagram shared this archive photo from the 1980s. You can see the front of the original CSS building and Fireside building as students walk around campus.

BC Nursing shared this photo of the 105th RN Graduating class from this spring:

BC Librarian Mindy Wilmot is preparing for this fall’s courses:


#NationalSoccerDay 2020

This last Tuesday – July 28, 2020 – was #NationalSoccerDay. While observing this social media holiday this year, we are proud of our men’s and women’s Renegade soccer teams and also very eager for them to return to action. This coming fall season of athletic competition has been postponed to the spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to the time when we’ll be able to cheer on our Renegades once more!


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

BC faculty & staff always engaged in “good trouble”

Ten days before he passed, John Lewis posted on twitter.

And two years ago on June 27, 2018 he posted

Good morning Bakersfield
It is Saturday, July 18, 2020 (Nelson Mandela’s birthday) … and a great day to be a Renegade

Spent this past week at my daughter’s place in Marina del Rey. Neo and Bessie were ecstatic to see each other and enjoy the southern cal beach together.

Bessie and Neo in marina Del Rey July 13 2020

Here is another great poem by Jack Hernandez:

In its green nest
the gardenia blooms
pure white
sweet scent
stunning the air,
not seeking applause
for its beauty,
content with beaming in the sun.

Remembering John Lewis

I was deeply saddened last night to hear of the passing of civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis.

He was a great man whose contributions to this nation cannot be overstated. It has been especially poignant to recall his story, including how images of his beating at the Selma to Montgomery “Bloody Sunday” march, in light of recent events and subsequent protests.

John Lewis is beaten following the “Bloody Sunday” Selma march in 1965.

I hope that each and every one of us can call upon his memory and courage as we navigate the uncertain times ahead. President Barack Obama awarded Lewis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and said:

There’s a quote inscribed over a doorway in Nashville, where students first refused to leave lunch counters 51 years ago this February. And the quote said, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” It’s a question John Lewis has been asking his entire life. It’s what led him back to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma after he had already been beaten within an inch of his life days before. It’s why, time and again, he faced down death so that all of us could share equally in the joys of life. It’s why all these years later, he is known as the Conscience of the United States Congress, still speaking his mind on issues of justice and equality. And generations from now, when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind — an American who knew that change could not wait for some other person or some other time; whose life is a lesson in the fierce urgency of now.

And on the topic of courage – as I think about John Lewis’ legacy, I can’t help but go back to the #RealTalk conversation with Reggie Bolton and Danny Morrison about Dr. Martin Luther King during our #LightACandle program:

“You gotta have the courage to do what’s right when it’s not popular.”

You can see an archive of all our #LightACandle programming in partnership with Danny Morrison on our Juneteenth website.

#RealTalk on Race in America

Good Trouble. Necessary Trouble

On Tuesday, June 30, Bakersfield College and Danny Morrison Media again teamed up to host a #RealTalk on Race in America with a multicultural panel of Generation Z students. 

I am always filled with pride when I see our student journalist’s work in the Renegade Rip and especially enjoyed reading Editor-in-Chief Haley Duval’s coverage of this talk. 

It’s a must-read: https://www.therip.com/news/2020/07/05/generation-zs-perspectives-on-racism-with-danny-morrison/

Haley caught a great quote from panelist Amy Melton who is a BC agriculture student:  “White privilege does not mean they haven’t gone through anything bad. It means that they have more opportunities because of the color of their skin.” 

You can view the full stream on Danny Morrison Media’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=579893912729216

International Students Update

In my last post, I shared about the importance of international students and immigrants not only to our college community, but to our community beyond as well.

I was so pleased to learn about the decision to rescind the policy that would have prevented international students from staying in the US as their studies turn to online.

Our international students have always been and will always be an integral part of our Bakersfield College family. I am glad that our leaders are recognizing the key role the F1 Student Visa program plays in our education system and allow these students to remain in this country as they safely continue their studies.

You can read more about the decision here: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/07/14/891125619/ice-agrees-to-rescind-policy-barring-foreign-students-from-online-study-in-the-u

Women’s Caucus

Good Trouble. Necessary Trouble.

Last week, I participated in the first ever California Community College Women’s Caucus.

This effort was organized by Linda Wah, Trustee from Pasadena City College, and Daisy Gonzales, Deputy Chancellor for the CA Community Colleges.

I look forward to sharing our progress and updates with all of you.

Commencement 2020

Last Saturday, we celebrated our fantastic Class of 2020 with a special televised event that was broadcast on KGET and Telemundo, as well as a Facebook livestream. I hope you all tuned in to share in the accomplishments of these graduates who overcame great adversity in their final semester at Bakersfield College.

We began with a video of Professor John Gerhold performing the National Anthem. This was from the 2019 graduation that we included in the televised 2020 commencement. We had to follow our tradition!

Here are my opening remarks from this year’s event:

Due to the nature of the broadcast, we grouped graduates into sections.

Here is the Part 1 of our graduates – please check my blog in the coming weeks to see the rest:

Early College Celebration

Last week, we also celebrated our Early College graduates. Students from Wonderful College Prep Academy and Wasco High School earned not only their high school diplomas, but an Associates degree at Bakersfield College as well.

Here are my opening remarks from that celebration on July 7:

And remarks from Senator Emeritus Jean Fuller. Senator Fuller’s support has been instrumental in the success of our early college program. Thank you Jean!

We honored these graduates in 4 sections; 2 from each school.

Here is the first set of graduates from Wasco High School – I will share the other sections in the coming weeks:

You can view all the videos from the Commencement Televised Event and our Early College Celebration on our 2020 Commencement website.

Celebration of Nelson Mandela and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Last Tuesday, July 14th, Krista Moreland, professor of Anthropology, hosted a virtual talk honoring the birthdays of two of the world’s great leaders and peacemakers: Nelson Mandela and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

This program, livestreamed on Facebook, had two speakers, Paballo Lengane, a University post-graduate student in Pretoria, South Africa; and Minyak Rinpoche, a Buddhist monk, currently at the Tashi Gomang Dharma Center in Kentucky. The presentations were inspiring and insightful, highlighting the importance of compassion, kindness, reconciliation and peaceful protests to enact positive change.

Read the full story on our website at the Celebration of Nelson Mandela and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama… and catch the Facebook Recording on the BC SGA’s Facebook.

Micro-credentialism podcast

Dean of Academic Technology Bill Moseley was featured in a podcast last week.

“Micro-credentialism: Bite-sized stories from the world of digital credentials” explores the digital badging landscape and celebrates individuals that create opportunities for achievement for their communities.

Closing Week Videos

I am still working through sharing all of our closing week videos with you all. Today, I am sharing one video from each of our four days of programming:

On Monday, Todd Coston wrapped up our day with a short message:

On Tuesday, Carlos Barbaran received a Presidential Leadership Award:

On Wednesday, VP of Instruction Billie Jo Rice shared the faculty that have reached tenure this year:

And we started Thursday’s program with another set of Year in Review photos:

As always, you can view all the videos from Closing Week at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/president/events/closing-week-2020.

And you can review previous opening/closing day celebrations on the President’s Events website.

Spotted on Social Media

Performing Arts Department Chair Jennifer Garrett shared this post about networking with her fellow Kern County choral directors:

Today I was able to look into the faces of so many incredible colleagues from middle school, high school and college choral directors in Kern County. We gathered via zoom to welcome new colleagues, talk with Dr Jessica Napoles from UNT about the ACDA response document, and start helping each other plan for the future. I know we are all desperately trying to figure out how to help our students experience music in the Fall and it is so wonderful to know we have each other and many more. Thank you everyone for gathering today. Can’t wait until next Friday to do it again! #KernCountyChoralThrives

I spotted some Renegade representation on the California Community Colleges Twitter:

Astronomy professor Nick Strobel shared these photos of comet NEOWISE C/2020 F3 (check out his update in the Bakersfield Night Sky column):

I also wanted to share this great message from our Renegade Athletics Twitter:

Corny & Sandi Retirement videos

At our retirement celebration for Dean of Instruction Corny Rodriguez and Athletic Director Sandi Taylor, we enjoyed video testimonials from their friends and colleagues. Today, I’d like to share two of those videos.

Corny Rodriguez Testimonials Part 1:

Sandi Taylor Testimonials Part 1:

You can see all the videos from their retirement celebration at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/president/events (click on Staff/Faculty events).


Vince Damelio Moving on to Dean College

Vince Damelio from Renegade Men’s Basketball announced this week that he is headed to play basketball and continue his academic career at Dean College located in Franklin, MA. Damelio, a product of Primero HS in Weston, CO, played just the 2019-20 season at BC for Head Coach Rich Hughes. He finished the year having played in all 28 games with an average of 6.4 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game and 2.4 assists/game. Good luck to Vince and Go Gades!

CCCAA Board of Directors announces implementation of Contingency Plan for return to sports in 2020-21

The California Community College Athletics Association (CCCAA) Board of Directors overwhelmingly approved implementation of its Contingency Plan this last week, providing a return to intercollegiate athletics for the 2020-21 academic year that shifts all sports, including football, to the spring season. The Contingency Plan was among three potential scenarios approved by the Board in early June.

Each plan was wholly dependent on which phase of reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic the state of California was in on the CCCAA’s previously announced July 17 decision date. The return to athletics in January will only occur if it is safe to do so, a decision that will be guided primarily by state and local health guidelines. The Contingency Plan can be viewed here. The full release can be viewed here.

Renegades, let’s continue to transform lives by never shying away from good trouble…. necessary trouble.

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