Tag Archives: Reggie Bolton

#LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation

What a difficult, active week at the virtual Home of the Renegades as we continue to Shelter in Place and engage with a world coping with COVID-19, the recession, and the horrific public death of George Floyd.

The picture above is from a friend’s garden. These are the Mexican bird of paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima). They bloom when the temperature gets above 90.

Renegade Baseball Pitcher Sends Caring Note To Bakersfield PD

Through social media and television we have seen many protests around the country, and our community has been no different. After one of this week’s protests in downtown Bakersfield, the Bakersfield Police Department shared a photo of a card that a ‘black teen’ had given one of the BPD officers earlier that evening.

We soon found out that ‘black teen’ was none other than one of our Renegade Baseball student athletes, PJ Roberts. PJ is a pitcher and has been on the team the last two years. While PJ did not share this card with the officer to be recognized publicly, we are beyond proud of his actions to bridge the gap at this critical point in time. Way to be the change you wish to see in the world, PJ! #StudentTeacher

Good morning Bakersfield
It is Saturday, June 6, 2020 – a great day to be a Renegade.

I’d like to start off this week with a video I saw from Trevor Noah, who hosts The Daily Show. In it, he talks about how different events are connected and knock into each other like dominoes, causing a great wave.

#LightACandle: A Juneteenth Celebration

On the heels of the recent death of George Floyd and mass unrest across the country, Bakersfield College will host a two week conversation and virtual celebration leading up to June 19 or “Juneteenth,” a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

Six days after Floyd’s murder, I penned a letter to the campus and community.  In part, I wrote: 

I believe that in the 50 years since King asked this question – What is it that America has failed to hear? We have made enormous progress that we can and should be proud of. But we need to hear what George Floyd’s Memorial Day death – and our national reactions to it – are saying. It is a long and painful history, which makes it harder to hear. It is a dark and confusing time, which makes it harder to see how to move forward. But as Bakersfield College Renegades, we owe it to our community, to our veterans, and we each owe it to George Floyd, to join together, listen with humility, and to bring light that can illuminate the way ahead.

In this spirit, I invite you to join Bakersfield College for a two-week series of Juneteenth conversations across multiple platforms to #LightACandle and #ShineALight on the gut wrenching and horrific experiences of our Black brothers and sisters as they go about their business contributing to the economic wellbeing of our community, volunteering to help the neediest in our society, enjoying a family stroll in the neighborhood park with their children. We invite you to listen, learn, engage, and make an action-oriented commitment to speak up, lean in and create an environment that values every human.  

Thank you to the leadership of the #LightACandle Juneteenth Planning Team: Steven Watkin, Paula Parks, Tommy Tunson, and Jennifer Achan.

BC Joins Prayer Walk

At Steven Watkin’s invitation, dozens of BC faculty and staff joined a peaceful community walk and prayer on Wednesday. 

Led by Pastor Oscar Anthony of St. Peter Restoration Community Christian Ministries, and Pastor Ignacio Valdez of New Hope Family Worship Center, with the support of networks such as Kern County Ministers Conference, Kern Leadership Alliance and CityServe, hundreds assembled to acknowledge the pain our community is in, while promoting promote reconciliation healing.

I was grateful to walk alongside Steve Watkin and our BC team in solidarity for #BlackLivesMatter.

#RealTalk on Race with Danny, Reggie, and Julian

On Thursday, June 4, BC launched the first of a series of #RealTalk on Race discussions, hosted by Danny Morrison Media.  Over 7000 views in just 3 days!

Danny, always a friend to BC and an ardent supporter of our African American Initiatives and Inmate Scholars program, kicked off the discussion with a reflection on the recent high-profile deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmed Arbery. I was struck by the weight of the dialogue as he recalled a long history of murders of Black men at the hands of those in power… the stories of Philando Castile, Eric Garner, and Emmett Till.

Reggie Bolton, BC professor of kinesiology, and Julian West, director of the Career Ladders Project, described their personal experiences coming to terms with race and racism as Black men. As I listened to Reggie, Julian, and Danny, I felt the enormity of the moment we are in as a nation and the responsibility we have as educators to shine light on these stories.  The words of these men – brilliant, courageous, kind hearted, and committed to our students – should strengthen our resolve to work for racial equity at BC and beyond.

The livestream also featured a video from Steve Watkin.

BC in the News: The Bakersfield Californian

The Bakersfield Californian published a great article on BC’s plans to shine light on the ways education can advance justice.  Thank you, Ema Sasic, for capturing not only our plans for the weeks ahead, but also the ways BC has been advancing educational equity for Black students through the remarkable work of our African American Initiatives team.  I enjoyed reading the highlights of our progress on increasing access and success for our students over the past five years:

  • Increased overall enrollment of Black students by 45% to more than 1,000 students
  • Increased first-time Black student enrollment by 72%
  • Increased Black student enrollment in Early College opportunities by 1,017%
  • Increased Black student completion of associate degrees by 223%

Umoja students share feelings on recent killings by police

Umoja Community students and faculty gathered virtually to discuss recent killings of African Americans by police. Over the past few weeks, the murders of Ahmad Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have dominated the news. Repeated exposure to lynching is traumatizing.

Floyd’s murder, captured on video and widely circulated, has ignited pain and anger in the Black community and resulted in protests nationwide. The Umoja Community – a program designed for African-American students that includes coursework, mentoring, academic and cultural trips, and counseling support to keep students on track to graduate – routinely provides space for students to share and process their lived experiences.

Students said this latest incident feels different from other police murders captured on camera because of what the video shows: Floyd was handcuffed when he was pushed onto the pavement. You observe the officer rather nonchalantly with his hands in his pocket and with his knee on Floyd’s neck. Over 8 minutes and 46 seconds, you see Floyd plead for his life and call out “Mama,” then slowly lose consciousness and die. Three officers watch and the crowd shouts out that “he ain’t moving.” It seemed to students the most extreme example of police abuse and of an undeserved, agonizing death.

In addition, Floyd evokes Eric Garner’s words, “I can’t breathe” sixteen times. This painful revisit of the 2014 New York case is a reminder as one student put it that “the deaths keep increasing.” The police aren’t charged or convicted even with video evidence, which emboldens police, students explained, to continue to abuse their power. Black people are re-traumatized with each death, understanding that they are similarly at risk. One student said she felt “numb.” Another reported that she was at “the breaking point.”

Being in the middle of a pandemic and somewhat isolated, they noted, adds to their anxiety because they have fewer outlets while being constantly bombarded with videos of Floyd’s death and mass protests. Students are suffering from a double injury: fears for their basic physical safety from police as well as threats to their physical and mental health from COVID.

Said one student, “racism is our (constant) virus.”

Community Voices

I was happy to see in The Bakersfield Californian this week two pieces from BC faculty and staff lending perspective on how we move forward.

Lesley Bonds, BC’s Director of Student Success & Equity reflected on the significance of Juneteenth in the midst of mass unrest. She calls upon white people to learn to practice anti-racism. Read her suggestions for how people can practice anti-racism HERE.

An excerpt:

“Anti-racism is more than simply not acting racist. Anti-racism requires constant vigilance — an unlearning of our conditioned behaviors, beliefs and biases, and constant, intentional, new learning of the ways we can recognize and dismantle racism in ourselves, our community, our institutions, and the systems we navigate daily.”

Nick Strobel, Astronomy professor and Director of BC’s planetarium called upon us to reconcile the “story of American society” with the stories we are reading today in order to give meaning to the popular hashtag #WeAreAllInThisTogether. Read Nick’s piece HERE.

An excerpt:

“If American society is to survive, we all need to recognize that an alternate story, that has been told in word and deed for many, many decades at least, has grown more powerful than the shared story of opportunity and equal application of the law… Do we want that? Do we really believe that the shared story on which this nation was founded is not real and can never be real?”

BC launches free immigration clinics

Bakersfield College is partnering with the UFW Foundation to offer Immigration Clinics for BC students, faculty and staff. The next two Clinics are on Tuesday, June 9th, and Thursday, June 25th, from 9 AM to 6 PM. DACA renewals are being prioritized and Fee Assistance is available at this time.

You may email ab540@bakersfieldcollege.edu for instructions on setting appointments. The Immigration Clinics are held virtually on Zoom.

BC receives Job Corps Scholars Program funding

Bakersfield College has been named as one of twenty recipients to receive part of the $24 million Job Corps Scholars Program funding, provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.

This national program serves Job Corps eligible youth by providing free tuition for their first year in the Job Corps Scholars program, career technical training, and intensive personal and career counseling services towards program completion.

Back to College

I wanted to share with you all a story from one of our student Renegades, Martha Lopez. She was left jobless when the Coronavirus pandemic hit, and decided to try out our Back to College program.

“I had just started a new job working at a Distribution Center when the Coronavirus hit. The entire center was shut down and everybody was left without a job, and we didn’t know for how long it was going to last. I started looking for a new job, but then I heard about the Back to College program on TV. I had been going to BC on and off for over several years and always struggled and felt like it was not for me, but I decided to give it one more try. From the start, the counselors helped me with Financial Aid and helped me find classes that were required for my major, and that were also interesting to me. The professors were all very clear from the beginning by telling us exactly what was required, and they were always there when we had questions. I had taken online classes before, but this time was a huge difference. Not only did I get As and Bs in all my classes, but I actually enjoyed them, especially Art which I was not expecting, and I’m excited to keep going in the summer and fall. At first I was only planning on getting my degree in Sociology at BC, but after talking to my counselors and professors, I’ve decided I want to actually transfer to CSUB and go on to become a Substance Abuse Counselor.”

Our Back to College program is still going strong with courses for this summer. Please check it out!

Fun Social Media

Our Admission & Records director, Jackie Lau, earned her Masters degree this year. The Admission & Records department shared a wonderful tribute on Facebook to celebrate her achievement.

The BC Library is sharing resources on racism. Check it out at https://bakersfieldcollege.libguides.com/blacklivesmatter.

Closing Week Videos

Before each day’s celebration, we shared a few videos from throughout the year – including this performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” performed by our BC choir, faculty, staff, and administration:

Student Affairs earned a President’s Leadership Award:

And incoming BCSGA Vice-President Emma McNellis shared her remarks:

Athletics

Coach Littlejohn Leading The Way Staying Fit During The Pandemic

Our newest Renegade Coach, Coach R. Todd Littlejohn of BC Football is leading the way in showing our campus how to stay fit during the pandemic. Here’s a picture of him doing hang cleans during his CrossFit workout this last week. Details for how the 2020 fall sports season is going to look are still being determined by the CCCAA, but one things for sure – Coach LJ will not be out of breath running up and down those sidelines coaching his team this fall!

Q&A With Sandi Taylor

The Renegade Rip ran an article where Editor-in-Chief Haley Duval interviewed retiring athletic director and softball coach Sandi Taylor.
Sandi talked about her greatest memories, proudest accomplishments, what she’ll miss, and what changes she saw during her time at BC. Thank you for the well-written article, Haley, and thank you for your years of service Sandi!

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

Closing out the 2015-2016 academic year

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, May 14, 2016….A good a day to be a Renegade!

Selfie with Clayton Fowler May 13 2016

Clayton Fowler, Sonya Christian

The academic year ended on a high note yesterday with BC’s 102nd commencement.  Here is Jose Gaspar‘s coverage on channel 29  http://tinyurl.com/jkoqknv.  A very nice piece.  Thank you Jose! Also The Bakersfield Californian featured photos by John Hart, of the class of 2016 on the front page.  Thank you TBC!

Here is the photo that Clayton Fowler tweeted “One last president selfie before graduation .

We had Trustees Romeo Agbalog and Kyle Carter at the ceremony.  Thank you trustees for celebrating this great moment with the college. It is always a treat to have you with us.

Kyle Carter and Romeo Agbalog May 13 2016

Kyle Carter, Romeo Agbalog

Here is an email exchange between a student and her faculty.  This, my dear community, is what BC is all about.  It is not a myth.  BC faculty and staff are SO very committed to our students.  I love the line from Betty Wandick to her professor Pat Smith “….but you live in all of us.”

From: Betty Wandick <betty.wandick1961@email.bakersfieldcollege.edu>
Date: May 13, 2016 at 11:13:05 PM PDT
To: Patricia Smith <patsmith@bakersfieldcollege.edu>
Subject: Re: Appreciation

Yes, but you live in all of us; therefore, it was good seeing you tonight.

On Fri, May 13, 2016 at 1:17 PM, Patricia Smith <patsmith@bakersfieldcollege.edu> wrote:

Well thank you so very much!
I wasn’t able to attend that graduation due to finals and grading.  I will be there tonight…are you graduating tonight?  I wish you the very best in all that you do.  You were a wonderful student!

> On May 13, 2016, at 12:51 PM, Betty Wandick <betty.wandick1961@email.bakersfieldcollege.edu> wrote:

Hello Professor Smith, I want to thank you for being my instructor throughout the years. I want you to know that I gave your name at the Black Graduates Graduation because I think you are a AWESOME instructor, and I appreciate you. Thank you for everything, Betty James.

Class of 2016, congratulations!  I might do a more in-depth with photos of commencement in a later blog.  Until then, here is the team doing our pre-final walk through the day before commencement.  They put in countless hours with attention to a lot of detail to pull off a grand commencement celebration for our students with fireworks and all.  BC Team Awesome!

 

Pre final wal thru May 9 2016

Here is a drone photo by Manny De Los Santos. Super cool!

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Garden Pathways

It was wonderful attending the Garden Pathways High Tea at Seven Oaks.  The place was packed with our community who had come out to support the winners of this years “Women with a heart for Bakersfield.”

honorees2016.jpgClockwise from top-left: Cynthia Icardo, Norma Rojas-Mora, Tracy Walker, Danielle Wade

Norma Rojas Mora Sonya Christian May 20 1026These four women are truly remarkable in volunteering their time out of their busy lives to support the community.  All of them were eloquent in their remarks and very inspirational.  Norma Rojas-Mora spoke about “opportunity” and that “often those opportunities are the difference between living life in the shadows or living one filled with recognition.”  It struck me that one of the greatest gifts we can give one another is the gift of opportunity.  Here are excerpts from her remarks at Garden Pathways:

I have been blessed with a life filled with opportunity…the opportunity to grow up in a loving family, the opportunity to study at a top university, the opportunity to choose the job I wanted and the ability to make a career out of it.  I share this with you because I also recognized early on that not everyone has opportunities, and often those opportunities are the difference between living a life in the shadows or living one filled with recognition.

Eighteen years ago a gentleman by the name of Bill Carter gave me the opportunity to work at an agency that was in transition, it was only my second job out of college and at that time I told him I was only interested in being with the Housing Authority for three years.

Little did I know that I would find my passion and build a career-I truly believe in our mission of providing safe decent and affordable housing to low income residents of this community and to assist them in becoming self sufficient and moving on to homeownership.  We have so many families that are living in the shadows-but being able to develop programs that provide them with opportunities makes all the difference in the world.  Seeing a family increase their earnings, seeing a child be the first in their families to graduate from high school and go on to college, seeing families purchase their first home and knowing that we played a part in it has been the most important thing.

….

There are over 20,000 people on the Housing Authority’s wait list for affordable housing -we need to be creative to assist families in increasing their earnings so they can move out of subsidized housing so we are able make room for another family. Five years ago we established a nonprofit Foundation that allows to do even more to create opportunities for our families-I want to say Thank you to the Housing and Opportunity Foundation’s Board of Directors who are here for joining us on this journey of empowering families to become self sufficient.  Thank you for rolling up your sleeves and getting in the trenches with us.

My parents and siblings sacrificed a lot to give me opportunities and I am grateful to be able to say thank you-Mom, gracias por tu eterno apoyo!

…..

I leave you with this, get involved, even one small action can impact a person’s life.  Our community has so many needs, know that YOU can make a difference.  Find what you are passionate about and do your part to make an impact.  I Challenge each of you to find your interest and go out and do something about it-our community needs us and we can all play a big part in making Bakersfield great.

Mayor Hall was there supporting our community as usual and presented the awards to the fabulous four women.  I have been in awe of Mayor Harvey Hall ever since I was a faculty member at BC.  His generosity in supporting our Allied Health programs has been amazing.  He told the story of how he deliberately picks his suit when going out to high schools so that the colors match the school colors.  What fun!

Cindy Pollard introduced me to Cathy Ferguson, Executive Director of the Girl Scouts. BC has a great collaborative relationship with Boy Scouts and now we have the opportunity to partner with Girl Scouts. Yes!

GardenPathways

Sonya Christian, Mary Jo Pasek, Karen Goh, Deanna Blaise

Bakersfield College was present at the event in full force.  Thank you Karen Goh for the amazing work that Garden Pathways does to support our most vulnerable populations and thank you for your support of Bakersfield College.

What a great team.

Hare you met Michael Bowers yet?  If not, you are missing out on life.  Michael, with Steven Watkin, is heading up a group that is partnering with Bakersfield College to position the campus for the next 50 years.  2016..2066.  Envisioning an even “better BC.”  Here is the team that he put together–super smart, super cool, super focused, and on the move

African American Outreach May 12 2016

Kalisha Hudgins, Tomeka Powell, Keith Wolaridge, Sonya Christian, Steve Watkin, Dee Slade, Danny Morrison, Michael Bowers

 

Empowering Women summit by CA Latina Leaders

Last Saturday, May 7th, I attended the Empowering Women summit hosted by the CA Latina Leaders at the Double Tree.  I enjoyed hanging out with a BC group of students and listening to wonderful speakers – Assembly member Rudy Salas and Aera CEO Christina Sistrunk.  As you can see from the pictures, I did not have the best seat for getting good photos of the speakers!

Empowering Women May 7 2016

Janet Tarjan, Patrice Morrow, Sonya Christian, Tarin Hansen, Rebekah Kubli, Epi Mendoza, Nicki Damania

Janet Tarjan, math faculty, and Nicky Damania, director of student life attended the event. with a group of amazing BC students.  Patrice Morrow moved to Bakersfield from Bellflower at age 10 with her family.  She will be starting Nursing at BC in the fall.  Rebekah Kubli is a kinesiology major at BC.  Epi Mendoza is the daughter of two parents from Niyarit, Mexico.  Either her great-grandmother or grandma (I’m not sure which) lived to be 117.:-)   Tarin Hansen is working on her prerequisite classes for nursing. It was just a fun relaxed time.  We are…BC!

Helmet Club at the Stiers house:

Later that afternoon on May 7th, I headed out to the Helmet Club event at Mike and Cathy Stiers next to the Bakersfield Country Club.

I did not stay for dinner but enjoyed meeting several new friends of BC and friends of Renegade Football.

Ed Davis is the President of the Helmet Club and a great supporter of BC.  Coach Chudy, Coach Bolton and Coach Dean were all at the event with their families.  It was great seeing Karen Goh at the event supporting BC.  She has been to several football games this last season.  Thank you Karen!  Also, many of these community members supported our student, Terrence Young, when he was seriously injured in the fall.

Track and Field State Meet:

Janet Tarjan and I headed out today, after our exercise class this morning, to the Track & Field State meet at Antelope Valley College.  It was wonderful seeing Coach Pam Kelley and our Renegade Athletes  in action.

Many of the athletes advanced to the state level. Kyra Saunders in long jump, Tyra Saunders in the 100 meters with a new school record, Marilyn Quintero in Discus, Jacob Bookout in high jump and Dillen Littles in both shot put and discus.


End of Year Potluck:

At the end of every academic year I traditionally have an end-of-year potluck in my back yard for the committee leadership on our campus.  This year the planning team included Krista Moreland, Janet Thomas and Tracy Hall and they organized an incredible evening gathering on May 10th at my place.  They did an entire Havana theme with dominoes, Cuban music and even Cuban food items.  Jennifer Johnson’s Cuban sandwiches were to die for.  It was such a fun and relaxing evening and I wish I had taken more pictures.  Janet Thomas’ center pieces for the tables stole the show.

 

Welcome back home Dennis Spencer.  BC came to a standstill without you.

Dennis Spencer May 2016.jpg


Kern County Probation Volunteer Luncheon
We are so proud of our BC Human Services student interns, Abigail Gonzales and Yasmin Chavez, who were nominees for Volunteer of the Year at the Kern County Probation Volunteer Luncheon.

While they didn’t receive that award, they were honored when Mayor Harvey Hall presented them with certificates in recognition of their hard work.  It is so nice to see our students give back to the community, and it is just wonderful when their efforts are so appreciated. Thanks again to the mayor for giving our student interns such a great day.

 

It is a good time to be at BC!

Sprinting toward semester’s end

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

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

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

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

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

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

Board of Governors visits

Avalos Conway Christian Agbalog Stewart April 29 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-Law Program: First Graduates & Law Day Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Project BEST

 

 

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

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

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

Don’t You Quit – An Inspirational Poem

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

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

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

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

Often the goal is nearer than

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

Success is failure turned inside out –

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

Renegade Promise at the Kern County Alliance

 

 

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

Vickie Spanos 2Lesley Bonds

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

Wasco High Summer Bridge

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

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

Student Leadership & Recognition Awards Ceremony

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

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

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

Onto the awards…

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

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

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

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

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

  • Allison Guzman, American Sign Language Club

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

  • Anhelica Perez, Office of Student Life at Delano

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

  • Alia Brost, ACS Chemistry Chapter Club

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

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

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

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

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

  • WECOMM Club

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

  • Jonathan Hernandez, WECOMM Club

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

  • Arthur Tondin

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

  • Tania Bernal

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

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

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

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

Bill Parker and Romeo Agbalog April 29 2016.jpg

Fourth Annual High School Leaders Breakfast

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

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

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

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

Outreach April 29 2016 cropped.jpg

 

Alex Victoria April 27 2016Kern’s Poet Laureate:

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

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

PTK Induction April 2016 cropped.jpg

Thank you Delano Chamber and Janet Rabanel for your generosity.

Donation from Delano Chamber Janet Rabanel April 28 2016.jpg

It truly is a great time to be at BC.

PS …

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank You, Mr. Falker” — and Thank You, Mrs. Mitchell’s Class!

On April 23, 2015 I received a text from our Student Government Association President, Alex Dominguez, that read:

President Christian, a teacher from Bakersfield City School District (Owens Primary School) reached out and asked if I could help her find some community leaders to read to students on May 21 from 9:00-9:30. I won’t be able to attend however I wanted to check and see if you would be interested!

I took a peek at my calendar and thought I could rearrange my schedule and quickly texted back to Alex and said I could.

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Selfie with Mrs. Mitchell and her Third Grade Class

 

Then on May 4th I received this charming letter from Joyce Victor, Kindergarten Teacher.

Joyce Victor

I delighted in the presentation of the letter and made a quick note that the reading was a long ways away…..May 21st and today was only May 4th.

The next thing I know is that it is May 20th late afternoon and all I knew was that I was reading to a third grade gate class.  What does that mean….. what do I read…. panic sets in.  This is much more complex than presenting to a Chamber Breakfast event or even teaching calculus (i was a math faculty many years ago).  And then I remembered meeting Krista Bolton, wife of BC Assistant Football Coach Reggie Bolton, at a recent football event.  I also remembered that Krista taught third grade.  YES! There is a God watching over me and taking care of me.

Krista came through in a big way, steering me to author Patricia Polacco’s autobiographical book “Thank You, Mr. Falker” — and arranging for a copy I could borrow.  What was quite amazing was the time and care she put into finding the right book for me.  This included conversations with her colleagues and discussing the pros and cons of several books, checking Target, then Barnes and Nobles to try to purchase the book for me since she did not have it with her at home.  When she could not find the book readily available for purchase, she arranged to rendezvous with me at her school, early morning on May 21st, so she could get it from the library for me.

I took in the wonderful story — and immediately fell in love with the book, which truly captures the impact a wise and caring teacher can have on a young student.

Dr Christian - reading

Sonya Christian reading to third graders

In the story, a young girl named Trisha is thrilled at the thought of learning how to read, but gets discouraged when she finds the printed page seems to be nothing more than a jumble of letters and numbers.

Mocked as a dummy by her classmates, Trisha eventually comes to the attention of Mr. Falker, who not only recognizes the young girl’s artistic talent, but also her reading difficulties and the sad and mounting frustration she feels. The teacher makes it his mission to help Trisha overcome her problems and finally truly enjoy the world of reading for the first time.

Krista couldn’t have made a better suggestion.

And Mrs. Mitchell and her two dozen third-graders couldn’t have been more welcoming or the children more connected to the heartwarming story.

It’s so satisfying for me to not only tell such a lovely story about the joy and importance of reading, but imparting that message to those engaged, happy young faces in such a powerful way made for an enriching morning that I won’t soon forget.

Before my time with the children, I was happy to have my first face-to-face meeting with Bakersfield City School District Superintendent Dr. Robert Arias.

Dr. Robert Arias

Sonya Christian with Rob Arias

Rob and his fine team at the district have been doing some fantastic work getting all those enthusiastic young minds excited about learning and their futures, so it was great to have some time with him to talk about BCSD.

Thanks so much to Dr. Arias, Bessie Owens School, and to Mrs. Mitchell and her top-notch class for a truly fabulous day! And thank you Krista Bolton for getting me the best book ever.

Bakersfield College Equity TV

IMG_4317Education never comes easy. Nothing worth acquiring ever does. And with all of life’s pressures and responsibilities we juggle each day – our jobs, our families, our friends and all the rest that comes with our frantic existences – it’s easy to look at the added toil of going to classes, completing assignments and paying tuitions and think, “Why am I putting myself through all this?”

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That journey can seem even tougher to conquer if you come from a disadvantaged background. For many, paying bills, taking care of family members and simply surviving in difficult environments and communities can easily take precedence over the education that will inevitably set you up for an even better tomorrow.

BC has been working on issues of Equity and Inclusion in a focused way over the last two years particularly as it relates to the success of students in their educational attainment. We have several Equity initiatives underway and our newest initiative is Equity TV.

Launched last month on January 19, 2015, on Martin Luther King day, the one-hour series webcast on Bakersfield.com explores the important benefits available to students from all walks of life to help motivate higher education dreams among potential future Renegades and their families.

EquityTV Sonya Jan 19 2015

Dr. Sonya Christian, President, Bakersfield College

Every Monday at 11 a.m., hosts Francis Mayer and Christine Dinh O’Dell spotlight the experiences of BC faculty, staff, students and alumni to deliver a fundamental message: education is the key to life success and the bright future we all crave.

Horace Mitchell EquityTV 2015

Dr. Horace Mitchell, President of CSUB

On January 19th, as the first guest on the show, I introduced BC-EquityTV to our community. Dr. Horace Mitchell, President of CSUB, was a guest on the launch episode. Thank you President Mitchell!

Subsequent weeks have similarly highlighted other special student populations particularly in need of encouragement and guidance, including Latino students, veterans and former foster youth.

EquityTV Sandra Serrano

Sandra Serrano, Chancellor, KCCD

Last Monday’s (Feb 23rd) show, shot in the beautiful studios at the Bakersfield Californian downtown, centered on the difficult issues confronting athletically gifted high school grads forced to tackle the often unfamiliar terrain of higher education.

Specifically, why should I care about school if I’m on my way to a life in professional sports?

Francis got a resounding answer to that question from former BC and NFL player Jeremy Staat. Jeremy recounted his rocky relationship with learning while at BC and later at Arizona State before being drafted in the second round of 1998 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

You can still feel the regret as Jeremy told the heartbreaking story of being rejected for a post-football job at Home Depot – all because he left school without completing his degree. Despite a four-year NFL career and a trophy case of athletic accomplishments, none of it helped set up Jeremy to succeed after his career on the playing field.  Jeremy is now a welding faculty at BC while he pursue a master’s degree.

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Coach Reggie Bolton

IMG_4360Other guests this week included BC’s Associate Director of Athletics and assistant football coach Reggie Bolton, who advocates a “win at life” philosophy of academics ahead of any on-field accomplishments; and current Renegade football players safety Pat Marzett and running back Curtis McGregor, who despite challenging upbringings, have committed to achieving their higher education dreams with the same passion they’ve carried on to the turf at Memorial Stadium.

You can check out those Equity TV segments with Jeremy, Reggie, Pat and Curtis below as well as all the interviews from the show’s first five episodes on the Equity TV page at bakersfieldcollege.edu.

I want to thank the entire BC crew that made this happen.  Amber Chiang, Odella Johnson, Corny Rodriguez, Paul Beckworth, Tina Mendoza, and Primavera Arvizu.  Tune in and see just one of the fantastic projects at BC helping to make higher education a reality for everyone in Bakersfield and Kern County.