Good evening Bakersfield. It is Saturday, June 4, 2016…the day the community came together at St. Francis to celebrate the life of Tharrell Ming, a diehard driller and a Renegade. The church was packed by the time I got there at 10:53 a.m. for the 11:00 a.m. mass and they had already run out off the stack of booklets. I spotted Coach Jeff Chudy, Trustee Kay Meek at the service and noticed that Carl Bowser‘s name led the list of honorary pall bearers followed by Don James, TH Lockard, Bob Millinich, Bob Morton, Richard Russell, Sid Thompson, Gene Toschi, Rick Twisselman.
Bakersfield is a great community and as I am writing this blog, unusually at the end of the day instead of the beginning, I see the burst of flowers in the backyard and the burst of yellow from the calla lily. So here is a calla lily for you, my community, for all that you do on a daily basis to support each other and support the students at BC.
Now, back to Tharrell Ming…..Monsignor Craig Harrison was his usual remarkable self, funny, warm, comforting and efficient with the mass. We are blessed to have Father Craig (as he is warmly referred to) in our community. The music was minimal and powerful and here are two songs that I listened to throughout the rest of the day. And whatever your religious leanings or non-religious leanings for that matter, I am sure these two songs will move your spirit and soul as it did mine sitting with hundreds of community members this morning at St. Francis.
Shephard me O God with acoustic guitar on youtube.com
I googled the musical composition of Psalm 23 and learned from the United Methodist Church website that Marty Haugen had composed the haunting melody for the lyrics. For more on Marty Haugen, check out:
How Great Thou Art. Maybe this is a non-traditional approach to have the Elvis version here in my blog. But here I go…..
Here’s to a great Renegade, Tharrell Ming.
I started my day early today preparing for a morning meeting with the two Vice Presidents, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg and Zav Dadabhoy, of Bakersfield College at Starbucks. There were a few things that came up that required this early morning meeting on a Saturday during summer. I know…. crazy…. but that’s what faculty and staff do at BC! The talent, commitment and dedication of faculty, staff and administrators at the college is just remarkable. We are…BC! It is a good time to be at BC!
Here are a few highlights from the week:
BC wins an award for transfer degrees.
Earlier this month we received an email from the President of the Campaign for College Opportunity, Michele Siqueiros, that Bakersfield College was one of 13 community colleges in the state being recognized for the growth in the number of transfer degrees. The event was held in Sacramento in June 2nd, Thursday, and the BC team that headed north to receive the award included: Trustee Dennis Beebe, Dean of Instruction Kate Pluta and Faculty member David Koeth.
The Campaign for College Opportunity is a group dedicated to advancing the educational attainment levels in California by impacting policy at the state level. The staff are great. A special thank you to Michele Siqueiros, President; Audrey Dow, Vice President, External Affairs and Operations; Linda Vasquez, Regional Affairs Director. For more check out their website at http://collegecampaign.org/.
Here is a picture with the group from Bakersfield that included Dolores Huerta who received a lifetime achievement award and her daughter Camilla Chavez. Congratulations Dolores!
We also connected with Connie Conway, a wonderful member of the Board of Governors for California Community Colleges and now a member of the Board of Directors of the Campaign for College Opportunity. Also, the fabulous Dean Florez, who is an advocate for education and in particular Bakersfield College.
Thank you Trustee Beebe for making this long trip to support BC receiving the award. It is always wonderful to have our Board members celebrating with us.
In the Bakersfield Californian:
The piece on Corny Rodriguez which was in the Bakersfield Magazine was published in the June 2nd issue of the Californian along with Odella Johnson’s piece on BC’s promising professionals.
I loved the opening by Laura Liera about Corny
On his 10th birthday, Cornelio Rodriguez was picking strawberries in Artesia during the early hours of the morning instead of making a birthday wish. He spent summers picking okra in Indio and Coachella and was even driving his dad’s gardening truck by the age of 12.
Here is another excerpt from the article:
But after a conversation with his dad, a visit to the career center led to the applications of Cerritos College, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, UCLA and USC.
It was a Tuesday when the first college acceptance letter came in. Rodriguez was accepted to USC.
“I got scared because we were so poor and I couldn’t afford to go,” Rodriguez remembered. “I was panicking because I thought I had gotten my family into trouble.”
The next day, the UCLA acceptance letter arrived.
“I said, ‘Dear Lord, now I have to go to TWO colleges?’” Rodriguez said.
Check out the Californian: http://tinyurl.com/ztwbxva
This is a must-read piece written by Odella Johnson. Johnson writes about the Promising Professionals and highlights the story of two students — Tamika Narvaez and Linda Esquivel. She writes about Tamika
Students like Tamika Narvaez, a mother of eight who survived abuse and arrived on campus to complete the requirements to transfer, demonstrates how BC delivers student initiatives that allow them to take critical next steps, which result in positive academic outcomes.
Linda Esquivel, a local graduate of South High School and a first- generation college student, left the community to attend San Francisco State University in fall 2013 and, after a semester, left to attend Bakersfield College for financial reasons. Believing that she would not fit in, she felt frustrated and uncertain about the next steps in her journey; however, when she became a student ambassador/ Promising Professional, she admitted that “BC made my future possible,” so with a renewed spirit, Esquivel’s next steps include attending a predoctoral program at the University of Michigan and Penn State this summer.
Johnson ends the article with:
Narvaez and Esquivel’s diversity as students is our strength and we recognize their potential. They embody the spirit of Promising Professionals – students who have passion and purpose.
For more: http://tinyurl.com/h74g7np
On June 2nd, Kristen Barnes, CEO of Kern Community Foundation and a great partner of BC wrote a wonderful Community Voices piece–Philanthropy Matters: Growing Scholarships, Growing Futures. Here is an excerpt:
Scholarships close the funding gap students experience. They are one way to provide critical financial support for students – to help make higher education a reality. In many cases, the financial assistance provided by scholarships is a key factor. Gifts for scholarships help students to invest their energies more fully in their course work and pursue internships and leadership opportunities that enrich their personal development and career preparation.
For more, check out http://tinyurl.com/jg47rwq
At Rotary West
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to visit the Bakersfield West Rotary Club. The club went all out with BC colors for the table decorations and traditional “flying saucer” cookies that have been a staple on BC’s campus for decades.
Local CPA and BC alum Fred Misono hosted the meeting in West Rotary President Roger Griess’ absence, keeping the event light and funny.
I was able to give a brief history of the College and recount some of our recent accomplishments. Jay Rosenlieb shared the podium as a member of BC’s Blue Ribbon Committee that is working on a facilities initiative for the college — A Better BC 2016…2066. This initiative, if approved by the KCCD Board of Trustees in July, could becomes a bond measure on the November 2016 election. Thank you Jay for taking the time to co-present with me. Check out the the website at http://www.abetterbc.com/
I must say that this is a fun club. There is a lot of teasing back and forth and great camaraderie and fellowship. At the end of the presentation, all about Bakersfield College, President Misono presents me with a Taft College T-shirt 🙂 I attempt to get away but he was too quick for me.
Acting President Misono made the day very special for Bakersfield College. He then followed up with the photos and wonderfully warm and fun emails after the meeting. Thank you Russell Johnson, John Pryor, John Fallgatter and others at Bakersfield West for your support. Rick Kreiser, thank you for that great introduction and your service to the Bakersfield College Foundation for so many years. You are the best! and thank you Tom Gelder, for getting BC on the agenda.
Honoring Our Veterans on Memorial Day:
Last weekend, I hope you had a chance to stop by and walk around Riverwalk Park or at least drive by to catch a glimpse of the incredible view. Memorial Day is regularly celebrated on the last Monday of May thanks to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, but did you know its roots go back to 1868 when the day was originally known as Decoration Day? “On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery” (History.com).
It’s always humbling to reflect on the sacrifice that so many men and women have made and continue to make for the United States and her people. The Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club (BBRC) is a group of local community members who through their leadership and friendship, get things done in our community and for the past few years, they have lead a project of planting one thousand flags at Riverwalk Park over Memorial Day weekend.
Volunteers, sponsors, and the BBRC make this annual event, including activities and formal ceremonies at the park possible. What a great way to be reminded of our freedom, liberty, and justice thanks to our courageous service men and women. Liz Rozell, Mary Jo Pasek, Marlene, Heise, Cheryl Scott and others at BBRC, you did a fantastic job!
I would also like to share an email I received from Paul Beckworth, our veterans faculty lead at Bakersfield College. He sent this last Monday – Memorial Day:
Memorial Day Message 2016
The warrior-poet, King David, wrote, “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.” This quote may sound familiar to any fan of the Tom Hanks, World War II epic, Saving Private Ryan. It is quoted in earnest by the in-residence sniper, Pvt. Jackson, during a pivotal scene in the film. Inevitably, most of the cast is killed off, as was our popcorn. However, we know life is not a movie and memories of comrades lost do not go away when the lights go on.
So, what of Memorial Day? What of those men and women whose hands were taught to war and fingers to fight, who lie still in the ground on this warm May evening? This is not about the history of Memorial Day. You can go look that up on Wikipedia. But, what of those who we remember and honor today? Today, we see the aged World War II and Korean War veterans, canes in hand, gait a bit unsteady, but minds sharp when recalling battlefields of another time. Today, they see the friends they lost on those battlefields. Today, we see 28 year-old OIF/OEF veterans with physical and emotional scars of Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, they see their lost friends buried at Arlington or the Bakersfield National Cemetery. Today, we see tatted up, motorcycle riding, leather vest, patch wearing, Vietnam veterans who speak of Tet, and of Khe Sanh. Today, they see lost buddies who did not get the due deserved them thanks to a divided nation and a callous youth population who called them baby killers.
Today is not about the bullet that barely missed its mark. Today is about the person whose bullet that found its’ mark. Today is about the forever young sailor who drowned on the USS Indianapolis, or was killed on the destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts, while fighting toe to toe with Japanese battleships in what became known as the “Last stand of the tin can sailors.” Today is about the Rangers killed taking Point du Hoc on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the airborne paratrooper of the 101st or 82nd who never made it out of his chute alive. Today is about the 1,170 corpsman killed during World War II, often cut down while responding to the blood curdling cry of “Corpsman up!” Today is about the Marine who never left Guadalcanal, Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima, or Okinawa. Today is about the pilots who never returned to the airfield, or the submariners who are now on “eternal patrol.” Today is about the young Coastie who maneuvered his landing craft on to the battered shores of Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio only to stay ashore forever.
Today we remember. We memorialize the “Frozen Chosin” dead who were carefully carried out by the living rather than being left behind in the rugged mountains of North Korea. Today is about those killed on countless hills in Korea, so numerous to count they were simply numbered by height. Today is about those who fell defending the Pusan Perimeter, and those who never left the beaches of Inchon.
Today is about those that this country dishonored in so many ways that it is a stain on the honor of this nation. Today is about those nearly 60,000 Americans killed in Vietnam. Today is about those who did not evade the draft, but answered to the nation’s call, despite often not understanding what that call was all about. Today is about those were cut down in the hot, steamy, jungles and in the highlands, in Hueys and in huts. Today is not about those who were cursed at when they returned home but about those who were cursed at, despite never making it home.
Today is about Cold War warriors who died doing special operations and of Gulf War warriors, whose deaths were few, yet nonetheless paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Today is about Fallujah Marines who are now at Arlington or other national cemeteries. Today is about those who never left the Triangle of Death. Today is about the Helmand Province men who are finally still.
The warrior-poet wrote King David wrote, “A thousand fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” Today is about the thousand who fell at the left side and the ten thousand who fell at the right hand. So, today, let us, the living, be comforted and know that those whose hands were taught to fight are at rest. Today, let us, the living, be comforted and know that today and for eternity, those who fingers were made to war are finally at peace.
Let us remember.