Tag Archives: TJ Cox

Thankful to be a Renegade

We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving

Definitely feeling the holiday weather settling in around us with the crispy cool mornings, the holiday lights starting to blanket the neighborhood, and the holiday spirit of generosity and goodwill warming our hearts. My brother sent me this beautiful music video of talented young artists performing We are the World from Manipur a state in the northeastern part of India.

Let’s check out the original version USA for Africa — We are the World.

Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, November 30, 2019… Do you feel the warmth and love in the air… A great day to be a Renegade.

Giving Thanks

November is a time of year when we gather around our loved ones and celebrate the things for which we are thankful.  Since the first Thanksgiving in 1621, this tradition has carried on from generation to generation of American families. 

In this time of giving thanks, I looked back over my blog posts from earlier this year and enjoyed seeing photos of students, graduates, alumni, supporters, faculty, and staff.  I am truly blessed to be the president of the best college the nation. Thank you!

As you can see, there really is so much to be thankful for this year!

HEAL Summit

Last week, BC organized and hosted an important conversation on how we can transform health in California’s rural communities. Health care professionals got the chance to connect with medical researchers, educators and policy makers at the BC Delano Campus for the Rural Poverty and Health Equity Summit, coming together to share all of the hard work that they do every day to make the Central Valley a healthier place to live.

This event is one of many that our stakeholders in health care and education will be organizing as part of the Rural Health Equity and Learning (HEAL) Collaborative. The HEAL collaborative came together when Dr. Kathy Murphy, started connecting educational institutions in response to a grant proposal and four months later, is now a thriving six-county network of organizations committed to improving health, education and economic outcomes in rural communities throughout CA’s Central Valley. 

If you are interested in joining the HEAL collaborative or if you know of an institution throughout our region that would be interested, please check out the HEAL website to get started.

Some of the most dire health outcomes in the Central Valley are related to poverty and the absence of accessible resources in our rural communities. Education is an important solution to these difficult societal issues… several sources, including the Partners for Rural Transformation and the Center for Disease Control, indicate that people with higher levels of education have lower rates of chronic disease and make healthier choices for themselves and their families.

Norma Rojas has been a passionate member of the the Rural HEAL Collaborative, and served as the emcee for our summit last week.

Norma Rojas-Mora
Congressman TJ Cox

Congressman TJ Cox is active at the federal level to help the citizens of California’s 21st District live healthier lives. Cox serves on several congressional committees and caucuses related to community health, including the Asthma and Allergy Caucus, which is introducing funding to support remote respiratory care and access to asthma medications. He is also working on legislation to address opioid addiction, the vaping epidemic, diabetes, and hydrocephalus, a condition that causes an abnormal buildup of spinal fluid in the brain.

Panel 1

Dr. Kathleen Murphy, a pediatrician at Valley Children’s Hospital and an advisory board member for the Rural HEAL Initiative moderated our first panel about forming networks of collaboration to address health crises.

Dr. Kathleen Murphy
The Summit crowd was at max capacity!
Russell Judd, Nancy Burke, Sonya Christian, Tania Pacheco

The first speaker on the rural collaborative panel was Kern Medical CEO Russell Judd, who talked about founding the Valley Fever Institute to advance conversations on treatments for this devastating disease. Most of the important findings on valley fever are published directly out of Kern Medical Center, and the institute takes a 3-pronged approach of research, treatment and outreach to lift the burden off San Joaquin families who fight against Valley Fever every day. Last month, the group organized a town hall forum on Valley Fever at the Indoor Theater featuring TJ Cox.

Russell Judd
Sonya Christian and Russell Judd

Dr. Tania Pacheco-Werner is the Assistant Director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute, an organization established at Fresno State in 2002 to provide data and information on health policy issues in Central California. The group provides local experts and decision makers with data to help them take the appropriate action for Central Valley health outcomes while highlighting some overlooked systemic problems that are at the root causes of many health issues.

Dr. Tania Pacheco-Werner

Dr. Nancy Burke has relied on the help of community partners to build UC Merced’s Public Health program from the ground up, building collaborations with national, local and regional organizations to engage youth in public health policy. UC Merced has established the Nicotine and Cannabis Policy Center to research the harmful effects of vaping, and they’ve launched a separate initiative to address racial and poverty gaps in oral health care for children.

Nancy Burke and Sonya Christian

I was the last presenter in the first panel, and briefly highlighted two collaborative projects to address poverty — Early College partnership with the rural high schools and our collaboration with Housing and Urban Development to address low income student housing needs.

Panel 2

Our second panel revolved around air quality, which is linked to many negative health outcomes for millions of people throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Emanuel Alcala with the Central Valley Health Policy Institute moderated the air quality panel and provided an overview of our air quality problem. The Central Valley has some of the worst air in the country, particularly in rural areas that are centered around large industrial pollution sources.

Emanuel Alcala
Emanuel Alcala, Kevin Hamilton, Dr. Sandie Ha, and John Moua

Kevin Hamilton from the Central California Asthma Collaborative described the challenges with diagnosing health problems related to air quality. Poor air quality can cause stress reactions in the body that manifest as any number of symptoms, and low-income communities of color don’t have the means to address the causal factors of their illnesses, so minor issues develop into major disorders that require emergency treatment.

Kevin Hamilton

UC Merced Public Health professor Sandie Ha talked about neonatal impacts in the Central Valley are affected by poor air quality and the importance of measuring indoor as well as outdoor air quality. She also emphasized the challenge in getting people to recognize the risks of poor air quality, including wide-ranging implications from blood pressure to diabetes.

Sandie Ha
Left to right: Kevin Hamilton, Sandie Ha, and John Moua

UCSF Fresno professor John Moua’s presentation focused on the implicit biases that many physicians have when they diagnose respiratory issues. Asthma rates are significantly higher in the Central Valley than the rest of the state, yet many primary care physicians are not up-to-date on the latest advancements in respiratory treatment. Many poorer families are also challenged to manage costs when they can barely put food on the table, Moua explained.

John Moua

Panel 3

TJ Cox moderated the panel on substance abuse issues, which is one of the issues that he’s most passionate about championing on Capitol Hill. While there are 70 million estimated drug users in the United States, Cox said that only 15 percent seek treatment for addiction, and substance use is on the rise with the teen vaping epidemic and the prevalence of prescription opioid abuse.

Congressman TJ Cox

Anna Song is with the UC Merced Nicotine and Cannabis Policy Center. The group is working on creating smoke-free shared housing units for students, instituting smoking bans in parks, and providing parents with information about vaping lung disease and how to tell if their children are vaping.

Anna Song
Left to right: Anna Song, David Rohac, and Dr. Rais Vohra

Dr. Rais Vohra teaches family medicine at UCSF Fresno and serves as the Regional Director of the California Bridge program, which encourages evidence-based substance use disorder treatment, hospitality for addicts, and linkages to ongoing care and support groups. He shared some innovative new developments happening in the world of substance use treatment, including the advent of substance use navigators available in emergency rooms to advocate for patients with substance use problems, provide referrals to outside support services, and raise awareness about harm reduction medications like methadone and suboxone.

Dr. Rais Vohra

David Rohac is a psychology faculty here at BC, and I was excited to hear him share his research about prenatal alcohol exposure. This important research is published in a chapter of the book “Neuroscience of Alcohol: Mechanisms and Treatment”, which is used in the curriculum for many college courses concerning alcohol addiction and substance use. The research shows that early exposure to alcohol in the womb can negatively influence a fetus’ development, and exposure to alcohol within the first trimester is more dangerous to fetal development than exposure to heroin. Prenatal alcohol exposure can be especially dangerous, as alcohol is more socially acceptable than other drugs, people have misconceptions about how dangerous alcohol actually is, and families often don’t know that they’re pregnant until late in the first trimester.

David Rohac
Nora Dominguez, Julianne McCall. David Rohac, Sonya Christian

Panel 4

Cindy Collier opened the last panel of the summit on developing compassionate, informed health care professionals. Approximately 7 million Californians live in areas with a shortage of health professionals, and many of them are in rural areas right here in the Central Valley. That number is projected to increase in the next decade if we aren’t proactive in training the next generation of health care professionals to close that gap.

Cindy Collier

Dr. Serena Yang, the Chief of Pediatrics at UCSF Fresno, expanded on that conversation, describing the ways that poverty and lack of transportation exacerbate provider shortages. The primary predictors for where a health professional will choose to work is based on where they train and where they can reap the most financial benefit, and Yang emphasized the importance of loan repayment programs to encourage our best and brightest to stay right here in the Central Valley.

Dr. Serena Yang

Adventist Health has been one of our partners with the Rural HEAL Collaborative, and CEO Sharlet Briggs described the challenges that she faces in trying to maintain a diverse and properly-trained workforce to meet the Central Valley’s needs. She emphasized their need for more physicians assistants and LVNs to serve as a bridge between patients and doctors. She also expressed the importance of expanding the specialized care in rural areas. Finally, she outlined the ways that provider shortage is only a part of the problem, and we need to be looking at how we can address homelessness, mental health and poverty.

Left to right: Sharlet Briggs, Dr. Serena Yang, and Thelma Hurd
Sharlet Briggs
Thelma Hurd

UC Merced’s Director of Medical Education Thelma Hurd emphasized the role of academic support as the key to reducing the health workforce shortage in the Central Valley. Only 20 percent of students who enter a medical program actually go on to work in the medical field. With the right support and mentorship through organizations like MESA, we can make sure that our students aren’t falling through the cracks even as we reduce the equity barriers that keep many low income students of color out of the medical field. She also talked about developing programs to get children interested in STEM and health careers as early as elementary school.

Sonya Christian and Thelma Hurd

Closing

At the close of the summit, we were all excited to hear from Julianne McCall, a neuroscientist and representative from Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office of Planning and Research. She praised all of the attendees for participating in this broad-reaching discussion about making medical practices more equitable for all Californians, and shared information with the group about a new innovation known as precision medicine.

Julianne McCall

Precision medicine is an emerging approach toward disease treatment and prevention that accounts for a patient’s distinctive genetics, environment and lifestyle. As this field develops, the ultimate goal is for medical treatment to be accurately individualized at the chromosomal level instead of the traditional one-size-fits-all, general population approach characteristic of current defined medical science. To jumpstart our state into this exciting future, Governor Newsom’s office launched the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine, offering grants to institutions across the state that advance precision medicine research. A requirement of the grant is for institutions to advance partnerships between researchers and their community, which will give rural communities the opportunity to provide input into the research.

One lucky raffle winner and Tamara Baker
BC staff and attendees who helped make this event possible
Abel Guzman and me

Thank you Delano Regional Medical Center and Kern Medical for being our sponsors. Thank you Abel Guzman and the Rural Initiatives team for getting the Delano Campus ready for the event. Thank you Lori Ortiz for leading the logistics. Thank you Tamara Baker and Jana Castillo for managing the event. Thank you to the planning team who put the programming together: Dr. Kathy Murphy, Dr. Nancy Burke, Norma Rojas, and Cindy Collier.

Child Development Film Festival

The Child Development departments at BC, CSUB, and Taft College came together to host a student film festival in the Indoor Theater last week.

Students from the three colleges created one-minute PSAs about working with children. The entries were then judged by a panel of notable community figures including Congressman Kevin McCarthy, KCCD Trustee Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, and Mayor Karen Goh. Students covered a diverse variety of topics in their videos, including childhood PTSD, encouraging healthy life choices, and teaching sign language at a young age. A BC student took home the first place prize with a video about special needs children.

Thank you to BC’s Bernadette Towns, Taft College’s Becky Roth, and the Child Development Team at CSUB for working together to put together a fun event for all our students.

Surveying the Homeless

Perla Villegas Samantha Pulido Sarah Aguirre Jordan Thomas Gian Gayatao
From left to right: Perla Villegas, Samantha Pulido, Sarah Aguirre, Jordan Thomas, and Gian Gayatao
Jordan Rude and Perla Villegas
Perla Villegas and Jordan Rude

On Sunday, November 24, Professor Jordan Rude organized a team from BC to help him with a data project…. surveying the homeless at Central Park. We had student volunteers from Student Life, BCSGA, and Outreach to collect data for Professor Rude by passing out surveys and collecting the responses. Thanks to the volunteers who came out to help!

Dream Big Conference Hosts Record Attendees!

On Friday, November 15, Bakersfield College hosted close to 350 high school students and chaperones during the Dream Big Conference. Focused on promoting college going among first-generation, English Learners, and migrant students, the Dream Big Conference provided an engaging experience in a variety of formats to help students understand opportunities and ways of paying for college

Staff and student volunteers ready to greet students and chaperones!

The day began with breakfast and a welcome provided by Dr. Anna Laven, AB 540 Program Manager. Attendees then heard from a moderated student panel facilitated by Manuel Rosas, EOPS Counselor and LUPE Faculty Advisor.

Volunteers for the event including staff members, student assistants and student leaders.

Following the student panel, attendees were introduced to the campus through an engaging scavenger hunt led by Marcela Gamino, EOPS and CARE Educational Advisor. Students then heard presentations on three topics, including career education, the EOPS, AB 540 and NextUp Programs, and opportunities provided by our rural initiatives. The day ended with an informative session on paying for college facilitated by the Southern San Joaquin Valley Cal-SOAP Consortium.

College Experience Panel (left to right): Jovana (Panel Moderator) Mayra, Marlene, Erick, Pedro, Mayra, Elizabeth, Manuel Rosas (Panel Moderator & LUPE Faculty Advisor)

Co-leads organizing the event included Angela Blanco, KHSD Education Liaison, Dr. Anna Laven, Maria Baltazar, NextUp and CalWORKs Program Manager, and Jaime Lopez, Rural Initiatives Program Manager.

Renegades We’re Thankful For: Matthew Moon

My name is Ramon Carreido, and I am a sophomore here at BC. During my time as a Renegade, I’ve encountered many friends, co-workers and people who have helped shape my academic career, but no one has played a bigger role than my swim coach Matt Moon.

Matt Moon and Ramon Carriedo

I am a BC athlete who has been a member of the swim team for over a year, and I’ve enjoyed the intense training and preparation that Coach Moon has put us through, whether it’s holding our breaths while swimming two lengths of the pool or throwing us into events that we’ve never swam before.

I swam for all 4 years at Wasco High, including qualifying for Valley in my junior and senior year. After high school, I knew that I wanted to keep swimming competitively, so I talked to Coach Moon the summer after graduation and decided to swim for BC. After the first week of winter training, I quickly learned that I was not in high school anymore. We start the day off at 6 a.m. with one hour of weight training and another in the pool before going to class, only to come back at 2:30 p.m. for another 2-hour practice, which was a big change from our regular routine at Wasco High.

Many athletes don’t get to work with coaches that practice what they preach, but Coach Moon is in the weight room getting reps in before we even arrive at 6 a.m., and he is always there for helpful tips on diet choices and keeping our bodies in competitive shape.

Coach Moon has not only shaped my academic career but my life. After going through all of this intense training, I’ve learned that all of my hard work will eventually pay off. I have implemented this mentality into every element of my daily life while juggling school, my job as a student working in the Marketing office, and swim. I know that all of my efforts will only make me a stronger person. This Thanksgiving, I’m super blessed to swim for Coach Moon here at BC.

Renegades We’re Thankful For: Eric Carrillo and Dylan Wang

My name is Juan Reyes, and I am a sophomore student and student employee at BC. I’m thankful for Eric Carrillo and Dylan Wang, the graphic designers for BC’s Marketing and Public Relations. I’m glad to have their friendship and guidance throughout my time as a student worker, and I’m grateful for the time we’ve spent in the office together.

Eric Carrillo and Dylan Wang and sonya christian
Graphic Designers Eric Carrillo (left) and Dylan Wang (right) received a President’s Leadership Award earlier this year.

Eric and Dylan always make Ramon and I feel welcomed and encourage us to talk about our experiences to learn from one another. Thank you Eric and Dylan for being amazing coworkers and friends.

Fun Photos

Budget Open Forum

The semi-annual Budget Open Forum occurred last Monday in the Levan Center.  This informative event featured presentations by Mike Giacomini and Teresa McAllister.

Juan Torres Delivers Grapes

Tarina Perry sent over this photo of Juan Torres, Delano Site Operations Coordinator, who often brings our office fresh-picked grapes from local vendors.

Carlos Barbaran Stays Dry

On Wednesday, Carlos Barbara had a unique way to stay dry in the rain.

Carlos Barbara

Seen on Social Media: Thankful Faculty

Erin Auerbach, BC Journalism faculty, posted recently that she’s thankful for opportunities like these for our students. Way to go, KGET!

Love this picture that Alberto Vargas clicked of Nicky and me.

Football Lands Nine on the SCFA North All-Conference List

Our football team just wrapped up their 2019 season and we have nine student athletes from the team that were honored this week with post-season honors. Congrats to the following players and thanks for representing BC with pride!

SCFA North First Team All-Conference

SCFA Noth 2nd-Team All-Conference

Skydiving into Memorial Stadium

Enjoy this video from our final home football game of the year when skydivers from Skydive San Joaquin Valley parachuted down to the field of Memorial Stadium with the game ball and the American flag. What a view!

Renegade Athletes of the Week

Renegade Athletics is proud to announce this week’s (11/10-11/16) Kern Schools Federal Credit Union Renegades of the Week:

Emma Gross, Women’s Soccer – Emma anchored the Renegade defense in games last week against Santa Monica and Antelope Valley as the team closed out the 2019 regular season. Emma was also honored this week as a member of the 2019 CCCAA All-State Team, an honor given to only four defenders in the state. 

Edgar Gonzalez, Men’s Soccer – Edgar assisted on three of the four goals scored by the Renegades last week as the team clinched its first conference championship in school history. This week Edgar was also named to the CCCAA All-Region team, the WSC South 1st Team and as WSC South Offensive Player of the Year. 

Loved the way our Renegade Basketball players do a dance move when one of them scores a 3-pointer. Check it out.

We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day, just you and me

Sonya Christian


That’s all for now.

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.

sonya-
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Live simply…so others can simply live

Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, October 5, 2019… A great day to be a Renegade.

What a week…. started with Arun Gandhi visiting BC and Delano and ended the week in San Diego at a statewide meeting. Snapped some great photos, and snuck away one evening to check out Old Town San Diego.

Sunset Oct 2 2019….. Don’t forget your three wishes

Old Town San Diego is home to the first European colonial settlement in California. The San Diego Presidio and Mission San Diego Alcala were established in 1769. The mission was later moved further up the San Diego River, but the Presidio remained the center of town until the 1860s, when Alonzo Horton developed present-day downtown San Diego.

Today, visitors can wander through lush gardens, browse in shops for unique treasures, indulge great Mexican food, listen to strolling mariachis, tour a haunted building, or spend a day at a museum. Year round, Old Town is the place to be for food, folklore, and fun. For dinner, I had a chille releno and sopapillas which were delicious … although I must say that the sopapillas in New Mexico are the best I have had yet.

It seemed that there were many celebrating birthdays at the restaurant. Got introduced to the song Las Mananitas that is traditionally sung to wake up loved ones on their birthdays. So here it is for those of you celebrating your birthdays this weekend.

Arun Gandhi Speaks in Delano

This week’s visit by Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, made me go back and watch clips from Richard Attenborough’s 1983 movie Gandhi, which won a total of 8 Oscars including best picture, best director, and best actor.

Here are some clips, starting with a 2:37-min clip from the movie on his early years in South Africa.

A 2:43-minute clip

The funeral scene

Chamber Singers with Dr. Jen Garrett perform two pieces… You Will Be Found, and Bridge Over Troubled Water

Abel Guzman captured a side view of the Chamber Singers performing these two songs on facebook live.

When Dr. Arun Gandhi took the stage at Delano High’s RFK Auditorium on Monday, he started by asking the audience to participate in a thought experiment. He had everyone pair up, asking one person to hold their fist clenched as tightly as possible, while the other person did anything they could to get it open. After a few seconds struggling to force their partner’s hand open, he asked a simple follow-up question, “Did anyone ask their partner if they would open their hand?” This simple exercise helped motivate the primary theme of Arun Gandhi’s talk, the pervasiveness of violence in our everyday lives and how by reducing the passive violence within ourselves we can reduce acts of physical violence and conflict in our larger society.

The grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Arun’s appearance in Delano is one of the highlights of a full year of programming honoring the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth in 1869. Arun grew up in South Africa in the 1940s and became full of anger at a young age as he fell victim to prejudice in his home country. For his well-being, his parents sent him to live with his grandparents at the Sevagram ashram in India for two years. During that time, “Grandfather,” as Arun simply calls him, taught him how to channel his anger and react peacefully. Arun’s stories about his time at Sevagram are collected in his most recent book, The Gift of Anger and Other Lessons from My Grandfather.

Arun’s time with both of his grandparents taught him about anger, and in fact he says that it was his grandmother that taught his grandfather that reacting in anger was ineffective. He tells more about his grandmother in his book The Forgotten woman: The Untold Story of Kastur Gandhi.

I was happy to see that three of our trustees were able to attend this event — Trustee Romeo Agbalog, Trustee Jack Canale, and Trustee Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg

Arun described how physical violence is what most of us think of with the word violence, but there is also non-physical violence, or passive violence. When we over consume or waste abundant resources for our own comfort, we are acting with passive violence against the environment and humanity. Passive violence creates the conditions for and fuels physical violence, so recognizing that in our own actions becomes the conduit of change. We can stop over consuming and wasting our resources. Arun’s grandfather taught him that we must, “live simply so others can simply live.” 

Arun spoke of great leaders such as Cesar Chavez and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who studied Grandfather, even as he advised that their work was not done, and that we will not get rid of violence and know peace until we stop subjugating others, identifying people by labels, and judging others. To know peace, we must accept each other as human beings.

Sonya Christian with Arun Gandhi

In response to a question, Arun Gandhi said there is no more honorable work than manual labor and to never be ashamed of working in the fields. He stressed that education is not just for upward mobility, but for better understanding, and to never stop educating yourself as education is about enlightenment.

BC history professor Oliver Rosales moderated a Q&A session with Arun Gandhi, asking what his grandfather would think about the ways that his approach to non-violent political protest influenced Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and countless other civil rights leaders over the last century. Arun responded that while Grandfather’s philosophy of “ahimsa” or non-violence is effective for resolving grievances between conflicting cultures, it is primarily a tool for self-improvement and growth, and people will continue to engage in the same conflicts over and over until they evolve to address the root causes of conflict within themselves.

See a short clip of his response in this Bakersfield Californian video.

Check out Robert Price‘s piece on the front page of The Bakersfield Californian “‘Never submit to cowardice,’ another Gandhi urges.”

Loved the coverage from Univision where the reporter talked to students as well as Abel Guzman, BC’s Exec Director of Rural Initiatives.

https://www.univision.com/local/fresno-kftv/nieto-de-gandhi-comparte-ensenanzas-con-estudiantes-del-condado-kern-video

Also KGET: https://tinyurl.com/y5n3f3kx

I want to recognize the person who really brought the community wide celebrations to life, Dr. Naina Patel. BC got engaged with these celebrations when Naina texted me on January 4, 2019 inviting us to participate. Thank you Naina Patel!

Dr. Naina Patel

Thank you Dr. Nicky Damania and the Office of Student Life, Abel Guzman, Executive Director of Rural Initiatives, Rene Ayon, Principal of Delano High School, Delores Rodriguez, Principal of RFK and everyone in the Renegade family who made his visit as warm and welcoming as possible.

Here are some fun pictures of the BC Team that made it happen.

The Gandhi Celebration will continue throughout the Fall semester. On October 25, you can check out the BC Choir and Chamber Singers at the Building Bridges in the World event, which will honor Gandhi’s legacy through singing and accompaniment by the Synergy String Quartet.

Distinguished Speaker Series: Erin Gruwell

Teachers can truly have a remarkable impact on their students’ lives. Our Distinguished Speaker from this past Wednesday, Erin Gruwell, is a perfect example of this. When assigned freshman English classes full of students that nobody believed could really succeed, she was determined to make a difference. Her heart and determination led her to capture her students’ stories in journals, which lead to the start of The Freedom Writers Foundation and the publication of The Freedom Writer’s Diary, a book composed of the students’ true stories written in Gruwell’s class.

Erin Gruwell

After the success of the Freedom Writers Diary, the story of Gruwell and the Freedom Writers was later adapted into a 2007 film starring Hilary Swank. Check out the trailer of the movie on youtube.

Gruwell lead a series of presentations in the Indoor Theater, getting very emotional in the process while showing clips from the “Freedom Writers” movie to describe how close they were to what actually happened. She brought out special guest Narrada Comans, one of the original Freedom Writers, who talked about the ups and downs of his life as a Freedom Writer over the last 20 years, and what a difference it made to be able to share his story and have the voice that “Ms. G” gave him.

Joining the audience in the Indoor Theater to hear the powerful message of Erin Gruwell and Narrada Comans were more than 500 dual enrollment students from Independence, Bakersfield, Mira Monte, Frontier, Ridgeview, McFarland, Vista, Cesar E. Chavez, Delano, and Robert F. Kennedy high schools. When the Dual Enrollment Department heard that Erin Gruwell would be coming to speak at BC, they purchased 500 copies of The Freedom Writer’s Diary to put into our dual enrollment classrooms across the county. These students were excited to meet Gruwell and her former student Narada in real life, and there were many emotional moments as students came to get their books signed and shared a bit of their own stories. 

Erin Gruwell and friend on stage

I would like to thank Erin Gruwell and Narrada Comans for being a part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. I would also like to thank BCSGA and the Cerro Author Series committee for putting this event on and continuing to bring great guests.

Erin Gruwell on stage

Our next Distinguished Speaker will be Dr. Paula Green from the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, who will be giving a presentation in Forum 101 on October 23. I hope to see you there!

Valley Fever Town Hall

On New Years Day in 2012, Rob Purdie woke up with an aggressively painful headache that wouldn’t go away. His energy felt depleted, and any amount of light in his eyes would intensify the migraines even further. As the weeks passed, he visited several doctors to try to find a cause, but none of them could give an answer.

Valley Fever Town Hall panel

By Valentine’s Day of that year, Purdie was hospitalized with Valley Fever, and the doctors at Kern Medical were beginning the months-long fight to save his life.

Valley Fever Town Hall panel

Purdie was one of the panelists for a town hall on Valley Fever at the Indoor Theater on Thursday. Congressman TJ Cox and the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical organized the event, which provided the public with essential information on one of the deadliest diseases in the Central Valley, with approximately 3,000 cases diagnosed in Kern County alone last year.

Valley Fever Town Hall panel

Congressman Cox briefly spoke at the beginning of the event about what his team is doing to bring awareness of Valley Fever to the nation’s capital, with the hopes of securing financial resources for increased research into treatment. His comments were followed by the Valley Fever Institute, a panel of world-class medical experts who are working to save those affected with Valley Fever while conducting clinical trials and research to minimize the symptoms and eventually cure the disease.

Valley Fever Town Hall panel

Purdie’s story is typical for the majority of people afflicted with Valley Fever, as the nature of the symptoms make it difficult for a doctor to discover the cause if they don’t know to look for it. Valley Fever is caused by breathing in airborne spores of a fungus that is prevalent in the soil throughout the Southwestern US, but occurs in Central California in particular. The symptoms typically manifest as a flu that never ends. By the time that Valley Fever is usually diagnosed weeks or even months after symptoms appear, the disease has progressed into life-threatening complications.

Valley Fever Town Hall panel

The Valley Fever Institute aims to increase awareness of the disease so that people can be aware of the symptoms and let their primary care physicians know when they might need to be tested. To prevent getting Valley Fever, the institute recommends taking preventative safety measures like watering the ground when working or playing around soil and dirt.

Valley Fever Town Hall panel

At the end of their presentation, members of the Valley Fever Institute took questions from the audience about the economic impact of the disease, as well as what low-income patients can do to secure resources for treatment, which can cost thousands of dollars per month.

KGET Channel 17’s Eytan Wallace was in attendance to provide local media coverage for the event. Visit KGET.com to read more.

Thank you to Congressman Cox and the Valley Fever Institute for this important informational event, as well as everyone at BC who helped provide a welcoming space for this event to occur.

Early College Football Night

Pictured, in no particular order: Steve Watkin, Mayor Karen Goh, Jean Fuller, Romeo Agbalog, Brian Bell (McFarland High School Principal), Tony Cordova, Kimberly Bligh, Aaron Resendez (McFarland Unified School District Superintendent), Jim Beltran (McFarland USD Board of Trustees President), and Angel Turrubiates (McFarland USD Board of Trustees Vice President)

I was so happy to have Early College students from McFarland High School Early College and Arvin High School join me at last Saturday’s home football game! Before the game began, students were invited to a resource fair where our wonderful CTE, Counseling, Umoja, EOPS, Next Step, Finish in 4, Outreach, Rural Initiatives and Early College teams were giving out swag and information to these young Renegades. The students also enjoyed free tacos and played lawn games together while waiting for the football game to start.

Early college football night
Pictured, in no particular order: Jean Fuller, Russell Fuller, Jerene Bastisti, Pam Chambers, Dana Brennen, Joe Brennen, Courtney Dunbar, Lindsay Mayo, Kaelyn Peterson, Brent Peterson, Annie Beard, and Jeremy Beard 

The game started with McFarland Unified School District Superintendent Aaron Resendez doing the coin toss, and at halftime we had two Early College students compete to win the relay challenge. Both students left winners, with prizes provided by our Athletics Department.

Check out these great photos of KCCD Trustee Romeo Agbalog and McFarland School District Superintendent Aaron Resendez being interviewed at halftime by Vance Palm

And, here are some great shots of our amazing new football field!

Thank you to Kylie Swanson and Early College, Outreach, and Athletics for providing this exciting event for our Early College students. I can’t wait to do this again next year!

Here are some pictures — thank you Mayor Karen Goh.

New Employee Orientation

Bakersfield College has a new way to connect with our employees. This week kicked off our New Employee Orientation, welcoming recent classified and management employees with a full-day orientation designed to get them acclimated to the college and more knowledgeable about BC processes and structure. We welcomed employees from financial aid, athletics, food services, and many others.

BC new employees group shot
Front row, left to right: Rena Hamblin, Michelle Puentes, Michelle Kruse, Lysander Ramos
Back row, left to right: Benjamin Balderama, Jonathan Hernandez, Jeff Keith, Alexis Pitcher, Fidel Cabuena, Nick Chidgey

Participants learned about public safety, IT, BC’s culture, and got to take a tour of the campus. Along with this orientation, Michele Bresso, Todd Coston, Dena Rhoades and Pam Rivers have developed New Classified and New Manager academies that will kick off in November, designed to continue the professional development of new employees and those who want to increase their skills.

Welcome to BC, new employees! We can’t wait to learn together.

BASECAMP 2019: Prison Educators Retreat

BC’s Inmate Scholar program and Cerro Coso Community College, in collaboration with the Corrections to College California organization and New York University’s McSilver Institute, co-hosted the first ever Prison Educators Retreat at Tehachapi Mountain Park on September 26-29. Known as BASECAMP2019: Prison Educators Retreat, the event focused on professional development opportunities and personal wellness during a multi-day and overnight retreat located in a unique natural setting, as opposed to the traditional hotel conference venue.

Inmate Scholars Program Retreat

The event was attended by nearly 80 people teaching face-to-face college programs throughout California’s prisons and jails, including Bakersfield College, Cerro Coso Community College, College of the Redwoods, Southwestern Community College, San Diego City College, Cuesta College, Antelope Valley College, Norco College, Imperial Valley College, Allan Hancock College, Columbia College, Folsom Lake College, Chaffey College, Cal State LA, and the Prison University Project in San Quentin.

Inmate Scholars Program Retreat

Bakersfield College Inmate Scholar program attendees included Dan Hall, Angelica Perez, Diana Alcala, Camilla Anderson, Heidi Forsyhe, Dana Heins-Gelder, Bryan Hirayama, Michael Muhme, Shawn Newsom, Gabriel Searcy, La-Reina Villanueva, Joseph Tipay, Sue Ann Villaros, and Sara Wallace.

Inmate Scholars Program Retreat

BC Program Managers Support the Bakersfield Homeless Center

Last Friday evening, four of BC’s program managers were spotted at the Crystal Palace in support of the Bakersfield Homeless Center at their annual Boots and Bachelor auction. Both ticket sales and bids directly support the mission and action of the Bakersfield Homeless Center, which provides services for those in need across Kern County. The BAKHC website states that the center “creates a strong safety net for homeless and at-risk families by providing a broad continuum of services which begins with basic shelter.”

Kylie Swanson, Monika Scott, Endee Grijalva, Lisa Robles
Cowgirls Kylie Swanson, Monika Scott, Endee Grijalva, and Lisa Robles roped in a good time! Yee-haw!
Lisa Robles and Endee Grijalva decked out with light-up swag
Lisa Robles and Endee Grijalva decked out with light-up swag!

Watch the video below to learn how the Bakersfield Homeless Center got started.

Phillips 66 Industrial Automation Presentation

The Career Education Department welcomed Phillips 66 on Wednesday, September 25 for an industry overview presentation of their company. Phillips 66 brought several members from their team including representatives from Lost Hills, Taft, Long Beach, their headquarters in Houston, and our very own Industrial Automation Graduate, Edwin Marroquin, who completed his Baccalaureate in May 2019.

Phillips 66 presentation and students
Phillips 66 team tours Industrial Automation labs.

The Industrial Automation students had an exclusive opportunity to meet and greet with members from their team which included their West Region Engineering Operator, Lead University Technical Recruiter and Director of University Relations. Phillips 66 was so impressed by our faculty, modern labs, and students’ participation, they envision a greater investment into the college and its programs in the future.

Phillips 66 presentation and students
Students receiving insight information from Phillips 66 team.
Phillips 66 presentation and students
Students meet and greet Phillips 66 staff.

Watch Edwin’s success story below:

You Gotta Have Faith

Librarian Faith Bradham presented a paper last December at the Library Assessment Conference in Houston, TX. This paper showcased a mixed-methods assessment of library services at BC she completed in Fall 2017. The conference proceedings have now been published and her paper is available to read now. Way to go, Faith!

Faith Bradham

Fun Photos

Outreach Reaches Out

Web Content Editor Aricia Leighton shared this great photo of the Outreach team after the Arun Gandhi event. They pulled their team together at the last minute and helped out tremendously.  Thanks, everyone!

Outreach department
Boy Scouts of America 2019 Distinguished Citizens Gene and Linda Voiland
College Council

Here are some great photos that Jennifer Serratt sent over from our College Council meeting on Friday.

Found on Facebook: Diego Gutierrez Monterrubio

Adjunct Art Professor Diego Gutierrez Monterrubio tagged me on Facebook in this photo of a beautiful sculpture he created.  The size of this piece is 18 feet tall × 16 feet long × 5 feet wide. Which is bigger: the sculpture, or his artistic talent!

Diego Gutierrez Monterrubio Art
Found on Facebook: Renegade Softball and Cheer Team at St. Vincent De Paul’s BBQ

Mary Jo Pasek had a wonderful evening with her BC family working at the St Vincent BBQ.

Found on Facebook: Partners in Arvin

Endee Grijalva, Program Manager for Adult Education, sent me this flashback to the accreditation forum, where BC saw tremendous community support from our partners in Arvin.

Left to right: Abel Guzman, Casey Yeazel (Grimmway Academy), Jesse Oropeza, Ed Watts (Arvin High Principal), Endee Grijalva, Lupe Aguirre, and Jaime Lopez

Renegades of the Week

Renegade Athletics is proud to announce this week’s (9/22-9/28) Kern Schools Federal Credit Union Renegades of the Week.

renegades of the week

Lanie Camarillo, Volleyball

In two wins last week Lanie collected 22 kills and zero errors. In the 3-1 win over Canyons (9/25) she had a .387 hitting % and in a 3-0 sweep over Glendale she had a .500 hitting %.

Bryan Gaxiola, Men’s Cross Country

With a time of 21:38 Bryan took first place at the Bakersfield Invitational in leading the men’s cross country team to their first, first place finish as a team of the season.

Men’s Basketball Serves at the Mission of Kern County

This last Saturday our men’s basketball team headed to the Kern County Mission to serve the homeless and needy people of our county. They served meals and even took the time to play basketball with the residents, and showed off their dunking abilities! Thanks Coach Righ Hughes for getting your student athletes involved in our community.

Renegade Report: Volleyball

Watch this week’s edition of the Renegade Report on the Bakersfield College Athletics Facebook page featuring our three-time conference champion volleyball team. Coach Carl Ferreira along with players sat down with host Kenny Calvin to discuss the season and who they think would play them in the movie of their life.

Renegade Athletics Scores

Upcoming Athletics Events ‘On the Hill’

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

  • Tues. 10/8 @ 4pm – Women’s Soccer vs. Citrus
  • Wed. 10/9 @ 9am – Women’s Golf hosts Bakersfield Tournament (WSC #6)
  • Fri. 10/11 @ 6pm – Wrestling vs. Moorpark

Stay Connected to Renegade Athletics

That’s all for now.

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.

sonya-
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Welcome Back, Renegades!

Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, December 14, 2019… A great day to be a Renegade.

This week I made it to the final Concerts by the Fountain performance at the Marketplace to hear Mento Buru. As I was walking up they were doing a rendition of Desaparecido by Manu Chao, that I have not been able to get out of my head.

First BC Inmate Scholars’ Graduation at Kern Valley State Prison

BC’s pioneering class of students in prison graduated on August 28, 2019 — a historic day for BC.  We had 17(!) inmate Renegades graduate and receive their associate’s degrees from Bakersfield College. This was the first commencement since the program began at Kern Valley State Prison in 2015, and there really are no words to capture the tenacity and perseverance of these students.  I’m extremely proud of them! Robert Price from the Bakersfield Californian was there to share in the experience (check out his article) and some of the great coverage from local news stations!

Make sure to check out the piece that BakersfieldNow did on the graduation!

The faculty speaker was Bryan Hirayama who focused his remarks on lifting the students with whom he started this journey in 2015. Here is an excerpt from his speech.

The hard work and dedication, discipline, and transformation of these men, there is nothing more profound than that. The impact of this education is irreversible, and the trajectory of people’s lives have forever been changed. That is truly profound! I want to thank you men for your Renegade spirit and meeting and exceeding expectations. Your success here not only gives life and hope to this program, but to your peers who may not have ever considered college prior to your success. Your work here has subtly, and arguably drastically, changed people’s perceptions of you. Most importantly, your accomplishments here have created a lane and challenge for family and friends to redefine what is possible and give higher education a chance. Men, you have affirmed through your pursuit of something more that “you are worthy” and that the deep reservoir of potential has been tapped and we can’t wait to see what’s next as you continue moving forward. We are all so proud of you men and again, congratulations. Go Gades!

Check out this short video that will give you an insight into the work.

Photo from TBC website. Photo by Robert Price

Thank you Dan Hall, Angelica Perez, Camilla Anderson and Manny Mourtzanos for all of their hard work on this program. I also want to recognize Rich McCrow who started this program at BC in 2015. Thank you Rich for working with me in launching this program that transforms lives.

First Day of Fall 2019

Classes for the 2019-2020 academic year officially started this past Saturday, but most students took their first classes of the year on August 26 and 27. BCSGA helped ease any first-day jitters by providing donuts and student planners at welcome tents next to Administration Building, Outdoor Theater and Gym Huddle on the Panorama Campus, as well as the entrances to BC SouthWest and the Delano Center. Students could also ask representatives at the welcome tents for help finding their classes.

BCSGA representatives helped incoming freshmen feel comfortable with their new college life, including providing student planners to help them be more organized and stay up-to-date with their class assignments.  I’d like to thank BCSGA for motivating our incoming students and for helping them feel more safe and welcome on the BC campus. Welcome to our new Renegades!!

BCSGA Power Lunch with Congressman TJ Cox

Congressman TJ Cox visited BC on Wednesday for the first Power Lunch of the Fall, organized by our Student Government Association.  BCSGA’s Legislative Affairs director Johnny Maddon served as the moderator for Congressman Cox, who won his seat in the House of Representatives by just 862 votes in one of the most contested races of last year’s midterm elections.

Congressman TJ Cox
Congressman TJ Cox

The room was packed, and it was exciting to see so many people connecting with local politics.  Congressman Cox spoke about how his Filipino upbringing instilled a strong sense of social justice in him that has influenced his career in politics. After leaving a successful career in engineering to start over in the Central Valley with his wife Kathleen Murphy, who was called to serve as a pediatrician at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, he was inspired by the Iraq War to run for office for the first time in 2006. Despite losing by more than 20 points in his first two campaigns, he persevered and continued his political ambitions, believing deeply that his message and commitment would resonate with Central Valley voters with the right mobilization and support.

Mike Giacomini, Chancellor Tom Burke, Congressman TJ Cox and Zav Dadabhoy

Congressman Cox was extremely engaged during his time on campus, speaking with as many students and faculty as he could, and even making a diagram of the Washington Mall out of note cards for one student who had questions about the layout of the Capitol building.  I appreciate him taking the time to answer questions from the audience on inmate education, Valley Fever, and college tuition.  

Dr. Nicky Damania, Congressman TJ Cox and Johnny Maddon

I’d like to thank Congressman Cox for being so open and available to the BC community. I’d also like to thank the Office of Student Life, BCSGA, and Johnny Maddon for organizing this event, as well as Food Services for providing a delicious lunch.

Our very own Renegade Rip wrote a great piece on the event which I encourage reading.  

Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 25th annual Hispanic Business Conference and Expo Thursday August 29 with much fanfare and success, and Bakersfield College was in high gear connecting with community members, business leaders and working professionals to promote the work we do. Many local businesses, professionals, entrepreneurs and students gathered at the conference and expo to participate in business workshops and networking opportunities.

History Professor Olivia Garcia co-chaired Hispanic Business Conference and Expo, along Eva Ramirez of Kaiser Permanente. In working with KCHCC CEO/President Jay Tamsi, Olivia and Eva sought to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this growing special event by offering an array of workshops, dealing from conflict resolution and media branding to understanding the millennial as the consumer and employee, to showcasing rising women in business.

Margita Thompson, Vice President, Public Affairs at California Resources Corporation, CRC, traveled from Los Angeles and spoke as one of the keynote speakers. Thompson, a Harvard grad and bicultural Latina, spoke of her varied experiences, including serving as press secretary of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and working as the California press secretary for former President George W. Bush during his 2000 election campaign.

The second keynote speaker was Richard Montanez, who created the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. He spoke of his humble beginnings as janitor who thought of an idea to spice up the Cheetos and found the courage and persuasion to present it to Frito-Lay executives who were wowed by it. Montanez is now an executive of a multinational company, PepsiCo whose subsidiary is Frito-Lay. Montanez spoke frankly of his limited education and encouraged the audience, particularly students, to never give up and look to education as part of the path to success. He told attendees to embrace their uniqueness and pursue their dreams relentlessly. Montanez’s own story of janitor-turned-inventor is being turned into a movie, called “Flamin’ Hot,” which, according to media reports, is set to be directed by Eva Longoria.

Olivia interviewed both keynote speakers, and a contingent of Bakersfield College faculty and staff attended to promote Bakersfield College programs and services and connect with local businesses and participants. BC was represented by CTE Director Tony Cordova; Paul Beckworth, Director of Veteran Services; Armando Trujillo, veterans advisor; Jeff LaForce, educational advisor; and CTE staff, Dominica Trinidad, Carlos Medina, Juan Manzano, and Jeff LaForce.

It’s always exciting to see our campus connecting with the business and community in innovative ways.

BC Listed as Top 10 School

This week, BC was listed as a Top 10 School for our Ag Business Programs by Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine. Agriculture is a huge part rural Kern County’s economy.  BC’s Rural Initiatives mission is to provide ready access to the high quality education necessary for our socially and ethnically diverse students ‐‐ vocational, transfer‐oriented, developmental ‐‐ and to help them thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Careers in agriculture are diverse, and include: farm management, accounting, marketing, sales, and services requiring accounting, computers and salesmanship.

I’m so proud of our what our Ag faculty at BC do for our community. Check out the article at Hispanicoutlook.com and see why BC Renegades choose Ag Business in the video below!

Rural Express Enrollment Events: Creating Pathways for All!

Our Rural Initiatives team has been very busy! The team has been going from North to South offering Express Enrollment opportunities for Kern County rural communities. The cities of Arvin, Shafter, Delano, Wasco and Southeast Bakersfield enrolled new Renegades through these Express Enrollment opportunities.

BC Adult Ed Newsletter

Have I mentioned how proud I am to be the President of Bakersfield College?  This summer our Adult Ed Team was out and about in the community sharing the good news of education — catch the latest edition of their newsletter “In Touch, In Tune” for some highlights. Also, check out the article about the new Arvin Transit routes from locations in Arvin to the Job Spot in South Bakersfield.  A very special thank you to Endee Grijalva on our Adult Ed team for all of her hard work!