Tag Archives: TJ Cox

The universe is simpler than it appears

Got back late last night, transitioning from 64 degrees at Marina Del Rey to 90 degrees here in Bakersfield at 10:30 p.m. Neo immediately rushed to the backyard, something he misses by the beach, and I stood in the backyard with him, enjoying the warm night air …. it was good to be back home.

Good Morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, June 27…a great day to be a Renegade.

After my early walk today, here I am on the back porch, blogging before the morning temperatures soar into the nineties. I was struck by the NYTimes piece by Bob Henderson about Angelo Bassi, a theoretical physicist who is attempting to frame the workings of the universe in a more fundamental way than quantum mechanics. “The idea that the universe is simpler than it appears is supported by the way advances in physics, from Newton’s to Einstein’s and beyond, have accounted for more and more phenomena with fewer and fewer equations. ” Thought you might enjoy it too https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/25/magazine/angelo-bassi-quantum-mechanic.html?smid=tw-share

Juneteenth

KBAK will be airing highlights from our Juneteenth programming in collaboration with Danny Morrison. The show will air Sunday at 4 pm – be sure to tune in!

Thank you Danny for partnering with BC. We say it all in this video…

Every week, I will feature some of the videos from the two-week long #LightACandle event. Let’s hear from three congressman.

BC Jazz Combos: The Quarantine Sessions

The BC Jazz Studies program recently released a digital album featuring eight tracks created by students collaborating online during the campus shutdown.

Kris Tiner, Director of Jazz Studies, described the process.

“In March of 2020, as the global pandemic became a reality and stay-at-home orders went into effect, we found ourselves unable to meet in person to rehearse or hold class as usual. All of our scheduled concerts, including our annual Jazz Day festival, were eventually cancelled. Classes continued to meet online using Zoom, but the limitations of that platform for playing together live were immediately obvious. Doing anything with the music we had been rehearsing for eight weeks was suddenly out of the question. Instead, we began working on these digital collaborations. We used Zoom to chat and share ideas, Google Drive to share charts and files, cell phones and any home recording technology we could get our hands on to capture music that reflected the ups and downs of these strange days we were going through together. Our goal was to let the times guide our creativity, and the result is this album. Please enjoy, and purchase a copy if you have the means. All proceeds benefit the BC Jazz Studies program.”

Listen and download at https://bcjazzstudies.bandcamp.com.

Dr. Fauci addresses COVID-19 spike

On Friday, the nation once again heard from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who provided an important update on the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said, “You have an individual responsibility to yourself. But you have a societal responsibility. Because if we want to end this outbreak … we’ve got to realize that we are part of the process.”

“A risk for you is not just isolated to you.”

As cases are again increasing through many parts of the country, California included, it is more important than ever that we each do our part to keep ourselves and each other safe. We must continue social distancing, we must continue to wear our masks, and we must continue to take care of one another.

Dr. Fauci’s urgent message made this post shared by Cindy Collier even more poignant:

Celebrating our Transfer Graduates

We are proud of the following graduates who have recently accepted admission offers from across the nation, and we have created a Transfer Celebration website to share their photos and future plans.

Students may submit their information to be included through August 1, 2020.

This week, I’d like to highlight two of our outstanding transfer students, Leonela Aguilar and Gabriel Diaz.

Spotted in the Community

Jay Tamsi and Mike Turnipseed get Back to Business

Michael Turnipseed, Kern Tax Executive Director, brought Jay Tamsi, CEO of the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, on his Conversations that Matter video series to discuss discuss how the Chamber helps boost the local economy.

They also discussed the challenges facing local small business during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the Chamber is helping address those issues.

You can check out the video online.

A Deeper Dive with Romeo Agbalog and Keith Wolaridge

Check out this podcast with Romeo Agbalog, from Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government, and Keith Wolaridge, Trustee with the Panama Buena Vista Union School District.

Fun Social Media

Andrea Thorson, one of our Deans of Instruction, welcomed a new member to her family this week:

“This is Pepper Ann(a) – James is still deciding between Ann and Anna. We are so excited! She is a calm little labradoodle.

“Her name, based on a coin toss, was supposed to be Mimsy. However, upon getting her home, we realized the names “Mimsy” and “Macy” were too close and caused confusion. I’m glad because I like “Pepper” best, but James didn’t love it, so he picks the middle name.”

BC Reference Librarian Sondra Keckley celebrated her 20th wedding anniversary this week.

Her husband had put bouquets of flowers throughout their house as a thoughtful surprise.

“I came home from running errands to the sweetest surprise for our 20th anniversary! The roses and sign would be an awesome gift alone, but then I saw another bouquet of flowers in the family room, and before I knew it I was pleasantly surprised in just about every room!! It felt like a scavenger hunt looking to see where else they might be.”

Congratulations to Sondra and Kurt!

Gloria Dumler from our English department shared this post about an article fellow English professor Paula Parks sent out to the department:

You can check out the article, “Turns Out You Can Build Community in a Zoom Classroom” from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

KCCD leadership — #staysafe #wearmasks

Tom Burke, Sonya Christian, Claudia Habib, Jill Board
Some photos from my trip to the marina
Neo heading to the Marina

Closing Week Videos

On Tuesday of Closing Week, Todd Coston continued his Ringmaster role in his backyard with his tiger:

Our Public Safety Meta major Pathway team earned a President’s Leadership Award:

On Thursday, we shared a message about the BC Emergency Student Fund:

Athletics

Celebrating 48 Years of Title IX

On June 23, 1972, Title IX was passed into law stating: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

This June 23 marked 48 years since the beginning of Title IX. This played a huge role for women in many areas in allowing opportunities they previously did not have, and one of the more visible areas came in athletics participation.

While we observe this anniversary and recognize those original trailblazers, we also know that work of equity is a continual and never-ending process.

Memorial Stadium Construction Update

Progress continues this summer with ongoing renovation projects at our beautiful Memorial Stadium. Workers recently finished removing all of the old lights as they prepare to install the new light fixtures. Also happening is the construction of the new HD video scoreboard as well as renovation of restrooms and concessions areas. We can’t wait to see her when all the work is complete!

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

Thank you for voting Yes on J!

The transformation of our campus for the next 50 years has begun! Major changes will be taking place over the next 10 years ranging from construction of new buildings, renovations of buildings, and major repairs to our campus infrastructure. The grand opening of our first building, the Vernon Valenzuela Veterans Resource Center, was on December 10, 2019

Thank you for voting Yes on J!

Sonya Christian voting Yes on J on Oct 30, 2016
Sonya Christian thanking Kern County for voting Yes on J. Nov 12, 2016

The Bakersfield College Vernon Valenzuela Veterans Resource Center

Vernon Valenzuela Veterans Resource Center. Dec 10, 2019

After years of preparation and development, our community gathered on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 for a historic milestone in Renegade history. With college and district leaders, community members, students, supporters, family, and friends, BC officially opened the new Vernon Valenzuela Veterans Resource Center, a space dedicated to student veterans and the first completed Measure J building.

Thank you KCCD Trustees
Sonya Christian, President of Board John Corkins, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Kyle Carter, Jack Connell, Tom Burke, Paul Beckworth

I could not be more proud of everyone who helped bring this grand vision into reality. Attendees who came from across the country were greeted with a massive American flag that billowed proudly, flying above the newly christened building from an extending ladder on a Kern County Fire Department truck. Dignitaries on the dais outside of the center included Chancellor Tom Burke, Mayor Karen Goh and Congressman Bill Thomas, as well as KCCD Trustees Jack Connell (a Navy veteran), Romeo Agbalog, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, and President of the KCCD Board John Corkins. There were also representatives from about 40 student organizations on campus. Trustee Kay Meek was viewing the live stream, unable to attend the ceremony in-person. She was one of the most vocal supporters for the construction of the new center as the first Measure J project, and her presence was missed. 

Ricardo Del Hoyo, Joseph Lopez, Nick Ortiz, Tommy Tunson, Mayor Goh, Trustee Corkins, President Christian, Chancellor Burke, Perry Finzel & Monica Martin

This new 4,700 square foot facility is dedicated to student veterans and includes a tutoring room, conference room with whiteboards and television, a lounge area with two televisions, coffee bar, fridge, microwave, computer area and outdoor patio area.

Diego Ross from JTS Construction and Armando Trujillo

This space is dedicated to the education, wellness, and transformation of our students, therefore it’s only fitting that this place is named after Vernon Valenzuela. Vernon was a Vietnam combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient. He was a Bakersfield College student in the 1970s and later became a licensed counselor who spent the rest of his life working with veterans and their families; his legacy will live on forever in its walls.

Former student Wesley Barrientos cuts the ribbon with help from current SGA President Samantha Pullido and President of the Vets Club Ilene Garcia
The VRC Challenge Coin
Study area in the new VRC
Lise Valenzuela in the new Vernon Valenzuela Veterans Resource Center

This center would not be possible without the leadership of Paul Beckworth, who opened the ceremony by thanking Armando Trujillo and his team for all they do to help our Renegade veterans. Armando was a protégé of Vernon Valenzuela, the founder of the first veterans’ clubs at BC and CSUB, and I could think of no one else who is better suited to extend Vernon’s love and empathy to a new generation of Renegade vets. Armando also announced an annual scholarship that will be offered through the VRC for years to come.

Armando Trujillo addressing the audience

When our local veterans are returning home, this new center will be the place they can come to to find support, comfort, and comradery with fellow Renegades. For over 100 years Renegades have put on the uniform, and when they were ready to trade in their boots for books, BC knew its responsibility. BC’s mission continues to be to educate our veterans, mind body, and soul, and to celebrate the impact that veterans have had on BC.

I surprised Paul Beckworth by presenting him with the President’s Leadership Award during the ceremony. Over these last seven years, Paul has advocated on behalf of our student veterans here on campus, in the community, and in the state. He and a group of student veterans were fearless in “occupying” a vacant room adjacent to their existing cramped space, quietly doing the necessary remodeling work.  He has written public letters to our student veterans, to our faculty veterans, to our staff veterans.   He is brave, kind, funny, open, tender, with a passion to respect, honor and support his fellow brothers and sisters from the military.

Zav Dadabhoy, Armando Trujillo, Paul Beckworth, Sonya Christian
Zav Dadabhoy, Armando Trujillo, Paul Beckworth, President Christian & Jenny Frank

I also introduced incoming manager Jenny Frank, who comes to us from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

This special facility is the first of many made possible by the tremendous community support of Measure J. There is a very, very long list of individuals to thank, but Trustee Kay Meek deserves special recognition for her constant focus and dedication.

Bill Thomas, Kay Meek, Tom Burke, Steven Holmes

The impact of Trustee Meek’s work was evident in the words of student veteran and Veteran Club President Ilene Garcia during the grand opening, who said, “As soon as I walked in, I felt that camradery and bond that I had been missing that you instantly obtain when you join the military. Finding that comfort zone in civilian life is essential for veterans returning home. We crave the structure and sense of belonging that the military instills in us. The Veterans Resource Center at BC provides this.”

Veterans Club President Ilene Garcia and fellow veterans

BC Veterans Club President Ilene Garcia took a moment to explain how the team at BC creates a structure and a sense of belonging that helps soldiers readjust to civilian life. She also thanked all of us at BC for making this center a priority with the funding from Measure J.

Vernon’s wife Lise Valenzuela offered some personal anecdotes about how BC changed her husband’s life. After serving a tour of duty in the Vietnam War, Vernon found his confidence and his calling as a student at BC, and he dedicated the rest of his life to helping other veterans like him find their calling through higher education.

Lise Valenzuela

Former Trustee Bill Thomas talked about how Vernon’s imposing physical presence, and his empathy and talent for listening, inspired respect from anyone who had a conversation with him. Bill highlighted Kay Meek’s work and her emphatic message to all that she wanted this to be the very first project of Measure J. He also previewed the ribbon cutting ceremonies to come as more Measure J projects finish construction.

Former Congressman & Trustee Bill Thomas
Tom Burke, Ilene Garcia, Paul Beckworth, Bill Thomas, Sonya Christian, Kyle Carter, Karen Goh

Attendees were treated to the beautiful music of BC’s Chamber Singers. led by the talented Dr. Jennifer Garrett. I’m happy that Brandon Urry captured these videos so that I can share then with you.

Award-winning photojournalist Max Becherer started his career right here at BC as a student of Kris Stallworth, and he took pictures of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for publications like the Washington Post and Time Magazine before becoming the Photo Editor of the New Orleans Advocate. He donated several of his most famous photographs from those conflicts to the VRC and attended the groundbreaking alongside his family.

Photographer Max Becherer sharing his photography.

As Paul described in his closing address, the VRC is more than just a place of learning. It is a place where our veteran students can heal from the physical and psychological wounds of combat, supporting each other through all of their struggles. Thank you Paul, Armando and our Veterans Affairs team for dreaming of this safe space for healing, and thank you to our Measure J team for making that dream a reality. I would also like to thank Tamara Baker for organizing the ribbon cutting and open house, as well as everyone who contributed to making this event such a success.

Here are some of the elected officials or their reps in the photo below. Left to right:
1.     Congressman Kevin McCarthy (Monica Martin, rep)
2.      Congressman T.J. Cox (Joseph Lopez, rep)
3.      Assemblyman Vince Fong (Lauren Skidmore, rep)
4.      Mayor Karen Goh
5.      Congressman Kevin McCarthy (Perry Finzel, rep)
6.      Senator Melissa Hurtado (Ricardo Del Hoyo, rep)
7.      City Councilman Willie Rivera, Ward 1
8.      Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez, District 5 (Nicole Villaruz,
rep)
9.      Assemblyman Rudy Salas (Athena Skapinakis, rep)

I would like to recognize those who actually built the facility, taking it from plans to a reality: local companies IBI Group, Inc. and JTS Construction. Also, I would like to thank AECOM/Parsons for all of their hard work on this project (and the other 14 Measure J projects), for finishing the job ahead of time and under budget. AECOM/Parsons joined our team in 2017 to design the Measure J master plan, and have been managing all of the projects from the very first meeting until the last. All of the above groups not only met our expectations, but went well above. The bar has been set high!

2019 Sterling Silver with the AECOM-Parsons team

We had much love from our local media and press. Thank you to the Bakersfield Californians Robert Price and Ema Sasic, Reyna Harvey, Tyrah Majors, Jacueline Gutierrez of the Renegade RIP and more!

Reyna Harvey interviews Sonya Christian on Tuesday Morning

Most importantly, I’d like to thank the community of Kern County for supporting Renegades today and for the next 50 years through Measure J.

And in closing, I will quote the words of Paul Beckworth, BC’s Faculty Director of Veteran Services as he addressed BC’s students… “Thank you for your courage, for believing in yourself and for pursing an education. Thank you for choosing Bakersfield College. This place is for you.”

Love these “behind the scenes” pictures.

BSO-BC Home for the Holidays Concert

Here is my promised weekly Christmas music from our Chamber Singers during the month of December

Rick Kreiser narrating the Night Before Christmas
Hallelujah

Led by the amazing, Dr. Jennifer Garrett, the BC Chamber Singers are an absolutely stunning group who shares their voices with the world. They performed a fun version of Jingle Bells and the Renegade Mens Chorus- sang “The 12 Days of Christmas” mixed with various other Christmas carols.

The evening included sing-alongs with the audience and it was really fun to celebrate the holiday season with family and friends.

Adventist Health was a sponsor of the evening and I saw Sharlet Briggs, CEO of Adventist, who referred to Mary Poppins and a “spoon of sugar makes the medicine go down”. She went on to observe how a teaspoon of music can make the medicine go down too!

BCSGA Attends the Kern Tax Annual Meeting

BCSGA President Samantha Pulido, BCSGA Student Activities Manager Perla Villegas, KCCD Chancellor Tom Burke, KCCD Trustee Nan Gomez-Heitzberg, KCCD Director Dave Teasdale, and BC Director of Student Life Dr. Nicky Damania attended the Kern Tax 80th Annual Meeting at the Bakersfield Country Club. Kern Tax is the county’s leader on reviewing and educating about taxpayer issues and dollars. The keynote speaker was founding chief executive and Senior Fellow, President Emeritus of California Forward, Jim Mayer who presented “Transforming California.” His presentation focused on performance-oriented government, society-oriented business, and entrepreneurial civic organizations working together to engage in community resolutions. 

Mike Turnipseed with Perla and Samantha

Before the speaker, there was a video montage of various Kern leaders thanking Kern Tax for their 80 years of service to Kern County, and especially highlighting the leadership and work of Mike Turnupseed for the association and our community. What a pleasure to have two of our strong student leaders in attendance at this engaging community event.

Human Rights Day Social Justice Student Conversation Event

Jose Bello speaks to fellow Renegades

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on December 10th each year. At Bakersfield College, student organization YES (Youth Empowered Success) brought two NFL players to campus for a student centered event to bring awareness to various social justice topics. Student organization YES president, Jose Bello, was the emcee of the event and encouraged his fellow Renegades to pay close attention, listen, respect one another, and use their voice for the good of humankind. Jose also took the mic to say a few words in Spanish to thank his mom who was in attendance, for all her support.

Two special guests who took the stage were Joshua Norman and Demario Davis, two NFL players who take pride in their activist roles for human rights. They encouraged students to be sources of support for one another and to give words to the voiceless.

In the early morning before the speaker presentations began, students in attendance participated in a cultural dance outside in the courtyard. This collaborative dance was a symbol of cultivating community, peace, and social responsibility.

And once again, Reyna Harvey is everywhere! Spotted her interviewing Joshua Norman and Demario Davis outside the event.

Renegades Finish Finals!

This week was also finals week so the library began offering their Extended Study Hours last week, which will run through Wednesday.

The lobby portion of the library is the busiest and loudest section with check-in, food, tables, and chairs for group studying. BCSGA Officers and Office of Student Life help ensure everything runs smoothly with the help of volunteers.

As a result of the efforts this semester of Todd Coston and Kirk Russell, the entire first floor of the library is a place for students to spread out and study.  Students need to feel supported now more than ever as they attempt to cross the finish line this semester.

Campus Safety at Porterville College

Our colleagues at Porterville College planned a day of safety drills and invited BC’s Dr. Nicky Damania and Monika Scott to observe the activity. It was a great opportunity and a good experience. Both Nicky and Monika are involved with the planning of BC’s full-scale active shooter scenario and response drill taking place next year. This activity planned for April 8, 2020, will be a cross county, multi-agency drill to test our preparations and enhance our collaboration and response. Special thanks to Todd Dearmore, Safety and Security Manager at Porterville College for a successful drill and for the invitation to observe.

Dr. Nicky Damania & Monika Scott

Networking and Nursing

Bakersfield College’s Nursing Department held its 1st annual Entrée to Employment for the graduating Vocational Nursing Program students. A number of health care agencies within Kern County were present at BC to recruit our stellar vocational nursing students and to discuss future career opportunities.

Entree to Employment for Vocational Nursing grads, 2019

A gourmet dinner was provided by the Renegade Room as the students and staff networked with industry partners. Carla Gard, Director of Nursing Programs and Associate Dean of Instruction, highlighted the program objectives, rigor, and faculty’s dedication to developing skilled and competent nurses.The Vocational Nursing Entrée to Employment was such a success that students had several employment options by the end of the event! So proud!

Graduating Vocational Nursing Students

Crane Visit for OSRM Students

Students in OSRM B10 Occupational Safety had an opportunity to see safety in action when they viewed campus construction up close as part of a class module on crane safety. Bill Campe from SC Anderson, and Kurt Hettinger from SL Shaw Company hosted the students, providing an overview of crane operations. The crane was operated by Trent Gardner.

The large crane is just the right tool to hoist steel beams into place for the new building. Workers deftly navigate the structure, guide steel beams into position and rivet them into place. Following established safety procedures is essential to ensure that they are not injured on the job.

Lifting heavy loads safely takes more than a big crane. The operator relies on detailed lift charts that specify how much the crane can lift at a specific angle. Need more horizontal distance? That reduces capacity. Wind? Reduce capacity or stop work if gusts are too strong. Want to watch the crane work? Stand clear of the swing radius or risk being hit or crushed by the crane’s big back end. This quick visit provided a view of safety in action.

Students enjoyed the “field trip” and the opportunity to watch two world-class companies safely work to build the future of BC. Measure J — a learning lab for our construction students.

Fun Photos: College Council

I’m always proud of the work that College Council does. The presentations are rigorous and focus on our performance metrics.

Amber Hroch reviews the data.

The last College Council meeting for the semester was on Friday, December 6th. The council received updates on various institutional topics ranging from Early College to Meta Major Pathways and more. Just a reminder to the reader….This group is a collegial, consultative, and oversight body designed to serve the good of the entire College. The group facilitates timely, factual, and clear communication between constituents and the President. It provides recommendations to the President on college-wide matters.

Kylie Swanson and Craig Hayward
Education Pathway Team

Giving Thanks: CARE & CalWORKs Workshop

The Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education (CARE) and California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) programs hosted a Thanksgiving Workshop, providing a bonding opportunity for parents and their children and to build a network of support at Bakersfield College.

The Thanksgiving Workshop provided the students a break from studying for finals while their children engaged in fun-filled arts and crafts activities. Additionally, students received a turkey donated by Costco to help them celebrate Thanksgiving with their families.

CARE and CalWORKS are programs under the EOPS Department, serving BC students who are also parents, with CARE parents being single head of household. Both programs are designed to promote student educational success by offering specialized services to parents receiving public assistance (CalWORKs/TANF/Tribal TANF) with a primary goal to increase wage earning power, leading to self-sufficiency.

Fun Photos: Executive Office Holiday Potluck

Fun Photos: Renegade Road

William Velasquez from BC’s IT department is a talented photographer and often will share the beautiful pictures he captures on campus. He shared an email earlier this week the following photo and said…

William relaxing after an event

“As I was driving away and looked at the banners on the fence, I ponder on the thousands of student athletes that walked this same road. They found the road to success. So I parked my car and took my phone out and took a few pics. This is one of them. The Renegades Road.”

William Velasquez, 2019

Renegade Athletics  Volleyball vs. Chaffey

Enjoy these highlights from Renegade Volleyball’s first round playoff win at home over Chaffey back on Nov. 26th. Renegade Volleyball enjoyed another terrific season this year. They captured a fourth consecutive conference championship and finished the season with a 21-3 overall record. Way to go Coach Carl Ferreira and team!

Kern Schools Federal Credit Union Renegades of the Week

Alyssa Gonzalez, Women’s Basketball – Alyssa was a driving force in helping the Renegades to an 86-29 victory over Taft on Friday (12/6). She totaled 17 points going 5/9 from 3-point and adding 4 assists, 3 steals and 3 rebounds. Jonathan Hunter, Wrestling – Jonathan pinned all of his opponents at the Southern Regionals this last Saturday at Santa Ana College to place first in the 174 lb. weight class and qualify for the CCCAA State Finals this coming weekend.

Renegade Athletics News:

Renegade Athletic events ‘On the Hill’ this coming week

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. Join us on 12/20 at 5pm – Men’s Basketball vs El Camino

Renegade Athletics Social Media
Renegade Athletics Social Media

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 partne