Tag Archives: Valerie Urso

Beautiful Bakersfield. Beautiful BC.

Halloween morning at 6:00 a.m. check out the Blue Moon

Happy Halloween, Renegades!

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, October 31, 2020, a Blue Moon Halloween … and a great day to be a Renegade.

Chancellor Oakley & CCC Board of Governors Visit Bakersfield College

On Monday, Chancellor Eloy Oakley, senior administrators from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, and members of the Board of Governors made a virtual visit to BC to meet with students, faculty, staff, and members of the community.

Chancellor Oakley, Chancellor Burke, President Christian

The event started with an internal meeting highlighting BC students in Umoja, MESA, Early College, and more. Visit the CCCCO Virtual Listening Tour page for more details about the Chancellor’s Office meeting.

The Chancellor’s Office concluded their visit with a virtual town hall. Chancellor Oakley shared about his office’s Vision for Success, outlining goals to help us hold ourselves accountable for student performance. Chancellor Oakley answered questions about adult education, his personal history as an administrator at Long Beach City College, technology infrastructure at community colleges, and more.

He then presented BC with a Certificate of Recognition and a $5000 donation to the food pantry.

I enjoyed seeing Eloy’s tweet after this event:

Finish Line Scholars

Before Chancellor Oakley’s visit, the Chancellor’s Office and the Foundation for California Community Colleges announced that BC was one of the recipients of the Finish Line Scholars fund, a $100 million pledge distributed to 34 community colleges over 20 years. The Finish Line Scholars program provides scholarships to students who are halfway through their education plan of completing a degree or transferring to a 4-year university. Funding for the program was provided through a gift from the Jay Pritzker Foundation.

Beautiful Bakersfield Awards

Last Saturday night, the Greater Bakersfield Chamber announced the winners of the 3oth Annual Beautiful Bakersfield Awards.

Congressman William M. Thomas received the Harvey L. Hall Lifetime Achievement award.

William M. Thoams

While William M. Thomas is known nationally for having spent 14 terms in D.C. from 1979 to 2007, and as Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee in his final 6 years before retirement. Those of us in Bakersfield know Bill for the ways he has fundamentally changed the landscape of the city we call home.

His life’s work – tending to the daily details of navigating the intricacies of sometimes very obscure legislative matters – has been regularly punctuated by major wins in service to the community. Consistently ranked among the brainiest in Washington, Thomas strategically used his influence to improve the lives of the residents of Bakersfield.  As one drives the streets of Bakersfield, walks the Bakersfield College campus, or flies into Bakersfield Airport, it is impossible to miss his contributions.

Bill Thomas, Sharon Thomas

Through his coalition-building skills Congressman Thomas secured nearly a billion dollars in congressional funds for Bakersfield:

  • Successfully earmarking $722 million in federal transportation funding for Kern County roads, single-handedly connecting the I5 to the Sierras, and opening access to education and employment for some of the region’s most isolated communities
  • Garnering $40 million in congressional funding for the Valley Fever Vaccine Project
  • Obtaining $14.7 million for improvements to Bakersfield’s Meadows Field Airport

Yet, his service to the community didn’t end upon retirement.  In 2016, he joined the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees. During his tenure, the district secured half a billion-dollar bond measure to support facilities and infrastructure improvements for the next fifty years.  During his time as chair of the district’s Board Accreditation Committee, each of KCCD’s three colleges’ fully accredited status was reaffirmed.

Bill Thomas speaking

With these contributions, it is no surprise that as we fly into the William M. Thomas Terminal, we are greeted by a bust of a man who has done so much for this community. And while Bakersfield will forever associate “The Congressman” with Bill Thomas, we remember Bill first as a young Bakersfield College professor.  The first in his family to go to college, Bill paved the way for thousands of community college students, residents in our rural communities, and local leaders.

Congressman Thomas remains committed to Bakersfield’s residents, and only recently retired from public service as a KCCD Trustee. 

Other winners included:

CityServe, which won the Chairman’s Award. CityServe distributed goods through 109 chuches of all denominations to help 20,000 households, as well as distributing backpacks, sleeping bags and other goods to area homeless. CityServe is also partnering with Bakersfield College and County of Kern to provide job skills training to those who are living in our local shelters.

John P. Lake, who was named Business Person of the Year. JP created the Kern Venture Group, the first angel investor fund for local entrepreneurs. He is also one of the founders of the Kern Initiative for Talent and Entrepreneurship (KITE).

Give Big Kern – One Day to Celebrate the Giving Spirit of Kern County, which received the A Better Bakersfield award. In 2019, this event raised nearly $430,000 from 2,800 donors and secured more than 88,000 volunteer pledged hours for 114 participating charities.

You can view a list of all winners online.

Thank you Nick Ortiz and the Chamber for this fabulous event. A special shout out to Hillary Hanes – the lead staff for this event.

Padrinos de Bakersfield College

Abel Guzman shared an email this week announcing the relaunch of Padrinos de Bakersfield College:

“Padrinos was an initiative led by our now retired dean, Cornelio “Corny” Rodriguez for many years. Our hope is to honor his years of service by relaunching and continuing the group’s work.

This week, the group celebrated their relaunch by hosting a Dia de Los Muertos curbside pan dulce pick-up event on Friday.

Check out these photos from the event:

Corny Rodriguez
Olivia Garcia dressed up for the event

At the end of the last academic year, Corny won a lifetime achievement award. Check out these two videos.

Video Tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I asked the Women’s History Month Faculty Leads and the BC Pre-Law Club to put together a tribute to the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that premiered on Thursday, October 29, live at 5:30 p.m on BC’s YouTube channel and Facebook live. The video features Kern County Superior Court Judges Robert Tafoya and Susan Gill, Commissioner Cynthia Loo,  and District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer.

Today, I am sharing my introduction from the tribute.

You can view the full 36 minute tribute video at https://youtu.be/yHWGakqaLZc. I will continue sharing pieces from this production in the coming weeks.

Thank you to Olivia Garcia, Maria Wright, Pearl Urena, Norma Rojas-Mora for their work in coordinating this tribute, and thank you to Valerie Urso and Manny de Los Santos for the video production and content editing.

The Effects of Colorism on Latina and Black Youth Panel

Bakersfield College’s Latinas Unidas and Latina Leaders of Kern County bring another discussion panel to discuss the sensitive topic of discrimination. According to the Pew Research Center, Latino and Black youth with darker skin tones are six times more likely to face discrimination due to the color of their skin. Panelists will speak about colorism in the Latinx and Black community. Register now for the panel taking place on Wednesday, 11/4/2020 – 5:30PM.

This is the third in the webinar series; webinars were also held on October 22 and October 29.

During the October 22 webinar, Sandy Woo-Cater, Co-director for the Kern Coalition Against Human Trafficking, shared some of her experiences with racism – particularly in a bi-racial relationship:

Registration for Spring 2021

Early Registration begins Wednesday November 4, 2020 for Spring 2021 classes! This semester has flown by, midterms are over, and it is time to start planning your Spring classes. Remember to complete your update form in order to get your Registration Date. If you have any questions or problems, visit the Student Information Desk Monday – Thursday 9AM – 6PM. Looking forward to the Spring!

November is Veterans Month

November 11 is the Veterans Day holiday to honor those who have served our country both in war and peace. At BC, we celebrate and honor our veteran students for the whole month. This year, celebrations include the Distinguished Speaker David French, the invitation-only 30 Unit Coining Ceremony & Touch Point and the Success Pack distribution. Get details on the BC website at Veterans Month.

Last year in November we celebrated the month with the opening of the VRC. See other highlights of our celebration in my November 10, 2019 blog. Here are a few pictures from previous events:

  • A garden of American flags in the grass.

Art on PBS

BC Art Adjunct Faculty Diego Gutierrez Monterubio was featured on Valley PBS this week with a 5-minute film “Pintor Diego.” The film, along with 9 other local films, was part of this year’s #TheBigTell.

Thank you Diego Gutiérrez Monterrubio for sharing your story with the Central Valley.

You can check out the film online.

#ABetterBC Update

Chemistry professor Deb Rosenthal sent me this photo of construction of sthe new Science building. Even while we are not able to be on campus, work continues to create #ABetterBC.

Archives Throwback

“Dasein”, a poem by Jim Lynn (1971)

The following poem by Jim Lynn was published in the May 26, 1971 edition of the Renegade Rip. Loosely translated from German, the word “dasein” equates to the English word “existence” and was a frequent expression used by the philosopher Martin Heidegger.


Yonder, in the Panhandle,
My thoughts are hiding
Until after the sun
Has paled the horizon
Then shall we meet
In mortal union
Within corpse of lilac corpse
And pass the image of a friend.
The basking tombstone.
We shall nurse the choking
Of a Sophist pond
But we know she cannot smile,
For the clandestine curse
Of time, in stealthy stalking,
Muses our isolation.
And after the variegate cliffs
Are clothed in peignoir
Of twilight shadow
We shall wait for
Soliloquies of crickets
To die in solitude,
Leaving us alone
With the pond,
Wherein we weep
For the passing
Of Spring

– Jim Lynn

Spotted on Social Media

Anthropology Professor Krista Moreland shared these photos of her cat, Pepper:

Maria Wright, Director of Student Support Services, shared a picture of her son getting into the Halloween spirit:


New Renegade Themed Zoom Backdrops Are Here

Step-up your Zoom game on your next video conference call with these official Renegade themed backgrounds! Right-click each image to save the background.

Click Here to learn how to use custom backgrounds on Zoom.


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

Hello August

As I was preparing for Opening Week of activities prior to the start of the fall semester, I enjoyed this video which was put together for the #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation production. Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” is such a powerful piece. Enjoy!

Thank you to web content editor Valerie Urso for the care in producing this video.

Good morning Bakersfield
It is Saturday, August 8, 2020…A great day to be a Renegade

This week, I headed out to our physical campus, to check out the Measure J construction work.

Express Enrollment

Bakersfield College is holding an extended One-Day Virtual Express Enrollment Event for new and returning students on August 12, 2020 from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Counselors and support staff will be available to assist students with their registration process, placement, enrollment and financial aid.

Thank you to Ashlea Ward, Program Manager for Outreach and Early College, and our entire Outreach team for your hard work in ensuring students are still able to easily register for courses while we continue our social distancing.

John Lewis

On Wednesday, July 29, Bakersfield College and Danny Morrison teamed up again to celebrate John Lewis and his legacy of #GoodTrouble.

Today, I will begin to share the videos from that production, starting – naturally – with the opening segment.

Steve Watkin, Executive Director of Outreach & Early College, provided the opening remarks:

Danny Morrison of Danny Morrison Media also provided opening remarks. (And a special thank you to Danny for using his Facebook to livestream the production.)

Julian West, Program Lead for Racial Equity, recited the speech John Lewis gave at the 1963 March on Washington.

Community member Nina Grae performed “We Shall Overcome”:

You can learn more about the production, and see all the videos, on the Bakersfield College website.

#LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation

As you may know, Bakersfield College created a multi-day #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation series of programs back in June. I am continuing to share videos, today from the June 17 production.

Assembly Member Vince Fong shared his remarks:

And Kern County Board of Supervisors Chair Leticia Perez also shared a message:

Please visit https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/aai/lightacandle-a-juneteenth-conversation to see all the videos from each day of the #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation programming.

Immigration Clinics Full for August

Bakersfield College has partnered with the UFW Foundation to provide free legal consultations for BC students, faculty and staff who need assistance with immigration legal aspects. These free clinics are held monthly, on the 2nd Tuesday and Friday and the 4th Thursday and Friday of every month. 

August has already been fully booked – the next available session will be held September 11, 2020. In order to schedule your appointment, fill out the request form. All appointments are conducted virtually via Zoom for the duration of the pandemic. 

BC Nursing Students help pass out PPE

Ema Sasic of The Bakersfield Californian wrote a wonderful article about how BC nursing students helped pass out PPE to about 155 Kern County medical practices on Thursday.

The California Medical Association partnered with the California Office of Emergency Services for the event, and more than 40 BC students volunteered to help out.


I’m continuing to share the video segments from the 106th Commencement, which aired on July 11.

As part of the programming, we shared a feature on Bakersfield College’s Industrial Automation program:

And then, of course, we celebrated this year’s recipients of our Baccalaurate Degree in Industrial Automation:

All the videos from our special 2020 106th Commencement Televised Event can be seen at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/admissions/2020-commencement-ceremony.

Early College

Our Early College Celebration was held virtually this year. I’m sharing some more videos from that production today.

Elysa Vargas, Director of Ag Prep at The Wonderful Company, addressed our graduates:

Emily Phelps, Associate Director of College Readiness at The Wonderful Company, also shared a message:

Transfer Graduates

Did you know Bakersfield College also has a virtual Transfer Celebration web page?

This week, I’d like to share a few of our transfer students:

Kayla Wilson will be studying Political Science and History at CSU Sacramento.

Andrew Raymond will study Mechanical Engineering at CSU Fresno.

CSU Mid Year Transfer Workshops

For all students interested in transferring and starting at a CSU in the Spring of 2021! Join for CSU application help and transfer advising! All workshops will be online, please fill out an interest form to receive Zoom details, visit the Bakersfield College transfer website for more information or email bc_transfer@bakersfieldcollege.edu.

Workshops will be held on:

  • Tuesday, August 11, from 2-3 pm
  • Wednesday, August 12, from 4-5 pm
  • Monday, August 17, from 5-6 pm
  • Thursday, August 20, from 2-3 pm

Closing Week

On Tuesday, IT Director Todd Coston (and his pet tiger) concluded our daily production:

On Wednesday, the Budget Committee received a President’s Leadership Award:

And the COVID-19 Response Team also received a President’s Leadership Award:

Also on Wednesday, Academic Senate President Steven Holmes honored our faculty retirees:

And this is the last of our stretch break photo rolls, looking back at the 2019-2020 academic year:

You can see all the videos from Closing Week 2020 at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/president/events/closing-week-2020.

We are coming up quickly on Opening Week 2020, which will also be virtual. Opening Week 2020 will be Monday through Thursday, August 17-August 20.

Spotted on Social Media

BCSGA’s Facebook page sent out a congratulations to our CDC Graduates:

“Congrats to our youngest BC grads of the Child Development Center who will move on to kindergarten next year! 27 families participated in the curbside graduation.

We can’t wait to see you back in 2033!”

Performing Arts Department Chair Jennifer Garrett shared on Facebook that her family got a new puppy:

“Today was the greatest adventure! We have a puppy! We arrived at the house and played with the puppies for a little while. They immediately fell in love with her. Each of them carried her around and watched as she wrestled with her brother. When we told them she was our puppy they did not believe us. … Meet the newest member of Team Garrett: Remi!”

Lesley Bonds, Director of Student Success & Equity, also shared a photo of her dogs this week:

Shannon Musser, who has returned to BC to work with the Marketing and Student Success & Equity departments, was able to take a break last week and go houseboating on Lake McClure with her family:

I loved this quote that Bill Moseley shared on Twitter:

I also wanted to share this photo of Norma Rojas, Director of Communications and Community Relations, reminding everyone to #WearAMask while supporting BC! #WeAreBC!


Men’s Basketball Program Coaching Change

Last week Coach Rich Hughes stepped down temporarily from leading the men’s basketball program for one year. As the winningest coach in program history, Coach Hughes has lead the men’s basketball program for the last 15 seasons and successfully guided many student athletes to the next level. Long-time assistant coach Aaron Chavez was hired in his place to be the interim head of basketball operations. We are excited for Aaron to lead the program and know he will bring about much success.

To read the release on Coach Hughes stepping down click here: http://gogades.com/sports/mbkb/2019-20/releases/20200730rznau4

To read the release on Coach Chavez being named the head of basketball operations click here: http://gogades.com/sports/mbkb/2019-20/releases/20200805izsxgf


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