Tag Archives: veterans

Enjoying our community: Boy Scouts

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, March 5, 2016…..A good day to be a Renegade!

This past week has been full, fast paced and exhausting – so much so that when I got home yesterday, I just wanted quiet time.

Here are just a few highlights of my week:

Karen with group Feb 28 2016

Karen Goh with Audrey and Martin Chavez and Audrey’s mom Oralia

February 28th, there was a wonderful mariachi concert organized by Andrae Gonzales in memory of his dad, Manny Gonzales, who was a counselor at BC for 37 years.  The indoor theater at BC was sold out and there was a big picture of Manny on the stage….a picture taken when he was in Italy. Nice!  The music was just wonderful.  It was a very enjoyable afternoon enjoying seeing the community at BC and hanging out with friends. It was also wonderful meeting a few more members of the Gonzales clan.  I must say that the two people I see everywhere are Mayor Harvey Hall and Karen Goh–supporting community events.

BC at Veterans Summit March 3 2016


On Thursday, March 3rd, I was at the Veterans Summit in the City of Industry.  Paul Beckworth and I presented on the role administrators play in Veteran Services.  The process of preparing for the talk was what I enjoyed the most.  I got to research and find out at a more detailed level exactly what we are doing at BC as well as in other  veterans programs in the community and across the state.  We had a good group from BC–Armando Trujillo, Educational Adviser; Jamie Pacheco, BC’s Financial Aid Tech who is a liaison to Vet Services; Paul Beckworth, History Faculty; and Terri Goldstein, Director of DSPS, who is not in the picture.

Here is a photo with a few of our vet club students

Vet Club March 1 2016

Here are four blog posts that I did over the last three years on our student veterans:

Nov 11, 2015 Veterans Day, Vet Fest and Remembering America’s Best:

Nov 11, 2014 Student Veterans and BC’s 2nd annual Vet Fest: http://tinyurl.com/zfcafsb

August 24, 2014 Welcome email to our student veterans: http://tinyurl.com/zqtvmzt

July 17, 2013 GI Bill Workshop for Veterans Coming Thursday http://tinyurl.com/jmjc8uv


KCOG BC Award March 4 2016

Rich McCrow, Veronica Lucas, Sonya Christian, Ron Kean, Gustavo Enrique

BC won three awards at the Kern Council of Governments (KCOG) awards night.  It was quite the evening:


Regional Award of Merit for Local Government:
1+1+2 = Game Changer, a collaborative project in Arvin. Partners: BC, Supervisor Leticia Perez, KHSD Superintendent BryonSchafer, and CEO of Kern Tax Mike Turnipseed.  Thank you Rich McCrow, Veronica Lucas and Gustavo Enrique for putting together the proposal working in collaboration with our partners.  Check out my August 4, 2015 blog on this project http://tinyurl.com/glpeubo

KCOG Award Garden Fest March 4 2016

Prof. Lindsay Ono, Sonya Christian

Regional Award for Merit for Community Involvement: Garden Fest.  Lindsay Ono and Sally Stern.  I am so proud of this program at BC.  Sterns and Ono tirelessly work, along with others from the Ag department, to bring this magnificent event to the community.  So, mark your calendars…April 16th and come out out with friends, family and loved ones and enjoy your Saturday at your community college.  For more information check out the website http://891418088421670332.weebly.com/. Talking about BC’s Ag department, check out my brief post on Nov 19, 2014 on the first ever Kern Ag Summit http://tinyurl.com/hpgkc8b


Ron E. Brummett Regional Award of Merit for Lifetime Achievement: Ron Kean. It was wonderful seeing Ron Kean receive this Lifetime Achievement award.  After accepting the award he told a story about his World Music class this semester where he worked collaboratively with Matt Garrett and Matt’s history class.  Matt had a student from the Navajo Nation, and Ron did a piece inspired by Navajo music and the student just loved it.  Beautiful….BC has the best faculty ever.

Some of the other awards:

Regional Award of Merit for Transportaion: The Thomas Roads Improvement Project.  Thank you Bill Thomas for all that you have done for Kern County and Bakersfield College.  You rock!

Regional Award of Merit for Innovation: Downtown Bakersfield Development Corportaion. Congratulations Cathy Butler and team.

This morning I woke up to another great piece by Nick Strobel in the Californian–Astronomers turn the Hubble telescope toward a super-Jupiter exoplanet orbiting the brown dwarf 2M1207.  This is the first directly imaged exoplanet. Nick has posted the article on his BC website at http://tinyurl.com/zqc6726.  

Yesterday, I was introduced to Stella and John Rous at Starbucks and they just made me so happy with their enthusiastic support for Bakersfield College and all that is happening at the college.  Wonderful people.  You know my dear friends and colleagues, this kind of support for BC is not an anomaly.  It is regular and consistent.

Now you can see why it is so easy to be president of Bakersfield College!

Boy ScoutsThat faith in the future and what we can accomplish in the coming years is also prominent with another group I spent time with recently, the Boys Scouts of America Southern Sierra Council.  Attending their 2016 Volunteer Recognition Dinner at the Kern Ag Pavilion, it was reinforced for me how clearly many of the key tenets of Bakersfield College run in sync with the interests of other organizations like the Boy Scouts.

In this case, it was the mutual desire of both groups to extend our connections, increase our interaction and reaffirm our commitment to Kern County’s vibrant rural communities, particularly areas like Arvin and Lamont.

cropped tom pauline jay sonya jan 2016

Sonya Christian, Jay Rosenlieb, Pauline Larwood, Tom Larwood

It was a great evening of learning about Boy Scouts, enjoying the numerous volunteers who put in significant numbers of hours to advance this worthy cause, and running into community leaders like Pauline Larwood and Tom Larwood.  I am so inspired by what both of them have given to this community.  Pauline served as a Trustee on our KCCD Board, and Tom and I were fellow Rotarians in East Rotary Club prior to my time in Oregon.  When I think about the research work on Valley Fever, I think Tom Larwood.

President of the Boy Scout Board, Jay Rosenlieb talked about the fundamental principles of scouting and the commitment of the Southern Sierra Council to help spread its message into all four corners of Kern County and beyond.

I appreciated hearing about the focus on service to community, to its neighbors, and to the betterment of each individual scout in their brotherhood.  CEO Jesse Lopez is doing great work.

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I asked Jay for his remarks. Here is an extended excerpt:

On August 6, 1945, almost 71 years ago, an event occurred that changed the course of history. On that day, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, bringing about the end days of World War II.

Following the end of the war, the men and women who spent years focused on the coordinated and mission driven efforts on the battle fields and the home front returned to their homes. In this massive homecoming and re-entry to life without war, the soldiers, sailors, airmen, factory workers, and builders brought with them the culture of community and singleness of purpose forged from the fight against tyranny, imperialism, and the horrors of human depravity.

As families were started and raised, the culture of community and singleness of purpose from the war effort continued and infused the very fabric of these United States. Social and civic organizations flourished, places of worship grew without bounds, and movements like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts experienced broad appeal and support. This sense of community, belonging, and involvement came to be expected in nearly every corner. While the post World War II era was not without significant social and moral challenges and failures (for example, the violence and struggles of segregation), it is just as clear that our American culture yearned for and achieved the building of strong communities, families, and lives.


We, as volunteer leaders and supporters must expect Scouting to be front and center in our culture, in our communities, and in our lives. We must expect to see Scouting in all of our areas of influence and in all of our relationships.

We must expect to see Scouting in our schools; if there is not a troop or a pack at your neighborhood school, take those steps necessary to start a pack or a troop at the school.

Expect to see Scouting at your place of worship; if it’s not there, take those steps necessary to form a pack or a troop at your church, temple, or mosque. Expect to see Scouting in the youth programming of your place of worship. Expect to see Scouting on Scout Sunday. Expect to see Scouting in the faith life of your place of worship.

Expect to see Scouting at work– in your conversations with your co-workers. Expect to introduce them to all that is good about Scouting.

Expect to talk about Scouting in your social circles, with your friends, with your colleagues, both professional and personal. Expect that nearly all with whom you have a relationship will have a story of Scouting. Expect to tell them about Scouting today and all that it offers in a world of challenges to individuality, to self-reliance, to decency, to morality.

Expect Scouting in the lives of the youth around you; if it’s not there; encourage them to join a pack, a troop, a crew, a team, or an explorer post. Encourage them to seek the challenges of leadership and examination of their lives and direction. Encourage them to seek community and the sense of belonging.

Expect to see Scouting in your own life; volunteer, be a part of Scouting. All I can ask you is that you say “yes” when you are asked to do more. This is our charge, this is our work, this is our challenge, this is our privilege.


“Scouting prepares our youth for leadership by teaching them the importance of service to others. The Scouting movement shows dramatically that public service still beckons the best among us to do battles with complacency, neglect, ignorance, and the emptiness of the spirit that are common in a maze of social justice.

“Scouting prepares our youth to live lives based on unchanging values, as an example of what a young person can be and should be. I see the legacy of Scouting, a new generation of worthy leaders for America’s 21st century – strong leaders, thanks to Scouting. Strong leaders of character, of faith, of skill. And with such leaders, America will continue to be the beacon of hope and decency and justice for the rest of the world.

“Good homes and good parents produce strong boys and girls, but Scouting tempers the steel.

“Resolute and united, this must be our commitment, this must be our oath, this must be our prayer, and this must be our parting pledge to one another. God Bless the Boys Scouts of America.”

(Note: Quoted material is from a 2010 speech by Robert Gates, National President of the Boy Scouts of America)

That’s the same type of cooperative spirit we foster at BC.

Here is a fun picture  from last year.

manny and sonya outside vons 2014-2

Me and BC Dean of Instruction Manny Mourtzanos….bet you didn’t know HE was a Boy Scout!

Student Veterans and BC’s 2nd annual Vet Fest

Vet shirt sonya and tina oct 2014

Sonya Christian with Tina Mendoza showcasing the new vet t-shirt

BC celebrated the second annual vet fest, five days ago, on Nov 6, 2014. This event was initiated last year by Wesley Barrientos, President of our student Vet Club, and Paul Beckworth, Associate Dean of Counseling.  This year the team was joined by our new Education Advisor, Tina Mendoza, a vet herself.

Student veterans, BC’s faculty and staff salute you and thank you for your service!

BC currently has 421 student veterans, an increase of 11% over last year.  However student veterans have consistently hovered between 1.6% to 1.9% of our total student population over the last five years.


– 77% of the student veterans are male

– 54% are Hispanic

– 58% are between the ages of 25 and 39

These students tend to perform at higher rates compared to the average for the student population.

Retention data Fall 2014

The data was compiled by Michael Carley, one of our Institutional Researchers.

You may enjoy reading a piece that I wrote about our student veterans back in June 2013 while traveling and in transit at the Singapore airport:

Our student veterans

This year’s Vet Fest was a truly great event. It included community resource booths so that our students could be introduced to their services.  Wesley facilitated the program, with speakers representing Mccarthy’s office and Valadao’s office. We have a number of photos posted online for your enjoyment!

But it was Paul Beckworth as the final speaker who had the audience holding their breath. Here is his presentation in full:

Paul and Wesley Halloween 2014

Paul Beckworth as Wolverine and Wesley Barientos as Lieutenant Dan in full Halloween spirit on Oct 31, 2014.

Paul Beckworth, speaking at Renegade VetFest 2014

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Bakersfield College Vetfest, put on by our own BC Veterans Club.  Thank you all for attending this event.  Thank you for Dr. Christian for attending and supporting this event.  I would also like to the Kern Community College District for honoring Veterans Day ON Veterans Day, instead of whichever Monday lands closest to the holiday.

I would briefly like to speak about our own BC veterans, past and present, and their impact.  I would first like to speak about a BC legend; Dr. John Collins taught and coached at Bakersfield College from 1955 to 1966.  He returned as Bakersfield College’s president, leading BC in that capacity from 1972-1983.  Before he was a beloved leader at BC, Dr. Collins led another group of people.  Dr. Collins served in the Army in the South Pacific during World War II. He commanded an Anti-Tank Company in the 165th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division of the Army. He saw heavy fighting in the terrible battles on Saipan and Okinawa. Dr. Collins was honorably discharged as a captain after the war and was always proud of his Combat Infantryman Badge.  How about that?  He earned a doctorate, was a college professor, and president, yet one of his most cherished accomplishments was earning the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Dr. Oliver Rosales Sr., was twice wounded in Vietnam, came home and also earned a Ph.D. and taught at Bakersfield College.  Now his son, Dr. Oliver Rosales Jr. teaches at Bakersfield College as one of its finest history professors.

Our own KCCD Chancellor, Sandra Serrano, is the proud daughter of a World War II combat infantryman.  In February 1945 Eddie Serrano was grievously wounded fighting the Germans in Northern Europe.  As an NCO he had been ordered to lead his men across an open field to take out a machine gun nest.  As a result of that action he spent 11 months in a hospital bed recuperating from wounds inflicted upon his body.  When asked decades later how he could obey such an order knowing it he would most likely be killed or wounded, he simply replied, “It was my duty.”  With a family heritage like that, it is no surprise his daughter became a college president and chancellor.  With legacies like these is it any wonder that BC has some of the most dedicated, hardworking leaders, and educators in the state?

Today, we have numerous BC faculty, and staff who served our nation.  We have over nearly 400 identifiable veterans attending BC, and a few hundred more who are not identified.  So, who are these student-veterans?  They are mainly in their late twenties, with majors ranging from nursing to welding.  Female student-veterans account for about ¼ of all BC veterans.  Some served in combat, some didn’t.  But veterans all.  How can you spot a student-veteran?  His gait is sure, his gaze is set, his sights are high.  Her determination is steady, her mission is clear, and her purpose is success.  Failure is not an option.  They improvise, adapt, and overcome.  While there is a fine line between griping and whining, the student-veteran rarely crosses it.

For the BC student-veterans, college is another opportunity to challenge themselves, making themselves better.  The military gave them vision and where there is no vision, people perish.  Perhaps that is why there is slight uptick for student-veterans when it comes to retention rates and graduation rates.  Perhaps the state chancellor’s office would do well to look at those student-veteran numbers and take heed when going over the Student Support and Success Plan, and the Equity Plan.  What is the veteran’s support and success plan?  Support each other, succeed together. Didn’t cost the state a dime!  What is the veteran’s equity plan?  That’s easy.  You ARE my brother, you ARE my sister.  Equity.

While it is all the rage in academia to criticize America, which is easy to do in an air conditioned office, without the responsibilities of an elected official, while it is easy to wear a shirt with the quote, “It’s better to die on your feet to live on your knees,” while it’s easy to be condescending and “feel sorry” for veterans, as if they were suckered into something, it’s harder to take the oath and pick up a weapon.  Don’t feel sorry for them, they don’t.  In this age of celebrated victimhood, they handle business.  They got dirty so others could stay clean, but sometimes that dirt doesn’t come off so easily.  Therefore, be patient towards one another, and get clean together.

Veterans throughout time have been a tight knit group for one major reason.  They seem to be the only ones who understand each other, whether combat vets or not.  They know FUBAR and “hurry up and wait,” they know scary drill instructors, and they know the anxiety of the first combat and the sweetness of returning home.  They know that America is not perfect but have defended it, imperfections and all, if only in order to get her one step closer to our Founding Fathers’ ideals of perfection.  Alexis deTocqueville once wrote that “America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to good, she will also cease to great.”  With student veterans here and across the country, I am confident that we will continue to be great.  In a few short years, these student veterans will be junior executives, small business owners, high school teachers, and nurses.  In a few short decades, or sooner, they will be CEOs, scientists, college professors, and politicians.  How will they have accomplished this?  Loving families, good professors, and a military experience that made them realize they can be more than they ever thought possible, not to mention fellow veterans at the Veterans Club helping each other when no else seems to know why they can’t concentrate in class or why their temper might get the best of them at times.  They can do the work.  To paraphrase Jim Collins in Good to Great, you can teach farmers how to make steel but you cannot teach a “farmer work ethic” to those who do not possess it.  These men and women possess the ethic; all they need are the tools and the training.  Bakersfield College offers that.  Can BC do more?  Of course.  Will we?  Definitely!

I don’t want to get academic today, as if this were a dissertation or thesis.  So, there are just a few people I would like to thank.  Quite often the ones left behind are neglected when in fact they at times have it harder than those in the field.  They are the ones that have to deal with issues that most other Americans don’t.  So, I thank the ones left behind. I thank you for having to be a single parent while your loved one is overseas, thank you for being stressed at work with worry, thank you watching CNN late at night hoping to see a glimpse of your loved one, thank you being heart sick every time a minister showed up at your door, thank you for failing a math test because you stayed up late waiting for your spouse to skype you from Iraq, thank you for getting that Western Union telegram in 1944, thank you for your child having learning difficulties because of separation anxiety, thank you for sleepless nights because of his nightmares after he returned, thank you grandparents for suddenly become parents again because your child got deployed and left her child with you, thank you for crying when the mailman didn’t have a letter for you today, thank you for all those painful goodbyes at air terminals, train stations and bus stations. Thank you for receiving that folded flag draped over the casket so that others don’t have to.

To the veterans.  Many are familiar with this quote: “Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night because rough men {and women} stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”  So, Dr. Collins, so Dr. Rosales, so Professor Mendoza, so Professor Torres, so Mr. Serrano, so BC faculty and staff veterans, so BC student-veterans, thank you for doing violence on their behalf.  Thank you for leaving you kids for months at a time, thank you for taking that rocket propelled grenade, losing both your legs, thank you for crying in your bunk at night when you were 17 years old because you missed your mom, thank you for charging a German machine gun nest across 100 yards of open ground only to spend 11 months in a hospital bed, thank you for working the flight line at 0300, thank you for having nightmares since Nam,  thank you for enduring the injustice of a Jim Crow military, thank you for becoming an alcoholic to cope with your PTSD, thank you for reading a “Dear John” letter at boot camp, thank you for being cooped up in a submarine for 3 months without seeing the sun, thank you for being called a baby killer, thank you for having difficulty concentrating in English B1A because of Traumatic Brain Injury, thank you for cradling your dying buddy’s head in your lap while stroking his hair as a lover would.  For those of you who never came home, thank you for forever lying silent under row upon row of crosses and Stars of David so that others don’t have to.  I salute you.  Thank you.  God Bless Bakersfield College and God Bless America.

Welcome email to our student veterans

Bakersfield Sunrise Aug 24 2015

Sunrise in Bakersfield on August 24, 2015

This morning after a long walk and a beautiful sunrise, I settled down in the backyard to do some work.  And there was an email from Paul Beckworth welcoming our student veterans.  Some of the information that Paul provides in this email might be useful to you as you start your first day of classes tomorrow or if you are helping students through the variety of services we provide.  I did attend the SDCC breakout session on Opening Day with Armando Trujillo on understanding our student veterans.  It was very informative and very well done.

Let’s hear from Paul Beckworth, History faculty and now the Associate Dean for Student Success and Development.

Michele Corny Paul Aug 19 2014

The three Associate Deans: Paul Beckworth, Michele Bresso, Corny Rodriguez

From: Paul Beckworth [mailto:pbeckwor@bakersfieldcollege.edu]
Sent: Sunday, August 24, 2014 7:57 AM
Subject: Welcome to Bakersfield College

Hello BC Student-Veterans,

Welcome to the Fall 2014 semester!  My name is Paul Beckworth and I am the Associate Dean of Student Success, as well as the advisor of the Veterans Club.

Please be advised that we have a Veterans Lounge on campus, adjacent to the cafeteria.  It is open from 7:30-5:30 M-TH and 8-12 on Fridays.  It is a place for student-veterans and accompanied family members who are also students, to hang out, do work, have snacks and drink some coffee. It is a great place to meet up with other veterans who have probably been through some of the same things you have.

Bakersfield College is committed to our veterans and as such we have just hired a veterans educational advisor.  When her training is complete she will be stationed in the lounge, getting your student educational plans together, working in tandem with the VA certifying official on campus, the academic counseling department, and myself.

We have a great Veterans Club on campus, led by club president Wesley Barrientos.  We will be meeting every other week, dates to be announced.

We have plenty of great services on campus to help you succeed.  There is a writing center, tutoring center, math lab, disable students services, and more.  I will send out more information later but we want you to know that the tools are here for your success.   Do not let yourself get overwhelmed.  Many of you have been out of school for years.  Ask questions, come to the lounge, talk to your teachers.  If you get anxiety due to PTSD or TBI, let your teachers know.  Veterans Services are here for you.

Please keep in mind that over 250,000 student-veterans across the nation are going to college this fall.  This means that there may be a back log of GI Bill benefits for a bit.  Be patient, and please be courteous with our staff.  If you have an issue, please come to the lounge or feel free to email me at pbeckwor@bakersfieldcollege.edu or our club president at wesley.leon-barrientos2007@email.bakersfieldcollege.edu .

Our college president, Dr. Sonya Christian, is honored to have you here, and on her behalf I say, “Welcome home and welcome to Bakersfield College!”

Paul Beckworth

Associate Dean of Student Success

GI Bill Workshop for Veterans Coming Thursday

ImageMaking sure all Bakersfield College students have what they need to complete their educational goals is an essential aspect of our student success plans. And veterans, either returning to school or continuing their education, are an important set of students to assist. Their needs are different from those of the average Bakersfield College student, and meeting those needs takes a partnership between Bakersfield College and the veteran.

Last year, 381 veterans attended Bakersfield College. Our veteran students are primarily male, and Latino or Caucasian. Most are between the ages of 25 and 39. For Bakersfield College, these students are highly successful – returning for additional coursework or completing their educational goals at a higher rate than the average Bakersfield College student. [Source: IR Office]

That’s why Bakersfield College is having a GI Bill workshop on Thursday, July 18. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., experts in veterans benefits will help veterans plan their education through the various veterans programs.

The event will be in the Student Services building, room 151. Veterans need to bring their DD214 or NOBE, along with any transcripts from other colleges attended.

For more information, contact Bernadette Martinez at 395-4410.