Tag Archives: Wonderful Academy

Summer Leadership

Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, June 22, 2019… A great day to be a Renegade.


Throughout the months of June and July, Bakersfield College faculty are getting high school and middle school students interested in STEM with the Summer STEM Camps sponsored by Chevron and Project Lead the Way. There are 7 camps over the summer centered around interesting STEM projects. Each participating student applied to the free camps with an application and essay back in May.

Manny Fernandez with Drone Programming STEM Camp students.
STEM Camp students working on mobile app development.
Student assembling mobile app component.
Student working on mobile app component.

Students in the first three camps learn about digital fabrication (3D Printing), mobile app development, and programming drones. Last week, the students created guitars from cigar boxes in camp. Upcoming projects in the STEM camps include learning to design and build a tiny house, and exploring and designing alternative sources of energy. This is a fun and engaging method to entice students to consider STEM fields of study.

Klint Rigby taking a break.
Darren Willis instructing campers.
Student works with a computer application to design a heart to print in 3D.
Digital fabrication STEM Camp
Martin Perez holds a guitar made from a cigar box in front of students at the computer lab.
Klint Rigby showing his cigar box guitar

All of the camps are held on our Panorama Campus, except the last, Alternative Energy/Solar, which will be held at the Weill Institute location. I’d like to thank Martin Perez, Program Manager, Klint Rigby, Department Chair, and everyone with the Industrial Technology Department, as well as Chevron and Project Lead the Way for providing this amazing opportunity for potential future students.

Student filing her cigar box.
Student constructing his guitar.
Martin Perez showing a student how to construct the guitar.
Student wearing safety goggles working on constructing guitar.
Assistant observes student sawing his cigar box.
Professors shake hands with a student.
Roy Allard and Manny Fernandez congratulate campers.

2019 Energy and Ag Academy

The 2019 Energy and Ag Academy kicked off their first session at Bakersfield College on Saturday, June 15th.  This five-session academy is hosted at Bakersfield College and introduces students to local professionals, careers, and other features from these industries in the Energy and Ag fields. This year over 60 students have been accepted into the program.

Full audience in the Forum.
Students in the Energy and Ag Academy
BC Dean of Instruction, Corny Rodriguez, welcoming the students to BC

The academy brings awareness to Kern County’s largest industries and teaches how they provide resources for both the community and the world. The academy includes speakers in the Energy and Ag industries, financial scholarships, field trips to local energy and ag facilities, leadership opportunities, student ambassadors for Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, volunteer opportunities in the community and meeting with elected officials. The academy – presented by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the KCHCC Business Education Foundation – is sponsored by Area Energy, Bakersfield College, California Resources Corporation, Chevron, and Kern Energy Foundation.

John Ocana from California Resources Corp., discussing produced water for beneficial reuse.
Dave Susko discussing the myths and truths of fracking

Wonderful Academy Ag Camp 2019

You may have seen a large group of very young students around campus over the last two weeks and wondered who they were. These incoming 8th grade students have been participating in one of two weeklong summer camps at Bakersfield College in partnership with the Wonderful Company. These students came from middle schools in our rural communities, including Wasco, Shafter, Delano and other surrounding areas. They were exposed to all the exciting things Bakersfield College’s Agriculture department has to offer.

Ag camp students in matching t-shirts around the BC shaped hedge.

With days full of activities, students created stationary holders in our welding facilities and a water filtration system in our Horticulture Lab, learning about the different materials that can be used to filter water. Students also created a product marketing plan for a unique product.The students were given the option to use a variety of ingredients such as tajin, cocoa powder, cinnamon powder, lime juice, and cayenne pepper to create their unique product – then they had to create a branding strategy. Students created t-shirts, hats, and other marketing materials using their own logo designs and a printing press. In addition to creating different products, students connected with industry professionals discovering the many related opportunities that exist in our community.

Students in a computer lab creating t-shirts.

I would like to thank our dedicated staff involved in making this happen: Raquel Lopez, Program Manager overseeing the program with the support of Manuel Muralles; Heather Baltis and Jim Selgrath, lead Agriculture faculty: Jesse Oropeza, lead mentor who was with the group 24/7 and his leadership team of peer mentors. I would also like to thank Abel Guzman, Delano Campus Executive Director,  Carolina Madrigal, Delano Site Office Coordinator, and all the support staff without whom none of this would have been possible.

Mentor and leadership team.

New Renegades get Oriented

The Outreach and School Relations Department welcomed a group of 64 new students into the Renegade family at an orientation event in the Levan Center on Tuesday.

Full audience in the Levan Center.

The incoming students learned all about BC’s curriculum, counseling opportunities, and academic support services to help them properly navigate their college journey. Representatives from Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance were also on hand to talk about resources they have to support homeless and low-income students.

Speaking to the orientation audience.
Josie Guillen

I’d like to thank the Outreach team, Steve Watkin, Nicolette Castruita, Cecilia Gabaldon, Asshlea Ward, Angela Williams, Jo Ann Acosta, Debi Anderson, Savannah Andrews, Josie Guillen, and Manuel Muralles for putting together this informative orientation event to welcome new Renegades and for their efforts in reaching out to schools and the larger community.

HBCU Tour Continued

Last week I shared pictures from the first two days of Umoja’s HBCU Tour by Umoja Coordinator Dr. Paula Parks and four outstanding students interested in transferring to a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in Georgia and Alabama. The grant-funded tour included visiting cultural and historic sites, with Heritage Empowered as the tour operator. Dr. Parks has sent more pictures and descriptions of the exciting and rewarding tour that I would like to share with you:

“Day three, we went to Talladega College, which is an hour outside of Birmingham, Alabama”.

Tuskegee University Founded 1881 sign.

“A very special part of our visit was reconnecting with BC transfer student and Umoja participant, Tonysha Miles, who will graduate in December. Of Talladega, she said, ‘I love it here. All the resources I need are here.’”

5 students with Dr. Parks.
Dr. Parks standing next to Tonysha on the far right.

Mr. Lon Weind, who conducted the tour, touted the family feel and caring professors.  He also shared some history with the students in showing them a door on campus that led to a stop of the Underground Railroad, a network of tunnels and pathways that the enslaved used to escape North to freedom.

Tour guide pointing out attractions to students.

On the campus of Tuskegee University is the Tuskegee Airmen Museum, which highlights the accomplishments of the segregated fighter pilot unit during World War II. They became the most victorious and decorated squad.

Tour group at the museum.

Tuskegee is 45 minutes outside of Birmingham.

Tuskegee University Knowledge, leadership, service 1881 banner.

Tuskegee University was founded by Booker T. Washington – former slave, educator, and civil rights leader. This statue honors his accomplishments.

Statue of Washington assisting a slave.

Kerry Jones, who conducted the tour of the beautiful campus discussed the eight undergraduate colleges and graduate programs they offer, the availability of scholarships, and the caring professors.

Tour guide speaking to students.

Kierra Littles was impressed: “My favorite school was Tuskegee because of the community feel and their English program. I also liked it because they always have different activities on campus.”

4 students with Dr. Parks with the campus as a backdrop.

Alabama State University, which is in Montgomery, Alabama, was front and center during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56. The sculpture means no matter what African Americans went through, they made it, and today’s students are encouraged to persevere and make it as well.

Tour group in front of a large metal statue.

The tour guide touted their campus life, including the football team as well as internship and research opportunities.

Students in a room with large windows.

View of the campus including the sculpture.

Grass area with walkways, trees and large buildings.

In Montgomery, students saw the site of a slave market, a sad reminder of a time in our American history.

Alabama Montgomery's Slave Markets historical marker.

The last stop before flying out was the  National Center for Civil and Human Rights. It put America’s civil rights movement in the context of people around the world struggling for human rights.

Tour group with a mural of a hand with snippets: stop apartheid, I am a man, justice, one vote.

Dujour Sams summed up the experience: “I recognize how great of an opportunity it is to be part of a trip like this. . I felt empowered by visiting the schools as well as the historical sites we visited.”

3 students in front of Human RIghts Learn More sign.

What a wonderful experience! Thank you Dr. Parks for taking Umoja students on this HBCU tour and for sharing photos with me. A tour like this makes such an impression on our students, giving them cultural experiences and inspiring them to achieve their dreams. Faculty like you that dedicate so much time and effort toward enriching students’ education experience at BC  is why I am the luckiest and happiest college president ever!

Leadership Bakersfield Graduation Gala

“What you do has far greater impact than what you say.” Steven Covey

Heidi Forsythe, Tamara Baker, Brandon Urry, & Endee Grijalva

For the past 10 months 32 strangers came together and made our community a little bit better.  Among those 32 strangers were Brandon Ury, Endee Grijalva and Heidi Forsythe.  They have now joined the ranks of Bakersfield’s Top Community Leaders as the class of 2019’s Leadership Bakersfield.  Leadership Bakersfield (LB) has been running for the past 32 years bringing individuals from across the city and challenging them to step out of their comfort zone to be a part of a greater good in the community. Potential participants are interviewed and selected to be a part of a ten-month commitment to a team of strangers who will work together to strengthen and improve the community while developing their leadership qualities.  Each month LB participants dedicated one entire day where they learned about their own individual leadership style, studied local issues, personally interacted with top leaders who make things happen in our community and discovered new reasons why Bakersfield is a great place to live.

Heidi Forsythe and Helen Acosta

Brandon Ury served on Team 1 where they empowered Project 180 to realign their mission and scope as a grassroot organization.  They also focused on bringing awareness and solidarity to victims of senseless acts of violence by unveiling a park bench at Laurel Park.  Their park bench dedication also led them to raise funds for a local children’s school choir. Their project was an act of kindness and unity in a predominantly high-crime rate community.

Endee’s Team 2 focused on a newer nonprofit organization located on Union, south of California Ave known as Dream Center Bakersfield – not to be confused with The Dream Center of Kern County that serves foster youth. Dream Center Bakersfield serves all individuals who may be dealing with homelessness, drug abuse, violence, sex trafficking – the list is endless.  Team two however, focused on the services provided to the children. The team met regularly for several months to revitalize the children’s center by painting a beautiful mural with the hope of brightening the lives of children dealing with issues out of their control. They did an amazing job of turning the children’s center into a brighter beacon of hope for the little lives that often go unnoticed.

Endee Grijalva and Heidi Forsythe

Heidi’s Team 3 took on a similar goal but focused on revitalizing the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault’s Resource Center located in downtown Bakersfield. Team 3’s goal was to beautify the center as a means of brightening up the lives of not only the participants but the staff as well. The team put two coats of paint on over 5400 sq. feet of wall space, improved their curb appeal as well as the conference room and children’s library by changing décor and adding donated furniture and children’s books.

Every act of kindness has an impact we may never fully know.  A conversation on a bench park can lead to a peace treaty among rivals, a painted mural in a children’s center can ease the stress and pain of a child and even brighter walls can improve the quality of work for those who ease other’s pain.  Leadership Bakersfield is a great opportunity to grow leadership skills but more importantly to become a greater community. Applications for the class of 2020 are currently being accepted. Will you step up to the challenge? #BuildingCathedrals

Jaime Lopez, Mayor Karen Goh, Endee Grijalva, Tamara Baker, Heidi Forsythe, & Helen Acosta

2019 BYP Summit

BC was out in full force at the 2019 BYP (Bakersfield Young Professionals) Summit on Thursday.  We were happy to sponsor such a great event, one that encourages and fosters young professionals in our community.  Our very own Heather Pennella spoke about engaging BC Alumni and getting to know their connection with the college.  If you have a BC story that you’d like to share, please visit BC Foundation’s Your Story and help us with our Alumni Outreach program! 

BC is proud to sponsor the 2019 BYP Summit!
Robin Paggi of WorkLogic speaking on Emotional Intelligence
Panel of local executives Amy Travis of CASA, Brad Bryan of Houchin Community Blood Bank, Ariana Joven of Kern County Farm Bureau, Nick Ortiz of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, and David Milazzo speaking about the importance of leadership
Heather Pennella presenting on BC’s Alumni Outreach Program
Heather with microphone speaking on stage.
Heather with colorful background.
Nancy Solis-Vargas of CSUB, Nick Ortiz of the GBCC, and our own Heather Pennella
Margarita Rodriguez, Thalia Solorio, Endee Grijalva, Kim Collins, Samantha Guillory, Lupe Aguirre
L to R: Lupe Aguirre, Earl Parsons, Ashlea Ward, Endee Grijalva, Tamara Baker, Heather Pennella, Benny Balderrama, Leah Prendez, Yoli Aguilera, Courtney Carter, & Tiffany Simpson
Large group of men and women in front of byp sign.
BC staff at the 2019 BYP Summit

Bitwise Industries Coming to Bakersfield

There was great energy and excitement in the room at The Padre Hotel on Wednesday, June 19 as co-founders of Bitwise Industries, Irma Olguin and Jake Soberal, hosted a joint virtual announcement in Fresno and Bakersfield.  Community leaders including Mayor Karen Goh, JP and Ingrid Lake, Morgan Clayton, Teresa Hitchcock, KEDC representatives Cheryl Scott and Richard Chapman, and the Greater Bakersfield Chamber’s President/CEO Nick Ortiz were among those present for the event.  Bitwise Industries announced its expansion to Bakersfield as a result of a $27 million investment from Kapor Capitol and the New Voices Fund.  This aligns with Bitwise Industry’s vision of taking opportunities to places who may not have it.

Welcome Bitwise Industries Banner on wooden wall.

Bitwise Industries was founded in 2013 by Irma L. Olguin, Jr., and Jake A. Soberal with the goal of activating human potential for the technology industry in Fresno, CA.  It operates three lines of business that sustain and support this objective. Geekwise Academy trains people to code, with a focus on marginalized groups, to give them the skills for today’s job market. Bitwise’s commercial real estate provides a physical home for aspiring technologists, fast growing technology companies, and many mission-aligned companies that hire out of Geekwise Academy; all of which contribute to the ongoing downtown revitalization efforts of the cities where Bitwise is based.Their Shift3 Technologies is a custom software development shop that pairs senior talent with entry-level programmers from Geekwise Academy to build and deliver top quality software solutions to clients around the world.

Woman broadcasting on monitor next to man speaking at podium in the hotel.
Virtual Announcement led by BitWise CoFounders Irma Holguin and Jake Soberal

Bitwise has produced more than 1,000 new software developers, attracted over 200 technology companies to its facilities, contributed to the creation of thousands of jobs in the region, and turned 250,000 sq. ft. of previously blighted downtown buildings in Fresno into desirable commercial real estate.

Several people mingling at the Padre Hotel.
BitWise Post Announcement Reception

Bitwise will be acquiring a facility in downtown Bakersfield for the expansion and has expressed a commitment to ensuring our local community thrives.  Bakersfield College is proud to be a partner in education and looks forward to expanding tech opportunities to our students and the community as a whole.

Emails to Share: BC Faculty Prepare Research Student

I received this wonderful email in regards to one of our students, Sarai Jaime. This reflects the quality education our faculty provide and I am proud to showcase the success of Sarai Jaime . We are BC!

One of our students is doing REU research at Ole Miss and will be going to Davis in the fall. I did not have her in my class but I became a mentor to her when she did volunteer work at the middle school with me. Now that she is with peers from other colleges I asked her if she feels we prepared her.

This was her response:

Yes, most definitely! Recently, we had a lecture where a professor presented his research (synthesizing dyes for solar cells) and he asked who had taken organic chemistry. About 10 of my peers raised their hands, including myself, and then he asked how many would synthesize the molecule he was showing (DPP17). It was an enormous organic molecule and I was the only one who’s hand was raised. I was able to raise my hand because Dr. Vaughan challenged his organic class in the second semester in a similar way. Dr. Vaughan would give us a staring material and a couple of steps and we would have to fill in the rest. This prepared me to not be afraid of synthesizing giant molecules and instead ask “what’s the starting material?” Of course, I wouldn’t have made to organic without my gen. Chem. professor, Dr. Da Silva and Dr. Copper, who taught me how to think like a scientist and approach problems differently than most people. The same can be said about all of my math professors; particularly my calculus professors Professor Starr and Professor Head. They, similar to my Chem. professors, taught me to apply what I know because the easiest path to a problem is often the correct one. I’ve had various professors in both the sciences and mathematics and they have all contributed to me being able to not be afraid of tackling problems that seem difficult and sometimes even impossible to solve at first glance. The lessons I have learn from my BC professors will transcend my summer internship and be present in my upper division courses at UC Davis and eventually at grad school when I pursue my PhD.†

Community Voices: Let’s not judge…

I just shared with you an email from Deborah Rosenthal about a student she mentored. When I asked for permission to publish her email and for pictures, she humbly refused any praise for herself as she was “just a mentor” not one of the professors that Sarai was praising. Now I can commend Professor Rosenthal for an excellent article published in the Bakersfield Californian Community Voices. She makes an excellent point about bias and judgements that continue in our community. Her article reminds us all not to judge people by their looks and the role of teachers as mentors. Professor Rosenthal’s influence and dedication as a mentor is evident in her continued contact with a student during the summer break. Be inspired and mentored by Deborah by reading her article “Let’s not judge a person by their looks.”

Emails to Share:

I was so pleased to receive this email from Heidi Forsythe:

Subject: Good News! 

I teach off campus (Inmate Scholar’s Program) and only find myself on the main campus when I need to pick up copies.  Today, I was on campus for a lengthy period of time which happen to be my lunch. As I decided how to efficiently use my time (while I waited for my copies) and plug in some exercise I chose to walk (climb my way) to the huddle where I met Christina Rodriguez.  This is where the good news comes in. Christina Rodriguez was the very cheerful food server who gladly took my order. As I thanked her for her excellent customer service she replied with great pleasure that she loves her job and the institution. She also mentioned that she is a graduate of BC.  While she is currently looking for full-time work within her field as an Administrative Assistant she expressed how happy she was working for the institution. She was very genuine in her remarks and expressed much gratitude for the opportunity to work for Bakersfield College. I was truly impressed with Ms. Rodriguez that I told her I would share the news with you and she was ecstatic.

It was so exciting to hear her brag about our amazing school.  She is a true example of the phrase, We are BC.

Kind Regards,

Heidi Forsythe

And when I shared this with Christina, she replied with a delightful email:

Dear BC President Sonya Christian,

I’m honored to receive an email from you.  I am very proud to be working at Bakersfield College Food Services Department as a permanent employee.  I enjoy coming to work and making a difference there when servicing our customers with a smile no matter how their day is going.  Bakersfield College is my second home just as it was for my mom, Theresa Rodriguez who worked there 26 years in the Food Service Department.

I graduated with an AA degree in Administrative Office Assistant and planned to make a career here.  Bakersfield College is an amazing place to work at and I enjoy every second of it. I want to express to you how much I appreciate my job, the people I work with and serving our BC students, faculty and the community.  I hope as they leave I made their day. Thank you for taking the time to read this and hope to see you soon.


Christina Rodriguez

In BC Food Services cap and t-shirt.
Christina Rodriguez

Thank you Heidi for recognizing a valuable member of our team and thank you Christina for you dedication and bringing a smile to everyone on campus. We are BC!

Fun Photos: Inmate Education Team

9 people in front of a white board with lots of writing.
Inmate Education Team

That’s all for now.

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.

the luckiest and happiest college president ever

The last week in July 2016

Good morning from Toronto, described by one citizen in a Toronto Star submission in 2010 as “Canada’a mosaic city of culture and colours.” Of course colours spelt with a “u” something I had a hard time getting used to years ago when I first came to the U.S. to start grad school.

Toronto skyline July 28 2016

Toronto skyline from the ferry. July 28, 2016

This was a 5-day trip to Toronto at a much slower pace than the 4-day trip to Rome last summer to watch and listen to our Chamber singers perform.  Thank you Jen Garrett for creating this phenomenal experience for our students.  (Here is a brief mention of my Rome trip in my June 22, 2015 blog http://tinyurl.com/zr2rcch.  Mark your calendars for summer 2018 and plan on heading to Sydney Australia to watch our students perform.)


So the five days involved spending time with Eisha and mom, a lot of time by the waterfront (Lake Ontario is beautiful), listening to music since the Caribana festival celebrating the music and culture of the Caribbean was getting started, checking out other sights, sounds and flavors of Toronto.  Two of my favorite restaurants, both on Yonge Street, close to Eisha’s Apartment were Scaddabush (in Italian it means “A bit of everything”) and the Red Tavern.

Twilight CN Tower July 29 2016

Twilight photo from Queens Quay July 29, 2016

I was about to brave the long lines to go up the CN Tower in the center of downtown Toronto one afternoon when a helpful staff member suggested coming back in the morning. Good advice – there was almost no one in line. The CN Tower is as elegant as the Space Needle in Seattle but three times higher at 1815 ft, and only one inch off of a perfect vertical. It took almost a minute for the elevator, travelling at about 14 mph, to reach the main observation deck, and another 45 seconds, travelling at 7 mph, to reach the upper “navette” observation deck.  After doing the first part, I lost my nerve to brave it to the upper deck, but Lauren, a security guard talked me into it.  Here is a selfie with her.


What a view of the city skyline, of the lakefront, and activity at the base of the tower! I enjoyed everything except the glass floor observation deck, which I did not go on! Here are some pictures that will give you some sense of just how high it is. It’s still the highest tower in the western hemisphere – only the Canton Tower in China and Burj Kalifa in Dubai (which I’ve seen but not been to the top) are higher.

Caribana: Friday the hotel and street were full of people in colorful dresses and feather costumes. Turns out this was the beginning of Caribana, a week-long celebration of Caribbean and African culture. The waterfront that evening was lined with large boats with parties and crowds dressed all in white or in colorful costumes.

The Harbourfront Center stage on the Queens Quay Terminal had a great band that backed a number of lead singers performing a mix of reggae and Caribbean music. I loved the renditions of Marley’s 1980 release “Everything Gonna Be Alright” (a high energy version of “Three Little Birds”) and “Feelin Hot Hot Hot”. A lot of the music I didn’t recognize, but the crowd definitely did, dancing and singing along.  Will definitely catch up on my reggae in the next few weeks. The evening on the waterfront listening to great music amidst a large crowd on land and many well-lit sailboats on the water was definitely magical.

Here is a short video that I took on my iphone of “Feelin Hot Hot Hot”

And here is Bob Marley with Everythings Gonna Be Alright.


Thank you BJ:

BJ and Sonya July 25 2016Let me take a moment to recognize the shuttle bus driver in LA, BJ who went out of her way to help mom.  She was a cheery woman who broke the rules to help this “mother” as she referred to mom.  When i thanked her she commented — “hold her hand as much as you can for as long as you can.”  BJ lost her mom a long time ago.  Here is a selfie with BJ a remarkable woman with a big heart who made me happy and more importantly took care of my mom.



BC Spotlighted in the Californian

These last two weeks has seen several pieces about Bakersfield College.  Here are some of them:

July 24, 2016: College district’s plans are ambitious, but maintianing what it has built requires it.  by Louis Amestoy  

July 23, 2016: Community Voices: Oh, the Places You’ll Go: My Life with History by Linda Esquivel, a Renegade. http://tinyurl.com/haep5cx.

Wonderful Opportunities

JoshIn partnership with The Wonderful Company and Wonderful College Prep Academy, local youngsters are taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity to get a head start on their future career path before even beginning college. Bringing real life and learning experiences together are important for our young people and it’s something this program does well.

“Wonderful Agriculture Career Prep is one of nearly 50 collaboratives across California providing tens of thousands of students with hands-on learning that blends academics with job training in industry sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, construction, engineering, health care, computer science and many other fields where high-paying jobs await.”

Upcoming high school junior Joshua Carreon is featured in the article and I forwarded it via email to our Agriculture Faculty, Chris McCraw – this is what I received in response!

Yes, I know Josh. Really good, ambitious student. For nearly 25 years, I have been taking photos of my students when I first meet them. This allows me to have every student’s name memorized by the second class meeting! Let me introduce you to Joshua Carreon!!”

The article discussed Joshua’s work in the academy.

“He belongs to the school’s agriculture business pathway, an innovative course of study that includes agriculture science and technology in high school, college-level business classes from Bakersfield City College and a paid internship at Olam Farms, an almond grower in the region. He’s also guaranteed a job in one of the region’s agriculture companies when he graduates high school, or after college, if he decides to attend.”

Read the full article at Edsource.org and check out this post on my blog featuring the Ag Ventures Camp at Bakersfield College!

Agriculture Ambassadors host Collegiate Agriculture Leaders Competition

Talking about our amazing Ag faculty and staff let me share with you the event that they hosted on March 4th — the Collegiate Agriculture Leaders Spring Competition.

The BC Agriculture Ambassadors hosted the event for the first time in Bakersfield College history!

Over 100 students from Community College Ag programs as far away as Shasta College descended on our campus to compete in eight different competitions including extemporaneous public speaking, prepared public speaking, team marketing, formal sales presentation, job interview, career portfolio, discussion meet, and a Jeopardy-style event called “College Bowl”.

Teams of students sat at a long table at the front of the Forum with buzzers at hand at a light in front of each team while proctors from Cal Poly and Fresno State kept a watchful eye to make sure that no one-including the host school-had an unfair advantage.

i-Nk7g6nH-X2“That’s the bragging rights event,” BC Ag Professor Chris McCraw said. “It’s a student-run event, and I think our students get a lot of value out of dealing with the rigors of hosting this program, and our students did a great job putting this on. Our kids were the problem solvers, and they reacted well, and I think it’s an advantage to have students in those style of situations.”

The students weren’t the only ones who rose to the occasion of hosting such a dynamic competition. Professor Lindsay Ono took care of registration and day of event logistics, which is no small task.

Professor McCraw explained that “We allow students to enter multiple competitions, and that made stuff a little complicated. Professor Ono put the contest together almost magically so that 100 different students could participate in multiple competitions on the same day. We wouldn’t want those students traveling long distances to only be able to participate in one event; we wanted them to get as much as possible out of the day.”

Professor Bill Kelly took care of the prepared contests like Prepared Public Speaking and Dr. Greg Cluff managed the extemporaneous speaking portion.

BC’s Ag department rocks!


IMG_4638I’d like to take this time to thank our amazing Outreach department. Their It’s POSSIBLE! event earlier in July gave incoming students a hearty welcome, with help enrolling in classes, orientation, and a guided tour of the campus.

Our new students had the opportunity to experience how easy it can be to start an exciting pathway here at BC!

We have another exciting event coming up on August 10th, from 7 am to 5:30 pm. Renegade Fest will be an all-in-one day, where students can apply, attend orientation, complete assessment testing, complete a new student workshop, meet with a counselor to develop an abbreviated Student Education Plan, register for Fall 2016 classes, and complete Financial Aid documents.

Thank you so much to Steve Watkin and his great team in the Outreach department, as well as the Admissions & Records, Counseling, and Financial Aid department for their hard work putting this together for our students. A special shout out to the assessment staff for all their efforts t make this happen — Kalina Hill, Shelia Fuller, Juan Estrada, Terri Larner, Aracley Enriquez.   It’s sure to be a great success!

For more information, check out www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/renegadefest or call (661) 395-4276.

Vision, Voice, and Inspiration of Kern County Women


Nicole Parra, Pauline Larwood, and Mary K. Shell. Photo Credit: The Bakersfield Californian

In light of this week’s Democratic National Convention and all the discussion about women and our political voice, I was really touched by two articles in the Bakersfield Californian written by Diane Hardisty featuring Kern County women and how they’re breaking the barriers.

The first, Her-story: Kern’s trailblazing women reflect on Hillary nom, details the history of the women’s suffrage movement and tells how exactly 100 years ago, in 1916 outside the DNC, women held a silent and non-violent protest to gain equal rights to vote. She goes on to quote Sandra Larson, a Shafter resident and campaign manager for Pauline Larwood as she said, “… a woman running for president would have been inconceivable in the 1940s, when I was born.” And Hardisty mentions that today, “women now serve as heads of state in several countries, including Germany, Liberia, Norway, Chile, Bangladesh, Croatia, Poland, the Bahamas, and others.”

It’s incredibly fascinating to see how our society has evolved through the history and our story of women’s rights and equality over the past 100 years.

The second piece written by Hardisty titled, They, too, were first: Shell, Larwood, others on women in politics, takes readers on a tour to get reacquainted with a handful of these revolutionary elected leaders who happen to be local ladies – some even with ties to BC and most connected to education in Kern County. Here’s a quick list with facts and details about these incredible women:

  • The Bakersfield Californian once referred to her as “the most popular politician in Kern County history,” Mary K. Shell, was the first woman to serve as mayor of Bakersfield and the second woman serving on the Kern County Board of Supervisors. With interest in journalism, current events, and politics, she began working part-time at the Bakersfield Californian at the young age of seventeen and attended Bakersfield College. Today, she is a great supporter and contributor to BC and event sits as the Emeritus Director of the BC Foundation Board of Directors.
  • The article states that “Pauline Larwood, the first woman elected to the Kern County Board of Supervisors, knew her gender might pose a challenge when she ran in 1982, but she used her name recognition and army of supporters to defeat a large field of competitors for the 3rd District seat.” Also connected to Bakersfield College, Pauline taught as an adjunct faculty here, has been a member of the KCCD Board of Trustees Finance Committee, and was involved with the Bakersfield Women’s Conference – which also began at Bakersfield College!
  • With 20 years of experience teaching in the Bakersfield City School District, Barbara Patrick “went on to serve 12 years in the office, joined 5th District Supervisor Mary K. Shell on the board. But after Shell’s retirement in 1997, Patrick was the lone woman supervisor until 2007.” In the article, she is quoted by saying ““It is a shame that more women do not aspire to public office,” she said. “We have had some excellent role models locally on school boards, the various city councils and the Board of Supervisors.”
  • Senator Jean Fuller holds an AA degree from Bakersfield College, which she earned in 1970 before launching a successful career. She served for more than 30 years as an educator and as Superintendent of BCSD when she was elected in 2006. We’re proud to call Senator Jean Fuller a Renegade.

Not mentioned in the article, but worth adding to my quick list is

  • Leticia Perez, our 5th District Kern County Supervisor is a third generation Bakersfield resident coming from a family with United States Veterans. It makes sense that she works as an avid supporter for current combat vets suffering from PTSD. Straight from her official biography, it states, “Leticia was raised alongside a dozen foster children and comes from a family who have been dedicated to public service for more than forty years in Kern County. Following in her parents’ footsteps, Leticia has been active in political and social issues, as well as Philanthropic efforts from the time she could walk.” She works relentlessly to help to residents of Arvin with essentials like jobs and education and Mary Jo Pasek hinted that there’s a big announcement coming – a gift to our BC vets to be presented next month.  Leticia also helped secure the funding the the Game Changer project at Arvin High School.  Check out my August 2, 2015 blog post at http://tinyurl.com/hkm2p6y
  • Dolores Huerta, though not a politician, spoke at the Democratic Convention on Thursday afternoon. This phenomenal woman is the Co-Founder of the United Farm Workers, along with the great Cesar Chavez, and this woman has devoted her life for the betterment of hardworking farm laborers, immigrants, and women. Her legacy of tireless advocacy is one that is truly inspiring and has made a difference for the people of Bakersfield and our entire country.
  • Grace_Van_Dyke_Bird-abcdef-8x10Last and fittingly, I’d like to also mention Grace Van Dyke Bird as a woman of vision, the first President of Bakersfield College, and the first woman to ever lead a public community college in California. She wrote in her credo, titled “The Basic Purposes of Administration in Education” about the administrator’s job of creating the best learning environment by building and showing trust in the people she leads. With this philosophy, you can see why she was widely respected on campus and in our city as an educator, the original administrator at BC, and an inspiration to all.  I am sure that Grace Van Dyke Bird would agree that…. It is a great time to be a Renegade!


Sonya at the Aspen Grove July 28 2016


That’s all for now.  

Until next Saturday.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya ….. at the Aspen Grove at Queens Quay Terminal, Toronto, Canada (July 28, 2016….a special day)