This week I read an article about the Brooklyn Bridge. May 24th was the 138th anniversary of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, which connected New York and Brooklyn for the first time in history. It seems almost impossible now to imagine a time when those two cities were not connected. And the sheer amount of planning, thought, work and engineering that went into what became the “eighth wonder of the world.”
I’m so pleased to see resources set aside in the upcoming nationwide infrastructure plan that will help restore our great nation’s precious bridges — a thing of remarkable beauty and great engineering feat.
And it’s not only physical bridges that are key to maintaining our relationships. Our metaphorical bridges also must be maintained so that we can continue to connect with people and ideas that otherwise may have been unreachable.
That’s why I’m so proud of the Bridge to BC program. This high-touch, high-tech program helps our first-year students get all the support and guidance they need to be successful. This year’s program will be fully online, designed as a one-week course with online sections that run Monday through Saturday. The sessions will run from June through August, and are available to all our incoming freshmen, including those who earned college credits in high school.
The thousands of students who completed Bridge to BC over the last 6 years were twice as likely to attempt and complete more units, including transfer level Math and English, and to persist Fall-to-Fall than non-Bridge students.
Stephanie Ruiz, a studio arts major who plans to transfer to CSUB, wrote a piece in the Bakersfield Californian about how the Bridge to BC program helped her:
“When Bridge to BC returns to being an on-campus or hybrid experience, I know students just like me will continue to benefit, learning to navigate college both online and on campus. This experience was a great introduction and it made my first year enjoyable even though all my classes were online. This next year, I feel even more prepared to tackle my classes with confidence thanks to all the support from Bridge to BC.”
Kimberly Bligh and our entire Bridge to BC team are truly remarkable.
Where would we all be without bridges?
Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, May 29, 2021 … a great day to be a Renegade.
Thousand Flags at The Park at River Walk
If you’re looking for a way to honor our heroes over Memorial Day weekend, head out to The Park at River Walk where Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club will present “Thousand Flags.”
Bakersfield College and Rotary have been partners in many ways over the years, and the college has close ties to the Breakfast Rotary club in that Cheryl Scott, Mary Jo Pasek, and Mindy Wilmot are all members of the club, and of course Chancellor Tom Burke is a member as well!
Umoja Community honors all African-American grads
Umoja Community African-American Success Through Excellence and Persistence (ASTEP) celebrated student accomplishments and honored all African-American graduates.
Despite the challenging times, there was much to celebrate: Umoja grew in the number of courses and in programing. Jazz Appreciation, taught by Kris Tiner, and Statistics for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, taught by David Reiss, were both offered in Umoja with an African-American cultural component.
In addition, Umoja in conjunction with the Nursing department created the Employment Preparation Academy – exposing four pre-nursing students to options in the nursing field and giving them tips on applying to BC’s program.
But the real highlight of the program was honoring the eighteen participating African-American graduates. Two students shared their struggles and triumphs on the way to completing their associates degrees.
Explained Zariyah Hall, who struggled in high school: “It wasn’t until I joined Umoja that I saw the value of my journey. I learned that I have an ancestral obligation to be successful and that revolutionary patience is a virtue. These are lessons I will take with me.”
She added that she will attend an Historically Black College in the fall and earn a degree in communication with the goal of creating content that tells the stories of Black people.
Shorell Darrett said she almost didn’t make it: “I found myself in one of those dark moments and lost my focus when my younger brother died from COVID and my sister from cancer within the same week during my finals. I couldn’t see myself finishing, but here I am graduating with three degrees (early childhood education, communication, and liberal arts) and cum laude. I am forever thankful to my village: family, friends, BC counselors, and professors who held up the light that guided me.”
Thank you to Umoja Coordinator Dr. Paula L. Parks, Executive Director of Outreach and Early College Steve Watkin, and Educational Advisor Daron Mackey for making this event happen.
Umoja is accepting applications for fall and offering enrollment sessions throughout the summer. See https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/student/aai/umoja for more information.
Virtual Express Enrollment Event on June 2
Last week, Bakersfield College’s Outreach Team served over 230 students during their Express Enrollment Event on May 19th. We hope to see similar turnout throughout the summer! The next Express Enrollment Event is Wednesday June 2 from 12pm to 8pm.
Register here: https://forms.gle/og858uCosjSU6Cao9 or visit the website at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/registrationrocks
There will also be three more Express Enrollment events planned for this summer, on June 16th from 12pm to 5pm, July 7th from 12pm to 8pm, and August 11th from 12pm to 8pm.
Thank you to the Child Development Center
I wanted to share this touching email from a student, thanking our Child Development Center Rosita Barron:
My name is Sapphire Hernandez. I am the mother to Daniel Bredemann, a current student and Elizabeth Bredemann, a former student. When I originally had my children I became discouraged that I would no longer be able to pursue a higher education. After a few years I left the state I was living in, left my job and moved back with my mother determined to make a better life for my children. This semester I ended all my prerequisites for my nursing degree, graduating with a 3.8 GPA. I am eligible to apply to both BC and CSUB nursing program. I just really wanted to express my gratitude towards the Child Development Program. Knowing that my children are in a safe place with people who are honestly invested in their well being feels like a blessing. I know that my achievements would not have been possible without this program. I really appreciate the support and feel determined to achieve my goal of becoming a nurse.
I’m so proud of the Child Development Center and all they do to help our student parents. In fact, at this year’s Closing Day celebration, the CDC team received my President’s Leadership Award:
Closing Day 2021
Our first day of Closing Day 2021 programming also featured a musical performance from the Bakersfield College Choir, Chamber Singers, and Renegade Chorus. Please enjoy “In Meeting We Are Blessed”:
Vice President of Instruction Billie Jo Rice also recognized our faculty receiving tenure:
All the videos from our Closing Day programming are available at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/president/closing-day-spring-2021.
BC Hosts Fire Department Training Session
This week, Bakersfield College welcomed friends from the Bakersfield City Fire Departments Technical Search and Rescue Team to the Panorama campus. The BFD team used blocked off areas of the campus to perform non-invasive training exercises and drills utilizing GPS, search cameras, and activities focused on search and reconnaissance. I am so happy that our campus continues to be a place of learning, growth, and skills attainment for our community.
Commencement 2021 Tribute
Our 2021 Commencement again went virtual with a special tribute program that aired on KGET and Telemundo.
Today, I’d like to share a few videos from that production.
Outgoing BCSGA President Gian Gayatao’s remarks:
And our Bachelor of Science in Industrial Automation graduates.
You can see all the videos from the program at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/admissions/2021-commencement-tribute.
Another Jack Hernandez poem, inspired by the horrific violence facing parts of the world:
A Distant Country
My car is being routinely
serviced oil changed
brakes and tires checked,
I at a table by a window
drinking special coffee
watching people order
their favorites to go.
In a distant country
dusty and war weary
young school girls
leaving their classroom day
are shredded by a bomb,
their clothing now
their parents weeping.
My car is ready for the road.
The girls are lowered into the ground.
In the News
Community Voices: The Crowning Glory of Vaccines
Dr. Brij Bhambi wrote about the importance of vaccination and continued mitigation measures as we fight to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic:
“As I have reiterated ad nauseam, vaccine hesitancy is the last mile we need to triumph through doctors offices. It’s the steepest part of the hill, the part where you retool to summit the top.”
You can read more of Dr. Bhambi’s thoughts on the blog he and I have created together, https://bhambiandchristian.com/.
Community Voices: Out of the cave, into the sun
Jack Hernandez’ piece in the Bakersfield Californian looked at what good might come after over a year of pandemic:
“So as we leave the shadows of the pandemic, let us also leave the false shadows of so-called normal life. Let us leave all the shadows of the cave. Let us emerge into the clear sunlight of the truth about what is really important in life: that we care for others, our families, our friends, our neighbors, the strangers who are homeless.“
Community Voices: Education is peacebuilding
Kara McDonald wrote about the place education has in building peace in our society:
“So, what if in school, we were taught to recognize indicators of conflict? Or how to have non-violent conflict? Or how to listen with empathy and curiosity instead of judgment? Our lives would also be exponentially easier if we understood peace as much as we understand conflict. We would navigate conflict more easily, there would likely be less violence, and we would develop societies where peace, justice, and equity are able to thrive.”
I’d like to share a few more videos from the Educators for Peace seminar on May 18.
The first question in that seminar was “what is peace, and what does a peaceful future look like to you?”
Here is Jessica Wojtysiak responding to that:
And Richard McCrow:
You can see all the videos from the Educators for Peace seminar, as well as the Mothers for Peace seminar, at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/president/bc-peace-initiative.
Fun Photos & Spotted on Social Media
I loved this message from Bakersfield City Councilmember Andrae Gonzales, about the Cash for the Arts utility box project. These are near Williams Elementary in East Bakersfield:
Olivia Garcia got some exercise with her mother:
Check out this view from Faith Bradham, who shared a picture from Canyonlands National Park:
Abel Guzman shared this note from the McFarland graduation – Early College team members Alma Feathers and Raquel Lopez were on hand to celebrate our Early College graduates from McFarland. Congratulations class for 2021!
This week, Cerro Coso Community College President Sean Hancock hosted Zav Dadabhoy (who will be BC’s interim president), Porterville College President Claudia Habib, and myself.
I also had to share this throwback photo of Neo, four years ago, taken June 3, 2017.
Congratulations to former Renegade Hector Ruvalcaba, who was named to the 2021 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association’s 2021 All-Central Region Team. Hector now plays for Oklahoma Baptist University.
That’s all for now.
Until next time.
With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
the luckiest and happiest college president ever