Another usual weekend enjoying the Bakersfield Community

Clayton Fowler and Sonya Oct 3 2015 Leadership Conf

SGA President Clayton and Sonya Christian. October 3, 2015

I stopped by Wendy’s last evening to pick up a spicy chicken sandwich for dinner and the young woman serving me spontaneously commented that she was a student at BC, psychology major, and that her teachers in all of her classes were the very best.  This encounter is not unusual for me or for any of you.  BC has stood for excellence and leadership for over a century and this community has steadfastly supported its college for all that time.

My Saturday morning started with welcoming over 100 students from BC and CSUB who were attending a Leadership conference at the indoor theater.  Bakersfield Strong: Our city, our organizations, our student leaders was the theme of the conference.  I was proud of our SGA President Clayton Fowler and Director of Student Life, Nicky Damania, who planned this event in collaboration with CSUB.

What a community we have – you just have to look.

Fred Mike Sandi Oct 3 2015

Fred Smith, Sandi Taylor, Mike Madeiros

After the morning event, I headed to the College of the Canyons stadium where the Renegades were meeting the Cougars. Standing near the end zone I was perfectly situated to see the crowd on both sides of the field. I was thinking about how many of our community members turned out for their team, and how much they care for and support the student athletes.

At halftime it was shaping up as a tough match in a tough season. As I spoke with the community members I heard their unwavering support and dedication.

In the second half one of our players, Terrence Young (23) went down with an injury on his right shoulder.  Dr. Bill Baker took to the field right behind our athletic trainers, Mike Medeiros and Fred Smith. Dr. Baker is a former BC football player himself, and it was at BC that he met his wife Sharon.  The two of them come to the Renegade games year-in and year-out to support the team, and Dr. Baker to volunteer his services.

Sharon and Bill Baker Oct 3 2015

Sharon and Bill Baker

Terrence was clearly in pain from his right shoulder injury, and after stabilizing him Dr. Baker signaled for the ambulance.  Sandi Taylor and the Athletic Dept. Assistant Alex followed the ambulance to the Henry Mayer hospital on McBean Parkway where Terrence was taken.

After the game I joined them, and in the waiting room once again saw our community join together in support of our student. Coach Chudy was there and spoke to Terrence’s grandmother.  Stig Janz, Ed Advisor for the athletes was there as well, and it seems attends pretty much every athletic event. Fred Smith stayed the night with Terrence at the hospital.  Just wonderful!

I had the opportunity to visit with Sharon Baker who attends each game with her husband. How fortunate we are at BC to have such commitment from folks like the Bakers.  And of course Dr. Tivnon.

As I sat with this community of support, talking quietly and there to support Terrence, I was aware that this community is family. This community, this family, comes together to celebrate when times are good and gathers together when times are hard. Thank you Bakersfield! Thank you Dr. Baker! Thank you Dr. Tivnon!

Group at hospital Oct 3 2015

Sharon Baker, Sonya Christian, Sandi Taylor, Vickie Edden, Alex Broom

BC engaging our community on issues of Equity and Inclusion

Members of the SF Youth Theater during Friday's performance of

Members of the SF Youth Theater during Friday’s performance of “In and Out of Shadows” in Bakersfield College’s Simonsen Performing Arts Center.

Cool things are happening on and around the BC campus every day.  I could walk you through any dozen entertaining and enlightening offerings in the past seven days (and that would barely cover sporting events alone), but with all due respect to all the great things that happen here daily, let me focus on one that took place this week that truly speak to the diversity and pride we see 24/7/365 at Bakersfield College.

On Friday, Sep 25th, BC got to celebrate the arts, address a critical social issue, engage with our wider Bakersfield community and reach out to the next generation of Bakersfield College students — all at the same time.

In and Out of the ShadowsBC hosted a Simonsen Center performance of playwright Gary Soto’s amazing musical “In and Out of Shadows” as presented by the incredibly talented actors and performers of San Francisco Youth Theater’s DREAM ensemble.

A powerful piece of theatre, “Shadows” tells funny, eye-opening and sometimes tragic stories of what it’s like to be an undocumented resident of California as told by teens trying to navigate those confusing and often frightening waters.

The play was assembled from Soto’s interviews with actual Bay Area DREAM Act kids, offering a deeply authentic voice to the all-encompassing human impact our nation’s thorny immigration policies have on young people.

Students from Arvin, Golden Valley and Mira Monte high schools at the

Students from Arvin, Golden Valley and Mira Monte high schools at the “In and Out of Shadows” performance.

And who better to relate to those stories of youth struggle than students from some of our local high schools?  About 200 teens from Arvin, Mira Monte and Golden Valley high schools packed Simonsen with enthusiasm and appreciation for the production and it was a joy to introduce them to our campus and our commitment to performing arts.

The play was followed by an equally engaging panel discussion on all aspects of America’s immigration debate organized by the California Endowment and moderated by BC Professor Gerald Cantu.  The panel even featured local activists, organizers and attorneys who work in South Kern County.

The event was one of a series of events planned with our partners at CSU Bakersfield commemorating the 50th anniversary of the historic 1965 Delano Grape Strike, a standoff that still stands as one of the watershed labor and civil rights events in our nation’s history.

A huge thanks to Gerald as well as Professor Oliver Rosales for helping to put this tremendous event together.

Thank you Jason Kobely for covering this event.

Remembering Tom Nery, a true Renegade


Sonya Christian with Tom Nery. Fall 2014

We lost a true dyed-in-the-wool Renegade earlier this month.

Thomas Nery, a BC grad and member of the storied 1961 Renegade football team that played in the historic Junior Rose Bowl against Cameron University, passed away a few weeks ago.

I first met Tom, 76, at last year’s Homecoming game and was immediately struck by his winning personality and deep sense of pride and enthusiasm for his alma mater. So it was with great sadness that I received this email earlier this week from Tom’s daughter Kim Nery Drndarski.

Hello Sonya,

I wanted to share the news of the passing of my father, Thomas Nery, a former BC Renegade from 1961.

Tom Nery

Tom Nery with daughter Kim

At last year’s homecoming, you interviewed him and me during the game. You really made him feel special that afternoon, the hero he is to his family.

We went to the GWC game last week, and I saw you there. I wanted to tell you my thanks in person and give you a giant hug, but I knew I was going to cry and I decided to send you cyber hugs instead.

My Dad passed on 9/1/15, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. It takes the worst cancer to bring down a Renegade. He will be placed at Greenlawn on River Blvd., on 10/3/15 at 11am. He worked there when he was attending BC. I made sure that his niche faces the school and asked if he could hear the game from where he is on Saturday nights. :o)

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for making him feel so special that day.


Kim Drndarski

Nery-02Kim also sent this photo of Tom in his vintage 1961 BC jersey along with his grandson.  50 years later and the jersey still fits…

During our time together at 2014 Homecoming, I shot this quick video talking with both Tom and Kim.

First, a thank you to Kim for taking the time to reach out and pass along the sad news. I’m returning that cyber hug and adding my thoughts and good wishes for you and your family as you go through this difficult time.

And also, a sincere thank you to Tom. You represented Bakersfield College with distinction 50 years ago on the gridiron, then spent a half-century further honoring this institution by leading a life that bettered your community while raising a beautiful, loving family.

As Tom himself said in the video, “I had a good life.” No one could ever ask for more.

I know I’ll be thinking of you when I head out to Memorial Stadium Sept. 26 for our next home game against Allan Hancock. And I’m heartened to know that your spirit will be there cheering on future Renegade squads for decades of Saturday nights to come.

Rest easy, Tom.

Porterville College: Pirates and Renegades Together

Porterville College logo

Since I am starting this blog on September 11th, I would like us to take a moment to pause and reflect on September 11, 2001.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend part of the day at Porterville College to attend the Board meeting.  As we arrived on campus, Nan and I talked about the spirit of community that PC promotes and the richness of life on campus.  We proceeded to have a great lunch cooked by none other than Chef Coyle and had a wonderful conversation with PC faculty and Public Safety Officers who joined us.  The topics ranged widely including how it was important to “feed our souls” ….. what can i say, healthy body, mind and soul to give the best to our students.

I woke up early this morning after a restless night and thought I would start a blog and share with you some of what I really enjoy about our sister campus.

Back in 1927, something wonderful happened in the quiet Tulare County community of Porterville.  Back then, it had only been 25 years since the town’s inception at the foot of the Sierras, but progressive Portervillians quickly realized there was already an insatiable need for higher learning to service their growing population.

And in 1927, Porterville College launched its first classes on the campus of the already established Porterville High School, serving 97 eager students.  A thriving new institution was up and running.

Porterville College

Courtesy Porterville College

For the better part of the past century, PC has maintained a keen focus on servicing its most important asset – the Porterville community itself.  And that’s not just lip service.  When I think of community, I think of people who aggressively identify their needs (as well as those of their neighbors), then move to take care of those needs. They see an area of deficiency — and they move to solve it.

Communities aren’t defined by an insular silo approach to problem-solving.  They’re defined by individuals moving to take care of those problems.  And for decades, Porterville College has taken a proactive, can-do approach to tackling issues with studied persuasion and plenty of old-fashioned heart.

Porterville College CHAPAmong its many virtues, perhaps the aspect of PC that I’ve always treasured the most is the sense of intellectual curiosity exhibited by PC’s faculty and staff.  Nowhere is that thirst for new and exciting pursuits more in evidence than in Porterville’s exceptional CHAP program.

For the uninitiated, the Cultural and Historical Awareness Program (CHAP) was started at PC in 2002, dedicated to shining a light on often overlooked aspects of our society.  Each year, PC’s CHAP members identify a theme, then work with faculty to integrate that theme into coursework campus-wide.

This year’s theme is “The Life of Books: Written Language Past and Present” — and just last night, they hosted a presentation on comics and the art of visual communications with famed comic book creator and historian Scott McCloud. CHAP consistently features inspired topics, hosts inspired guests and generally inspires both PC and the entire Porterville community to think differently.

In fact, Prof. Oliver Rosales from BC shaped the BC-CHAP program after PC’s.  Here is an excerpt from the website where Oliver pays homage to Prof. Richard Osborne:

The project is a direct result of the mentorship of Professor Emeritus Richard Osborne of Porterville College. Over a decade ago, Professor Osborne launched Porterville College’s CHAP initiative to much success, bringing in hundreds of speakers over the years. He has been generous with his time, sharing with Professors Hart and Rosales strategies for implementing a successful CHAP series in Delano.

Well, programs like CHAP preserve that spirit and certainly replenish our soul.

The ties between BC and PC, not to mention the deep tradition of collaboration between the two campuses, are strong and long-standing.  The connection has stood the test of time for nearly 100 years at both Porterville and Bakersfield and will undoubtedly continue long after present staff, students and faculty at both institutions are gone.  It’s so incredibly heartening to experience the richness of our sister campus and I’m confident that the BC-PC partnership will continue to strengthen and flourish for the next generations to come.

September 5th: A normal Saturday of Renegade Life

Office Watson at AAMP Sep 2015 rotated

Officer Watson presenting to the AAMP Group. Photo by Steve Watkin

What a lazy Sunday morning.  Woke up late, had a cup of coffee, read the paper, went for a walk and now back at home, reflecting on the weekend, and blogging. It has been a rich and full weekend so far, and what struck me is that this is not an anomaly in the Renegade lifestyle – it’s the norm. How fortunate I am; how fortunate we are.

Friday, Sep 4th, as Nan and I were walking out of our office we ran into Steven Watkin who proudly shared this photo of his son doing a presentation for our African American Make students.  I so loved the picture, and the pride and joy that my colleague Steve displayed sharing this photo, that I wanted to share it with the rest of the college.

Oliver Rosales with Gil Padilla

Oliver Rosales with Gil Padilla Photo from Oliver Rosales’ Facebook

Saturday, September 5th, was full of events.  It started for me in Delano by attending the 50th anniversary celebration of the Delano Grape Strike.  Our very own Oliver Rosales was instrumental in bringing this education event to our community.  I could only attend a small portion of the conference and realized quickly that there is so much I did not know about the place where we work and its history.  A sense of place and knowing its history adds to what we can bring to our students both in curriculum but also in conversations that we have with them as well as with the larger community.  I watched a brief film that was put together by John Armington completely on his ipad.  The story told by John is about his father and through this personal narrative we also get a glimpse of 1965 Delano and the plight of Fillipinos who were doing backbreaking labor in the fields and the vineyards. It also traces their efforts to organize and break free. Unfortunately I was not able to stay for Oliver’s presentation because it conflicted with my third event of the day – the New Faculty Reception. I must add that I am really proud of the work being done at our Delano Campus — Director Rich McCrow, all the faculty, all the staff with a particular shout out to Raquel Lopez and Juan Torres.

Coach Ferreira and his team Sep 5 2015 resized

Coach Ferreira with the Lady Gades Photo by Sandi Taylor

In between the Delano trip and the New Faculty event, I was able to go check out the Volleyball tournament at the Gil Bishop gym. Was so happy to see a good turnout from the BC community as well as the larger external community.  I sat with Pam and Robert Boyles, who brought their granddaughter Emily to the game.  You can already see the Renegade spirit in this little one who not only yelled out the chants — Go Gades, We are BC — but also had a loud whistle!  It was a treat watching the Lady Gades in action and even better watching our calm and talented coach, Carl Ferreira, talk to them during timeouts. We have the very best coaches at BC.


Dept Chair, Dr. Joe Saldivar, clearly partying at the New Faculty Reception. Sep 5, 2015. Photo taken by Jennifer Marden

Our traditional New Faculty Reception was made extra special both by having the largest cohort of new faculty, as well as having a faculty member with us who was hired in 1965 in political science, who later became a powerful force in Washington DC setting policy to benefit the whole nation and also taking care of his community back here in Kern County — Bill Thomas, Prof. Emeritus of Political Science and Former Congressman.  The atmosphere was relaxed and everyone seemed to be in a good space breaking bread together and getting to know each other.  The food was spectacular, thanks to Chef Eric Sabella and his staff, and the layout was elegant yet dressed up with Renegade Football paraphernalia including the necessary popcorn as the centerpiece. Thank you also to Mary Jo Pasek for dressing our new faculty in BC Red T-shirts with our slogan “We Are BC” clearly defined. Thank you Manny de los Santos and Karla Young for taking photographs and doing the video shoot.  And thank you Jennifer Marden for pulling the event together.


Bill Thomas–Faculty Emeritus, Political Science; Congressman. Photo by Jennifer Marden

Bill Thomas addressed the New Faculty Reception, reflecting on what Bakersfield was in 1965 and what it is now in 2015 as well as the entry-level faculty salaries in 1965 and 2015. He ended his remarks on an inspirational note that what has always been consistent at Bakersfield College for the last 102 years has been the quality and excellence of its faculty. And I can endorse that Congressman Thomas. The current cohort of faculty is truly exception and I cannot wait to see how they continue to advance the work of this sacred academic community.  It is a good time to be at BC!

Romeo Algbalog, Lucy Perez, Victoria Agbalog

Trustee Romeo Agbalog, with wife Lily and daughter Victoria, enjoying Renegade Football. Sep 5, 2015. Photo by Karen Goh

The day ended with some Renegade Football. Last night there were over five thousand community members that came out in force for the start of the 2015-16 season of Renegade football.  It felt wonderful walking over to the game with the cohort of new faculty and their families, engaging with Renegade life.  Coach Paula Dahl had me in tears with the rendition of the national anthem.

The event started with the traditional Running of the Renegades that welcomes the Renegade Football Team back to the Stadium for their first home game. BC Students ran across the Memorial Stadium field to the 50 yard line behind the Flag and alongside the BC Cheerleaders before the BC Football took the field against Riverside College. Thank you Nicky Damania and SGA President Clayton Fowler for organizing this opening event.

The cheerleading and music set the atmosphere thanks to Becky Whitson and Heather Foss, and the drum line was spectacular – thank you Tim Heaseley. It was tough to lose the opener, but as we know, the Renegade spirit is to stay tough in the face of challenge, fight back and win – it’s what we do. It’s going to be a great season. It’s a good time to be at BC!


Some extra photographs until Manny and Karla get the photo gallery completed.  At that time I will come back to the blog and insert a link to the photo gallery.

Jay Rosenlieb Sonya Christian Karen Goh

Jay Rosenlieb, Sonya Christian, Karen Goh

Jennifer and Connor

Jennifer Marden with son Connor Marden Photo by Sonya Christian


Sonya Christian with Richard Miles, Computer Science faculty Photo by Jennifer Marden


Set up for New Faculty Reception on September 5, 2015 Thank you Jennifer Marden and Planning Team


Sonya Christian with Ximena Da Silva Tavares, Chemistry faculty Photo by Jennifer Marden


2015 New Faculty Reception Photo by Jennifer Marden


Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg with Jim Heitzeberg Photo by Jennifer Marden


2015 New Faculty Reception. Elizabeth Nelson, Counseling faculty Photo by Jennifer Marden


Sonya Christian with Deb Rosenthal, Chemistry faculty and her husband Phillip. Photo by Jennifer Marden

delano grape strike panel sep 5 2015

The panel presentation that I attended at the conference L to R: John Armington, Lorraine Agtang, Gil Padilla, Dr. Albert Bacdayan. Photo from Oliver Rosales’ Facebook

50th anniversary of the Delano grape strike Sep 5 2015

Bold Steps: Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike. Photo from Oliver Rosales’ Facebook


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