New Student Convocation 2015: Welcome to the Home of the Renegades

sonya christian aug 20 2015

Sonya Christian welcoming the new Renegades August 20, 2015

After a century of operation, Bakersfield College has plenty of fabulous long-standing traditions.  But despite the pride of honoring BC’s storied past, it can often be just as rewarding to begin new traditions of own.

With that in mind, we held the inaugural Bakersfield College New Student Convocation last Thursday evening (August 20) in the Outdoor Theater.

The festivities began for the newest Renegades with a warm campus welcome, a student organization and department resource fair, and a full-plated dinner served by our dedicated faculty and staff.  I loved walking to the outdoor theater after fall Opening Day to see the food servers (Victor Diaz, Steve Watkin, Corny Rodriguez, Dena Rhodes, Danell Ward, Lesley Bonds, Stephen Tavoni, Debi Anderson, Keri Kennedy, Todd Coston, Liz Rozell, Chris Glaser, Kimberly Bligh, Bobby Bligh, Tom Gelder, Dana Gelder, Manuel Rosas, Charles Kim, Junioe Menchaca, Josie Guillen, Nannette Gonzales, Jo Ann Acosta, Debra Strong, Vicky Coffee, Jackie Lau  ….. just to name a few) having a great time serving our students.

Convocation 14The official convocation ceremony kicked off at exactly 7:13 p.m. (19:13 in military time, symbolizing the year BC was founded) as our Renegade mascot marched down to the stage and rang the ceremonial gong.  Nicky Damania mentioned this to me and asked that I include this in my opening remarks.

The vibration of the gong symbolizes the beginning of our incoming students’ academic journey — and if they each work hard, they’ll hear the gong sound once again in their honor in the Counseling Center once they’re confirmed for graduation.

Francis  Mayer Convocation Aug 20 2015

Francis Mayer

The program continued on with a faculty and staff processional, a riveting performance from our BC Drumline led by BC Band Director Tim Heasley, and a beautiful rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by our world-renowned BC Chamber Singers (directed by Dr. Jennifer Garrett). Jen, you and our choir students had me in tears.

Remarks and oaths were then administered for the varied groups in attendance: Academic Senate President Dr. Steven Holmes to our BC faculty and staff, Dean of Precollegiate and Student Success Dr. Janet Fulks to families and supporters, and BCSGA President Clayton Fowler to our student Renegades.

Francis Mayer as the MC was phenomenal.  The guys is just super talented.  Kinda like a Jerry Seinfeld.

Convocation 20The evening concluded with a spirited showcase by our BC Renegade cheerleaders, led by Heather Foss.

Between students, families, guests, faculty, and staff, we had well over 900 people on hand. I want to give a special thank you to Director of Student Life Dr. Nicky Damania, Student Success Program Manager Karla Young and the entire New Student Convocation Committee for making this special ceremony happen.

You can see all the images from this special evening in our Bakersfield College Smugmug gallery here.

May the energy and excitement of this spirited event continue throughout the academic year!

We Are BC!

Convocation 22

Social Science Department Pioneers Wide-Ranging, Award-Worthy Work

Prof. J. Stratton

Jason Stratton, Department Chair

I was collecting blurbs to showcase leadership and engagement of our faculty and staff for opening day and I received a fabulous zip file from Jason Stratton via Paul Beckworth on the happenings in Social Science.

Let’s sit back and enjoy our faculty colleagues in the Social Science department.

The Social Science Department has been, is currently, and will continue to work diligently to make Bakersfield College and the community around it a place for student growth.  This growth is fostered through individual faculty members’ publication of academic works, by contribution in the shared governance process, by support of student activities as an advisor/mentor/or chaperone, through involvement in social outreach to the communities we serve, through developing cultural activities/experiences and either bringing them to campus or leading field trips that allow the students to participate in this type of growth.

Prof. Randal Beeman first walk

Randy Beeman

Faculty members take leadership roles and are engaged with work on committees to make the college a stronger institution, they work on committees to recruit the ‘right’ candidate to join our family, they work on committees to improve instruction on campus, and they participate in regional or statewide initiatives to improve education for all students in higher education. They work with the media to help explain current developments and their works serve as source materials in documentaries.

Here is a sample of our achievements and activities in Social Science.  It is not a comprehensive list:

Prof. Randy Beeman has spent considerable time in composing a series of articles and books within agricultural history, with such a strong focus on the Agricultural Labor Movement that Carlos Santana’s daughter (and himself) used some of the data in a film project they are working on that is centered on Dolores Huerta.

In addition, discussions have begun either to digitize his collected works for UC Merced, or to house them as the Beeman Agricultural Labor Collection within CSUB’s special collections area.

Prof. Oliver Rodriguez

Prof. Oliver Rosales has been similarly busy in his time here at Bakersfield College. At this October’s Western History Association Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon, he is participating as a panelist on Borderlands History. Earlier this month, he organized a panel presentation on the historical legacies of the Latino Civil Rights Movement, which was held at the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association’s Annual Meeting in Sacramento.

Bakersfield College was awarded a Cal Humanities: Community Stories grant for $10,000.00.  This grant will help record & distribute untold stories of Bakersfield multiracial civil rights past.  The grant  partners with CSU Bakersfield Public History Institute and Oral History program.

Bakersfield College was awarded a Latino Americans: 500 years of History!  grant for $10,000.00.  This grant is funded by the American Library Association & National Endowment for the Humanities.  The grant funds the screening of the new PBS Latino Americans documentary and a host of public programming events associated with film screenings.  Bakersfield College will host as a first event a “Delano Grape Strike symposium” event on Thursday, Sept. 24 in partnership with CSU Bakersfield.

Erin Miller

Erin Miller

Prof. Erin Miller has been very engaged on campus through her contributions in the Women’s History events and in bringing recipient of the AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award and Chico State University graduate student Ms. Taylor Herren to BC last March to serve as the final speaker in the Women’s History Month activities.  Ms. Herren was instrumental in the CSU system adopting a sustainability policy, and she gave a presentation that focused upon female leadership in academia and the sciences.

Prof. Miller’s contributions to our college via her participation in the Habits of the Mind program have had a significant impact in improving our students’ abilities. Prof. Miller has many other activities as well, and they tend to be similarly focused upon enhancing our students’ lives and opportunities.

Prof. Matthew Garrett (the FIRST Professor Garrett on campus!) has worked well with other constituents of our college to enhance our student’s lives, both intellectually and culturally.

Matthew Garrett

Matthew Garrett

Prof. Garrett represented and was point person for the History Department as he collaborated with SGA and the Performing Arts Department to help organize the Frederick Douglass event in the Spring 2015 semester, a cultural event that brought history to life for our students. Thank you to ALL parties involved!

He assisted (amongst many others) with Dept. Chair Kimberly Bligh’s Summer Bridge program. As if his commitment to enabling student growth was not enough, his book manuscript earned the Juanita Brooks Prize this summer.

In addition to his consistent work to enhance student understanding and abilities, Prof. Christian Parker took the time this summer to try to contextualize national events for a local television station. You can see the story, which includes clips from his interview, here.

Whether it be traveling the length of the state as part of their role as Academic Senate President like Prof. Steven Holmes, traveling to various conferences for the final stages of the ‘Give a Student a Compass’ program with the CSU system and the new 3CSN movement focused on Threshold Concepts and Wicked Problems, leading students on field trips to cultural sites such as the Getty Museum like Prof. Daymon Johnson, working with the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society on campus like Prof. Charles Kim, or other student organizations, the Bakersfield College Social Science Department has consistently demonstrated a willingness to go that extra step to make education better for our college.

Our Social Science faculty colleagues rock! We ARE… B.C.!

Renegade Roundup – on Opening Day 2015

Sonya Christian Original Lane Photo

Sonya Christian

I routinely communicate with all employees at Bakersfield College through a message I call Renegade Roundup. Here is the Renegade Roundup I sent to campus on August 4 regarding our annual all-staff meeting called Opening Day.


It is August 4th which means fall Opening Day is around the corner. As we did the last two years, the college will be closed to the public on August 20th to give us the entire day to come together as a BC community—faculty, classified staff and administrators. Remember, during spring Opening Day we are still open to the public although there are no classes; so many of our classified staff and administrators find it difficult to attend spring Opening Day since they are providing office coverage. This makes fall Opening Day very special and therefore please plan on attending the entire day, using this time to get to know colleagues from other departments as we continue to strengthen our connections and build relationships across the campus to do the work of transforming our students’ lives.

As we prepare to greet and work with our students in 2015-2016, let’s pause and think about what we would like the year to look like. The theme of Fall 2015 Opening Day is Wonder. Could we make this year, as Michael Wesch puts it, a year of Wonder?

Wesch did two talks when he was with us:

A public lecture the evening before the conference titled: The End of Wonder and the Age of Whatever and the keynote on February 5th at the conference titled: Nurturing Wonder in the Age of Whatever.

In preparation for Opening Day and the year ahead I ask you to take time to watch these two talks. Each is about an hour long and through our day together, presenters will refer back to the big ideas presented by Wesch.

Schedule for Opening Day:

8:00 a.m. – Breakfast Burritos served by Chef Sabella and the Food Services staff outside the indoor theater.
8:20 – Gather in the indoor theater to see a photo-roll of images from 2014-2015—BC in Action
8:30 sharp – Clayton Fowler, SGA President for 2015-2016 will welcome us to the new academic year

The morning session will include our traditional items:

State of the College address
Presentations from our employee group leaders as well as the Academic Senate President
Introduction of new employees

In addition to these items, we will unveil version 2.0 of the Renegade Scorecard and BC’s strategic directions for the next three years. In order to fully appreciate version 2.0, get familiar with version 1.0 which can be found on the Bakersfield College website.
Also, the strategic planning team has maintained a detailed and up-to-date website.

Stu Witt

Stu Witt

The featured speaker of the day is Stu Witt, a local Bakersfield boy who graduated from Kern Valley High School and then went on to be a TOPGUN—remember Tom Cruise. His military career took him to sea as a carrier based F-14 Tomcat pilot with VF-14 and as a FA-184 project pilot at the Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, California. Witt is currently the CEO of the Mojave Spaceport the nation’s first inland spaceport that gave birth to the first commercial space program in the world. I met Stu when he was a member of the Kern Community College Board of Trustees. Let’s pack the indoor theater to hear Stu Witt.

Breakout sessions are being planned by the Professional Development team and will start at approximately 2:00 p.m. and go all the way until 5:30 p.m.

I am looking forward to seeing all of you on August 20th.

2015 Commencement Photos
If you were not able to join us for the 2015 commencement in May, you missed a great event. Our photographer captured all the sights and sounds, and some of the most amazing images of Bakersfield College’s class of 2015. The photos are posted online on our commencement website, along with the full video of the ceremony, and our student’s blogger’s first-person video from a camera mounted to his mortarboard. Enjoy!

Student Involvement Festival
The Office of Student Life is planning a Student Involvement Festival during welcome week activities, and all Bakersfield College departments and services are invited to host a booth to tell our students about the services you provide. This event will help students learn about our campus, and become engaged and active members of the Bakersfield College community. Community partners are also invited to participate. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Nicky Damania, or visit the Student Involvement Festival website.

Mark Your Calendars
August 4 – It’s Possible event. In one day, you can complete all of the BC matriculation steps
August 4 – Squared Away in a Day, Panorama Campus. A Veterans Event
August 13 – It’s Possible, 7:30 a.m., Delano
August 20 – Opening Day, 8 a.m., Indoor Theater
August 20 – New Student Convocation, 6 p.m., Outdoor Theater
August 22 – Find Your Classrooms Event, 7:30 a.m., Administration Building
August 24 – First Day of Fall Semester
September 2 – Bakersfield College Involvement Festival, 10 a.m., Campus Center
September 5 – Volley Ball at 10:00 a.m. in the gym
September 5 – Renegade football at Memorial stadium at 6:00 p.m.
September 17 – Alumni BBQ, 5 p.m., Fireside Room/Cafeteria

That’s all for now….. Until next time.

With Renegade pride and collegiality,

See all issues of Renegade Roundup online

Thank You, Frank Gifford. A star Renegade and a Driller


Photos courtesy Rick Van Horne, Haley Street Heroes

The world lost a legend Sunday when NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gifford passed away at the age of 84.

But Bakersfield lost a pioneer.

Before Buck Owens and Merle Haggard used their golden voices to add color to our city, and long before racers Rick, Roger and Casey Mears made sure Bakersfield was a fixture on the national sporting map, there was Frank Gifford.

Gifford came to Bakersfield in the 1940s when his father came to work in the oil fields. But for the younger Gifford, paydirt was struck on the athletic fields, where his talents made him a star quarterback at Bakersfield High School.

Despite his success, Gifford found himself at a turning point familiar to many young graduates: he didn’t have the grades to accept an athletic scholarship, in his case, to the University of Southern California. Rather than give up, Gifford pushed forward, enrolling at Bakersfield College instead, where he made to make his mark as a Renegade both on the playing field and in the classroom.


Photos courtesy Rick Van Horne, Haley Street Heroes

In earning his way to USC the following year, Gifford built a road map for success that ultimately inspired thousands upon thousands of future students to follow.

His football accomplishments with the New York Giants are legion: 6-time Pro Bowler, NFL MVP, league champion and finally, NFL Hall of Fame inductee in 1977. What’s more remarkable is that his second career as a pioneering broadcaster, most notably on ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” may even have eclipsed his days on the gridiron.

Bob Price

Bob Price Source:

For more on Gifford’s remarkable life, please check out Bob Price’s terrific column here.

Frank Gifford will be deeply missed. But on top of all his public triumphs and accolades, we at BC will be forever in his debt for showing our young people exactly how to follow their dreams.  Gifford hit his obstacles head-on and climbed over them rather than turn away at the first sign of difficulty.

Thank you, Mr. Gifford. And thank you Francis Mayer and Jason Kobely for pulling this together.

Does it take a village, or does it take a county? Thank you Kern County Board of Supervisors!

Arvin High Project Team

Rich McCrow, Gustavo Enrique, Jareth Regapala, Sonya Christian, Michael Turnipseed, David Teasdale, Alfonso Noyola

This morning I attended the County of Kern Board of Supervisors meeting to wait for a very special agenda item: the awarding of $400,000 to Arvin High School for a partnership with Bakersfield College that brings college courses to Arvin and helps students in the area achieve higher education completion sooner, and in fields of study relevant to immediate employability in key industries.

Bakersfield College has been focusing on improving educational attainment levels in rural Kern and the work in the Arvin/Lamont community has been critical.  With the funding from the County of Kern Board of Supervisors for the new 1+1+2=Game Changer program, Bakersfield College’s relationship with Arvin High School is expanding, and the opportunities for local students are increasing tremendously.

Much of what Bakersfield College does is guided by the Educational Master Plan, which directs the college to “explore new avenues” to educate the area’s socioeconomically disadvantaged population. Within the Educational Master Plan is the Rural Communities Initiative, which focuses on the rural communities inside Bakersfield College’s service area, and outlines specific strategies and tactics for reaching these communities with higher education information and access.

Richard McCrow, who came to Bakersfield College to oversee the operations at our campus in Delano, quickly became Bakersfield College’s lead administrator for all of our rural initiatives, designing programs and partnerships to take higher education into communities like Arvin, Lamont, Delano, Shafter, Wasco, and many more. The Rural Communities Initiative guides how Bakersfield College moves among communities where unemployment and poverty are often higher than statewide averages and educational attainment levels lower.

Rich has been expanding our offerings in the Arvin area. We already offer courses in the evenings at Arvin High School, and now the plan includes components focusing on dual enrollment and educational advising. Dual enrollment allows high school students to take courses that count simultaneously for high school and college credit, and these courses help students work toward their higher education goals.

I’m pleased that today, the County of Kern Board of Supervisors put their support behind the program by awarding Arvin High School $400,000 to make the partnership possible through more courses, a state-of-the-art interactive classroom, and technologically advanced equipment.

In brief, 1+1+2=Game Changer provides a program of study for incoming high school freshmen to take college courses at Arvin High School during the traditional school day. At the end of four years, these students will have completed their high school education and a full year of Bakersfield College classes, and will need just one more year at Bakersfield College to complete one of three educational pathways:

  • Transfer to California State University, Bakersfield for a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Supply Chain Logistics.
  • Completion of an Associate of Arts in Agriculture Business Management at Bakersfield College.
  • Application to the Bakersfield College Bachelor of Science in Industrial Automation degree program.

Bryon Schaefer

So many people made this program possible. I thank our partners, Kern High School District Superintendent Dr. Bryon Schaefer and Arvin High School Principal Carlos Sardo for their willingness to make differentiated educational opportunities possible. I thank the team that put together the proposal for their hard work: Rich McCrow, Delano Campus Director; Gustavo Enriquez, Student Success Program Manager at the Delano Campus; Veronica Lucas, Counselor at the Delano Campus; and Jareth Regpala, Counselor at Arvin High School. The 1+1+2=Game Changer program was supported among county administrative staff, including Assistant County Administrative Officer Teresa Hitchcock and Ricardo Del Hoyo from the office of Supervisor Leticia Perez.

The original momentum to making this happen came from Michael Turnipseed, CEO of Kern Taxpayers Association and Supervisor Leticia Perez, both not only committed to workforce development for the region but also able to take action quickly and decisively. I enjoyed the remarks made by Alfonso Noyola, City Manager for Arvin, as well as David Teasdale from Kern Community College District.

Amber Chiang

Amber Chiang

Things can happen rather fast here at Bakersfield College, and I’m glad we have a team working together who are willing to step in and take care of whatever may come up. That was the case yesterday when I received a phone call asking if BC could draft a press release. I called Amber Chiang, Bakersfield College’s public information officer, and gave her little more than three hours to talk to five different people and read a 25-page proposal in order to create a draft press release that could be distributed to news media as soon as the Board of Supervisors approved the funding. Of course, as she always does, Amber took the task on with flair and gusto, and produced a release that went out at 10:32 this morning. The release is posted on Amber’s page on the Bakersfield College website if you’d like to read it.

I look forward to telling you more about 1+1+2=Game Changer in coming blog posts. With this program, we are truly changing the game of education for current, and future, students in the Arvin and Lamont area of Kern County. We are BC!


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