Welcome email to our student veterans

Bakersfield Sunrise Aug 24 2015

Sunrise in Bakersfield on August 24, 2015

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

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

Michele Corny Paul Aug 19 2014

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

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

Hello BC Student-Veterans,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Beckworth

Associate Dean of Student Success

Students Love our Faculty and Staff!

I am always excited when I receive an email from a student celebrating our faculty and staff here at BC.

I wanted to share a few more of the good notes I’ve received lately.


sue granger with shohreh Rahman

Sue Granger with Shohreh Rahman

Sue Granger

Dear Ms. Granger,

In case you don’t remember me my name is Ian Stevenson and you helped me earlier in the semester when I couldn’t make it in to the PHIL B9 class I had registered for. You were instrumental in helping to get me opportunity after opportunity to try and keep the doors open for me. If I had not gotten in to the online ENGL 1600 late start class that you recommended, I would be waiting another year in Bakersfield to take one class to qualify me to apply at UC schools. Well Ms. Granger, I got into that online class and I am doing great. I was accepted to UCSB, UC Davis, and on April 25th i was accepted to the school of my dreams: UC Berkeley. It is largely because of you that I am able to even enjoy such an achievement. I absolutely cannot put into words my gratitude and only have to say that it is great educators like yourself who go the extra mile for their students to make a world of difference. Thank you for being there for me when I needed it the most. I will never forget your help and kindness.


Ian Gene Stevenson


Liz Rozell 3

Liz Rozell

Liz Rozell


I know it’s been a long time since we last spoke, but I wanted to give you an update on my life and to thank you.

In May, I finally graduated from The University of Utah, with a BS in Materials Science and Engineering, as the third generation in my family to graduate from the U.  As you can see from my email signature, I am now a process engineer for the ceramics company at which I have been a co-op for the past 2 years.

As cliché as this may sound, I would to say thank you for believing in me, even when I thought my academic goals had been lost.

You said to me  one day “ Liz, you’re tough as nails”. And that has stuck with me. On the days that felt especially hard, I would remind myself that Liz Rozell, the toughest lady I know, thinks I am as  tough as nails.

I would have preferred to tell you this in person, but I’m not sure when I’ll be back in Bakersfield.

Thank you for everything you have taught me, inside the classroom and out,

From one nail to the other, keep being tough!


Liz Smith

Elizabeth Smith

Process Engineer


Robert Boyles

Robert Boyles

Robert Boyles

To Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian: Hello my name is Martin Martinez, a returning student at Bakersfield College. I would like to commend the teaching abilities and give special recognition and thanks to my physical education instructor, Robert Boyles for all that he has done. I am currently attending his summer co-ed course in physical education, which will be ending on 08/07/14. The class is a pass or fail, worth 1 unit in credit, but worth so much more to me. Instructor Boyles made the class fun, challenging, and interesting, while providing both mental and physical positive results. If I could attend the same class a second time, as opposed to joining a private gym, I would. What I have gained physically from the course is the loss of body weight and fat, an increase in endurance, along with a reduction in core size. All the running and cardio we were exposed to throughout the course is responsible for lowering my heart pulse and increasing my levels of energy. I never missed a day of class, and participated in every drill and exercise, always having an open mind, and eager to face the next challenge Mr. Boyles would present. As a result, I feel stronger mentally and physically, all due to the teachings of Instructor Boyles. He provided the class with exercises that private trainers or gyms should be utilizing but do not. A great deal of the exercises the instructor presented to the class was good old fashioned drills that reminded me of my days in elementary school. Although these drills required work and effort, they would always put a smile on my face and make me laugh.  I also learned a great deal of field exercises, which assisted my core and leg muscles, which help rid of fat and assisted in building strength, balance, endurance, and flexibility. I’m a health conscience individual and being and staying in shape means a great deal to me. It’s no secret that by exercising you decrease the risk of unnecessary illness or disease, and increase the quality of life and lengthen your life span. Being in shape also increases your confidence and makes you a better student in the classroom, and just makes life more pleasant altogether. It takes a distinctive person to be a responsible effective leader and instructor like Robert Boyles. He created an atmosphere of unity and friendship, regardless of being indoors or outdoors, and was always available to assist student with answer to their questions. Being in his role requires patience, understanding, creativity, compassion, passion, and the ability to adapt to a wide range of personalities, and levels of fitness. Instructor Boyles has excellent people skills, and has a personality that is approachable regardless of whom you are. I have already begun to incorporate the workouts I have been exposed to, into my own training, and I will continue utilizing these training methods to maintain my health. Thank you Instructor Boyles for all of your efforts, for being a great coach and trainer, for inspiring and pushing students to achieve a higher standard of physical fitness and knowledge. I took the time to type this letter, because a simple thank you did not seem adequate enough for his contributions and dedication to the students. I can only pray that my instructor gets the fair recognition and praise he deserves for being passionate about his role as a physical education trainer.

Martin Martinez

BC in the News: Making It Happen (MIH)

Janet Fulks 3

Janet Fulks leading the effort for the Making It Happen cohort

The Bakersfield Californian article about remedial education and the associated costs describes the stimulus for exciting new Bakersfield College strategies designed to help students complete their education plans more efficiently. The entire process begins with closer cooperation and communication with our high school colleagues. The plan uses a cohort of first time,first generation students from a program called CalSOAP – California Student Opportunity and Access a collaboration with CSUB. The BC students belong to a cohort called “Making it Happen” and a project that has four phases: 1) Improving placement practices including changing to Accuplacer and using multiple measures, 2) Connecting students with mentors who will provide personal guidance and contact, 3) Specific Classroom interventions including classroom alerts systems, 4)Predictive Analytics- the use of past data analysis to provide messaging to students that will help them succeed (like Amazon and Netflicks – “students who took this class had a 70% chance of passing if they completed tutoring). 33 mentors (8 administrators, 5 classifed staff and 20 faculty) will reach out to their mentees to provide to help provide the first generation students real-time help (since we have too few counselors?).

Kimberley Blingh Selfie July 27 2014

Kimberley Blingh, co-lead for the Making It Happen cohort

The efforts are already paying off. Similar students from past CalSOAP cohorts registered at BC at only 56-62%, but 90% of this cohort of 467 students have registered for classes. And the students registered as advised, addressing the remedial courses they need first and signing up for full loads instead of partial load. These two factors – (1) addressing remediation needs early and (2) taking a full load, have been shown through data analysis as factors that promote success in achieving educational goals. 70 of the students have signed up for summer student development bridges. One of the two summer bridge programs starts today, August 4th, and my student mentee is part of the program.

Here is the article with comments from Vickie Spanos, and our very own Janet Fulks and Kimberley Blingh (previously Van Horn).  Btw, Kern High School District has been a great partner and we plan on strengthening that partnership.


Bakersfield Californian: Sunday, Jul 27 2014 09:00 AM

Remedial education costing community college students

BY LAUREN FOREMAN, Californian staff writer lforeman@bakersfield.com


Two years ago, Lezlie Cranston, 20, took a placement test at Bakersfield College that landed her four course levels below college writing and three behind in reading.

In math, her weaker area in high school, she was behind three academic levels.

“It’s just, I don’t test well,” Cranston said.

The test results meant she had to complete more than two semesters of remedial courses. Taking the “academic development classes” pushed back her graduation — planned for this past spring — more than a year and will cost her family more than $1,000 including the price tag of four remedial writing courses she still needs to complete.

A statewide report released earlier this month by the nonprofit Campaign for College Opportunity shows Cranston is not alone: enrollment in pre-college level courses extends time in community college by more than a year and adds 20 extra needed credits, costing students thousands of dollars more.

Part of the problem is a disconnect between what students are learning in high school, what they need to know in college and how they are placed in college courses.

The problem is widespread.

Eighty-four percent of incoming Bakersfield College students must complete remedial courses before taking college math or English these days, according to Janet Fulks, a BC microbiology professor and student success researcher.

Very few of those students graduate anywhere close to on time.

Only 34.8 percent of BC students who took remedial courses in math or English in 2007-2008 were eligible to transfer to four-year schools, earn degrees or receive certificates within six years, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office said earlier this year.

It was the lowest completion rate for unprepared students at the college in at least five years.


Statewide, 40.5 percent of community college students who took remedial courses in math or English in 2007-2008 were eligible to transfer to four-year schools, earn degrees or receive certificates within six years.

The cost is high.

Community college students in the Los Angeles area who finish school on time spend about $15,000 — Campaign for College Opportunity wrote in its report. Students who take three years to finish two-year degrees pay about $7,600 more, or $22,700.

The cost more than doubles for students who take four years or more to earn a two-year degree.

Fulks, the BC instructor and researcher, said the problem is amplified in the Central Valley, where 80 percent of students are first-generation college attendees.

At Porterville College, 37.6 percent of students who took remedial math and English in 2007-2008 were eligible to graduate or transfer. The figure was 28.2 percent for Taft College and 37.2 percent for Cerro Coso Community College in Lake Isabella.

Fulks said they get stuck in a “remedial whirlpool.”

“They don’t know why they’re there. They don’t know how to get out, and we know from the data that they fail,” Fulks said.


Key to bringing down the number of students in remedial courses, Fulks said, is correctly determining which students need the courses in the first place.

Over the years, BC cut the number of advisors who place its approximately 8,000 students registering to four. It forced BC to rely mostly on a test to place students in courses despite state law requiring colleges to rely on multiple measures.

That’s changing. The school is getting more state funding to hire two additional counselors and plans to hire two more.

BC also rolled out a new system this spring that bases student placement on high school GPA, grades from the highest level of high school math and English taken and placement test results.

Fulks said students can place a level higher on placement tests if they got a C in the highest level of English and a B in the highest level of math in high school.

“We saved over 800 semesters of student time,” Fulks said.

Students would be better prepared for college, professors say, if they took four years of math in high school instead of the required three.

It’s an aim local high schools are backing but not requiring.


Kimberly Bligh, a remedial math, reading and writing instructor at BC, said a basic arithmetic class fills up three weeks after registration. About 90 percent of BC students have to take some level of remedial math.

Bligh said a fourth year of math in high school could significantly improve the amount of remediation needed in college.

It can, because of a change in BC policy, even help some students bypass remedial math — which like all other remedial classes doesn’t count toward college graduation requirements.

Still, the Kern High School District — from which 65 percent of BC students graduate — is not discussing a change in math requirements, said Vickie Spanos, director of instruction for KHSD.

“I don’t think we need to be discussing that necessarily,” Spanos said. “What I think is those students that are pushing toward college are pushing toward that fourth year of math.”

Cranston said she took three years of math but sees the benefit of four.

“It would help when you go into college,” she said. “But I think the high schools are trying to give you some leeway.”

Spanos added some students simply need remedial education. They don’t have the knowledge or maturity to be successful in college courses.

Vickie Spanos

Vickie Spanos


Spanos said KHSD recently implemented changes targeting those unprepared students as well as those improperly placed in remedial courses.

Some of the changes — a heightened focus on literacy, new state standards for learning and new standardized testing in high school — are already happening, Spanos said.

KHSD is also requiring all incoming freshman to take an English assessment test and bringing math teachers together to plan lessons to be used districtwide.

The high school district will also, starting this fall, have students develop long-term education plans in which they base their high school courseload on future goals.

And high school teachers and administrators will more closely collaborate with their local college and university counterparts.

“We’re not a unified district,” Spanos said. “We need to be a unified community of educators.”


Wednesday, Jul 30 2014 06:31 PM
THE GRADE: Cal-SOAP and Stuff The Bus
By Lauren Foreman, Californian staff writer lforeman@bakersfield.com

CAL-SOAP CHANGES UNDERWAY: Most days, incoming Bakersfield College freshman Carmen Murillo begins an 8-hour workday at 4 a.m. at The Garlic Company on Zerker Road. She travels from her home in Shafter to sort garlic to pay for her personal expenses.

“That is not a future,” Murillo said.

Ultimately, she wants to transfer to a university and develop a business to help families in need internationally.

Murillo is a first-generation college student and one of 450 incoming freshmen matched with BC mentors. The idea is to better monitor the course selection and academic success of students from low-income families who are either first-generation students like Murillo, or from areas with few college attendees.

The students are part of a state-funded program called the California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP), which BC implemented in 2011.

The program will start the 2014-2015 year at BC with a Summer Bridge session next Thursday for about 170 students who volunteered to participate.

Summer Bridge is part of a larger BC goal to improve graduation and university transfer rates.

Fewer than half of BC students — 39.9 percent — reached that goal within six years of entering college in 2007-2008, according to a state community college scorecard.

Janet Fulks, a BC student success researcher, said she met a first-generation student in June who performed at the highest academic level on BC’s placement test in writing, reading and math, but signed up for culinary arts and child care courses based on an uncle’s advice.

“He just told me these are the classes girls should take,” Fulks said, repeating the student’s explanation.

Fulks said first-generation college students make up 80 percent of Central Valley students. Learning how to succeed in college is vital for them.

“They don’t even know how to think about what to do in the future,” she said.

BC began in Spring 2014 matching its 450 Cal-SOAP students with mentors, assigning them to BC staffers trained in special intervention and identifying them through an alert system matching them with tutoring services if they earn a grade of C or lower on their first tests.

Manny Mourtzanos and his mentee

Manny Mourtzanos with his student mentee Source: Bakersfield Californian

Emmanuel Mourtzanos — Murillo’s mentor and a BC dean of instruction — said he was a first-generation college graduate and understands how “navigating a system that is unfamiliar can be very daunting.”

He earned a doctorate in education from Seattle Pacific University in 2005.

“It’s easy to feel a lack of confidence,” Mourtzanos said.

But, he added, once students understand they deserve to be in college, they can achieve degrees.

Congrats to BC Alum Kevin McCarthy!

Sonya Christan and Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Sonya Christian and Kevin McCarthy post Renegade Football Championship game

On behalf of the students and employees of Bakersfield College, I send warm congratulations to Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy on his election as House majority leader. Today, July 31, 2014, he takes Renegade pride with him to the top of the house majority party.

Renegade blood flows in Congressman McCarthy’s veins. After the football state championship win two years ago, Congressman McCarthy took time from his busy schedule to congratulate our players.

Just this last October, at our Centennial Gala event, Bakersfield College honored Congressman McCarthy for his service to the community with a 100 Stars award.

Kevin is a proud Bakersfield College alumna, and we at Bakersfield College celebrate his achievement!

Sonya and Kevin

Kevin McCarthy with Sonya Christian and the BC Team at the Chamber installation dinner

Delano Relay for Life Raises $2500 for Cancer Research!

Sonya Christian and Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg with the Delano Team at Relay for Life

In Delano, the Relay for Life event raised more than $141,000 for cancer research, with our Delano Campus team raising $2,517! Team captain Krystal Vellido made the work enjoyable for participants, and coordinated a series of fundraisers to help the team surpass their $1,000 fundraising goal by more than $1,500! Go Gades at the BC Delano Campus!ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage


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