On June 27, Assemblyman Rudy Salas informed President Christian of the exciting news: Gov. Brown had just signed the 2018-2019 California state budget which specifically allocated $1 million to Bakersfield College’s workforce development programs. Assemblyman Salas has always been a champion for the Kern community, but his work ensuring these funds were to be secured for BC took his commitment to education to a new level.
Assemblyman Salas recognizes education as an economic driver. His phenomenal work and dedication to obtaining these funds is vital for our North Kern students, many of whose parents and grandparents never dreamed of their children going to college. This allocation is a tremendous win for the Central Valley!
Bakersfield College has recognized the need to expand opportunities for families in our smaller communities which are often plagued with limited access to resources and services. BC will now be able to invest and make significant impacts in educational access for the North Kern communities, specifically in the Career Technical Education and Rural Initiatives programs. The areas in North Kern that will be impacted by this new funding will be Delano, McFarland, Wasco and Shafter, as well as the south Kern communities of Arvin and Lamont.
Building on the successes of the main campus, Bakersfield College evaluated programs that would make the biggest impact on rural communities. Through Workforce Development Analysis, a strategic plan was developed to expand offerings in these areas. All of our efforts will now be able to be taken to the next level.
The Industrial Automation baccalaureate degree program will now be expanded to the Delano campus. We recently celebrated the graduation of our first class of baccalaureate degree students who are now employed at an 85 percent success rate.
The first HVAC certificate and associate of science degree offered by BC will now be offered, exclusively at the Delano campus, community and surrounding areas. The creation of an HVAC lab on the Delano Campus will serve as Dual and Concurrent Enrollment for the area’s local High Schools.
The welding faculty will expand their mobile welding program to provide a more comprehensive classroom setting. This laboratory would be built on a trailer to travel to Arvin, accommodating up to twenty students, all while providing a hands-on experience.
The Rural Initiatives Distance Education (RIDE) program delivers live stream Bakersfield College courses to rural high schools. Beyond its already established distance education classrooms at Arvin High School, Delano High School and Cesar E. Chavez High School, RIDE will now be expanded to other rural high schools. Additionally, new equipment will be able to be purchased to provide for the CTE approved General Education Chemistry course, helping to maintain BC’s commitment to students accomplishing their educational goals in a timely manner.
The impact of this financial support will be immediate. We will begin seeing these projects in the coming year, and we look forward to sharing the progress with the communities they will serve. Supporting student success is at the core of Bakersfield College’s mission. These new and expanded programs at the Delano campus and surrounding areas will directly influence students’ ability to realize their educational and career dreams. Not only will the current students be affected, but so will those of generations to come.
The discussion of higher education’s importance is spreading across Kern County. These curriculums are opening doors in typically disadvantaged areas. The students in this region now see college in their future. We are bringing BC closer to their home and are working to shift our efforts from creating a “College Ready Culture” to a “College Going Culture.” It’s an exciting time to be a Renegade, as well as a member of the Kern County community. Together, we truly are valley strong!
Tamara Baker is the Community Relations Manager at Bakersfield College.