Bakersfield College was awarded $3 million in Title V funding designed to address disparities in quality health care access throughout Kern County, according to a news release from the school on Monday.

The college said the grant recognizes BC’s efforts to advance student completion and workforce readiness. The news release said BC will use the money to help combat shortages in the healthcare workforce, which have been further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BC said it will specifically expand the college’s health sciences pathways through Early College, transfer pathway agreements, and strong partnerships with health care providers and community organizations.

“Bakersfield College has always had a focus of rising to meet the needs of our community by offering targeted programs which prepare students to be successful, while also giving back to the community we call home. In recent years, the college has focused on improving student efficiency, bolstering support and vital programs, while reducing costs for students and taxpayers,” BC President Sonya Christian said in the news release. “BC is proud to be a Hispanic Serving Institution, serving first generation Hispanic students and all who seek higher education. Our BC Renegades of today will be the game changers of education and public health of tomorrow.”

BC said that various healthcare professions are among the fastest and largest growing occupations in Kern County, experiencing a 23.9 percent growth rate since 2015.

The school also pointed out that public health science is a rapidly-growing field.

BC Director of the Student Health and Wellness Center, Cindy Collier, said the college is seeing increased interest in its health sciences and public health programs. The school hopes to continue building on that momentum.

“Renegades now want to step into the world of public health and they want to be a vital part of the solution for the greater well-being of Kern County,” Collier said.

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