As a native of Kern County, born and raised in Porterville, community means everything to me. After graduating high school, I attended California State University Fresno and entered law school. I am now a practicing criminal defense attorney here in Bakersfield.
Every day, I see where our community struggles, but more often, I see where it comes together and succeeds. Often, the nexus of that success emanates from our area's community college: Bakersfield College.
I am a father of five and four of my children have attended BC. Two of my daughters earned their AA degrees at BC. Another started college their before transferring to CSUB and one is currently attending BC in order to satisfy requirements for entrance into medical school. I am also a veteran, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. I have seen first-hand the innovative ways that BC interacts with its vets and supports their success. BC means a great deal to me and to our community.
Any community college in a city like Bakersfield can open doors through education. Those open doors lead to potential success for any of our residents. Whether planning to graduate or reentering the work force, anyone motivated to do so can find the inspiration, assistance, and resources they need at their community college.
Many times I have served as a guest lecturer in political science courses on the topic of the Fourth Amendment. I have worked with many of BC’s professors. As a group, they are well-grounded individuals — intellectual, yes — yet are able to relate with their students.
Students feel open to discuss their hopes, their desires, and their goals. At BC, faculty and staff lay an educational foundation that allows the student to succeed to their highest potential. Whether a student aspires to be a carpenter, plumber, architect, or engineer, the avenues to learning are open and faculty members meet students on their terms. They effectively and efficiently serve our community’s students. I get a sense of satisfaction that BC is our community’s college.
Not all individuals have the same opportunities. This fact may be more evident in Kern County than in many other communities. I had the great fortune of graduating high school and transferring directly to Fresno State; however, my father, a stern and traditional man, would not allow my two older sisters to leave home to study. Although they couldn’t leave our community, my sisters received an excellent education at BC’s sister institution, Porterville College. This allowed my siblings to expand their education well beyond high school.
The name community college says it all — it gives every community member, traditional and non-traditional students alike, the opportunity to learn and grow.
One of the many ways BC now supports non-traditional students for success is its newly inaugurated 2+2+3 Program. I know first-hand the many obstacles faced by non-traditional students wanting to enter law school. BC’s pre-law program enables students to transfer to a university and then to a three-year law school.
As a former State Bar Trustee, I was proud to serve as a liaison to the group that chose BC as one of only 24 community colleges to offer such a program.
I see the students of Bakersfield College as the eyes and ears of the institution: they see and hear, they learn. The faculty is the heart of BC.
What about the body, the bones? The infrastructure of BC’s campus overlooking the bluffs is 60 years old and it’s starting to show. Put another way, 21st Century learning can’t happen in mid-century facilities. Just think of the advances in architecture, building construction, disability access, and learning technology that have been introduced in the last 50 years.
Our community’s college is in dire need of replenishment, and the time to provide that is now. Measure J, on the Nov. 8 ballot, is the best, most direct way to provide BC with the badly needed funds to carry this venerable, cherished community institution further into the 21st Century.
I urge you support the many needs of our community and the success of your children and neighbors. Join me in voting yes on Measure J.
David Torres is a Bakersfield attorney.