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Bakersfield College

African American Initiatives

African American Initiatives

African American Initiatives are planned interventions and strategies to address the underrepresentation of African American students at Bakersfield College. These initiatives address the student retention, persistence, and success rates. Coordination of these strategies involves the intentional establishment of collaborative partnerships among departments, programs, and in the hiring of faculty and staff committed to this work.

African American Initiatives work is funded in part by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office Student Equity Plan funding.  Learn more about the college’s strategic equity planning.

Student Recruitment

Completion Coaching Community

We’d like to introduce you to YOUR Completion Coaching Community specifically designed to work with you, BC African American Students.

Program Managers
Name Position Email Phone Location
Michael McClenic Probation & Early Alert Program Manager michael.mcclenic@bakersfieldcollege.edu (661) 395-4599
CSS Counseling Area
Name Position Email Phone Location
Paula Parks Professor, English; Coordinator, Umoja ASTEP Community pparks@bakersfieldcollege.edu (661) 395-4767
Humanities 43
Name Position Email Phone Location
Jonathan Ward Counselor, General; Counseling Expert - Health Sciences Pathway jonathan.ward@bakersfieldcollege.edu (661) 395-4421
CSS 36
Financial Aid
Name Position Email Phone Location
Jennifer Achan Director, Financial Aid jennifer.achan@bakersfieldcollege.edu (661) 395-4428
CSS 178B

Academic Communities, Classes, and Clubs

  • Lead: Paula Parks, Faculty, English
    Coordinator, Umoja Community African-American Success Through Excellence and Persistence (ASTEP)
    • Core English and Student Development Courses
    • Umoja-supported courses, such as Math and Astronomy
    • BC and Community Mentors
    • Study Sessions
    • Academic and Cultural Trips
    • College Trips and Transfer Activities 
  • Advisor, Umoja Community Club
    • Speakers
    • Study Sessions
    • Porch Talk
    • Black History Month Conference

Support Groups and Activities

Community Partnership


Infusing Equity within Guided Pathways: African American Initiatives Completion Team Model

Presentation: Infusing Equity within Guided Pathways: African American Initiatives Completion Team Model

Black Masculine Identity: Renegade Talk

Presenter: Julian James West, Equity Specialist and Academic Advisor

Trigger Warning for Discussion of Death or Dying

In a riveting speech, West examines the complexity and origins of the masculine identity of black men in America. West’s moving presentation reveals that throughout history, black masculine identity has been a dynamic social construct that can be either an asset or a hindrance.

African-American Community Leadership Meeting - Feb. 15, 2017


AAMP Open House

Julian West and Paula Parks talking to an audience of African American High School Students

On April 6, 2018, the Bakersfield College African American Mentor Program (A.A.M.P.) had a packed house for its second annual AAMP Open House. With nearly 200 African American high school students, BC was able to make a significant contribution to preparing African-American students for college before they even arrive on a college campus.

We kicked off the event with an address from our most distinguished keynote, LaMeka Ross. LaMeka faced trials and tribulations early on in her life, with the loss of her father at a young age. Despite the adversity she overcame her obstacles and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Master’s in Business Administration. LaMeka is now working in Human Resources Business Partner Role for Aera Energy. She serves as a living testament to the possibility of enduring and overcoming adversity and to reach success.

The overall theme of the event was to encourage students to exceed academic expectations. Students were split into 2 groups; one group consisted of all seniors while the other was all non-seniors. The senior high school students went to learn about the Umoja ASTEP Program here at Bakersfield College; they got to hear the experiences of prior Umoja students and meet the esteemed faculty that make it all possible. Afterwards, students were able to apply to the program, be accepted, and actually register for the program at the event.

The non-seniors were learning from three amazing workshops that exposed them to their options of dual enrollment, the importance of math, and STEM careers. The entire event was inspirational as students prepared for the transition to college, we planted seeds of encouragement and hope, and we educated students on the opportunities that college can offer.


On Monday, March 26th, Bakersfield College sent off ten of BC’s Umoja African-American Success Through Excellence and Persistence (ASTEP) students for a tour of 5 Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCU) in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia areas. Dr. Paula Parks, Umoja ASTEP Community Coordinator and English Professor, began working with Cerro Coso’s Umoja Community coordinator on joining this tour in November 2017. Paula began fundraising in December for our students’ tour costs. Students had to apply for the tour by January and selection was based on GPA, being on a transfer pathway, and interest in attending one of the HBCUs.

The 10 students attending are part of BC’s Umoja Community African-American Success Through Excellence and Persistence program. The program includes coursework (English and student development); mentoring, supported study time, a counselor who keeps students on the path to graduate, and academic and cultural trips. This is the third year of the program. The success rate is 2-4 times the success rate of Black students not in the program.

Representatives from Howard University, Norfolk State University, and Morgan State University were on BC’s campus on February 12th, 2018 for the 3rd Annual HBCU Caravan Tour put on by National College Resources.

Parks and Jonathan Ward, Umoja ASTEP Community Counselor, escorted the students to five HBCU’s from March 26th to March 30th. They visited the campuses of Norfolk State University, Virginia State University, Howard University, Morgan State University, and Bowie State University. The students were able to experience the excitement and atmosphere of being at these historical campuses.

Did you know that in order to be an HBCU the historically black college must be established prior to 1964? The oldest of the colleges the BC Umoja ASTEP students will tour is Bowie State University, located in Maryland, founded in 1865. The next two, in order of age, were both founded in 1867: Howard University is a private research university in Washington DC, and Morgan State University is a Carnegie-classified doctoral research institution in Maryland. The next is Virginia State University, located 20 minutes south of Richmond and founded in 1882. The youngest the HBCU they will visit is Norfolk State University, located in Norfolk Virginia, founded in 1935.

Student Quotes from the HBCU Caravan

This trip has allowed me to dream much bigger than before. I have explored options that I did not know existed. I now have a great opportunity to go further in life because of this awesome HBCU tour experience — Kim Evans (Umoja student)

Although Bakersfield College has provided the foundation for my creator mindset, this experience just reinforced the need for my success. — Korrie Edwards

Michael Eric Dyson (Guest speaker) add pics

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson speaking in the Indoor Theater
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson receiving a UMOJA t-shirt from Paula Parks.
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson speaking in the Fireside Room

Anita Hill

Annual Levan Lecture Reimaginging Equality Inclusive Communites in Post-Obama America: Anita Hill
Anita Hill Speaking in the Indoor Theater
The packed audience of the Indoor Theater applaude Anita Hill
Jack Hernandez, Olivia Garcia and Anita Hill await the beginning of the lecture.

Photo Slideshows

2017 African American Community Leaders Breakfast

2016 Black Graduation

2015 Black Recognition Ceremony

2014 ASTEP Community Meeting