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Bakersfield College

Distinguished Speaker Series

BCSGA and the Office of Student Life would like to invite you to attend one or all of this year’s Distinguished Speaker Series events.

The Bakersfield College Distinguished Speaker Series brings community leaders from around the world to Bakersfield whose achievements have had national and/or international significance. Each speaker was proposed to BCSGA by either a department or a faculty member. Collaboration between many entities on campus make these events successful each year!

The events are free and open to the public. All events this year are scheduled to be via Zoom on a virtual platform. Closed captioning will be available at each event.

For more information, please email studentlife@bakersfieldcollege.edu

BC is proud to announce and welcome to campus this series of speakers. While the campus is closed, all presentations will take place online live via Zoom and BCSGA Facebook.

Fredi Lajvardi

STEM | Robotics

Improbable to Unstoppable

Thursday, September 3, 2020
10 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Live via Zoom and BCSGA Facebook

Fredi Lajvardi kindles your innate sense of ingenuity with his remarkable firsthand account of how he transformed a group of high school students into a national champion robotics team.

Fredi captivated the country when he led his team of disadvantaged teenagers in a university-level underwater robotics competition, where they defeated leading schools, including top-ranked MIT. Their story inspired the acclaimed documentary Underwater Dreams and was also adapted into the major motion picture, Spare Parts, starring actor and comedian, George Lopez as Fredi. His award-winning Falcon Robotics team is also featured in the 2017 film Dream Big.

Find more information at Fredi Lajvardi

Man smiling.

Speaker Biography

Nationally Recognized STEM Educator & Subject of the Critically Acclaimed Documentary, Underwater Dreams, the Major Motion Picture, Spare Parts and the IMAX film Dream Big.

Honored with numerous awards for his spirited passion for teaching, Fredi continues to serve as a prominent advocate about the importance of STEM education nationwide.

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Faculty Coordinator: Stephen Tavoni, Professor of Biology.

Louie Cruz Beltran

Master Percussionist | Superb Singer | Versatile Entertainer

Wednesday, September 16, 2020
10 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Live via Zoom and BCSGA Facebook

Whether he is at the Hollywood Bowl, or an intimate supper club, Louie Cruz Beltran always connects with his audience, delivering a crowd pleasing, high- energy performance. In addition to being recognized as a master percussionist, Louie is a superb singer, and a versatile entertainer.

Louie performed on the National Mall in Washington DC through the Smithsonian Institution to close Jazz Appreciation Month, followed by a sold out show at famed Blues Alley in Georgetown. He has performed at major festivals including the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl, and the Concord Jazz Festival. He has been a popular repeat attraction at the Levitt Pavilion, and at top venues including Herb Alpert’s Vibrato, and recently performed at the prestigious Jazz at Drew, and Oxnard Jazz Festivals.

He has appeared with Carlos Santana, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, and Smokey Robinson, among many others, and has performed the National Anthem for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Anaheim Angels. His CD “Paint the Rhythm” reached #11 on the Media Base smooth jazz charts. His single “Esperando” reached #4. His popular interactive solo percussion presentation “Rhythm and Roots” has been presented in over 40 Los Angeles County Libraries.

Man smiling holding beed covered instrument.

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Faculty Coordinator: Kris Tiner, Professor of Jazz.

Victor Davis Hanson

Military History | Classics | Educator

Tuesday, September 29, 2020
10:30 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Live via Zoom and BCSGA Facebook

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno.

His acclaimed research in military history and the classics provides a thoughtful foundation from which he has authored over two dozen of books spanning the ancient and modern world on topics as wide ranging as Greek warfare and California immigration policy.

Hanson’s career included distinguished fellowship at the US Naval Academy and at UC Berkeley and an endowed visiting professorship at Pepperdine University. He served as a board member on both the Guggenheim Foundation and Bradley Foundation and as a presidential nominee on the Battle Monuments Commission.

He is the recipient of numerous national prizes in humanities and history, including the National Humanities Medal (2007), Bradley Prize (2008), William F. Buckley Prize (2015), and Edmund Burke Award (2018). Hanson is also a regular contributor to policy discussions in both academic and popular articles, opinion pieces, and podcasts.

Man in suit and glasses.

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Faculty Coordinator: Matthew Garrett, Professor of History.

Beverly Gooden

Empowerment | Advocate | Overcomer


Tuesday, October 27, 2020
10 a.m. & 6 p.m.
Live via Zoom and BCSGA Facebook

Beverly Gooden breaks down the myths and misunderstandings around domestic violence to illuminate the complex reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships and what you can do to help. Recently the “me too” movement has shown us what our society considers acceptable can be changed by the work of many individuals coming together to speak with a unified voice.

Known for creating the viral Twitter hashtag #WhyIStayed in the wake of several high-profile domestic violence incidents, Beverly sparked a national conversation about how society views victims, while calling for a community response to this important social issue.

Drawing on her own gripping tale of overcoming an abusive relationship, Beverly provides you with a personal account of how it feels to live in fear and why it’s so difficult for individuals to leave those who exert physical and emotional control over them.

On stage, Beverly lays the groundwork for critical conversation about the dynamics of abusive relationships, while revealing ways that you can help, including the important questions to ask those who you suspect are being abused. With unguarded honesty and palpable passion for changing lives for the better, she empowers audiences to expose their own stories and discover their role in ending domestic violence.

Woman smiling and hand to her shoulder.

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Hosted by: Alyssa Olivera, BC Campus Advocate
Sponsored by Alliance Against Family Violence, CSUB Equity Inclusion Compliance, and Kaiser Permanente.

David French

Senior Editor | Columnist | Bestselling Author

Tuesday, November 10, 2020
10 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Live via Zoom and BCSGA Facebook

David French is a senior editor at The Dispatch and a columnist for Time.

A graduate of Harvard Law School and a constitutional lawyer, David most recently worked as a senior writer for National Review and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

He is a New York Times bestselling author, and his next book, Divided We Fall, will be released in 2020.

David is a former major in the United States Army Reserve. In 2007 he deployed to Iraq with the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment and was awarded the Bronze Star.

Man speaking on set of a news cast.

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Staff Coordinator: Jenny Frank, Manager for Veteran Affairs.

Gordon Bellamy

USC Professor | Game Designer for Madden NFL Football

Tuesday, February 2, 2021
10 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Live via Zoom and BCSGA Facebook

Gordon is a Visiting Scholar at the USC Games and head of the USC Bridge incubator program, helping to cultivate the next generation of leaders in our craft. He has played key business and product leadership roles at Tencent, Electronic Arts, as a designer on Madden NFL Football, and MTV, and consulted for numerous companies in the industry.

He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 at GDC and was featured on Nickelodeon for Black History Month for his 25 years of contributions to game industry and culture.

Close up of man smiling.

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Faculty Coordinator: Harold Mendoza, Professor of Computer Science.

Elaine Weiss

Journalist | Writer | Suffrage Activist

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
10 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Live via Zoom and BCSGA Facebook

Award-winning journalist and the author of the highly acclaimed narrative non-fiction books The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight for the Vote and Fruits of Victory: The Woman’s Land Army in the Great War, ELAINE WEISS sheds fascinating light on women's rights, suffrage, and the 19th Amendment for hosts nationwide.

Weiss' The Women's Hour was hailed as a "riveting, nail-biting political thriller" with powerful parallels to today's political environment. She's been sought-out to speak about the research behind the book-- and the relevance of the 19th Amendment today-- everywhere from The Library of Congress to The Wilson Center. Weiss’s powerful words will also come to life on the small screen, as Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television has optioned the rights to The Woman’s Hour with Hillary Clinton set to make her debut as an executive producer on the project.

The Woman's Hour the Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss book cover.

In remarks that are empowering and eye-opening, Weiss inspires audiences with conversations about what it takes to change the Constitution, the power of civic engagement, how change is made, and the story of past and present voting rights. Praised by the League of Women Voters of the United States for doing an “amazing job of bringing the history of the League to life and connecting it with our organization today,” during a speaking engagement, Elaine has an innate ability to connect with any group and clearly explain the direct relevance of history’s most controversial issues. The Tennessee Municipal League put it best after watching her inspire their audience: “In this crazy world we live in, we need more people like [Elaine] inspiring others to be good people!"

Elaine Weiss website

Elaine Weiss author portrait.

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Faculty Coordinator: Olivia Garcia, Professor of History, and Erin Miller, Professor of History
Brought to you in collaboration with the WHAM Foundation.

Barry Scheck

Attorney | DNA expert | co-founder of The Innocence Project

Thursday, April 15, 2021
10 a.m. & 6 p.m.
Live via Zoom and BCSGA Facebook

Barry Scheck is known for years of landmark litigation that set the standards for using DNA evidence in courts throughout the country. Drawing from his nationwide movement to re-examine the fairness and efficacy of our criminal justice system, Scheck discusses how scientific evidence can prove that a convicted person is factually innocent.

The Innocence Project started in 1992, a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system to prevent injustice. Scheck and the organization have used DNA evidence to exonerate almost 300 wrongfully imprisoned people, many of whom were on death row or had been incarcerated for decades. Scheck and his work with The Innocence Project were the basis for the TV drama The Divide.

In Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted, Scheck exposed the mishandled evidence and coercive interrogations that plague the legal process. Publisher’s Weekly called the book “an alarming wake-up call.”

In October 2010, Scheck and The Innocence Project were featured in the feature film Conviction. The film retold the true story of a Betty Anne Waters (played by Hilary Swank) and her quest to free her innocent brother from prison. After putting herself through college and law school, Waters joined with the Innocence Project to seek the DNA testing that would free her brother. Peter Gallagher played the role of Scheck.

A DNA expert with the O.J. Simpson defense team, Scheck has represented notable clients including Hedda Nussbaum, Louise Woodward and Abner Louima. More recently, Scheck served as counsel to wrongly accused Duke University lacrosse player Reade Seligmann in a civil lawsuit filed against the city of Durham, North Carolina. He has covered the Oklahoma City bombing and other trials for NBC News.

A Commissioner for the New York State Forensic Science Review Board and Professor at the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, Scheck is considered to be one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. His honors include the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Robert C. Heeney Award for recognition of outstanding contributions, and the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers—Thurgood Marshall Award.

Scheck claps behind an Innocence Project podium.

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Faculty Coordinator: Reggie Williams, Professor of Philosophy.
Brought to you in collaboration with the Levan Institute.