Bakersfield College

Distinguished Speaker Series

The Bakersfield College Distinguished Speaker Series brings community leaders from around the world to Bakersfield whose achievements have had national and/or international significance. The goal is to bring six speakers to campus each academic year. The events are free and open to the public. Parking is also free on the days of the event. ASL interpreters are provided for each speaker event. For more information, please email

Download the Full Distinguished Speaker Series Brochure

BC is proud to announce and welcome to campus the first series of speakers:

  • Orubba Almansouri
    Thursday, September 21, 2017
    7 p.m. | Indoor Theatre
  • Ignacio Garcia
    Thursday, October 12, 2017
    7 p.m. | Indoor Theatre
  • Elizabeth Perez-Halperin
    Wednesday, November 8, 2017
    8:30 a.m. | Fireside Room, Campus Center
  • Michael Eric Dyson
    Thursday, February 8, 2018
    **New Date**
    7 p.m. | Indoor Theatre
  • Lydia Otero
    Thursday, March 22, 2018
    6 p.m. | Fireside Room, Campus Center
  • Kerem Sanga
    Thursday, April 12, 2018
    6 p.m. | Forum West, LA Building

Ms. Orubba Almansouri

Redefining Success:
Why My Educational Journey Cannot be An Individual One

Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 7 p.m.
Edward Simonsen Performing Arts Center (Indoor Theater)
Faculty Coordinator: Professor Joe Saldivar, Biology

Orubba AlmansouriIn reality, education should be a right for everyone. Unfortunately, even in our 21st century global village, education remains a privilege. There are millions of young girls and boys across the world, even here in the United States who do not have access to education, and thousands who fight for a chance to learn everyday. Education is key to creating change, but change comes in different forms and different degrees. For those of us who aspire to create change via our education we must understand our own stories and struggles and define for ourselves what our education means to us and how do we define our success in this path. By the end of this program, you will come to know my story with education and how I came to redefine what success means to me once I realized that my journey in education is really our journey - my family's and my community's. For me, like millions around the world, my personal journey with education was never, and will never be, just an individual one.

Speaker Biography

Orubba Almansouri is a native of Yemen. In 2016, she graduated with Honors as Salutatorian of the City College of New York with a B.A in History and English. She is currently finishing her masters program in Near Eastern Studies at NYU. As a Mellon Mays Fellow, she worked on researching the intersection of oral traditions and literature in the works of Yemeni author Nadia Al-Kokabani and the importance of oral poetry and folklore in Yemen. Orubba aims to continue her journey in learning how Muslim women plot themselves into history and their contributions to and roles in oral traditions and cultures of the Middle East. Going through this journey as a scholar and creative writer she aspires to discover her inner stories in the process of documenting and preserving the rich Yemeni folklore and women's oral histories. As an advocate for education Orubba was invited by First Lady Michelle Obama to speak at the United States first Women's Summit in D.C last summer. Currently, Orubba channeled her passion for educational advocacy to team up with colleagues and reestablish the NYC chapter of the American Association of Yemeni Students and Professionals (AAYSP) an organization that focuses on education empowerment for Yemeni students and families in NYC. Orubba will utilize her education at the Kevorkian center to prepare for a doctoral degree in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies focusing on the Arabian Peninsula, and to continue advocating for girls education and social justice.

Brought to you by CSU Bakersfield and Bakersfield College as part of the Student Leadership Conference.

Dr. Ignacio Garcia

Becoming Brown in America:
Octavio Romano, El Grito, the Chicano Movement and Me

Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 7 p.m.
Edward Simonsen Performing Arts Center (Indoor Theater)
Faculty Coordinator: Dr. Matthew Garrett

Ignacio GarciaThe presentation will be a memoirist odyssey on why and how I and many other Mexican American youth in the 1960s became brown and Chicano and went into activism and the academy. I will talk about the conditions in which many of us lived, the inadequate schools we attended, the identity crisis many of us faced and the bleak economic future that awaited us. Into this landscape entered Octavio Romano, an anthropologist at the University of California-Berkeley, and the first Chicano Movement intellectual. He articulated in both a scholarly and intellectual fashion the aspirations of Mexican Americans throughout this nation. He established the journal, El Grito, whose works created the foundations for what is now known as Chicano studies. More importantly for individuals like me, he and his journal gave us a voice, helped us understand our history and identified those elements, institutions, and individuals who were hostile to our community. I came of age during those tumultuous years and continue to carry that spirit of activism and commitment to my community.

Speaker Biography

Identities are complicated things. Often contradictory and rarely easily understood, identities emerge early in ones life and are shaped continually through daily social relations as we seek to make sense of the world and our place in it. To some, the identities of Chicano and Mormon may seem contradictory or oxymoronic. The prior is an ethnic identity born out of the social activism of the late 1960s and early 1970s with specific reference to the cohort of Mexican American students and activists that embraced cultural nationalism and the anti-assimilationist politics of self-determination. The latter is a religious identity associated with a form of nineteenth-century Anglo-American Protestantism and conservative social values and politics. Yet, for Dr. Ignacio M. Garcia, Professor of Western & Latino history at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, there is no contradiction in being a Chicano Mormon. In his recently published memoir, Chicano While Mormon: Activism, War, and Keeping the Faith (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2015) Professor Garcia recounts how his faith, acquired as a member of a Spanish-speaking Mormon congregation in the west side barrio of San Antonio, formed the basis for a lifetime of social activism and academic scholarship. In this deeply personal narrative, Dr. Garcia addresses the tension of navigating two seemingly contradictory social groups while growing up in a segregated barrio, fighting for America abroad, and organizing for la raza at home.

Brought to you as part of the Hispanic Heritage Month.

Petty Officer Elizabeth Perez-Halperin

Women Veteran Speakers

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 8:30 a.m.
Levan Center
Faculty Coordinator: Professor Paul Beckworth

Elizabeth Perez HalperinWomen are already working in combat roles and military situations. Why is it important for our military to include women in combat and other top ranking roles? Elizabeth Perez-Halperin will discuss gender bias and the burden women veterans carry to continue to show they are as qualified as their male counterparts.

Speaker Biography

Elizabeth "Liz" Perez-Halperin is the President and founder of GC Green Incorporated (GCG) and owner of Green Build General Contracting and Consulting Firm. GC Green is involved in an effort to broaden the outreach and impact of the green economy. In addition to being an active builder and installer of green solutions, GC Green also participates in a growing network of providers and promoters of education, training, apprenticeship, and project placement opportunities in energy efficiency and renewable energy systems for Veterans and other displaced workers in California.

Liz was recently selected by Governor Brown of California to serve as a board member of the California Veterans Board, which advocates on behalf of former military members and identifies the need. Before GC Green, Liz served in the Navy for nine years as an Aviation Logistics Specialist. The creation of GC Green was Liz's vision to find meaning and purpose after struggling with the challenge of transitioning from the military.

Liz is very passionate about using her personal experience and struggles to support the veteran community. She uses her network to help other veterans to find job opportunities in the green economy and to promote to veterans to seek out and follow their own entrepreneurial dreams. She is currently the spokesperson for Veteran Entrepreneurship for California Association Micro-Enterprise Opportunity Veteran Entrepreneur (CAMEO), which promotes veteran women entrepreneurship.

Brought to you as part of BC Veterans Week in collaboration with the Veterans Committee.

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson

Martin Luther King Jr. & (African-) American Leadership in the 21st Century

Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 7 p.m.
Edward Simonsen Performing Arts Center (Indoor Theater)
Faculty Coordinator: Library Department Chair Kirk Russell and Professor Valerie Robinson

Michael Eric Dyson

Poverty. War. Bigotry. Those are the tenacious triplets of evil that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. always referred to. While America has made strides toward true equality among varying ethnic groups, there are still some glaring disparities. Today, the rest of the nation is obsessed with demonizing the poor. Black and white, red, brown and yellow, we have not much sympathy for poor people. King was one of the greatest Americans in the history of the land and would undoubtedly applaud and celebrate the rise of Barack Obama, America’s first black president. But at the same time, he would challenge and criticize him. It might be hard for the young people of today to believe exactly how unpopular King was toward the end of his life. 

Speaker Biography

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson – an American Book Award recipient and two-time NAACP Image Award winner – is one of the nation’s most influential and renowned public intellectuals. He has been named one of the 150 most powerful African Americans by Ebony magazine. The Philadelphia Weekly contends that Dr. Dyson “is reshaping what it means to be a public intellectual by becoming the most visible black academic of his time.”

Dr. Dyson’s pioneering scholarship has had a profound effect on American ideas. His first book, 1993’s Reflecting Black: African American Cultural Criticism helped establish the field of black American cultural studies. His next book, 1994’s Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X, was named one of the most important African American books of the 20th century. Dr. Dyson’s first book on Martin Luther King, 2000’s I May Not Get There with You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr., made a significant contribution to King scholarship by recovering the radical legacy of the slain civil rights leader. According to book industry bible Publisher’s Weekly, his 2001 book, Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur, helped to make books on hip hop commercially viable. His 2006 book Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster was the first major book on Katrina and probed the racial and class fallout from the storm. Dr. Dyson’s 2005 New York Times bestseller, "Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?", helped to jumpstart a national conversation on the black poor that has been called the most important debate in black America since the historic debate between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. His book, The New York Times best-selling April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America, has been hailed by The Washington Post as “an excellent sociological primer on institutionalized racism in America.” His most recent book, Can You Hear Me Now? The Inspiration, Wisdom, and Insight of Michael Eric Dyson, offers a sampling of his sharp wit, profound thought, and edifying eloquence on the enduring problems of humanity, from love to justice, and the latest topics of the day, including race and the presidency. It is both revealing and relevant and at once thoughtful provoking and uplifting.

Not only has Dr. Dyson taught at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities – including Brown, Chapel Hill, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania – but his influence has carried far beyond the academy into prisons and bookstores, political conventions and union halls, and church sanctuaries and lecture stages across the world.

Dr. Dyson has appeared on nearly every major media outlet, including The Today Show, Nightline, O’Reilly Factor, The Tavis Smiley Show, and Real Time with Bill Maher – and he has cemented his star appeal on such shows as Rap City, Def Poetry Jam, and The Colbert Report. He is also a contributing editor of Time magazine. In addition, he hosts an hour-long news and talk program on NPR, “The Michael Eric Dyson Show,” where he delivers thoughtful analysis of today’s biggest stories from pop culture to race relations.

His powerful work has won him legions of admirers and has made him what The Washington Post terms a “superstar professor.” His fearless and fiery oratory led the Chronicle of Higher Education to declare that with his rhetorical gifts he “can rock classroom and chapel alike.” Dr. Dyson’s eloquent writing inspired Vanity Fair magazine to describe him as “one of the most graceful and lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today.”

Dr. Dyson is presently University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University where, in 2011, he received widespread attention for his course “Sociology of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z.” His legendary rise – from welfare father to Princeton Ph.D., from church pastor to college professor, from a factory worker who didn’t start college until he was 21 to a figure who has become what writer Naomi Wolf terms “the ideal public intellectual of our time” – may help explain why author Nathan McCall simply calls him “a street fighter in suit and tie.”

Brought to you as part of the African American Heritage Month in collaboration with BC African-American Initiative Committee. This speaker is also part of the Cerro Author Series . 

Dr. Lydia Otero

Mexican American Women and Historical Preservation

Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 6 p.m.
Fireside Room, Campus Center
Faculty Coordinator: Professor Tina Mendoza

Lydia OteroDr. Otero's presentation will highlight the efforts of Mexican American woman who launched separate historical projects in the latter half of the twentieth century in Tucson, Arizona and whose activism spanned more than three decades. She will discuss how she used an interdisciplinary framework to analyze power relations and discourses that influence the way society thinks of and condones as acceptable and ‘legitimate’ histories. The presentation focuses on her book "La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwestern City" (University of Arizona Press, 2010). In addition, Dr. Otero will discuss the Mexican American Studies Public History project that she started at The University of Arizona and how it assists with the Historical Preservation of the Latino/a community in Tucson, Arizona.

Speaker Biography

Dr. Lydia R. Otero is an associate professor in The Department of Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona, teaching courses in culture, history, gender, and urbanization. Born and raised in Tucson and has deep family roots on both sides of the Arizona-Sonora border inspired Otero’s interest in regional history. In 2011, the Border Regional Library Association awarded Otero’s book, La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwestern City a Southwest Book Award. This work chronicles how for close to one hundred years, tucsonenses had created their own spatial reality in the historical, predominantly Mexican American downtown, and the politics of urban renewal that led to their displacement in the late 1960s. This book provided the source material for the local Borderland’s Theatre’s “Barrio Stories,” a site-specific theatrical event that took place over four days in 2016, attracting over 4,000 people.

Otero’s newest book project highlights the activism of two Mexican American women who launched separate historical projects spanning more than three decades in the latter half of the twentieth century in Tucson. This project will analyze power relations and discourses that influence the way society conceptualizes, condones and limits histories as acceptable and “legitimate.”

Otero heads the MAS department’s public history program, Nuestras Tierras, Nuestras Culturas, Nuestras Historias designed to reclaim, preserve, and document the experiences and contributions of people of Mexican descent in the U.S.- Mexico border region. She currently serves on the National Advisory Board of Chicana Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social. Otero is also on the Advisory Council of the Chicano Studies Oral History Project at the Bancroft Library’s Oral History Center at the University of California, Berkeley and has served as a grant reviewer for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Brought to you in collaboration with the BC Women's History and Awareness Month Committee (WHAM).

Kerem Sanga

First Girl I Loved”: Empowering the LGBTQ Community Through Film

Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 7 p.m.
Forum West, LA Building
Faculty Coordinator: Professor Helen Acosta

Kerem SangaKerem Sanga wrote and directed FIRST GIRL I LOVED, a film that tells the story of a high-schooler named Anne - played by UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT’s Dylan Gelula - who falls in love with the most popular girl in her high school. When Anne confesses how she feels to her best friend Clifton, he does everything he can to sabotage Anne's potential romance. FGIL broaches several challenging topics, including: consent, sexual identity, and the emotionally-overwhelming task of coming out as LGBTQ. This powerful film experience will help young adults who may be going through similar struggles understand that that they are not alone on their path toward growth and discovery. It will also help those not experiencing these issues first-hand gain insight into the lives of their peers they may not otherwise relate to.

Speaker Biography

Kerem Sanga is a writer and director. His latest feature film, FIRST GIRL I LOVED, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Best of NEXT Audience Award. His previous film, THE YOUNG KIESLOWSKI, premiered at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival, winning the audience award there and at festivals across the country. Kerem has a degree in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin, and he attended USC film school as an Annenberg Fellow.

Brought to you in collaboration with Bakersfield LGBTQ.

Kern Community College District