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 made this year’s speakers series the largest of nine.

Books for each of the speakers will be available for faculty to check out if you would like to use the text in your class. Many of the speakers will be doing classroom presentations if you request them. All books are also sold within our BC Bookstore.

The events are free and open to the public. Parking is also free in the solar parking lot on the days of the event. Livecast to the Delano campus is set and listed. ASL interpreters are provided for each speaker event when requested two weeks in advance. Times of speakers are set, location may vary.

For more information, please email

Download the Distinguished Speaker Series booklet.


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

Jim St. Germain

Author | Social Entrepreneur | Juvenile Justice

A Stone of Hope: A Memoir

Thursday, September 13, 2018
10 a.m. & 2 p.m. | Levan Center
2 p.m. | Livecast to Delano, DST 118
7 p.m. | Indoor Theatre

Born into abject poverty in Haiti, young Jim St. Germain moved to Brooklyn’s Crown Heights. He quickly adapted to street life and began stealing, dealing drugs, and growing increasingly indifferent to despair and violence. By the time he was arrested for dealing drugs, he had been handcuffed more than a dozen times. At the age of 15, the system walls were closing around him. Instead of prison, he was placed in "Boys Town," a non-secure detention facility designed for rehabilitation. Surrounded by mentors and positive male authority who enforced a system based on structure and privileges rather than intimidation and punishment. He found his way to getting his GED and graduating from college. Then he made the bravest decision of his life: to live, as an adult, in the projects where he had lost himself, and to work to reform the way the criminal justice system treats at-risk youth.

Through St. Germain’s presentations, audiences can walk away with a new lens on the argument about how young people who commit crimes are treated. His passion for public service comes from his life experiences and his sense of personal responsibility to his community. From juvenile justice to mentoring to race and politics, he aims to continue the conversation in Bakersfield.

A Stone of Hope: A Memoir book cover

Speaker Biography

St. Germain has an Associate Degree in Human Services from the Borough of Manhattan Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where he received his Masters in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy. He is a dedicated father and was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Coordinator Council on Juvenile and Justice Delinquency Prevention (CCJJ).

Jim St. Germain author portrait

Student Coordinator: James Tompkins, BCSGA President
Brought to you in collaboration with Kern County Library’s The One Book Project.

Sonia Nazario

Author | Journalist | Immigration

On Immigration and Journalism

Tuesday, October 9, 2018
7 p.m. | Forum 101

This event is free and open to the public. To ensure guaranteed seating, fill out the Event Registration form on the Social Justice Institute website.

The presentation is a casual conversation between the founder of Studiotobe, Joaquin Alvarado, and Sonia Nazario, an award-winning journalist whose stories have tackled some of this country’s most intractable problems: hunger, drug addiction, immigration. Nazario is a fluent Spanish speaker of Jewish ancestry whose personal history includes living in Argentina during the so-called dirty war, she is a passionate and dynamic speaker.

When a national crisis erupted in 2014 over the detention of unaccompanied immigrant children at the border, Nazario returned to Honduras to report an article that was published in The New York Times in July. In her piece, she detailed the violence causing the exodus and argued that it is a refugee crisis, not an immigration crisis.

Nazario spent 20 years reporting and writing about social issues for U.S. newspapers. She is best known for Enrique’s Journey, her story of a Honduran boy’s struggle to find his mother. Enrique’s Journey recounts the unforgettable quest of a Honduran boy looking for his mother, eleven years after she is forced to leave her starving family to find work in the United States. Braving unimaginable peril, often clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains, Enrique travels through hostile worlds full of thugs, bandits, and corrupt cops. However, he pushes forward, relying on his wit, courage, hope, and the kindness of strangers.

Enrique's Journey book cover

Speaker Biography

Nazario, who grew up in Kansas and in Argentina, has written extensively from Latin America and about Latinos in the United States. She has been named among the most influential Latinos by Hispanic Business Magazine and a “trendsetter” by Hispanic Magazine. In 2012, Columbia Journalism Review named Nazario among “40 women who changed the media business in the past 40.” Nazario has won some of the most prestigious journalism and book awards. She is a graduate of Williams College and has a master’s degree in Latin American studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She has honorary doctorates from Mount St. Mary’s College and Whittier College.

Eric Schlosser author portrait

Faculty Coordinator: Dr. Oliver Rosales, Professor of Social Science
Brought to you in collaboration with California Humanities, the Virginia and Alfred Harrell Foundation, Norman Levan Center for the Humanities, and the Social Justice Institute of Bakersfield College.

Christina Sommers, Ph. D.

Philosopher | Contemporary Feminism | Libertarian

Who Stole Feminism? How Women have Betrayed Women

Thursday, October 11, 2018
2 p.m. & 7 p.m. | Levan Center
2 p.m. | Livecast to Delano, DST 118

Christina Sommers has exposed a disturbing development: how a group of zealots, claiming to speak for all women, are promoting a dangerous new agenda that threatens our most cherished ideals and sets women against men in all spheres of life. In case after case, she will share how these extremists have propped up their arguments with highly questionable but well-funded research, presenting inflammatory and often inaccurate information and stifling any semblance of free and open scrutiny. Despite its current dominance, Sommers maintains, such a breed of feminism is at odds with the real aspirations and values of most American women and undermines the cause of true equality. Who Stole Feminism? is a call to arms that will enrage or inspire, but cannot be ignored.

She characterizes gender feminism as having transcended the liberalism of early feminists so that instead of focusing on rights for all, gender feminists view society through the sex/gender prism and focus on recruiting women to join the struggle against patriarchy. She is a conservative think tank who is known for her critique of contemporary feminism.

Who Stole Feminism book cover

Speaker Biography

Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Before joining AEI, she was a professor of philosophy at Clark University. She is the editor of Vice and Virtue in Everyday Life, a textbook on moral philosophy. Her books include Who Stole Feminism and The War Against Boys (the latter was a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”). Her articles have appeared in publications such as The Journal of Philosophy, The New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Times, and The Atlantic.

Christina Sommers author portrait

Faculty Coordinator: Erin Miller, Professor of Social Science
Brought to you in collaboration with the BC Liberty Institute

Dashka Slater

Journalist | Activist | Gender Equality

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives

Wednesday, October 24, 2018
11 a.m. & 2 p.m. | Levan Center
2 p.m. | Livecast to Delano, DST 118
7 p.m. | Fireside Room, Campus Center

You may have read the story in the New York Times Magazine. On Monday, November 4, 2013, in Oakland California, a 16-year-old junior at Oakland High School, Richard Thomas, set fire to Sasha Fleischman, an 18-year-old senior at a private high school, when both students were traveling on the AC Transit 57 bus. Dashka Slater investigated the story after hearing of the horrifying crime from her neighborhood email list. Her questions: What does it mean to be agender and how should we think about a teenager who commits a bias crime?

The 57 Bus is an amalgam of interviews, court documents, social media posts and private exchanges, statistics, and even poetry that successfully presents its two young protagonists as complex and sympathetic. With a journalist’s eye for overlooked details, Slater does a masterful job debunking the myths of the hate-crime monster and the African-American thug, probing the line between adolescent stupidity and irredeemable depravity. No audience will traverse this exploration of gender identity, adolescent crime, and penal racism without having a few assumptions challenged.

The 57 Bus book cover

Speaker Biography

Journalist, novelist, and children's book author Dashka Slater has been telling stories since she could talk. She is the author of nine books for children and adults, including The Wishing Box, an LA Times Best Book of the Year, and Escargot, winner of the Wanda Gag Read-Aloud Award. Her 2017 young-adult true crime narrative, The 57 Bus, is based on her article for The New York Times Magazine and has received numerous accolades, including the Stonewall Book Award, the California Book Award, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor.

Dashka Slater author portrait

Faculty Coordinator: Jeannie Parent, Professor of EMLS
Brought to you in collaboration with Bakersfield LGBTQ

Oz Sanchez

Marine | Paralympic | Transformation

Know No Limits: The Gold Medalist in Us All

Thursday, November 8, 2018
10 a.m. & 2 p.m. | Levan Center
2 p.m. | Livecast to Delano, DST 118
7 p.m. | Indoor Theatre

Oz Sanchez is no stranger to overcoming adversity. He was born in 1975 and raised in Los Angeles, California. By the time he graduated high school he was involved with drugs, gangs, and the street life. In 1996, Sanchez turned his life around following his recruitment into the Marine Corps where he found himself in his natural element and quickly excelled through the ranks. Shortly after becoming a Marine Infantryman, he joined the Marine Corps Special Operations and spent his career in specialized training, such as scout sniper, combatant diver’s course, and parachuting. In July 2001, Sanchez's life changed forever when he was involved in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident, which resulted in a spinal cord injury and the inevitable paralysis and neurological complications associated with it.

“Know No Limits”… these three words have grown to weave themselves throughout Sanchez's life and have come to define his transformation from a broken man into an elite athlete, mentor, and inspiration, to both ‘physically challenged’ and ‘able-bodied’ people alike.

Oz Sanchez author portrait

Speaker Biography

Sanchez has represented the United States in two of the most honorable ways - first as a Marine and now as a 3x Paralympic medalist. Achieving successful change inevitably means overcoming obstacles and, in some cases, recreating oneself through an identity shift. He tells his inspirational story first hand, of how he faced and successfully overcame adversity.

Staff Coordinators: Dr. Terri Goldstein, Director of Disabled Students Programs and Services, Paul Beckworth, Director of Veterans Services, and Sandi Taylor, Director of Athletics
Brought to you in collaboration with Veterans Committee, Renegade Athletics, and Kern Disability Collaborative

Carol M. Swain, Ph.D

Politics | Race | Religious Liberty

Black Faces, Black Interests: The Representation of African Americans in Congress

Thursday, February 7, 2019
10 a.m. & 2 p.m. | Levan Center
2 p.m. | Livecast to Delano, DST 118
7 p.m. | Levan Center

How does congress represent the interests of American Americans? Must blacks be represented by blacks to be properly heard? How do members of Congress respond to the needs of blacks in their districts, and what do congressional voting records reveal? In this presentation Dr. Carol M. Swain examines the problems of representing the interests of African Americans by studying the constituency relations and roll-call voting of black members of congress from a variety of districts - historically black, newly black, heterogeneous, and primarily white-and of white members from districts with either a black majority or a significant black minority.

What strategies are most likely to lead to greater representation of black interests? She challenges the proposition that only African Americans can represent black interests effectively, and shows that creating additional black-majority districts is in any case a limited possibility. She contends that an increase in the number of black representatives in the near future can come only from the election of blacks in predominantly nonblack districts.

Black Faces, Black Interests book cover

Speaker Biography

Swain’s work on representation and race relations has earned her national and international accolades. A widely recognized expert on race, immigration reform, and religious liberty. Professor Swain has served on the Tennessee Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the National Endowment for the Humanities Council. She is a conservative television analyst and former professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University. Swain commentary on current social and political issues can be heard nationally on Bott Radio and American Family Radio’s Two Minutes to Think About it with Dr. Carol M. Swain.

Carol Swain author portrait

Faculty Coordinator: Daymon Johnson, Professor of Social Sciences
Brought to you in collaboration with the BC Liberty Institute

Temple Grandin, Ph. D.

Animal Scientist | Autism | Self-Advocate

Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition: My Life with Autism
10 a.m. & 2 p.m. | Levan Center
2 p.m. | Livecast to Delano, DST 118
Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior
4 p.m. | Renegade Park
Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals
7 p.m. | Indoor Theatre

Temple Grandin, Ph.D., has been a pioneer in improving the handling and welfare of farm animals. Grandin’s achievements are remarkable because she was an autistic child. At age two, she had no speech and all the signs of severe autism. Many hours of speech therapy, and intensive teaching enabled her to learn speech. As a teenager, her life was hard with constant teasing. Mentored by her high school science teacher and her aunt on her ranch in Arizona, they motivated her to study and pursue a career as a scientist and livestock equipment designer. She has done extensive work on the design of handling facilities. Half the cattle in the U.S. and Canada are handled in equipment Grandin has designed for meat plants. Other professional activities include developing animal welfare guidelines for the meat industry and consulting with companies on animal welfare.

Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition: My Life with Autism

10 a.m. & 2 p.m. | Levan Center
2 p.m. | Livecast to Delano

In Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition: My Life with Autism, Grandin delivers a report from the country of autism. Writing from the dual perspectives of a scientist and an autistic person, she tells us how that country is experienced by its inhabitants and how she managed to breach its boundaries to function in the outside world. What emerges in Thinking in Pictures is the document of an extraordinary human being, one who, in gracefully and lucidly bridging the gulf between her condition and our own, sheds light on the riddle of our common identity."

Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition book cover

Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

4 p.m. | Indoor Theatre

Among its provocative ideas, the book, Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior, argues that language is not a requirement for consciousness and that animals do have consciousness applies the autism theory of "hyper-specificity" to animals. Grandin shows that animals and autistic people are so sensitive to detail that they "can't see the forest for the trees,” a reality animals and autistic people see, sometimes all too clearly. She explains how animals have "superhuman" skills.

Animals in Translation

Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals

7 p.m. | Indoor Theatre

It is usually easy to pinpoint the cause of physical pain in animals, but to know what is causing them emotional distress is much harder. Drawing on the latest research and her own work, Grandin identifies the core emotional needs of animals. Then she explains how to fulfill them for dogs and cats, horses, farm animals, and zoo animals. Whether it is how to make the healthiest environment for the dog you must leave alone most of the day, how to keep pigs from being bored, or how to know if the lion pacing in the zoo is miserable or just exercising. Grandin teaches us to challenge our assumptions about animal contentment and honor our bond with our fellow creatures. Animals Make Us Human is the culmination of almost thirty years of research, experimentation, and experience.

Animals Make Us Human book cover

Speaker Biography

Grandin is the prominent author and speaker on both autism and animal behavior. Today she is a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. She also has a successful career consulting on both livestock handling equipment design and animal welfare. She is a past member of the board of directors of the Autism Society of America. She lectures to parents and teachers throughout the U.S. on her experiences with autism. She has also appeared on National TV shows such as Larry King Live, 20/20, Sixty Minutes, Fox and Friends, and she has a 2010 TED talk. Articles about Dr. Grandin have appeared in Time Magazine, New York Times, Discover Magazine, Forbes and USA Today. HBO made an Emmy Award winning movie about her life and she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016.

Temple Grandin author portrait

Faculty Coordinators: James Selgrath, Professor of Agricultural Business and Kirk Russell, Library Department Chair
Brought to you in collaboration with the 2019 BC Library’s Cerro Author series and the BC Agriculture Department

Clemantine Wamariya

Storyteller | African Woman | Human Rights Advocate

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After

Thursday, February 28, 2019
10 a.m., 2 p.m. & 7 p.m. | Levan Center
2 p.m. | Livecast to Delano, DST 118

Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbors began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds her brother said were thunder. In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years migrating through seven African countries, searching for safety—perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, and witnessing inhuman cruelty.

Wamariya’s memoir is about the human side of war: what is forever destroyed, what can be repaired, the fragility, and importance of memory. She attempts to piece together the beauty and the loss of her own experiences. This presentation will encourage others to remember the stories that shapes our truth. She shares her stories of adversity and seized opportunities as a way to reframe the way her audiences think, whether it be about their own privilege or basic human rights. She strives to catalyze development personally, locally, and globally.

Wamariya’s life is a testament to the power of seized opportunities. She is committed to creating platforms that allow individuals from diverse demographic backgrounds to build relationships and exchange ideas. In this way, she challenges us to reexamine the way that we interact with one another in order to work towards our shared goal of improved equity in our communities.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads book cover

Speaker Biography

Wamariya was born in Kigali, Rwanda, displaced by conflicts, and migrated through seven African countries during her childhood. Eventually she was granted asylum in the United States and went on to receive her BA in Comparative Literature from Yale University. She appeared as a guest on The Oprah Show four times and was reappointed to serve on the board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by President Obama in 2016.

Clemantine Wamariya author portrait

Faculty Coordinator: Olivia Garcia, Professor of Social Science
Brought to you in collaboration with the BC African-American Initiative Committee and the BC Women’s History and Awareness Month Committee (WHAM)

Eric Schlosser

Writer | Truth | Investigative Journalist

From Fast Food Nation to Command and Control

Thursday, April 4, 2019
10 a.m. & 2 p.m. | Levan Center
2 p.m. | Livecast to Delano, DST 118
7 p.m. | Indoor Theatre

Eric Schlosser explores subjects ignored by the mainstream media and tries to give a voice to people at the margins of society. As an investigative journalist, he’s followed the harvest with migrant farm workers in California, spent time with meatpacking workers in Texas and Colorado, told the stories of marijuana growers and pornographers and the victims of violent crime, gone on duty with the New York Police Department Bomb Squad, and dvisited prisons throughout the United States. His aim is to shed light on worlds that are too often hidden.

Schlosser’s first book, Fast Food Nation, helped start a revolution in how Americans think about what they eat. He discusses the proliferation of fast food chains and its effect on issues such as health, the economy, and working conditions. Fast Food Nation has been distinguished as “eye-opening book” with a “high level of reporting and research.”

Schlossers’ recent book Command and Control reveals the details of America’s effort to prevent nuclear weapons from being stolen, sabotaged, or detonated by accident. Command and Control was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize (History), a New York Times Notable Book and bestseller, a Time Magazine Top 10 Nonfiction Book, and won the Gold Medal Award (Nonfiction) from the 2013 California Book Awards.

Fast Food Nation book cover Command and Control book cover

Speaker Biography

Schlosser started his career as a journalist with The Atlantic Monthly in Boston, Massachusetts and quickly gained recognition for his investigative pieces, earning two awards within two years of joining the staff. He has also appeared on various television programs including Sixty Minutes, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and O’Reilly Factor. Mr. Schlosser’s awards include the National Magazine Award for a two part series in the Atlantic Monthly entitled “Reefer Madness” and “Marijuana and the Law” and the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award for “In the Strawberry Fields.” Mr. Schlosser also received the Gerald Loeb Award for business journalism from the University of California, Los Angeles in the Anderson School of Management.

Eric Schlosser author portrait

Faculty Coordinator: Reggie Williams, Professor of Philosophy
Brought to you in collaboration with the Levan Center for the Humanities’ Speaker Series