Help the Environment Through Kern County’s Rideshare Week

Rideshare Week.jpgMonday, October 3 through Friday, October 7, California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) joins Commute Kern for Rideshare Week 2016. This is an annual statewide campaign designed to encourage commuters to take personal responsibility for reducing traffic and smog by pledging to rideshare.

At least one day during the week, all commuters, including students, faculty and staff at CSUB are encouraged to participate, whether through carpool, vanpool, bus ride, walk, bike ride or telecommute, rather than driving alone. This is another aspect of CSUB’s efforts to be environmentally conscious and to help do their part to make Kern County a healthier place to live.

“Rideshare Week is a fun way to encourage people to consider a different approach to getting to work or school. The real key is to continue to inspire change in people’s driving behaviors and to think about ridesharing throughout the year. Caltrans has reported that 60 percent of the people who try ridesharing just one time during Rideshare Week see how easy it is and commit to doing it more often,” said Rideshare Coordinator, Susanne Campbell.

Kern County is second in the nation in air pollution behind Los Angeles. Currently, eight in ten commuters drive alone to work and traffic congestion is growing by 3% each year. Sharing the ride is a low cost solution that will help meet the Kern region’s mandate for clean air and growing transportation needs. According to a Caltrans study, 60% of commuters who try ridesharing for the first time during Rideshare Week continue to rideshare afterward.

CommuteKern also has a free ridematching service on their website, which will help link students to other students with similar schedules and routes. If students can’t find a carpool/vanpool match, they can link to the transit websites for their schedules or even have the option of finding a bicycle buddy.

By pledging to Rideshare, even just for one day during the week, participant’s names are entered into a drawing for some great prizes.

Interested participants can sign the pledge at commutekern.org, with Deborah Burks in the President’s Office or can send forms to:

Kern Council of Governments

Rideshare Week 2015

1401 19th Street, Suite 300

Bakersfield, CA 93301, or

Fax: 661-324-8215

New workshop inspires community of writers at CSUB

Dr. Richard Collins teaches the Writer-In-Residence Workshop at the CSUB Walter Stiern Library on July 26, 2012.

Sixteen pairs of eyes around the long conference table focus on the screen at one end. Dr. Richard Collins leans over a laptop, reading from a story submitted by one of the workshop participants:

“In the pre-dawn I watch for the first spill of light on the hills,” he reads, continuing on with a pastoral description of the early morning antics of the writer’s horses, which she is watching from the window. Then the tone changes: “My attention is shifted as I hear a beep from the machine … I prop myself on my elbow and look across the bed …” In the next paragraph he reads the phrases “blood circulating,” “dialysis machine” and “crisis averted.”

The story he is reading is actually a blend of two stories by Ginger Moorhouse, owner and publisher of The Bakersfield Californian and a participant in CSUB’s first Writer-in-Residence Workshop at the university. In one story, she is caregiver to her horses; in the other, she is caregiver to her husband. The assignment was to write brief narratives on writing prompts.

“She wrote two different narratives that just happened to work well when put together,” said Collins, dean of CSUB’s School of Arts and Humanities. “We have learned that you can’t tell the whole story in one sitting, and that you have to give yourself small assignments.”

The result is an uplifting blend of emotions that show how love can carry a partner through the daily demands of caregiving – and the fact that it is set during a sunrise rather than a sunset leaves the reader with the feeling of hope for a new day.

Moorhouse shares the sentiment of her fellow workshop participants as she describes the value she found in the four-week course.

“I’ve enjoyed the workshop more than I ever imagined. The students brought wonderful variety in age, background and interest to the workshop and all were engaged in the coursework and critiques. I was inspired by Dr. Collins, too, who taught me new ways to look at my writing,” she said.

Collins, a writer and former editor of a literary magazine, volunteered to teach the inaugural Writer-In-Residence Workshop this summer as a pilot program of the Walter Stiern Library at CSUB. The workshop has since secured funding for the next four years, thanks to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, which has provided $20,000 for the project.

“This once again shows PG&E’s commitment to higher education in Kern County,” said Curt Asher, Interim Dean of the Library.  “They have helped the library and tens of thousands of students over the past few years by funding library technology and now they have moved in a new direction with this project.”

Asher is currently searching for an author or memoirist to lead the program for summer 2013. The writer will be provided with a summer office to work on a project and will teach the creative writing workshop in the Library to the public.

“This project is really going to make a difference,” Asher said.  “There are a lot of writers in the community and this is an opportunity for them to learn and share with someone who has achieved literary success.”

For more information about the Walter Stiern Library’s Writer-In-Residence Program, contact Curt Asher at 661-654-3042 or casher@csub.edu.

— Jennifer Burger, CSUB Public Affairs Coordinator

Grad Profile: Degrees are part of longer journey for mother, son

Miguel Cuate, 23, and his mother Bertha Cuate, 56, may be graduating this week from CSUB, but they have more degrees planned in their futures.

Bertha Cuate
MA Spanish, MS Early Childhood Education

Miguel Cuate
BA English, minor in Communications

As a child in El Salvador, Bertha Cuate was not allowed to go to school. Instead, she was expected to work and help her mother raise her eight siblings. She made her Bible her textbook and taught her friends with a little blackboard she found. She also vowed to give her own children every opportunity for education someday, and to extend her passion for learning to other disadvantaged children.

This month, Cuate, 56, is celebrating her accomplishment of graduating with a dual master’s in Spanish and Early Childhood Education from CSUB. She is also celebrating the first bachelor’s degree among her six children as her son Miguel, 23, graduates with a bachelor’s in English and minor in communications.

“I chose early childhood education because I believe that all children deserve to have the opportunity to be educated, to go to school,” she said. “I also believe that children learn by playing. (As a child) I didn’t have a toy to play with. All I had to do was work. So I thought, I need to learn more about early childhood education. How can we advocate for their rights to be children?”

Cuate was in her early 20s when she escaped from El Salvador in the middle of the night shortly after civil war broke out there in 1980. Family members and friends were being killed.

“Then one night, they went to my little house and put the white hand on the door, which means you were on the list. My uncle was in military school and he goes, ‘You need to leave the country now,’” she said.

She acted quickly, leaving behind her infant daughter with her mother. She ended up in Los Angeles, where she eventually married and started a family. Seeking a slower pace of life and affordable cost of living, her family settled in Bakersfield. And, eventually, her oldest daughter was able to leave El Salvador to join her.

When her daughter graduated from high school, Cuate became inspired to take early childhood classes at Bakersfield College with her. Thus began the journey of her dreams: to attain higher education. She transferred from BC to Taft College to complete her associate’s degree, then came to CSUB for a bachelor’s in child, adolescent and family studies, with a minor in Spanish.

She chose master’s degrees in early childhood education and Spanish so she would be able to teach in both languages. As a project at CSUB, she worked with associate professor Cary Larson-McKay to translate children’s books that she writes to support early literacy for young children.

“Bertha is a person with a wide view of the world and has a gentle caring approach to others,” Larson-McKay added.  “She is very supportive of fellow students in class and she cares deeply about providing the support others around her need – as evidenced by her relationships with her family and her students in her classes and members of her community.”

Today Cuate works at Taft College as an adjunct professor in early childhood education and as a tutor. One of her sons attends Taft College, another attends Bakersfield College, and another is taking some time off from CSUB but plans to return. Both of her daughters also attended BC.

Miguel said he and his siblings have been inspired by their mother’s drive and dedication to education.

“I’m very grateful for her appreciation of education,” he said. “She’s always told us, look at where she’s come from, and the sacrifice she’s made. We are in a country that allows us to get an education. There is no obstacle to it other than our own commitment.”

He recalled several late nights when he or his mom would be up studying or working on a paper, and the other would stay up as well to help.

“We’ve gotten each other through some difficult assignments,” he said.

Neither of them are done with their educations. Miguel plans to be a teacher someday and is applying to CSUB for either a master’s in English or a certificate in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Bertha will also continue following her journey of being an educator. She is applying to the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership that CSUB recently began offering in partnership with Fresno State.

“I feel proud of myself because I accomplished one of my dreams. But this is not the end of my dreams,” she said.

Grad Profile: Future therapist learned healing power of counseling first-hand

After therapy helped her overcome an eating disorder, Lindsey Watkins pursued a master’s in counseling psychology so she can help people “the way my life was saved,” she said.

Lindsey Watkins
MS Counseling Psychology

Psychology was never a subject Lindsey Watkins thought she’d go into. Even though her mother has a Ph.D. in psychology and teaches neuroscience research at CSUB, Watkins wanted to find her own path in life.

She went to University of North Texas – a large school with about 35,000 students – and declared chemistry as her major. But she felt unknown among the sea of students and, after ending an unhealthy relationship, she fell into a deep depression and stopped eating.

“Maybe I was seeking control after feeling so lost. At first I just wasn’t hungry. Then I remember a distinct point when I decided I was going to continue to not eat,” Watkins said.

Meanwhile, her mother, Isabel Sumaya, knew something was wrong. Sumaya packed her bags and traveled with her sister, mother and niece to bring her daughter back to California.

“When she opened the door, I wanted to cry, but didn’t,” Sumaya said. “I didn’t want Lindsey to know how bad she looked. She was skin and bones and I knew if I didn’t take her home with me that day she was going to die there.”

Watkins returned to Bakersfield and began a journey to recovery and self-discovery. She found a therapist who not only helped her overcome her depression, but inspired her to help others as well. The band of strong women in her family also held her accountable and didn’t let her fall into old patterns.

“From then on, I knew, if I can help one person the way my life was saved, then I’m good,” Watkins said. “Knowing the healing purpose of therapy, I knew that was my passion.”

“Ironically, it took her struggle for life to find her passion in life,” her mother said.

Watkins enrolled at CSUB and majored in psychology, graduating with her bachelor’s in 2009. Then she began the Master’s in Counseling Psychology program, where she got her first taste of working one-on-one with real clients in the University Counseling Training Clinic. She says she was both terrified and elated the first time she saw a client, but that very soon counseling others “felt like home, like where I was meant to be.”

Clinic director and psychology professor Dr. Kathleen Ritter is impressed by Watkins’ sparkle, enthusiasm and desire to learn – just a few of the reasons she was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate of the program.

“Virtually every client she’s had has returned to see her. Her clients respond very well to her,” Ritter said. “And she’s willing to help her colleagues. She’s often the person who will reach out to someone who’s struggling and who will bring snacks or treats to cheer us all up. She reaches out to her fellow students like she does to her clients.”

Watkins’ next step is to find an internship so that she can complete the 3,000 hours required to take the exam to become a licensed marriage and family therapist. Eventually she’d like to open a low-cost counseling clinic similar to the clinic at CSUB that serves uninsured and under-insured Kern County residents.

Watkins says CSUB has played a huge role in her personal and professional growth.

“I came in so frail, but I’m coming out so confident,” she said. “It was apparent very early on that all of my professors cared about my success and growth in such a way that inspired me to be a better me. I can’t thank all of my professors and CSUB enough for all the knowledge, wisdom and growth they have instilled in me through this program.”

Grad Profile: ‘Born leader’ will leave indelible mark at CSUB

Tyree Boyd-Pates is heading to the East Coast for a master’s degree in African American studies.

Tyree Boyd-Pates
BA Communications, minor in African American Studies

Tyree Boyd-Pates’ boisterous enthusiasm is both infectious and infamous at CSUB. In his five years here, he has made friends on every corner of campus – from the residence halls, where he’s lived since his freshman year, to the Student Recreation Center, where he can often be found playing pickup basketball. In fact, it’s a safe bet that no other student has pounded the pavement at CSUB as much as Tyree, who has led more than 150 tours of prospective students during his five years working for University Outreach. Everyone knows Tyree.

“Tyree has a gift of connecting with students. He is a recognizable young man on campus due to his desire to bring change in other students’ lives,” said Steven Watkin, Outreach Director. “He is also able to interact with all segments of the education community – from faculty and administrators to current students. He treats them all with the same respect and consideration.”

The Outreach Office was instrumental in reeling in Tyree to attend CSUB. Raised along with his four younger siblings by his grandmother in Los Angeles due to his mother’s substance abuse, Tyree was unfocused in high school and graduated with a poor GPA.

“I didn’t have many male influences. I was kind of just bumbling around. I knew I wanted to go to college, I just didn’t have the grades to get me to college,” Tyree said.

But when a contingent from CSUB visited Tyree’s church and offered him the chance for admittance through the Educational Opportunity Program, he went for it. The Outreach Office then chartered a bus to bring Tyree and other prospective students and their families to Bakersfield for the annual open house and orientation event, Celebrate CSUB. That sealed the deal for Tyree.

Little did he know that he would someday emcee the annual orientation of more than 1,000 incoming freshmen as part of his job with University Outreach – or that his experience in motivating young people to go to college would propel him into research that would ultimately get him into graduate school.

As for his major, Tyree first chased his passion for theater, then tried to settle down in business. Then he decided on a happy medium – communications with an emphasis in public relations. He also added a minor in African American studies.

Through the McNair Scholars Program, which prepares minority students for graduate and doctoral studies, Tyree decided to research an unfortunate phenomenon he has witnessed: Many of the African American students recruited along with Tyree from LA have since dropped out of college. Tyree wanted to find out why.

Under the mentorship of McNair director and psychology professor Isabel Sumaya, Tyree begin researching the retention of African American males in the CSU system, looking at their proneness to dropping out in the aspects of motivation, receptivity, academic services and stress.

“The topic is very meaningful to Tyree as he is one of those students that deeply cares about making a difference in his community,” Sumaya said.

His research is still in its beginning stages, but he hopes to continue it in graduate school as he earns a Master’s in African American Studies. He has applied to several programs and will decide in July where he will attend.

“I suspect in another five to six years, Tyree will be somewhere in academia influencing and inspiring hundreds of students. He is a born leader,” Sumaya said.

Tyree says he would like to ultimately work in politics or grassroots organizing. Whatever his future career is, it will include mentoring young people and encouraging them to go to college.

“I want to be an advocate for urban communities and those who go voiceless because of limited life chances,” he said. “A deep passion of mine is showing others that they can go to college, because I have. It’s a huge milestone to have this degree, not only for me but for my community back at home.”

Reaching out to prospective students has been a blast

Tyree Boyd-Pates, student ambassador for the University Outreach Program, welcomes freshmen to orientation at Celebrate CSUB on April 28, 2012.

“When I say C-S, you say U-B! CS-UB!” I repeat the chant over and over as I grab the attention of more than 50 sixth graders. They are here for a tour of campus hosted by me and several other guides from the University Outreach Office, where I’ve worked throughout my five years at CSUB. This is one of the privileges I have serving as an outreach ambassador who sparks interest in and interacts with prospective students who are interested in what CSUB has to offer.

On a weekly basis, we meet groups of K-12 students at the Icardo Center to take them on tours of campus. On each tour, I enthusiastically explain the history of the university. I touch on famous alumni like Stephen Neal (former guard for the New England Patriots who was a champion wrestler at CSUB) and Kevin McCarthy (U.S. Congressman representing California’s 22nd congressional district). McCarthy earned his bachelor’s in marketing in 1989 and Master of Business Administration in 1994.

Next I discuss CSUB’s range of diversity among the student body and commitment to small class sizes. (We boast an 18:1 student-faculty ratio.) I also love to take the students through the Student Recreation center where they are blown away by the two-story climbing rock, three-court gym area, and suspended running track. These things and more are all seen in less than an hour’s time, but it never fails that at the end of every tour, students say, “I can’t wait to get here!”

The University Outreach office exists as a liaison for CSUB to reach out to thousands of prospective students. The office works very closely with students to apply for enrollment, register for classes and file financial aid applications. Prospective students are also advised by Outreach counselors to help with their academic transition and to learn about the academic requirements needed to be accepted into the CSU system.

The university outreach office is an ace in the hole. The office fosters close relationships with high school students and counselors to help them make decisions about academic pursuits. This kind of constant attention makes a big difference in the lives of prospective students. I surely know it did for me.

I met the University outreach team in 2007 when they visited my church in Los Angeles. I was enthralled by their presentation. They were so energetic and excited, that I knew I had to visit this campus. It wasn’t long after that I, myself, went to work for the CSUB University Outreach Office and emceed my first event of more than 800 incoming freshman.

In my five years working as a student ambassador, I’ve conducted five orientations for more than 1,000 new students and more than 150 tours of campus. Working in University Outreach has been a blast! The things that I have learned have shaped my appreciation for education and my drive to see students experience the adventure of college. It’s an awesome feeling knowing that my presentations help play a part in their decision to come to college at CSUB.

– Tyree Boyd-Pates, ’12, BA Communications, CSUB Public Affairs Intern

H#sht#g senior art show is a real conversation starter

Abby Vawter’s “3,000” is an explosion of 3,000 (good guess!) folded pieces of printer paper that takes over one corner of the gallery. There are three origami shapes: cones, flowers, and “cootie catchers” (those square finger fortune games we played as children). “My art is intended to not only challenge the idea of a grander finished product, but as an investigation of the smaller intricate chaos that is necessary to create a complete work,” Abby writes in her artist statement. She estimates she spent about 75 to 100 hours folding the pieces of paper.
Sarah Smith pushed her personal limits to create her series of three paintings depicting what she describes as self-mutilation in the name of beauty. “I wanted to make a commentary on what women are doing to their bodies, with Botox, surgery, and other things to where their bodies don’t look human anymore,” she says. Until her senior project, Smith had always painted figures – but on a smaller and more eye-pleasing scale. For this project, she says she had to “untrain her eye, to not paint beauty,” and to distort, melt and bloat the bodies in the same way as she sees women harming themselves. “I just don’t understand how people could do that to themselves,” she says.

When I saw the title for this year’s senior art show at CSUB, I thought, “genius!” The title “h#asht#g” speaks not only to the generation of artists whose works are a commentary on today’s world, but also to the fact that art provokes response – much in the same way that a hashtag does in modern conversation.

On the social media platform Twitter, a hashtag, represented by a pound symbol (#), turns a word or phrase into a topic for discussion. Click the hyperlink, and you can read all of the latest tweets about that term. Under the umbrella title of “h#sht#g,” this year’s senior show encompasses the wide variety of artwork that elicits a range of responses from the viewer.

The show inside the Todd Madigan Gallery includes sculptures, paintings, photography, videos, fashion, and installation pieces created over the past few months by senior art students at CSUB. One sculpture – too large to fit through a doorway – sits next to the Fine Arts Building and is not to be missed.

The show will be on display through June 16. Gallery hours are from 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free; parking is by permit or $5 day pass. For more information, contact gallery curator Joey Kotting at 661-654-2238.

— Jennifer Burger, CSUB Public Affairs Coordinator

Enemerio “Emmy” Galvan is a multimedia artist – he quilts, knits with yarn he spins himself from wool, paints and creates ceramics. Always challenging himself further, he decided to take up his first welding project for the senior art show. It was no small feat; his approximately 12-foot by 12-foot metal and ceramic sculpture consists of an outer frame and two halves of a gate suspended in the middle. His “Sun Gate” is influenced by the sci fi film “Star Gate” and the ancient Aztec calendar. “I like the mix of the old world with the new world. And both materials are so strong, yet so different,” Emmy says. The project took him four months and now he says he feels like a welding pro. “I’m still in awe of it,” he says.
Jamaal Hasef Tolbert’s video piece “Shadism” is a study in both art and sociology. “Shadism is when a group of people in any ethnic group use skin tone to justify who’s better,” he says. For his video, he asked dark-skinned African American models to apply white paint to their faces and hair, and light-skinned models to apply black paint. Then he asked them to react in front of the camera as if seeing themselves in a mirror. The viewer sees a range of emotion on the models’ faces, from sadness to surprise to anger. “In black communities, the justification of shadism is till being implemented causing this war of light skin versus dark skin,” says Jamaal, who is a double major in fine art and sociology.
Bobby Klagge has a series of three paintings titled “Spill,” “Shadow” and “Splatter.” He used acrylic paint over plywood rather than canvas for three reasons: it’s cheaper, it can take a beating, and he likes the texture of the wood grain. And he did give his paintings a beating as he experimented with various ways of applying the paint. First he spilled a cup of paint, then he dropped the cup and let it shatter to create a “shadow,” and then he splattered the paint with a paintbrush. “I thought, ‘What if every drop of paint contained a painting in another dimension?’ Then I just kind of dove in,” Bobby says.
In the foreground is “Message is a Heel” by Pamela Ramos. (“High heels make great art but are painful to wear,” she writes in her artist statement.) In the background is “$1,289,” a wedding dress made entirely of toilet paper by Elizabeth Crum. (“The concept of my collection is to make something beautiful from what is otherwise considered trash.”)
This sculpture of plaster, gauze and paint by Robert Azpitarte is titled: “Untitled (P.S. Hey dipshit. I was trying to express myself. That’s why I fucking look like this. You know who you are, asshole).”