Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Inductees announced for 2022 CSUB Alumni Hall of Fame


By CHRISTINE BEDELL For The Californian

Nov 21, 2021


The CSUB Alumni Association will honor graduates who have expanded local access to health care, closed achievement gaps among Black college students, thrilled us on the football field, and led the nation's largest farmworker union by inducting them into its Hall of Fame.

The 2022 CSUB Alumni Hall of Fame class includes nursing administrator Terri Church, educator Paula Parks, retired NFL star Stephen Neal and farmworker union leader Connie Perez-Andreesen. They will be honored during an event in February that kicks off Homecoming Week and raises money for alumni programs.

A campus committee of CSUB alumni, faculty and staff selected the four inductees during an incredibly competitive process that involved a record-number of nominations. The inductees will bring to 68 the number of Alumni Hall of Fame members out of nearly 60,000 people who have graduated from the university.

"This is an outstanding group of alumni," said CSUB Director of Alumni Engagement Sarah Hendrick. "They represent diversity among CSUB graduates, advocate for underrepresented communities, empower through education, have reached the greatest heights in professional sports and led our community through the worst health crisis of our lifetime. We are honored to welcome them into the CSUB Alumni Hall of Fame."

Here's more on the 2022 class:

Terri Church

CSUB degrees: Bachelor of Science in nursing, 1990; Master of Science in nursing, 1999

Terri Church has helped oversee an extraordinary expansion of local health care options as chief nursing officer at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital including for children and those battling cancer, strokes and catastrophic burns.

She’s also been a passionate advocate for nursing education, and thoughtfully balanced the care of patients with the emotional toll it took on nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Church earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from CSUB in 1990 and 1999. Her career includes 26 years at San Joaquin Community Hospital, where she rose to vice president of patient care, and two years as director of nursing at Comprehensive Blood & Cancer Center before moving to Bakersfield Memorial in 2008.

During her time there, the hospital has opened a 100-plus-bed patient tower, an outpatient infusion center for cancer treatment, and Kern County’s first comprehensive pediatric program. It has expanded its heart care, become a certified primary stroke center and partnered with the Grossman Burn Center to open a burn-service line.

Church encourages nurses to pursue advanced degrees, mentors young nurse leaders and collaborates with the CSUB and Bakersfield College RN programs. She oversaw implementation of the Versant RN New Graduate Nurse Residency Program in 2009, which has produced 676 clinically competent nurses, improving patient care and growing the nursing leadership ranks.

Her leadership has been recognized by Kern County’s chapter of the Association of Nurse Leaders, the Bakersfield College Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee and the Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society. She’s also received the CSUB Nightingale Award for excellence in nursing.

Stephen Neal

CSUB degree: Bachelor of Science in physical education, 1999

Stephen Neal is the most accomplished and decorated athlete to ever graduate from CSUB, a two-time NCAA wrestling champion during his college years who went on to win three Super Bowl rings as an offensive lineman with the New England Patriots.

Neal’s commitment to CSUB wrestling since graduating with a physical education degree in 1999 has never wavered. He’s not only supported the program financially but trained student-athletes, coached camps and started an endowment.

At CSUB, Neal was one of the nation’s top wrestlers with a 156-10 record in four All-American seasons; he was undefeated his final two seasons.

In 1999 he won his second NCAA title in a row as a heavyweight, the Dan Hodge Trophy (the Heisman of wrestling), and the World Wrestling Championship. He holds CSUB career records for most wins and most pins (71) and was a four-time Pac 10 Academic All-Conference selection.

Non-college football players rarely make it into the National Football League, but Neal did. The Patriots signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2001, kicking off a 10-year career there that included seven years as a starting offensive guard.

Neal, 45, played for and protected two of the greatest of all times in their field, Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. With them Neal won his three Super Bowl rings, in wins over the St. Louis Rams in 2002, Carolina Panthers in 2004 and Philadelphia Eagles in 2005.

He has never forgotten where he came from, once telling a reporter he continues to support CSUB wrestling because it gave him his original “platform to compete.”

Paula Parks

CSUB degree: Master of Arts in education, 2001

Paula Parks is a journalist-turned-Bakersfield College English professor who founded and coordinates a campus program that closes academic success gaps among Black students, uplifting individuals, families and communities.

Parks has also been facilitating local conversations on race, in part sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the importance of diversity and inclusion in higher education.

Parks educated newspaper readers before students. With a bachelor’s degree in English literature from UC Irvine and master’s in journalism from Columbia University, she secured an internship with the Los Angeles Times that led to general assignment reporting and editing jobs at small newspapers. Then she launched a freelance career, selling stories to The Times and national magazines including Ebony, Black Enterprise and Heart and Soul.

When her family moved to Bakersfield, Parks began teaching at BC and fell in love with academia. She earned a master’s in education from CSUB in 2001 and doctorate in higher education from Capella University in 2014. While teaching she has participated in a variety of committee work to improve student success at BC and in 2015 founded the Umoja African-American Success Through Excellence and Persistence program, which has expanded in size and success each year.

In 2016, Parks was a finalist for BC’s Samuel McCall Teaching Award and named educator of the year by Bakersfield’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She’s a founding member of UC Irvine’s Black Alumni Chapter, former board member of the Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce, and has mentored students in the CSUB 'Runner Alumni Mentor Program.

Connie Perez-Andreesen

CSUB degree: Bachelor of Science in business administration, 2000

Connie Perez-Andreesen is the daughter of Mexican immigrant farmworkers who rose in the field of accountancy before taking on day-to-day management of the nation’s largest farmworker union.

With both time and treasure, Perez-Andreesen has generously supported CSUB. She serves as vice chair of the CSUB Foundation Board and on the President’s Latino Advisory Council. She and her husband, Joel, recently committed $150,000 to the campus’ Center for Social Justice and Roadrunner Scholarship Fund.

Perez Andreesen, 45, earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus on accounting from CSUB in 2000. At a Kern County-based regional accounting firm, she worked her way up from staff accountant to one of only two Latinas to make partner.

In 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Perez-Andreesen to the State Lottery Commission, where she served as vice chair and chair of the audit committee. Her community service also includes volunteering on the Bakersfield City Council’s Public Safety/Vital City Services Oversight Committee, Latina Leaders of Kern County board, the Bakersfield College Foundation board and as co-chair of B3K Prosperity.

Perez-Andreesen recently served in a partnership between Kern Medical, the Cesar Chavez Foundation, the UFW and the Latino COVID Taskforce to take vaccine clinics to underserved communities. She joined the UFW as controller in 2017 and was appointed chief administrative officer and national vice president in November 2020.

She’s been recognized as a businesswoman of the year by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Latina of Influence by Hispanic Lifestyle, Woman of Excellence by the National Latina Business Women Association Los Angeles, and as an experienced leader by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Christine Bedell is the senior alumni engagement specialist at Cal State Bakersfield.

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