2020 Hall of Fame Inductees

1988 Cross Country State Championship Team - Outstanding Team

1988 Cross Country State Championship TeamThe 1988 Taft College Cross Country State Championship Team recorded 103 wins, 4 losses. Craig Johnson coached team members Leland Debow, Frank Fox, Jeff Gatlin, Tony Hernandez, Ian Jones, sophomore George Kersh, Joel Larway, and Paul Mooney. From day one, they planned to win the Triple Crown (Conference, NorCal, and State Championships).

  • Taft wins Fresno Invitational, setting new TC pack time (time from #1 to #5 runner) of 22 seconds.
  • Taft wins Cuesta Invitational, establishing TC course record and pack time record of 13 seconds. Frank Fox is individual champion. Five runners finish in top seven.
  • Taft finishes third at Golden Gate Invitational, setting new TC course and pack time records.
  • At Coast Valley Conference Mini-Meet, Taft beats COS and Hancock, setting course and pack time records for Mooney Grove Park course.
  • Taft finishes third overall and FIRST of 18 California teams at Mt Sac Invitational, setting new TC pack time record.
  • At Coast Valley Conference Mini-Meet, Taft sweeps teams at home, finishing 1-2-3. Taft finishes dual meet season with win over Fresno, setting new pack time record.
  • Taft wins fifth consecutive Coast Valley Conference Championship. Defending his 1987 championship, George Kersh is Taft’s fifth Individual Conference Champion in five years. George Kersh, Jeff Gatlin, Paul Mooney, and Frank Fox make All Coast Valley Conference Team.
  • Taft dominates NorCal Championship with 39 points, the lowest team score in NorCal history. Running fastest course time this decade, George Kersh is NorCal Champion. George Kersh, Jeff Gatlin, Paul Mooney, and Joel Larway make the All NorCal Team. Taft sets all-time Crystal Springs course record.
  • Taft wins California State Cross Country Championship title to complete the Triple Crown. Five runners run season bests. George Kersh and Tony Hernandez make the All California Team. Taft sets a TC state meet pack time record.

Carolyn Hosking - Extraordinary Service

Carolyn HoskingCarolyn Hosking was born on a farm in Oklahoma, the youngest of five. After her junior year of high school, Carolyn married Harold Roberts who was stationed at Fort Sill and moved to Taft.

She attended Adult School at Taft College and received her high school diploma. In 1971, she began attending Taft College and graduated in 1973 with honors. For the following three summers, she attended Pomona College in Claremont to complete a comprehensive management course. She also attended a Financial Certification course at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Carolyn worked in the Credit Union industry for 25 years, retiring from Chevron Valley Credit Union in 2000 where she served as President/CEO. After the transition to a full-service financial institution under her leadership, Chevron Valley Credit Union’s assets increased from $9M to just under $100M.

Working with four Taft College Presidents, Carolyn served on the Taft College Board of Trustees for 25 years, including eight years as Board President. She successfully executed the multiple promotional efforts to pass the Measure A bond.

Now, Carolyn serves on the Taft College Foundation Board and has done so for over 10 years. Carolyn was President of the Board of Directors of the Taft Chamber of Commerce and currently serves as President of Soroptimist International of Taft where she has been a member for 31 years.
Carolyn was named Rotary’s Citizen of the Year in 2005, 32nd Assembly District Woman of the Year in 2008, and Woman of the Year both in 2015 and 2019.

Carolyn is now married to Harry Hosking, a long-time resident of this community. She is a person of strong faith and very active in the First Baptist Church.

Craig Johnson - Distinguished Faculty

Craig JohnsonAfter 35 years of service, Craig Johnson retired from Taft College in 2015 as Life Sciences Professor Emeritus and Coach. Craig served as Math/Science Division Chair for over 15 years and taught courses in 10 subjects, including Weightlifting, Intercollegiate Cross Country, Intercollegiate Track and Field, Fundamentals of Biology, Environmental Studies, General Zoology, Vertebrate Zoology, General Botany, Human Anatomy, and Human Physiology.

Craig worked with Math/Science faculty to implement a $10 Million Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Grant, the largest U.S. STEM Grant awarded at that time. Over his tenure, Craig served as Chair of Partnership for Excellence, Block Grant, and Budget Advisory Committee. For 35 years, he was a member of the Faculty Bargaining Team that worked closely with TC Administration to implement interest-based bargaining at Taft College.

Craig served as Head Cross Country Coach and Assistant and Head Track and Field Coach. With coaches Doug Wells and Jeff Chudy, Craig guided Taft College teams to 19 Conference Team Championships, 11 Southern California/Northern California Team Championships, and three California State Team Championships (Track & Field in 1985, 1990) (Cross Country in 1988). During this time, Taft College teams produced eight National Junior College Track and Field records and three Olympians (Brandon Rock (USA), Brian Wellman (Bermuda), Robert Foster (Jamaica)). Craig also worked four summers with U.S. Junior Elite runners and coaches at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Craig was named Western States Conference Cross Country Coach of the Year three times, California Track and Running News San Joaquin Valley Cross Country Coach of the Year five times, California Track and Running News San Joaquin Valley Women’s Track and Field Coach of the Year in 1992, California Track Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 1993, and a “Valley Great” in 2011 by Fresno State University for his prolific, coaching career achievements.

George Kersh - Outstanding Male Athlete

George KershIn high school, George Kersh was a three-time Mississippi State Track Champion in the 400 and 800 meters and two-time Cross Country State Champion. George broke National High School Records for indoor and outdoor 800 meters (1:46.58). He was named Track and Field News and Gatorade High School Track Athlete of the Year. He traveled to Athens for the Jr. World Championships and New York where he won the Millrose Games Jumbo Elliott Mile.

At Taft College, George was a two-time Conference Cross Country Champion, NorCal Cross Country Champion, and member of the Taft College 1988 State Championship Cross Country Team. He was a four-time State Track Champion in the 800m, 1500m (twice), and 4x400m relay. In 1988, he set National Community College Records in the 800m indoors (1:48.50) and outdoors (1:45.35) at the U.S. Olympic Trials. At the Mt. SAC Relays in 1989, George and his Taft College relay team defeated a favored Florida Gator team with two Olympians to set a National Community College Record in the sprint medley relay (3:14.44). George also ran internationally as a member of the renowned Santa Monica Track Club with Carl Lewis and Johnnie Gray.

After transferring to the University of Mississippi, George was a two time NCAA 800m Champion (Indoor and Outdoor). He broke the Goodwill Games 800m record representing the U.S. in 1990.

Between 1987-94, George ranked in the Top 10 USA Men at 800m. His highest ranking was #2  in both 1990 and 1991. George ran his personal best 800m (1:44.00) at the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Recruited back to Pearl by former track coach Woody Barnett, George continues to coach Cross Country and Track and Field at his alma mater, Pearl High School. A street named George Kersh Drive, in Pearl, Mississippi fittingly recognizes this town’s local hero.

Harry Wilson - Distinguished Alumnus

Harry WilsonHarry Dale Wilson was born on December 13, 1921 to Bob and Beulah Wilson. He graduated from Taft Union High School in 1939 and Taft College in 1942.

After graduation, Harry went to work for Standard Oil in Coalinga, California. Harry entered the Army at 25 years old and was stationed at Camp Roberts in California, Fort Knox in Kentucky, and Fort Meade in Maryland. After his honorable discharge, he was recalled to service due to the Korean War. Although he was offered the position of Officer, he declined because of his age.

In 1955, Harry moved to Los Angeles and began his long career with Richfield Oil Corporation (renamed Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) after the merger with Atlantic Refining Company) where he worked until his retirement in 1984. After he retired, Harry returned to Taft to care for his elderly parents. During this time, he also enjoyed traveling and spending time with his aunt and uncle, Opal and Bill Smith.

Over the next 30 years, Harry continued to support and give back to the City of Taft. He participated in the children’s reading program at the Kern County Library, volunteered countless hours at the West Kern Oil Museum and the NEEDS Center, and proudly served as a Board Member of the Taft College Foundation. In 2013, Harry traveled to Washington D.C. on the Honor Flight for World War II Veterans.

Harry always felt privileged to have had the opportunity to attend and graduate from Taft College. On October 29, 2013, Harry presented the college with a $104,000 check to commemorate his aunt Opal Smith’s 104th birthday. Since this initial donation, he funded four additional Taft College scholarships.

Shelley Klein - Distinguished Confidential

Shelley KleinIn 1995, Shelley Klein began her 21-year Taft College tenure as Executive Assistant to the Superintendent/President and later served as Secretary to the Board of Trustees and Secretary of the Taft College Foundation. At that time, there were just eight management employees and 16 full-time faculty members. As Taft College did not have a Human Resources department, Shelley functioned as the sole Human Resources representative. She was consistently submitted the most thorough and accurate work product.

Shelley served on Shared Governance Committees, including roles as recording secretary of both bargaining units, recorder for presidential cabinet meetings, and member of the reclassification committee. She also took on special projects, including organizing Taft College’s Board Policies and Administrative Procedures, developing a new Taft College logo and brand identity, and conducting all presidential searches.

Her solid expertise on the Brown Act and extensive corporate experience were boons in corporate compliance to the Office of the President, Board of Trustees, and Taft College Foundation. In 2002, as corporate secretary, Shelley was fundamental in creating the Taft College Foundation as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. In the early days of the Foundation, Shelley was responsible for fundraising events. In addition, Shelley led all WKCCD celebrations and events arising from the Office of the President. She initiated the annual End-of-Year Dinner to celebrate that year’s accomplishments and honor retirees.

In 2004, the WKCCD voters approved the Measure A Facilities Bond. All on her own time, Shelley organized critical phonebanks and other promotional campaign tactics to facilitate passage of Measure A.

Shelley served seven different Taft College Presidents. She ensured seamless transitions of leadership by keeping the Office of the President and Board of Trustees always functioning at their highest levels.

Sonja Swenson - Distinguished Faculty

Sonja SwensonIn 1989, Sonja Swenson was hired as an Art and Humanities Instructor/Professor at Taft College. For many years, she served as Division Chairperson for the Liberal Arts, Arts and Humanities Division, as well as Art Gallery Coordinator. Sonja is responsible for many artworks on campus. Sonja also started an annual Student Art Show in Spring 1990.

Sonja represented the Liberal Arts, Arts and Humanities Division on the Planning Committee which became the Governance Council. She developed new curricula
for Art History and Humanities, as well as developed new curricula with faculty for English, ESL, Music, Journalism, Spanish, and Drama.

In 1991, Sonja worked on “The Umbrellas,” a project by Christo and Jean-Claude. Sonja developed a class that allowed her students to work on the project located at Tejon Ranch.

In 1994, Sonja served on the Board of the Arts Council of Kern representing western Kern County. There were a few small galleries in Bakersfield, so Sonja thought Taft should have an art gallery. She wrote a grant proposal to re-model a space on campus for an art gallery. The grant funding came through, but the space on campus was not made available. Sonja found an off-campus location on Center Street. The first exhibit was called, “Taft Collects,” and showcased works from private collections in Taft. The gallery exhibited photos of “The Umbrellas” taken by Sonja’s students. Exhibits included works by local artists and Sonja’s photographs of Christo’s Wrapped Reichstag Project in Berlin, Germany and The Gates Project in Central Park in New York City. The Center Street gallery eventually moved onto the Taft College campus.

Although she retired in 2015, Sonja Swenson still teaches at Taft College as an Adjunct Instructor in the Arts Department.