Puente Program empowers students for the next level

Luis Guzman, Managing Multimedia Editor

“Once a Puentesta, always a Puentesta” is a motto for many of the students enrolled in the Puente Program; students that come from different social or economic backgrounds.

The Puente Program, a statewide program operating in 38 community colleges, is a program that helps students who are underrepresented in higher education.

It’s a program that promotes student success with help from counselors and former Puente Program initiates.

Puente Program Co-Coordinators Dr. Quaas-Berryman and Rosa Carrillo are currently at the helm of the program.

Students learn to be more self-aware of what they are capable of doing, such as transferring to four-year colleges and completing a Bachelors Degree, according to Carrillo.

At first, the program was targeted for hispanics, but now it is open to students from different ethnicities.

“This program is really set-up to help students to transition on becoming leaders of the future,” Carrillo said.

Mentoring is a big part of the program; it’s a way for students who have transferred to give back.

One of the benefits for students who enroll into the program is that they will be able to see the same counselors until they transfer.

Lorrain Sugiyama, nursing major, joined the program to belong in a school filled with different age gaps.

“That’s what initially attracted me to the program, knowing that I wasn’t going to feel alone,” she said.

Talking to Carrillo convinced her of going because of the commitment, support system and the opportunity of getting to know her classmates.

Sugiyama was nervous of going to school with students who were of a younger age, but the program helped alleviate her problem.

Sugiyama recently started college and completed her high school diploma.

Her motivation to continue her education and joining the Puente Program was because she wanted to be a role model to her three-year old baby.

For Sugiyama, Dr. Carrillo and Dr. Quaas-Berryman go out of their way to help the students.

She likes the inspirational speakers that are presented to the program members because most of them are former members.

For students who want to enroll in the Puente Program, you have to:

  • Students have to be eligible for English 52 in the fall and English 100 Honors courses in the spring.
  • Enroll in concurrent guidance courses.
  • Attend the summer orientation.
  • Maintain a 2.5 GPA.
  • Be interested in transferring to a four-year school.