Puente program pushes to prepare

Vanessa Flores

One of the main goals of the Los Medanos Community College Puente Program is to prepare students to transfer to a four-year university. Secondly, the program focuses on educating Puente students about the obstacles faced within Latino communities.

According to the Puente Project Implementation Guidelines, Puente founders Felix Galaviz and Patricia McGrath, while reviewing over 2,000 student transcripts, discovered three key patterns among Latino students: they were avoiding academic counseling, they were not enrolling in college-level writing courses, and many were the first in their families to attend college. When Puente was created, it responded by structuring the program in a 3-tier approach: English, counseling, and mentoring.

“All three are very important,” said LMC English professor and Puente Coordinator Michael Yeong.

The English part of the program fo- cuses on the student’s ability to critically analyze texts and create well-argued essays.

Puente counselors implement aca- demic, personal, and career counsel- ing to successfully prepare students to transfer to a four-year university. Puente coordinators look into pairing their students with professional mentors from the community.

Yeong recently accepted the challenge of working with the Puente pro- gram, this being his first cohort. “I saw this as a challenge, it was something that would make me a better teacher,” said Yeong. Yeong says it’s the students he enjoys the most, “that’s what

keeps me, it’s them.”

On Oct. 13, Yeong will be taking his class of 26 students to Sonoma state for the Puente Leadership Conference.

“It’s a big deal, it’s a huge event,” said Yeong. According to Yeong there will be approximate- ly 1000-1500 Puente students at the conference.

Yeong and his Puente students are also working on a “Day of the Dead” project for this semester.

Former LMC and Puente student, Candelaria Lopez, who now attends Sacramento State, says that she became interested in the program because of the transfer aid. She added that she enjoyed the volunteer work and field trips to different universities.

According to the Puente Proj- ect Implementation Guidelines, Puente has expanded to 59 sites throughout the state.

According to the LMC Puente pamphlet, between 1999 and 2003 Puente transfers to four-year universities grew by 67 percent.

“The success comes within the students that move on to universities,” said Yeong.

The Puente program is open to any students placed at English 90 level or above.

For more information you may contact Michael Yeong through email myeoung@losmedanos.edu or call him at 439-2182 ext. 3236.