The Los Medanos College Puente Program will be holding a public panel of first generation college graduates currently working on campus Friday, Sept. 21. The goal of the panel is to give guidance and perspective to first generation students. They hope to show by example that it is possible to navigate the system successfully and provide them with a support group willing to give insight.
“This is the third time that we have invited faculty and staff to become part of our first generation student panel,” said Puente Coordinator and English professor Stacey Miller, who created the panel. “I have between 10 and 12 faculty and staff who are going to be joining us on Friday.”
The panel started after Miller created an essay assignment in an English 100 class to write about first generation students.
“I thought it would be really good for students to hear from people who they would see on campus everyday,” Miller said. “As it turns out, LMC actually has quite a few first generation students who are now successful faculty and staff members.”
Miller expects students will be coming to the panel armed with questions.
“The added benefit is that when the student asks questions, they could be asking for the essay, or for themselves without anyone knowing they may or may not be first generation students,” said Miller. “Nobody has to know.”
Puente student Bianca Bautista, who is a first generation student, hopes to learn what sorts of obstacles panel members had to overcome, like language, education and social barriers.
“I really want to get to know the first generation students that have succeeded that are apart of our faculty at LMC,” said Bautista. “What barriers they overcame in order to be where they’re at.”
“I’m actually the first one of my entire family to come to college, so it’s super difficult to get my parents to get used to everything,” Bautista said. “Making them understand that it’s not gradeschool anymore, that it’s college and that it’s a totally different transition.”
Adrian Enriquez, another first time college student in Puente, hopes to hear the goals the panel members had so that he can better compare and relate to them.
“I hope to get some more information that I could probably utilize for the essay that I’m writing on first generation college students and their success,” he said. “And what obstacles and methods they used to overcome being first gen and how to be successful in college.”
Enriquez has seen firsthand some of the issues first time students like him go through.
“You kind of have to figure out everything on your own. There’s no roadmap, no blueprint, you have to experiment and hope you land on your feet,” said Enriquez.
The Puente program, however, has given him the assistance he feels he needs.
“I’m actually glad I landed in the Puente Program because it’s actually given me a solid base,” Enriquez said. “It’s given me the opportunity to be more successful in the future and hopefully to transfer out… go for a higher education.”
Enriquez also had high praise for the Puente program coordinators Stacey Miller and Trinidad Zavala.
“They help out a ton. They make you feel like you’re not lost,” said Enriquez.
There are currently 65 Puente students here at Los Medanos College.
“Any student is able to join but the [Puente] program is targeted to students who are typically underrepresented,” said Miller.