Supporting Latino Students
Spotlight: The Puente Project at LBCC
By Jesus Ambrosio
Some Latinos face challenges when trying to complete their higher education degrees. Long Beach City College (LBCC) utilizes programs like The PUENTE Project to ensure student success.
Nohel Corral, Dean of Counseling and Student Support Services at LBCC said The PUENTE Project is designed to increase the number of educationally underrepresented students who enroll in four-year colleges and universities.
“The primary goal is to get students, particularly Latino students, to come to college, move through college and earn a degree [in order] to become a contributing member of the community,” Corral said.
The program is open to all students and helps them transfer to four-year colleges with the help of three components: English, counseling and mentoring.
The PUENTE Project is a national award-winning program that for more than 30 years has improved the college-going rate of tens of thousands of California’s educationally underrepresented students. Its mission is to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students who enroll in four-year colleges and universities, earn college degrees and return to the community as mentors and leaders to future generations. The program is interdisciplinary in approach, with writing, counseling and mentoring components.
Started in 1981 at Chabot Community College in Hayward, California, the program has since expanded to 3 middle schools, 33 high schools and 59 community colleges throughout the state. PUENTE staff train middle school, high school and community college instructors and counselors to implement a program of rigorous instruction, focused academic counseling, and mentoring by members of the community. PUENTE’s staff training programs currently benefit approximately 14,000 students across the state. PUENTE is open to all students.
“English and counseling class are contextually based. They focus on the Latino Experience. What they are learning in their English class is also reflected in what they are learning in their counseling class.” Corral said.
Families at LBCC are encouraged to be involved in the education of their children with Puente. Family nights, end of semester award ceremonies and celebrations ensure parents are aware of their child’s progress.
Students in The PUENTE Project are paired with a mentor from the professional and business community. Corral said, “…this forms a positive relationship and role model for students in the program to see firsthand success stories.”
Ultimately, Corral said he thinks the goal of PUENTE is broader than just completing a degree.
“The students take what they learn and better their lives,” Corral said. “The impact we have on the students [will reflect] what they contribute to the institution and back to the community.”