Program celebrates success after a decade on campus


Nick Valenzuela

Members of the Puente Program are placed into the same classes so that they can build community and for support as they progress through the program and the school.

There are various programs local and statewide that aim to successfully help students transfer to four-year institutions, but only one of them is celebrating 10 years at Cosumnes River College; the Puente program.

Puente, originally founded in 1981 as an educational support system for Latino students, works  with students of all backgrounds, 25 of them currently at at CRC.. Within the state of California there are over 61 community colleges, as well as various high schools, that incorporate Puente into their curriculum, according to Puente coordinator and counselor Estella Hoskins.

“It’s our 10 year anniversary of having it here and being successful,” Hoskins said. “It’s huge, because we have that support that typically in high school and grammar school Latino students don’t have. Anyone that resembles them not only in the classroom but in their readings, it’s difficult to find that. That’s what we’re trying to incorporate in Puente.”

The main goals of Puente are to provide educational support for students with the outcome of transferring to four-year institutions at a more direct pace and for these graduated students to return to the community as mentors, Hoskins said.

Students that are part of the program are enrolled within two English classes as well as a career development course as part of a three phase program Hoskins said. Each student also receives a counselor and a mentor to aid in their success while at CRC.

“We can be a little more flexible,” said Priscilla Hansen, an English professor for Puente. “We consider the class more as far as where they’re at, whether I need to slow down or speed up. It allows for me to adjust to them more so that I’m able to teach them and connect with them better.”

Hansen said that she teaches the same Puente students for two semesters, allowing her to build a bond and connection.

That connection is felt among Puente students and staff alike.

“It makes me feel more comfortable with the classroom already because I already know people in there,” said 18-year-old Alejandro Villalobos, a kinesiology major who is in his second phase of Puente. “I know I can ask them for help if I’m struggling with something or anything I need, I know they’ll be there for me.”

Puente has made huge strides over the past 10 years with about a 70 to 90 percent success rate with transfer students, Hoskins said.

Many of the Puente students have returned as mentors and positive figures within the community Hansen said. She said she has seen about five within the past 10 years.

Villalobos and other students in the program said that they felt very grateful for the program and what it represents.

“I think it means an opportunity because that’s what Puente gives people,” Villalobos said.

Information about the Puente program, including contact information and how to join can be found on the CRC website.

When asked about the feeling of celebrating 10 years, Hansen said she was very thankful.

“I’m very grateful that administration has been so supportive of it [Puente] because that has not been true of many campuses,” Hansen said. “They have been very supportive of Puente and making sure they can provide this for our students for 10 years in a row which is amazing.”