Puente Builds Bridges to a Better Future

The Puente Program at Fresno City College offers mentorship, and guidance to students transferring to four-year universities.

”We want to help Latinos and Chicanos transfer to a four-year university and have them give back to our communities the best way that they can,” Steven Bojorque, Puente member, said.

Placing an emphasis on counseling, mentoring, and writing, Puente is a statewide program and has been a part of FCC since 1987.

The Puente program was established in 1981 by Felix Galaviz and Patricia McGrath at Chabot College to address low academic success rates among Mexican-American and Latino students in college.

The Puente program  provides mentors for the students. According to the Puente brochure,”Puente students are matched with academically and professionally successful mentors from the community.”

Kenneth Chacon, Puente instructor says,”The idea behind the mentoring component is to give students a connection with someone who has been where they are now and has proven successful.”

“I’ve met so many people that have helped me out,” Bojorque said. “My teacher Erendida Romero helped me out with problems that I had as I was growing up — problems that I had with my friend passing away.”

Puente counselor Lucia Ramirez Munoz says the Puente program takes in about 25-30 students each semester. Enrollment is based on a first-come, first serve basis. There is no minimum GPA requirement.

According to the FCC website, the Puente program also offers transfer preparation, tutoring, financial aid assistance, and field trips (college campus tours).

Shane Lara, Puente member said, “They really let you know what goes on; they tell you about scholarships; they give you information on things that nobody would really tell you about.”

Puente is open to all students, not just those of Mexican-American/Latino descent. In order to qualify, students must be eligible to take English 125 and 126, and express a desire to transfer to a four year university.

Students enrolled in the program take English 125 and 126, Counseling 48, and Chicano Latino Studies 11 as a cohort their first semester. This creates a peer support system.

“Honestly, we have all helped each other in one way or another; it’s either with schoolwork or personal matters,” Yerania Madrigal, Puente member says. “If it’s not personal matters, you’re just there to help and they know you’re supporting them no matter what you’re doing.”

Madrigal said, “We’re pretty much here to support each other and to be there for one another when you need help.“