Puente’s future bodes well for freshman

Students help one another to understand newest lesson.

By Humberto Macias
Pulse Staff Reporter

Palo Alto College has been awarded a $102,000 grant to aid the Puente program.  Targeting first year students who test at a pre-college English level, Puente has blossomed since its introduction in 2012.

The grant is funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Division of College Reading and Success. THECB wants the Puente program to be a part of their Catch the Next plan, an act focused on college readiness and completion.

The Puente program lasts two semesters and is structured to prepare students for the day-to-day experience of college. You are taught the tools you need to succeed that you might not have received in high school. The program emphasizes community among the students.

“It was comforting to know that I’m not the only one that is unprepared. From going to meetings, I knew everyone is here for one another,” said Tyler Arnold, a former Puente student.

Reading and writing lessons on literature by diverse authors are explored.  Students meet with their own Puente counselor until they graduate to explore career options and develop academic plans to achieve their goals.

Each student is paired with a mentor that best suits their field of study.  Mentors are college graduates who have a business or professional background.  These mentors give students a different type of resource, serving as role models to share their experiences, as well as their work environment.

Mentor hours are constantly being donated. Previous mentors include representatives from Texas A&M University-San Antonio, H-E-B and the City of San Antonio.

In the fall semester of 2012, PAC was the first institute in Texas to introduce the Puente program. The debut featured 56 incoming freshmen.

On average, the graduation rate at Palo Alto College for Puente students is 125 percent higher than traditional students. The transfer rate of Puente students is 55 percent in comparison to the 20 percent rate of the normal community college student.

THECB funding for the grant will last through 2018. PAC plans to double the number of students involved each year.

Puente was founded by Felix Galaviz and Patricia McGrath of Chabot College in California. Their mission from the beginning was to raise the number of Latino community college students transferring to universities.  Their groundwork led to over 7,000 students being enrolled in the program and 18,000 hours a year donated by professionals.

All students are eligible to join the program, regardless of ethnicity, academic standing or financial status.  For more information, contact Diana Lerma, Puente adviser, at dlerma@alamo.edu.  If you’d like to become a mentor, contact Stacy Ybarra, Puente mentor coordinator.