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Bridging an educational gap

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Colorado State University-Pueblo is implementing the Puente Project this summer. The Bridges to Biomedical Careers Program will be held May 25 through July 3 for 16 transfer students.

Puente, which means bridge, is a program designed to help minorities gain experience they will need in the scientific field, program director Lee Anne Martinez said. 

“It is meant to increase that pipeline of minority students who are in biomedical research,” Martinez said.

Martinez said the students are more likely to solve health problems within their communities if they have the skills they need.

Although the Bridges to Biomedical Career program is intended to support minorities the opportunity to gain insight into cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics and other areas of scientific research, all students are welcome to apply, Cora Zaletel, Executive Director of Development and Communications at CSU-Pueblo.

Those accepted will receive $1,920 for their participation in the six-week program, Martinez said. The program runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and is considered to be a job.

Transfer students interested in the project must submit a signed application form, an essay detailing their goals in the scientific field, a letter of recommendation from an instructor and their official college transcript, according to the CSU-Pueblo Web site.

Students will be chosen based on their grade point average and the materials mentioned above, Martinez said.

Martinez said the first application deadline is April 4, but the program will continue to review applicants until all positions are filled.

“Basically we evaluate them on their interests and background,” Martinez said.

The project has enrolled students from Pueblo Community College, Pikes Peak Community College and Trinidad State Junior College in the past, and has liaisons from each school, Martinez said.

“It (the program) is really a big transition period that can make or break a career in research,” Martinez said. It is meant to encourage students to continue their careers and education within the science field.

One of the best things students get from their experience is confidence, Martinez said. 

Dorm rooms are available for non-residential students who may be accepted, but only if they have more than an hour and a half of drive time. 

The science department will be reviewing the applications beginning April 3 and accepted applicants will begin receiving notifications April 6.

“Our students, in general, are highly recruited and get placements in other programs when they are looking for them,” Martinez said.