Puente photo collageThe Puente Learning Community has grown to two cohorts for the first time since the inception of the program at Skyline College, and the families and friends of all 52 Puentistas were invited to its annual Noche de Familia.  This event is held in recognition of the vital role that families and friends play in our students’ success. It provides an opportunity for families to meet instructors, gain a better understanding of the learning community, College resources, program events and requirements, and it also provides a safe space for students to discuss their need for support.

The event, which provided support for Spanish-only speakers, began with a welcome from Dr. Luis Escobar, Dean of Counseling, and welcoming remarks from Mary Gutierrez, Dean of Language Arts.  An overview of the Puente Learning Community was then provided with emphasis on the three-part model, calendar of events, and success rates of past Puente students nation-wide.  Afterwards, families and friends learned of a few College resources available to students and/or community members that would aid in the academic success of our Puentistas.  A HUGE thanks to Raymon Gutierrez, Retention Specialist at The Learning Center, Chad Thompson, Interim Director of SparkPoint, and Jorge Murillo, Program Services Coordinator of EOPS/CARE/CalWORKs who presented the benefits of their respective programs to our Puente families.  The information provided was valuable to both our students and their family members who looked to gain more information at the end of the event.

Towards the end of the evening, families and students broke out into separate groups to brainstorm ideas that would ensure student success.  The students came up with a wish list of things they need from their families/friends in order to succeed in college, while the family members and friends came up with a separate list identifying what they could provide to support student success and growth.  When both groups shared their respective lists, they found that both groups identified similar things such as understanding, study time and a quiet space at home, food, and love.

Over 100 people were in attendance, and the success of the event could not have taken place without the support of the Counseling and Language Arts division deans, Learning Communities Coordinator, Marisa Thigpen, fellow Puente faculty who co-facilitated the event, Lucia Lachmayr, Alberto Santellan, Paula Silva, and Counseling Intern, Rocio Aguilar-Pedroza.  Thank you also to all Puente faculty members including Luciana Castro, Denise Hum, John Ulloa, and Mustafa Popal.

For more information regarding the Puente Learning Community, please contact your Puente Co-Coordinators, Melanie Espinueva+Aure, espinuevam@smccd.edu, or Lucia Lachmayr, lachmayrl@smccd.edu

Article and Photos by Melanie Espinueva+Aure