Bridge: n. 1 a structure built over a river, railroad, highway, etc. to provide a way across for vehicles or pedestrians 2 a thing that provides connection, contact, or transition …

A partnership between Front Range and Colorado State University fits Webster’s definition No. 2 to a T. So much so that the partnership is called Bridges to Baccalaureate. This program provides connection, contact, and transition from the associate-degree-granting Front Range to the baccalaureate-degree (and higher) granting CSU.

Bridges to Baccalaureate Helps Students Transfer

Bridges to Baccalaureate (B2B) is a National Institute of Health-funded program that helps students transfer to CSU and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in a biomedical or behavioral science. The program includes working with a success coach, workshops and classes to develop research skills, visits to CSU research labs, networking, and an opportunity to do research at CSU.

Research Presented at Poster Session

The first cohort of Bridges to Baccalaureate students recently displayed the fruits of their connection, contact, and transition. After a summer spent working in CSU research labs and guided by CSU mentors, the students presented the results of their research in a poster session.

“The students really killed it,” John Mandley, FRCC psychology faculty, told me at the session. “This is graduate-level research.”

Shaylyn Russell, who earned an Associate of Arts in psychology, worked on a memory project involving “tip of the tongue” biases.  “I learned how to run a study, write a paper,” she said. She will transfer to CSU in the spring.

Karina Hurtado-Cerasoli, a first-year psychology student, assisted on a study of new parents as they transition through various steps of parenthood. She said the most important experience was “learning how to interact with people and communicate my thoughts verbally and in writing.”

Alexa Ann Vasquez, who earned an Associate of General Studies, plans to study psychology with a concentration in mind-brain behavior. “I learned about data analysis,” she said. “The program gave me more direction on where I want to go.” She also earned a teaching assistantship for CSU’s Psychology 101 classes.

Gaby Ramirez plans to major in biochemistry at CSU. “As a first-generation student, it’s very hard to establish an academic goal because I did not have enough resources to navigate my options,” Gaby said. “However, this program has shaped my academic and personal goals because I was not exactly sure of what degree I wanted to pursue, nor what I would do with it. I loved the hands-on learning and how everyone was so welcoming and willing to help.”

Sean Wright, a Marine veteran, spent his summer learning to isolate and clone DNA. Sean studies the sciences at FRCC and plans to major in biology at CSU. “I learned so much in these two months – the practical applications and the hands-on work,” he said. His career goal is to become a mycologist – one who studies fungi.

Andrew Candia, who earned an Associate of Science in biology, will major in chemistry at CSU. His research developed “a new product nobody had made before” for use in low-cost solar devices. “It was a great program,” he said. “It opened my eyes to opportunities I wasn’t sure I was going to have. We were working with students from big universities. It was a confidence boost to see how well our community college education compared.”

Holly Perretta, earned an Associate of Science in biology and will continue at CSU. She worked in an ecology lab. “It was a great experience,” she said. “You find out what you enjoy about your field and what you don’t enjoy. I can say with confidence that I enjoy research. The connections have been huge.”

Paige Gallegos studied the sciences at FRCC after starting at CSU, where she will now return. “I loved the bench work,” she said. She worked on altering the structure of a virus, a step in creating a vaccine. “I could be there 16 hours a day, and I loved every minute of it. I didn’t want to stop.”

Bridges to Baccalaureate Benefits FRCC, CSU

Bridges to Baccalaureate is mutually beneficial to Front Range and CSU. Our students become their students. It’s been featured in a national publication called The Transfer Playbook.

Thanks to the principal investigators of the CSU labs and others who served as mentors: Anne Cleary, Gwen Fisher, Tori Crain, Jennifer Jill Harman, Lydia Heasley, Jennifer G. DeLuca, Steven M. Markus, Zack Guignardi, Elizabeth Pilon-Smits, Annalise E. Maughan, James R. Neilson, Ava Hoffman, and Olve B. Peersen,

Results: Students on Bridge to a Baccalaureate

Some of the students will return to finish at FRCC; one is moving out of state; and the others are heading to CSU. Five of the eight have invitations to continue working in the labs they worked in over the summer. Each is on the bridge to a baccalaureate.

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