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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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The newly formed Building Bridges Between Community and Careers team will begin outreach in fall 2023. (SDSU Imperial Valley) The newly formed Building Bridges Between Community and Careers team will begin outreach in fall 2023. (SDSU Imperial Valley)

SDSU Imperial Valley Launches Building Bridges Between Community and Careers Team

The project aims to create STEM career pathways for K-12 and college students.
By Daniella Rodiles

San Diego State University Imperial Valley’s new Building Bridges between the Community and Careers team will promote its STEM, nursing and public health degrees to local K-12 and high school students to launch science and health careers in Imperial Valley. 


The program, housed in SDSU Imperial Valley’s Academic Affairs department, is funded by a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to strengthen programs at Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) – like SDSU – that primarily serve first-generation, Latinx students.


“As the outreach and enrollment team has connected with local school officials and counselors in the past few years, we’ve seen a need to plant a seed and connect students to STEM at a much younger age,” said Maribel Zepeda, an SDSU Imperial Valley outreach specialist for the public health, STEM and nursing programs. “We want to inspire students from K-12 to dive into STEM activities and let them know that SDSU Imperial Valley is your local university to pursue a career in STEM, public health or nursing.”


The Building Bridges team will begin its outreach and recruitment efforts to local students from K-12 and Imperial Valley College in fall 2023.


The project team’s outreach to local high schools will include academic advising and counseling, specifically to inform students about college credit, applying to internships and creating a clear pathway to STEM, public health and nursing career programs. Students will have access to enrichment activities, such as workshops, panels, informational and skills development sessions.


“Our university’s proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border makes the majority of our student body of Hispanic descent, and many are first-generation students,” said Salvador Espinosa, senior associate dean of Academic Affairs at SDSU Imperial Valley. “We want to make it known that with the right support and assistance, you can achieve your career locally.”


The Building Bridges team will work closely with SDSU Imperial Valley’s Student Affairs and Campus Diversity division, its Cross-Cultural Center and the Office of HSI and Regional Affairs. 


The program aligns with the SDSU's 5-year strategic plan to achieve 75% placement rate for undergraduate students in internships, research opportunities and fellowships to enhance employability and access to graduate studies. The university also has plans to launch new STEM career programs with the creation of its new STEM building at SDSU Imperial Valley’s Brawley location. 


“Launching this program will create new opportunities that have been on the horizon and have been much anticipated,” said Jessica Obeso, a program coordinator. “It is not easy to dive into a new career program that you are not familiar with. We’ve continued to make connections with local education institutions and organizations to ensure we’re providing our students with as many resources, support and mentorship as possible. We look forward to guiding our students through their journey at SDSU Imperial Valley and seeing them graduate.”