The Bridges Program will focus on the seamless transfer of partner community college underrepresented students to CSUSM and every effort will be made to integrate them into one of several NIGMS-TWD Program initiatives currently in operation. These initiatives are all designed to assist Bridges Scholars in completing their B.S. degrees and eventual admission to graduate programs around the country. The Bridges Program will involve 20 first and second year students each year at the partner community colleges in an integrated academic and career development program that includes: 1) participation in a rigorous curriculum; 2) Supplemental Instruction in selected historically difficlt courses; 3) summer course work; 4) participation in seminars and conferences; 5) research participation; 6) comprehensive academic and career advising; and 7) participation in a vigorous tracking program.
The Specific Aims of the Bridges Program are to: 1) Attract promising underrepresented science majors for the Bridges program; 2) Enhance the academic credentials of Bridges Scholars; 3) Engage Bridges Scholars in research; 4) Develop partnerships that support and facilitate transfer of Bridges Scholars at key points in the educational pipeline; and 5) Vigorously track all Bridges Scholars for 10 years. Each major program aim has a set of measurable objectives that will be used to monitor overall project success. The current Bridges Program is very successful, averaging a 96% transfer rate to four- year institutions. Four Bridges alumni have earned PhDs and 12 are currently pursuing PhDs. In addition, 9 have completed and 7 are currently pursuing Master's degrees. The partner institutions' commitment to diversity and multiculturalism, the pledges of significant campus financial resources, the active support of the North County Higher Education Alliance (NCHEA), new science and academic buildings equipped with modern scientific instruments and powerful instructional resources, the significant Bridges Scholar student pool at the partner community colleges, the success of the existing Bridges Program, the experience and commitment of the proposed program director, and the currently operating MARC U*STAR and MBRS RISE Programs at CSUSM make the partner institutions ideally situated to operate a successful Bridges to the Future program.
The education and training of underrepresented students for professional research careers in the biomedical sciences through the Bridges Program will serve to advance the goal of NIH. The Bridges initiative is designed to assist Bridges Scholars in completing their B.S. degrees and eventual admission to Ph.D. programs around the country. These underrepresented community members are not represented in the professional research workforce of the nation and as a consequence we lose a significant talent that can make meaningful contributions to the health and quality of life of the country.