With a student population exceeding 37,000, El Paso Community College (EPCC) is the largest Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) located on the US-Mexico Border and the largest grantor of Associate degrees to Hispanic students in the Nation. An average of 7114 students enroll in Biology courses, 2610 in Chemistry courses, and 7565 in Psychology courses per year. EPCC's student population closely mirrors the demographics of the region (88% URM, 85% Hispanic), and the students are already interested in health issues and disparities that affect the US-Mexico border region. EPCC has pioneered strategies to get students interested in biomedical research and entering the Ph.D. pipeline. EPCC was the first community college to be funded by the RISE program. To date 159 EPCC RISE students have transferred to a university and 90 graduated with baccalaureate degrees in biomedical sciences, 17 with master's degrees, 12 with doctoral degrees, 20 are in graduate school, 4 have College/University faculty positions. The proposed Rise to the Challenge Bridge program will keep the momentum generated by the RISE Program, capitalize on the experience gained by this young institution in its efforts to prepare students for biomedical research careers, and increase the number of EPCC students transferring to the university and graduating with a baccalaureate degree. The goals of the proposed RISE to the Challenge Bridge between EPCC, UTEP and NMSU are 1) to continue providing talented EPCC students with the tools to succeed and excel in their freshman and sophomore-level biology, chemistry and math courses, 2) to continue strengthening the research knowledge and skills of EPCC students and faculty and 3) to increase the number of minority and disadvantaged students that transfer to a four-year institution with the skills necessary to graduate with a baccalaureate degree and eventually a Ph.D in biomedical fields. Our goal is that the proposed Bridge program's interventions will increase the 89% transfer rate and 57% BS graduation rate achieved by the RISE program to date, to a 95% transfer rate and 65% graduation rate The specific aims are: 1) to enhance and enrich the EPCC Biology, Chemistry and Math curriculum with proven interventions including Supplemental Instruction (SI) combined with the benefits of authentic research experiences through Course Based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs), using a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach, 2) to provide year-round meaningful research experiences for 12 EPCC students working with teams of faculty from EPCC, UTEP and NMSU 3) to maintain our excellent track record of students presenting at national professional meetings, 4) to create a seamless pathway to the baccalaureate degree through EPCC's Pathways for Student Success initiative, and 5) to strengthen the biomedical science learning community and support networks established through EPCC's RISE program.
The US-Mexico Border Region faces unique environmental and health challenges and is one of the most medically underserved regions in the US. El Paso Community College (EPCC) is the largest community college located on the US-Mexico Border and an institution that responds to the needs of the international community. EPCC's RISE to the Challenge Bridge Program in collaboration with the University of Texas at El Paso and New Mexico State University will provide the resources to generate a cadre of biomedical researchers with a vested interest and the skills to conduct biomedical research and contribute to the improvement of the quality of life on the border and the health of the nation.