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Napa Valley College Puente Program Celebrates 15 Years

MARCH 22, 2019, NAPA, CA  The Napa Valley College Puente Program will celebrate its 15th anniversary with a special event on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 from 6-8 p.m. in the Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center.

The commemorative event will feature Puente alumni, former Puente counselors, college administrators, state officials and members of the community. In addition to speakers, the event will include refreshments, a celebratory cake, entertainment, information, networking and recruitment tables, along with 15 years of student-inspired t-shirts, photos and artwork.

"Puente is like no other experience on campus and I feel lucky having been a part of it – I learned so much about myself and the college experience in my one year being part of the program," said Napa Valley College student J.C. Gonzalez. "I was surrounded by amazing individuals who I can confidently call my friends. I can't imagine what my college experience would have been like if I had not joined Puente. If you are thinking about joining the program or the Puente Club, do it!"

Open to all students, the Puente Project is an academic preparation program with a mission to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students who enroll in four-year colleges, earn college degrees, and return to the community as mentors and leaders for future generations. The national, award-winning program is interdisciplinary in approach, with writing, counseling and mentoring components.

"As a past Puente mentor, I can attest to the program's quality and commitment to the success of our students," said María L. Villagómez, M.A., M.A.Ed., NVC dean, language arts, educational support, learning technologies. "The program focuses on delivering quality instruction and service that is tailored to first generation students who wish to embrace their culture's literature as part of their academic journey. The students' transformation throughout the year is remarkable and I am honored to be the academic administrator of this model program whose proven success has positively influenced hundreds of NVC students."

"Mentoring students was my way of giving back to a community that helped me; and I'm paying it forward by listening and reminding them that with hard work and dedication their dreams are absolutely attainable," said Maira Ayala, field representative, Congress Mike Thompson's office and a Puente volunteer.

"Having taught all 15 years of the English classes in NVC's Puente program, I have had the distinct pleasure of following these students' successes and triumphs from transfer, to graduate school, and then back to our community," said Cathy Gillis, NVC Puente English. "Some former Puentistas are now my colleagues! The Puente Program gives me the chance to really get to know these students as individuals and to have the honor of being a part of their lives and journeys. I love Puente."

"It's an excellent opportunity to get involved with young adults in Napa and to act as a role model, mentor and coach to help them develop and make good things happen in life by going to college, knowing that they come back into the community and make it stronger," said Napa City Manager and former Police Chief Steve Potter.

Puente staff train school and college instructors and counselors to implement the program at their own sites with rigorous instruction, focused academic counseling and mentoring by members of the community. The program is currently in 38 high schools and 65 community colleges in California and has benefitted approximately 300,000 students across the state. At Napa Valley College, more than 400 students have directly benefited from the program.

For more information on the program, visit Contact Liliana Rivera at or by phone at (707) 256-7335 to enroll in the Puente Program at Napa Valley College.      




About Napa Valley College
Napa Valley College prepares students for evolving roles in a diverse, dynamic, and interdependent world. The college is an accredited open-access, degree- and certificate-granting institution that is committed to student achievement through high-quality programs and services that are continuously evaluated and improved. The college serves students and the community in the following areas:  transfer courses, career-technical education and training, basic skills, and self-supporting contract education and community education classes. Napa Valley College is located at 2277 Napa-Vallejo Highway in Napa. Learn more at

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