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College of Human Ecology

Bridges program earns $1.1 million grant

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kansas State University has been awarded $1.1 million to renew its successful Kansas Bridges to the Bachelor's program.

Because of the program's success, the National Institutes of Health has extended funding for five years. For the past six years, K-State has partnered with Kansas City Kansas Community College, Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kan., Dodge City Community College, Garden City Community College and Seward County Community College in Liberal to build "bridges" for students to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in the bio-behavioral or biomedical sciences.

Almost 50 students have transferred to K-State since the program began. Nearly 20 have graduated. A number are in graduate school, medical school, optometry or dental school.

Denis M. Medeiros is the director of the program for K-State. Medeiros is head of the department of human nutrition and associate dean for scholarship and research in the College of Human Ecology. Co-investigators of the grant are Anita Cortez, director of K-State's Developing Scholars Program, and Farrell Webb, associate professor of family studies and human services.

Commitment to minority students

"The award is a testament of the commitment we have to minority students,” Medeiros said. "The College of Human Ecology has worked very hard to enhance minority presence."

Students are recruited through visits by K-State faculty to the community colleges, an open house day at K-State for students and family of community college students, a one-week intersession where students learn about the scientific process of research inquiry and academic integrity, and an eight-week summer research experience with a faculty mentor.

Mentors span campus

"Faculty across the university have been fantastic as mentors," Medeiros said. "We have had mentors from human nutrition, family studies and human services, psychology, kinesiology, engineering, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics, veterinary anatomy and physiology, and diagnostic medicine and pathobiology."

Students are selected based on grades and community college faculty recommendations.

"The number of college-age students is increasingly minority," Medeiros said. "With African-Americans and especially Latinos increasing in numbers across Kansas, it is important that these programs continue to help develop K-State as a welcoming environment with a critical mass of students from these cultures.

Data shows 'pull effect'

"We are now seeing siblings of previous students come through the program. Moreover, our data suggests a 'pull effect' where other minority students are coming to K-State from these communities who are not in Bridges but know of others who are at K-State through this program."

The new grant allows more funding for the community colleges to help students become more competitive in the bio-behavioral and biomedical sciences through cooperative learning experiences with local science agencies, Medeiros said.

Prepared by Human Ecology communications

This article was posted on Monday, September 28, 2009, and is filed under College News.