Building Bridges through Education announces inaugural fellows

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The inaugural class of 35 fellows for the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber's Building Bridges Through Education fellowship initiative. Courtesy West Michigan Hispanic Chamber

The West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce selected its inaugural class of 35 fellows for its new Building Bridges through Education fellowship initiative.

BBTE Fellows is designed to be a culturally relevant early career placement and development pilot. The competitive, two-semester-long fellowship aims to assist talent and strengthen the diversity workforce pipeline in Michigan.

“Utilizing grassroots strategies, we work to create system-level impact,” BBTE Program Manager Jessica Ledesma said. “We received almost 100 responses from Latinx college talent across Michigan in response to the BBTE fellowship pilot. This response is evidence that BBTE is a needed and sought out answer for aspiring and developing talent. We are committed and dedicated to assist the next generation of Latinx leaders in Michigan and connect them to employers who see their assets and invest in their potential.”

The BBTE Fellows cohorts are career-based in the following fields: business/STEM, health professions, nursing and social/public service.

2020-21 BBTE Fellows — business/STEM

  • Aaron Bontrager, Ferris State University, operations and supply chain management
  • Natalie Alvarado, Grand Rapids Community College, business administration
  • Leandro Bautista, Western Michigan University, interior design
  • Rogelio Contreras-Fuentes, Grand Valley State University, operations management
  • Brandon Cordova-Abundis, Grand Rapids Community College, business/economics
  • Amy Muñoz, University of Michigan, economics
  • Mario Ramirez, Ferris State University, architecture and sustainability
  • Bryan Salinas, Ferris State University, marketing
  • Marla Soto, Ferris State University, architecture and sustainability
  • Paulo Zepeda, Grand Rapids Community College, finance

2020-21 BBTE Fellows — health professions

  • Joe Broca II, Grand Valley State University, biomedical sciences
  • Aunner Calderon, Western Michigan University, biomedical sciences
  • Nixon Deleon Garcia, Grand Rapids Community College, cell biology
  • Yadira Deleon-Lopez, Aquinas College, health science
  • Donna Martinez, Ferris State University, medical laboratory sciences
  • Alondra Ponce, Western Michigan University, exercise science
  • Jennifer Rodriguez, Grand Valley State University, biomedical sciences
  • Giselly Silva, Western Michigan University, biomedical sciences
  • Cristian Vasquez, Western Michigan University, biochemistry
  • Maria Velasquez-Lopez, University of Michigan, psychology

2020-21 BBTE Fellows — nursing

  • Alondra Ceron Salas, Grand Rapids Community College, nursing
  • Sheylin de Leon, Davenport University, nursing
  • Maira Hurtado, Grand Valley State University, nursing
  • Dulce Loredo, University of Michigan Flint, nursing
  • Natalia Monarrez, Ferris State University, nursing
  • Daisy Rivera, Western Michigan University, pre-nursing

2020-21 BBTE Fellows — social/public service

  • Jose Cortex, Western Michigan University, urban planning
  • Alondra Diaz, Western Michigan University, film, media and video studies
  • Jake Kostrzewski, Grand Valley State University, public health
  • Katy Martinez, Ferris State University, social work
  • Marisol Martinez, Ferris State University, social work
  • Kaitlynn Ortiz, Grand Valley State University, criminal justice and legal studies
  • Aileen Pena, Siena Heights University, accounting and criminal justice
  • Sade Perez, Grand Rapids Community College, criminal justice
  • Venecia Rodriguez, Hope College, social work

Building Bridges through Education

BBTE is an initiative powered by the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to advance Michigan Latinx college talent by bridging college and career through career connections and development to help grow a dynamic and inclusive workforce in Michigan. BBTE is supported by the DTE Foundation and the Wege Foundation, Spectrum Health, Steelcase, Amway, Haworth, Bethany Christian Services, Grand Valley State University, Herman Miller, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Hope College, Western Michigan University and the West Michigan Whitecaps.

More information is at westmihcc.org/building-bridges.

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