Hispanic Chamber creates pilot student fellowship

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Building Bridges Through Education, an initiative of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, launched BBTE Fellows, a pilot fellowship for Latinx students across Michigan.

The fellowship kicked off Wednesday with a keynote speech by former Detroit Tiger Brayan Peña, who is team manager for the West Michigan Whitecaps. At the fellowship launch, Peña shared his career path, which started with leaving his home country of Cuba to pursue his dream of playing Major League Baseball in the U.S.

Building Bridges Through Education (BBTE) Fellows, designed to be a culturally relevant career preparation opportunity, is a competitive, two-semester fellowship that aims to assist talent and strengthen the diversity of the workforce pipeline in Michigan.

The chamber created this fellowship during a time when many students have had to change or cancel internship and professional development opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fellows will have the opportunity to research career and employment opportunities, identify potential internships and practice for job interviews.

The BBTE team said it is excited to launch this fellowship during the initiative’s second year.

“In our first year of the initiative, we saw incredible results, which allowed us to serve 225 Latinx college (students) across Michigan. Taking our successes and learnings from year one, we are excited and confident in our next step,” said Jessica Ledesma, BBTE program manager. “Launching the BBTE Fellows pilot will allow us to deepen our work with talent and the career connections they will have with our partners.”

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.

The BBTE fellowship is career-based, and the pilot will include business/STEM, health care, nursing and social sector fellows.

Those interested are asked to fill out an interest form before Sept. 25. More information is available by emailing BBTE success navigators Diana Suarez, diana@westmihcc.org, and Daniel Rivera, daniel@westmihcc.org.

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