EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso Community College (EPCC) student Gloria Sepulveda was recently honored for her e-poster presentation at the 2021 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS).

College official share that this is the 17th year in a row that an EPCC student has been awarded at this highly competitive conference, which is the largest student research conference in the United States.

Of the 400 awards given at the conference, Sepulveda’s was one of only 16 that went to community college students.

Born in El Paso, Texas, and raised in Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Sepulveda decided to study Chemical Engineering in the United States. She is looking to continue her education at schools in other states and is planning on completing a master’s and a doctoral degree.

“The program opens a lot of properties specially for minority students. We do have a lot of training on how to conduct research and we also have a lot of opportunities to network with other universities…I realized that I have a lot of options. This experience opened my mind to another level to pursue other grad schools that I did not know existed; now I know I have the potential to do anything I put my mind in it.”

loria Sepulveda

The Rise to the Challenge Bridge Program provides paid research internships for EPCC Science majors. Rise Bridge Scholars work in a research laboratory at EPCC, UTEP and/or NMSU, participate in science enrichment activities, research technique workshops, receive career advising and travel to national scientific conferences.

Two additional EPCC Rise Bridge students, Regina Viramontes and Seth Wilson, also presented at the conference.

The program’s goal is to provide students with biomedical research skills as well as preparing them to transfer to a university and graduate with baccalaureate and eventually PhD degrees. 

As part of their training, EPCC students have been involved in formulating research questions and hypotheses, developing and implementing experimental procedures, analyzing data and sharing the data with the scientific community by presenting their projects in national conferences and publishing papers.

“Despite all the challenges of the pandemic and labs being partially closed between 2020 and 2021, Rise to the Challenge Bridge students have received five awards for their research presentations…This exemplifies the dedication of students and faculty mentors in the program. Participation in national conferences like Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) gives visibility to our students and they have the opportunity to hear presentations by prestigious scientists, network, and learn about future training opportunities and graduate schools.”

Dr. Maria Alvarez, EPCC Biology Instructor and Coordinator of the Rise to the Challenge Bridge Program,

Many of these students started at EPCC because of its affordability without knowing that the institution would provide astonishing opportunities for their future.

The experience of participating at the RISE program is so amazing that most of them, after transferring to a 4-year university, come back as program facilitators to assist other students in their journey.

 “For the last 20 years, the Rise to the Challenge Bridge Program has provided opportunities for EPCC students to experience the true investigative nature of science by engaging them in research topics that are relevant to our community and the world at large,” Dr. Alvarez, said.

Rise interns have become K-12 teachers, college faculty and researchers or have entered the biomedical workforce in industry and government labs.  The research skills that students gain through participation in this EPCC program are leading to the development of a diverse biomedical research workforce with knowledge, skills and a vested interest in regional, national and global biomedical issues.

Depending on career, education, location and experience, graduates who participate in this program can earn a salary from $28,860 to $123,860/year nationally in careers such as Researchers, Healthcare Workers, Environmental Biologists, Conservationists, Biological Science and Chemistry Teachers/Professors (early to higher education), Biotechnologists, Forensic Scientists and Chemists to name a few.

For more information on the Rise to the Challenge Bridge Program, contact Dr. Maria Alvarez at malva279@epcc.edu or call (915) 831-5074.

To register for the Spring 2022 semester, click here.

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