The mission of Cenca Bridge (CB) is to provide opportunities to marginalized students from Central America and the Caribbean (cencabridgeastro.weebly.com). The main challenge revolves around scientific research being inaccessible or completely absent. We believe that astronomy research can help students obtain versatile tools and transferable skills to increase employment options and create leaders.
CB is a virtual organization run by a co-leadership committee composed of 4 graduate students in astronomy. CB has guided 5 students to start grad school, 17 to conduct virtual research, 6 to participate in internships overseas, 3 to attend summer schools, and motivated 3 students to start their own leadership programs. Our goal is to build a network that will train students as STEM leaders and support them throughout their career. We also aim to serve as a hub for international institutions to aid the development of students in the region.
The main focus is a remote internship, where students participate in peer-mentored virtual astronomy research with an established astronomer overseas. We have 80 students who will be involved in virtual open source computational, professional development, and social justice astronomy focused workshops to support students on technical skills not traditionally taught in the classroom. The idea to bridge astronomy with social justice workshops is to broaden the participation of students that feel excluded, unsupported, and isolated.
Summary of YEAR 1 (2022)
- remote internship program
- Workshops: introduction to research, computational workshop with introductions to python, data analysis, and data visualization
- Monthly progress meetings for all internship students
- Student’s final presentations of their project
- Mentorship training
- “listening circles” sessions by psychology expert
- 9 students completed the remote internship program
- 9 remote internship alumnus developed hands-on mentorship experience
- 1 internship alum is developing hands-on program management and leadership skills
- 10 students participated in the computational workshops
- Increase in the number of applicants to participate in the remote internship (52 applications received in 2022 in comparison to 14 applications received in the Fall of 202).
- Increase in the number of participants in the remote internship (9 accepted now compared to 4 prior)
- First remote internship participants from Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago
- Increased the number mentors