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.
Our main focus has been 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.
We’ll end our proposal term by organizing a virtual regional astronomy conference. Here, we’ll invite our students, graduate institutions, collaborators and their networks to promote global partnerships between students, academics, and industries. This will facilitate the search for funding opportunities to ensure sustainability. To measure our success, we’ll conduct interviews at the end of each year to obtain feedback as well as track the number of students who become mentors for future cohorts.
Valeria Hurtado, Antonio Porras, Gloria Fonseca, firstname.lastname@example.org