Amid admissions scandal, Puente program at East LA College helps students into universities the right way

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (KABC) -- With tears in her eyes Ana Velez, 22, says the college admission scandal has made her feel a range of emotions.

"How do I tell my parents?" Velez, a Puente program student at East Los Angeles College, questioned. "I felt ashamed of not being able to make it over there right, but their kids were able to make it. Not because they worked hard enough, but because they were bought their way in."

Velez says she's found comfort and guidance through the Puente Program at ELAC.

"Puente means for me an opportunity to grow as a student, as an individual and most importantly it means family to me," Velez said.

The state-wide program helps students transfer from a community college to a 4-year university.

"We provide English instruction, mentorship, counseling services for students," Carlos Centeno, co-coordinator of Puente at ELAC, said. "And we also have a statewide community, because it's a statewide program."

"They just don't tell us like, 'Oh you might as well give up because you're not going to get in because you don't have money," Eleticia Rangel, a Puente student at ELAC, said. "Instead they encourage us to keep doing it."

Many of the Puente Students' stories are similar, they come from immigrant families who say Puente is the bridge to get them to a top university.

"This is our story and our story does matter and we should talk about our story," Velez said.

"Because at the end they weren't exactly telling us, 'No money, no success.' They were saying, 'Keep going you'll get there, there's going to be success,'" Rangel said.
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