Blog Archive

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Featured Alumni: Linda De Leon

My name is Linda De Leon and I completed the Bridge to Biotechnology program in 2010

My academic career at CCSF began with a Nursing (Registered) major back in the year......well, anyway it was a while ago. While taking classes at City toward this major, I worked as a Nursing Assistant at UCSF. I loved my job and all the [healthcare-related] science learning that I was receiving at the same time. Fast forward...ahem...years, 1 marriage and 1 child later and I find myself a Mom to a preschooler, totally yearning to get back to school and possibly the workforce. It was at this time I went back to City to continue toward the RN major and enrolled that very semester in CHEM 32. It was also at this time, in this particular class, that I realized my math and science skills had apparently had time to get a bit rusty. I realized about halfway in, when classes like these generally begin to "thin out" that I had to drop too, as difficult as that was for me. It was that very day, as I was leaving the campus, when I made up my mind to drop the class that I saw the Bridge Flyer....seriously. 

The flyer had targeted my very situation -Students with a interest in the sciences who may need a little tune-up in the math and science-related classes. I attended the orientation at the Mission Campus and was very surprised to meet so many people from various backgrounds right off the bat who were there to have the exact same curiosity peaked. The orientation was very engaging and I knew I had found something that was right up my alley. Boy, was I right..... 

From the moment I started the Bridge program, I was immersed in an all-encompassing program where the Language skills I learned were completely in sync with the Math skills which were completely in sync with the Science skills. Everything was taught with a practical, real-world approach with a heavy emphasis on the science that matters today - Energy, Environment, Health, Genetics and even Criminal Investigation! I felt incredibly privileged to learn not only from truly excellent professors and instructors, who came with a plethora of industry experience to share, but from my peers too! Like I said, we all came into this program with different backgrounds and different directions, so there was always something new to learn among each other. 

My Internship at the USDA in Albany that followed was an awesome and amazing continuation of everything the Bridge had prepared me for. I went into that laboratory with the skills I learned in 14A & BTEC 10 under my belt only to be further refined by my internship experience. I had the privilege to work under the supervision of Dr. Grace Chen, who was an invaluable mentor and taught me so much. 

The following semester, after successfully completing my Bridge courses, I went back to City, enrolled in CHEM 32 again and nailed it!! What a great feeling! 

I was still itching to get back into the workforce so I began putting my resume out there at that time in hopes to find something part time. Another semester at City had passed when I received a call one day from SRI International in Menlo Park, CA for an interview. I was nervous at first about putting all my new found skills and confidence out there in the real world, but I am happy and proud to say that I got the job as a Laboratory Technician in their Clinical Analysis Laboratory! 

I have been here at SRI for just a little under a year now and I am loving it!!! I am in an environment where I am constantly learning, which I love. I am inspired every single day by the people around me and the research that they do. I am proud to be part of a company that, in so many ways, is making a big difference in our world. After a few months of getting settled into the new job, I am now back at City toward my AS in Biotechnology - only 1 class away! 

The Bridge to Biotech program, for me, has opened my mind and has opened doors that I may not have opened for myself before. It changed my educational and vocational journey and I am forever grateful! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Take on the Biotech Program

 Earlier this year, while trying to crash the impacted EMT training course offered at CCSF, it was suggested to me to try getting into the Bridge to Biotech program. I was admittedly skeptical because I didn’t really know what the program entailed and the mental image of me running around in a lab seemed pretty silly.

As an aspiring physician, I wanted to be an EMT because I saw it as a surefire way to gain the experience I needed to be a shoe-in for med school. But I was assured by family and friends that this experience would be just as helpful.

So I called Dr. Edith Kaeuper, program director for the Bridge Program and was surprised to hear her voice on the other line, enthusiastic and reassuring.

“Hi, this is Edith Kaueper.”
“Uhh.. hi. My name is Diane and I was calling to ask about the biotech program”
“Sure, what would you like to know?”
“Well... are there still spots available?” a valid question, I thought, given the spotty availability of public school classes.

I was a little cynical, a vocational program with spots available? But I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask a few more questions.

“Is there a job placement?”
“We place you into an internship that usually leads to a work placement. The Bridge Program is geared toward people who don’t have science backgrounds and need to brush up on their math and science skills.”

Now she was speaking my language. I hadn’t taken a math class in years.

I had about a million other questions that I wanted to ask but felt timid because here I was speaking with this person who didn’t know me and I didn’t want to potentially waste her time. Sensing this, Dr. Kaeuper encouraged me to come in the following day to add the classes. I still wasn’t so sure about biotechnology, but I figured the worst that would happen was that I’d make my way up the registration pecking order and get the classes I really wanted the following semester.

Never would I have imagined how much I would have gotten out of this program, or how much I would realize I loved science. I was the person who ran away from math and big words. I was completely confused by complex concepts and never in my wildest dreams would I consider myself a scientist, That’s for brainy meticulous people, I’d always thought to myself, ...and people whose parents could afford to send them to fancy schools.

And as a woman of color, I felt like I had no business in the scientific arena anyway. It was just another unattainable good-ol’ boys network that I would never get to be a part of.

But the Bridge to Biotech program makes science accessible to everyone. Anyone from any background, ethnicity, and income level can learn the skills they need to work in a laboratory setting.

I constantly have so many of those “aha!” moments when a concept finally clicks. After those years of high school and college biology, here I was in the Bridge program finally having a full grasp of the subject!

What’s more is that I am surrounded by instructors who mentor me every step of the way. They always make time for me, they’ll answer any question I have no matter how silly it seems, and they’re perfectly frank and honest about the biotechnology field and how they believe I’ll fit into it.

I still have a ways to go in terms of my certification, but I stand by this program 100%. I feel like I’ve discovered this inquisitive, curious part of myself that I never knew I had!

-Diane Nathaniel

Friday, April 13, 2012

May 18th 2012 - City College of San Francisco's 9th Networking Event!

You are all invited! City College of San Francisco's 9th networking even will be on Friday, May 18th 2012 at Genentech Hall on UCSF's Mission Bay campus. This event will offer opportunities for prospective students to learn more about the program and mingle with past students who have successfully gone through the program. Representatives from industry and academic partners who have successfully hosted interns from out program will be in attendance. Other events scheduled for day include:

  • 18 students from the Bridge Program and 5 students from the Stem Cell Technology Program will present the posters they have made on the research they have done in their internships this semester.
  • Workshops given by bay area recruiters on how to make yourself noticed by biotech hiring managers.
  • Panels with students who have successfully completed the program who will talk about how the Bridge program has helped them succeed in gaining skills that have directly helped them find a job in biotech.
Here is the pdf for official flyer for the event and the preliminary program of the day. Refreshments and food will be available at the event, but please try to preregister by emailing lclement*at* or on the page here so that we can anticipate your attendance!

More information on the even is available here.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    A Moment With Jennifer Maccarelli Barroll

     Hi, My name is Jenny. I started this program because I wanted to help people. Specifically, I wanted to help combat mind deteriorating diseases and cancers. This academic program means so much to me and has given me a lot of knowledge, skills, opportunities and good changes.

    In fact, I was hired as a laboratory mentor by Dr. Zimmerman. It was a very rewarding experience and it allowed me to give back to The City College of San Francisco Bridge to Biotechnology Program.

    I just started interning at The United States Department of Agriculture in Albany, California. At this internship I conduct DNA extractions, PCR, Micro-preparation of Plasmid DNA and Gel Electrophoresis of plasmid DNA. I am learning so much and it is a very rewarding experience.

    A year and half a go I had a small science vocabulary, now I am conducting important scientific experiments that could help create a better economy for The United States. Also, after this semester I will have completed The Biotechnology Laboratory Assistant Certificate Program.

    In the future, I could see myself working for at a Research Laboratory, hospital, Food and Drug Safety Organization or a Biotechnology Company. I am still learning and I cannot wait to learn more with The City College of San Francisco Biotechnology Program.

    Veronica Benites A Current City College Student

    My name is Veronica Teixeira Benites I’m a foreign student originally from Brazil. I came to California in March of 2008 holding a BS in Chemistry and no English skills at all. It took me two years of my staying here to develop the English level I have and I’m still learning. 

    For over two years I worked as a physical chemistry analyst at the Environmental Monitoring Department of my state in Brazil. I performed water analyses and sample water collecting. I also worked as a chemistry tutor in a Brazilian University where I graduated in 2007 and as a trainee in a pharmaceutical industry also in Brazil. 

    Currently, I’m attending Bridge to Biotechnology Program at CCSF and preparing myself to the opportunity that the program offers, an internship in the scientific field. My goal is a master’s degree in biochemistry as well as a PhD in the same field and I’m sure that bridge to Biotech will help me through this process. So far I can say that I have been exposed to professors that are not only knowledgeable but friendly and doing their best to make us students future colleagues.

    Interview with Farid De La Ossa Arrieta

    Farid De La Ossa Arrieta

    I learned about the bridge to biotech program through an academic advisor at The City College of San Francisco, They told me that I should try it since I had a bachelor’s degree in Chemical engineering from Colombia. I think this program has been all great in all the ways because it has helped me refresh all my math and chemistry skills and it has helped me to connect that knowledge with the biology background I am getting nowadays. I would recommend this program because it focuses on hands-on skills that can be very helpful in the biotechnology field. This program is also great at preparing students to apply for jobs and to perform very well in job interviews, which is very helpful while looking for a job. All of the classes and professors have been extremely helpful to my success. I have also been able to meet very interesting people in this program from whom I have learned a lot of things.

    So far the Bridge to Biotech program has helped my success in seeking a career by taking my chemistry knowledge and connecting it with all the new biology skills. I am getting a lot out of the biotechnology classes and my current internship.

    After the bridge surprisingly I heard from Nathan Hillson, the director of The Synthetic Biology department at JBEI (Joint Bioenergy Institute), who told me that he was interested in coming to the networking event to discuss a possible internship. The program suggested me to apply for some other internships besides the JBEI position that was up in case I did not get it. I was offered two of the other positions, but Nathan Hillson from JBEI offered me the internship first, the focus of his group sounded interesting and he was willing to come to the networking event, so I accepted the internship with Nathan Hillson at JBEI. The networking event was a great experience because I had the chance to meet and interact with people from the biotechnology field in San Francisco. This helped me decide what areas I might want to work in. After my internship, I am planning to continue with the program so I can earn other certificates like the Bio-manufacturing and Stem Cell Technology certificate.

    Interview With Janette Wright Successful Student and Former Intern

    Interview with Janette Wright

    I learned about this program from my Aunt. Originally, I didn’t know what biotechnology meant. I decided to google the word and all these interesting links and articles had appeared. I also found information about the Bridge to Biotechnology Program at City College of San Francisco. Afterwards, I attended an orientation at the EDD Center on Turk Street and the rest is history.

    Before this program, I had very little science or math skills. Enrolling in the Bridge courses broadened my horizons to the science world and gave me a lot of opportunities.

    After the Bridge, I continued to educate myself in Biotechnology. There is so much more for me to learn. I am currently earning my associates degree in biotechnology. I would recommend the Bridge to those whom are serious and dedicated about learning something new. The networking event when I was a bridge student was a success. I believe it was fantastic and a building block for the following years networking event, which was held at UCSF.

    The networking event helps my career by putting me in contact with the Biotech community of the Bay Area. I got training on interviews, information on the latest technology and had opportunities to share my skills with prospect employers.

    This landed me an internship at Prosetta, they are a small research company here in San Francisco. I truly enjoyed working there. I felt like I was part of the team and really I was. The highest point of the program for me was when high school students visited our class from Japan. It helped me to realize that there is a universal language in education and that just happened to be the language of biotechnology.

    This is my last semester in the associates degree biotechnology program. I thank all my professors. But, I'd like to thank Rob Reed the most because he helped me learn math concepts. These skills prepared me and got me through a lot of other classes within the program.

    The Biography of Megan Mayer. A Current Student In the Bridge Program

    My name is Megan Mayer. I have come a long way on my journey towards finding what I truly want to devote my life to; I have changed my mind innumerable times as to what I wanted to major in. After flip flopping between fashion, business, psychology and literature, I ended up in a biology class where I was truly enamored by the beauty and complexity of living organisms. 

    I never thought that I could actually pursue a degree in anything science related-- I felt it was too hard and too taxing and that it was only for students who wanted to devote 8+ years of their lives to education. By mere accident, I enrolled myself in the Bridge to Biotechnology program at City College of San Francisco and have found myself on an exciting path towards a meaningful career. 

    An associates degree in Biotech for me will open many doors towards something I believe will contribute to scientific advances. I feel passionate for everything I am learning, and the teachers are wonderful-- they make the learning fun and very clear. I now truly feel connected to something bigger than myself, and I cant wait to see where this journey leads me.

    The Bridge To Biotechnology Program Link Information

    If you'd like to learn more about The CIty College of San Francisco Bridge To Biotechnology Program, please feel free to visit this website

    The Bridge To Biotechnology is a wonderful program. It helps students build skills in modern technologies, biotechnology laboratory techniques and mathematics.

    The Biotechnology program also offers students confidence in the workforce and opportunities to obtain internships.

    We hope you'll join us or take a visit.