The State of California has approved $5 million in funding for the Cal-Bridge program, which provides a pathway for underrepresented students in the California State University community colleges and system to earn an advanced doctoral degree. degrees through the University of California system and join the California science and technology workforce, including as state university faculty.
The Cal-Bridge Program, launched in 2014, is a statewide partnership between 9 UCs, 23 CSUs, and 116 California community colleges supporting CSU students majoring in physics, computer science, and mathematics to enroll in Ph.D. programs across the state and nation. California’s new state budget allocation will allow Cal-Bridge to expand the subject areas covered and expand its impact, supporting Cal-Bridge Scholars all the way from their undergraduate studies at CSU to their doctoral degrees at UC, thus builds a pathway for thousands of California students of diverse backgrounds to achieve the expertise needed to fill university faculty and technology leadership positions in California and beyond.
“Faculty diversity will increase gender, racial, and ethnic representation in the tech workforce more broadly by increasing the number of students from historically underrepresented groups completing degrees in STEM fields because they see faculty who look like them,” said Cal-Bridge Executive Director Alexander Rudolph, a professor of physics and astronomy at Cal Poly Pomona. “As countries around the world increase their investment in science and technology, making sure our nation uses all available talent in developing our expertise and capabilities in these areas is a matter of economic and national security.”
Maria “Cathy” Rodriguez Wimberly is a shining example of the power of the Cal-Bridge approach. An Army veteran, Wimberly took courses at the community college level before transferring to California State University, Long Beach, where he joined the Cal-Bridge program in 2015. Wimberly graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics from Long Beach and went on to earn a Ph.D. degree in astrophysics at UC Irvine in 2021. She is now an NSF MPS-Ascend Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Riverside.
Commenting on how the Cal-Bridge program provided her with the support she needed to succeed, Wimberly said, “The network of mentors and peers that Cal-Bridge helped me create was invaluable in my pursuit of a PhD in astrophysics! I now have an incredible support system of equally underrepresented astronomy students and mentors who are actively working to build a more inclusive community.”
Kevork Abazajian, professor of physics and astronomy, is director of Cal-Bridge UC-South and leads the program at UCI.
About Cal-Bridge: The Cal-Bridge program has the mission of creating a comprehensive, end-to-end pathway for students from the CSU system’s diverse student population through graduate school to doctoral degrees, postdoctoral fellowships, and ultimately membership in the professorship and science and technology workforce. Students in the program are called Cal-Bridge Scholars.
The program is a partnership between 9 UCs, all 23 California State Universities, and 116 college campuses in the state, fulfilling the promise of cross-sector collaboration set forth in the California Master Plan for Higher Education. Scholars are recruited from CSU and community college campuses throughout the state, with the assistance of local faculty and/or liaison officers at each campus. Community college students transfer to a participating CSU to join the program.