Program for Undergraduate, Empowerment, Networking,
and Transitional Exploration

PUENTE: Program for Undergraduate, Empowerment, Networking, and Transitional Exploration is a mentorship program sponsored by the Latin American Graduate & Professional Student Assembly (LAGAPSA) and La Casa Latina. PUENTE connects juniors and seniors with graduate students at Penn in an effort to build a strong and supportive community across campus. PUENTE provides a space for undergraduates to explore their future potential with peer advisors who share a similar background and are committed to their success. Through PUENTE, advisees will engage in professional development, networking, and community outreach activities throughout the spring semester.

If you have any questions, please e-mail puente.upenn@gmail.com or stop by La Casa Latina.

The 2016 applications for PUENTE are now closed. The applications will re-open in the fall of 2016.  Please check our website for updates.

Meet Your PUENTE Organizers!


Juan Diego Ramos

Diego is a first-year graduate student at Penn’s Graduate School of Education, where he is pursuing his M.S.Ed. in Counseling and Mental Health Services. Born in Michoacan, Mexico, Diego immigrated to Oregon at the age of seven, where he eared his B.A. in Psychology and Latin American Studies from Willamette University. When he is not busy with school, Diego enjoys reading, watching movies, trying to catch up on sleep, hiking, and trying new foods.

 Diego has had numerous mentors that have helped him develop as an individual and hopes that PUENTE provides students an opportunity to create such relationships. He is excited to work with the new PUENTE advisers and advisees throughout the year, and is looking forward to a great semester.


Maria Penaloza

During her undergraduate career at UCLA, Maria majored in Political Science and double minored in Chicano/a Studies and Labor and Workplace Studies. She then worked at the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles, CA as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Service Coordinator. She is now pursuing a Master of Science in Social Policy (MSSP) degree from Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice.  In her graduate program she is focusing in education and immigration policy; she is interested in looking at access to higher education for children from mixed-status families.  She is a proud alumna of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) program and member of Lambda Theta Alpha, Latin Sorority, Inc. Outside of her work and school duties, Maria enjoys running and hiking. 

As a first-generation college student, mentorship played a key role in her academic career. She is thrilled to begin working with the 2016 PUENTE mentors and mentees!