With support from ‘B2B,’ transfer students wrap up summer research

In her early 40s, with a 4-year-old at home, Wendi Williams describes herself as “not your typical” college student. Yet this fall, she’ll be right at home at Colorado State University, where she’s pursuing a psychology degree after transferring from Front Range Community College.

She’s in good company. Williams is one of 10 Front Range students who spent several weeks this summer conducting research in the laboratories of CSU faculty mentors. During that time, the students got their feet wet in academic research while preparing to make the leap from community college to a four-year institution. The students are part of a program called Bridges to Baccalaureate – B2B for short – which serves Front Range students in the sciences who are transferring to CSU to complete their degrees.

“The support has been invaluable,” said Williams, who decided to go back to school after career stints in information technology and massage therapy. “Once I got here, it really did feel like a bridge. At first I was very daunted, as an older-than-average student on a huge campus. But I’ve had a summer to get accustomed to things, know where everything is, and get to know some people on campus.”

Poster session

Student speaks in front of poster
Wendi Williams describes her research on the efficacy of a one-week “Smart Fit Girls” program, conducted over the summer.

At an Aug. 8 poster session showcasing the students’ summer research, Williams beamed and chatted with passersby about her work with Chrissy Chard, a faculty member in the Department of Health and Exercise Science and Colorado School of Public Health. Over the summer, Williams gathered data on the efficacy of a one-week intensive intervention program for preadolescent girls. Based on a company Chard co-founded called Smart Fit Girls, the program was part of a summer camp that covered positive body image, exercise, relationship building and healthy communication.

Research topics presented were as diverse as the participants. Cody Fallon, whose summer mentor was Mark Prince in the Department of Psychology, presented findings from a literature review he conducted on the science behind cannabis as an exercise supplement.

“This program really opened my eyes to the fact that I can actually do real scientific research,” said Fallon, from Craig, Colorado, who will also major in psychology.

student speaks in front of poster

Incoming transfer student Cody Fallon explains his literature review of cannabis as an exercise supplement. 

Keystone program

B2B was established in 2015 through a National Institutes of Health grant awarded jointly to CSU and Front Range Community College. Its purpose is to provide support and resources to community college transfer students from low-income, first-generation or underrepresented minority backgrounds to smooth the transition process and set them up for success. In particular, B2B focuses on STEM students interested in research. The Research Experience for Undergraduates summer program, which places students in CSU labs the summer before they transfer from Front Range, is B2B’s keystone program.

“We know that research is a high-impact practice,” said Heather Matthews, B2B program coordinator at CSU. “If a student engages with research at their very first moment, they are more likely to retain, and more like to graduate.”

“We know that research is a high-impact practice. If a student engages with research at their very first moment, they are more likely to retain, and more like to graduate.”

— Heather Matthews, B2B program coordinator

However, every Front Range student enrolled in more than 30 science majors is considered part of B2B when they transfer to CSU, Matthews said.

“When Front Range students come here, they are self-sufficient and academically ready, but navigating the culture of CSU is so difficult; that’s what tends to throw students off,” Matthews said.

From learning how to transition from 20-person classes to 300-person lecture halls to accessing resources like the mobile food pantry and the CSU Health Center, B2B helps students feel less overwhelmed and maximize their time here.

B2B complements other student success-oriented programs at CSU, including the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (CO-AMP). The CO-AMP program serves a similar population and is funded by a National Science Foundation grant.

Student speaking in front of poster

During the Aug. 8 poster session in the Biology Building, Maiele Mignard summarizes her summer research project examining synthetic control of cobalt-59.