Male and female graduates

Puente Program

Coordinators Alicia Cortez & Lydia Hearn (Madden)

Alicia Cortez is now entering her fifth year as the Puente counselor and Co-coordinator of the program. She has helped make the Puente Project a great success at De Anza College. 


Alicia was born and raised in Eastside San Jose, along with her 13 siblings. Yes, “All from the same mother and father!” Coming from a farm worker familia, nothing has ever stopped Alicia from obtaining an education. As a young girl, Alicia recalls having to cut apricots, pick prunes and walnuts to help buy school clothes for the upcoming year.


After high school, Alicia was accepted to Saint Mary’s College with a full scholarship. Then, Alicia later attended UC Berkeley where she received her Masters in Social Welfare and later a Masters in History from San Jose State. In recognition of her leadership and success as a Puente coordinator, Alicia has been a featured presenter at a Puente Summer Institute and training seminar.


Alicia has made it possible for students to visit UCLA, UCSC, Berkeley, UC Riverside, and other prestigious universities, as well as the Shakespeare festival in Oregon.  Today, Alicia lives in Morgan Hill with her husband Armando and her two children and happily working with Puente and Student Success and Retention Services.

Lydia Hearn (Madden) is entering her first year as the Puente English instructor and co-coordinator of the program.

Born of Korean immigrant parents, Lydia has lived most of her life in California.  She attended UC Santa Barbara, where she received her B.A. and M.A. in English. During her time as a graduate student, she had the privilege of teaching for a program called ACE, which targeted students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom were first-generation college students.

Lydia began teaching at De Anza College in 2000.  While at De Anza, she has served as an English instructor, Honors Program Coordinator, English department co-chair, Academic Senate President, Interim Dean of Language Arts, Interim Associate Vice President of Instruction, and Sankofa Scholars instructor. She hopes to use the knowledge and experience she has gained in these roles to help Puente students navigate their transition to college and their successful transfer to a 4-year institution.

Lydia lives with her husband (who also works at De Anza as an academic adviser) and daughter in Sunnyvale and spends her free time playing sports, singing, and reading.


INTERIM Puente COUNSELOR & Co-Coordinator
Yolanda Fernandez
Phone: 408.864.8894

Puente English Instructor & Co-Coordinator
Lydia Hearn
Phone: 408.864.5785

Last Updated: 1/9/14