On Saturday, Feb. 29, 600 sixth-grade students from Alamogordo, Deming, Gadsden, Hatch Valley and Las Cruces will arrive at the New Mexico State University campus. These students will participate in activities that give them insight into career fields such as engineering, mathematics, journalism and government. The goal of the day is to inspire them to think beyond high school and to aspire to earn a post-secondary education.
Unfortunately, not all students have equal opportunities to pursue a postsecondary education. This is especially true for first-generation and low-income students, who often have to overcome financial barriers, navigate the college application process alone and might not enter college with a full support system behind them.
Programs like the Young Achievers Forum, however, are working to change this dynamic and make college a reality for more students. In 2017, CommUNITY en Acción, a nonprofit group dedicated to advancing the economic, civic and social well-being of Hispanics, partnered with NMSU to bring middle-school students to campus for inspiration, motivation and education. Over the past four years, more than 1,600 students have spent a day at NMSU exploring different career fields and immersed in learning that shapes their future and benefits their education after high school.
The education of these – and all – students is important to the future of New Mexico. More professions throughout the United States and around the world require training and education beyond high school, and the demand for postsecondary education has never been higher. In 2018, there were about 124,000 students enrolled in public colleges and universities in the state of New Mexico, and about 17 million students in higher education across the nation, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. As that number grows over the next decade, so too will the importance of a postsecondary education.
Every child with a college degree can positively affect the economy, their own health and the broader community. Educational attainment directly translates to productivity and income gains, proving that an investment in a college education yields an extremely strong return that can be captured in earnings, reduced financial burdens or giving back to the community.
The most important thing that will be seen at the Young Achievers Forum is a sense of togetherness and camaraderie. Eleven- and 12-year-olds, their parents and their teachers come together to learn, to be inspired and to spark change in our community and the world. Educating our children about college is crucial in making them want to obtain a degree, because the students in the forum will soon be running our medical clinics, pushing business ventures forward and solving problems as part of the team that will send people to Mars.
This is the essence of what it means to be a land-grant university like NMSU. Our programs reach deep into every community to inspire learning and build college preparedness in students. We invite those same students to become Aggies, and after they graduate, we are still here to partner with them in developing businesses, communities, and the educational needs of future generations. So, if you are on campus Feb. 29, welcome those students, teachers and families to NMSU. We hope to be working with them for a long time to come.
Update on the Climate Survey: Today’s Hotline included an announcement of the members of the Climate Survey Action Team, created to address the findings and make recommendations regarding last Fall’s Climate survey. The Action Team will be co-chaired by Becky Corran, Faculty Senate outgoing chair and DACC Humanities and Social Sciences Department Chair, and Gena Jones, Assistant Vice President, Human Resource Services. Please feel free to send any thoughts to them or to members of the Action Team.
John Floros, Ph.D.
New Mexico State University
BE BOLD. Shape the future.
Young Achievers Forum