April 28, 2017, Deming, NM: Dream Makers Club members and their families packed Deming’s Red Mountain Middle School cafeteria last week to celebrate the students’ year of exploring the diversity of health care careers.
Over 30 middle school students from Grant and Luna Counties participated in the clubs, which fosters students’ interest in the health care field in hopes they will return as professionals to fill rural New Mexico’s major gap in the health care workforce. Studies have shown that rural students are more likely to enter the health care field, and more likely to return to their roots to practice their chosen profession, especially when they have received support during their formative years.
Red Mountain Middle School’s Outstanding Dream Maker, Zenaya Blue plans to fulfill the Club’s goal. An 8th grader, Blue plans a career as a pediatric assistant, because of her experience with children. Blue said, “I enjoyed experiencing all the possible health careers with Dream Makers.”
“These graduates are our future health care professionals who are in touch with our culture and community,” said Miriam Kellerman to the graduating students. Kellerman is the Director of FORWARD NM, a program that partners with the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center Office of Diversity and local school districts to make the Dream Makers Club possible.
The Club has chapters in Deming’s Red Mountain Middle School, and Silver City’s La Plata Middle School and Aldo Leopold Charter Middle School. Dawn Urrea sponsors the Club at Red Mountain Middle School, Katrina Bustillos sponsors the club at La Plata Middle School, and Maya Chaney sponsors the club Aldo Leopold Charter Middle School.
Urrea said, “The kids see there are health careers that are awesome and thought-provoking, plus that they can help solve the shortage of health care providers we have in Luna County.”
Bustillos said, “The Club is an eye-opening experience for our students. It teaches them there is more to health care than being a doctor or nurse. They can be a technician, a social worker or a researcher.”
Dream Makers Club give students a chance to experience the diversity of careers in the medical field. Students participate in hands-on labs, visit with health care professionals, tour local health care facilities and explore a helicopter ambulance. Their club experience culminates with a visit to the prestigious UNM School of Medicine and other departments of the Health Sciences Center, and site-seeing while in Albuquerque.
Mario Mendez, a Red Mountain Middle School 8th grader, will focus his studies more on math and science in high school to prepare “for a future career as a bioengineer or doctor.” Mendez was impressed by the UNM research lab the Dream Makers Club toured on campus.
Fellow Red Mountain 8th grader, Oyuky Au plans on being a surgeon after her Dream Maker Club experience, “I want to learn so I can help people and my family.”
La Plata Middle School 8th grader, India Moreno said the demonstration by an acupuncturist was her favorite activity. Moreno plans a career as an obstetrician and gynecologist.
Aldo Leopold Middle School student, Morgan Chaney was the youngest Dream Maker. Only a 6th grader, Chaney plans to “learn more about science” so he can join the Search and Rescue Team and slide down from the helicopter the Dream Markers Club toured.
Dena Hillyer, an 8th grader at Aldo Leopold Middle School, said, “I wanted a health care career before the Club, but now I can see the other possibilities of what I could do.” Hillyer said her favorite club experience was the tour of a helicopter ambulance.
Red Mountain Middle School Principal Jesus Saenz praised the Dream Makers Club, “This experience prepares students for making decision and readying them for high school. We have previous club graduates in nursing school or practicums in our community.”
Kellerman added, “Dream Makers work hard the entire school year to earn the recognition they are receiving today. We are very happy for all the students who just graduated Dream Makers, and we hope to see them at SMASH”
The natural path for the Dream Makers is to attend the upcoming S.M.A.S.H Academy. Offered in June, the free week-long academy focuses on math and science studies at Western New Mexico University in Silver City. The S.M.A.S.H. Academy is open to all students interested in a career in health care and entering their freshman year of high school in southwest New Mexico.
For more information on FORWARD NM contact Kellerman at (575) 597-0036 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.