May 3, 2016, Lordsburg, NM: Last month, Dream Makers Clubs from across southwest New Mexico gathered in Lordsburg with their families and friends to celebrate their year of exploring health care careers. Over 60 middle school students participated in the Dream Makers Club this academic year.
“This is our most successful program reaching out to rural schools,” said Teresa Madrid during her speech to the graduating students. Madrid is the Program Specialists for the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center Office of Diversity. FORWARD NM partners with UNM and local school districts make the Dream Maker Clubs possible.
Dream Makers gives students a chance to experience the diversity of careers in the medical field. Students participate in hands-on labs, visit with health care professionals, and tour local health care facilities. Their club experience culminates with a visit to the prestigious UNM School of Medicine and site-seeing while in Albuquerque.
The Club has chapters in Deming’s Red Mountain Middle School, Lordsburg’s Duran-Tarango Middle School, and Silver City’s La Plata Middle School. Teacher Maya Chaney sponsors Dream Makers Club at Duran-Tarango Middle School.
Dream Maker Lolah Powell, a 7th grader at Lordsburg’s Duran-Tarango Middle School, said the club helped her decide what career to pursue, “I’ve decided to become a veterinarian for small animals.”
Powell’s mother, Michelle Campos said, “Dream Makers gave her an idea of what the future can hold.” Campos said that their family pets can be a perfect place for Powell to practice for her chosen career as a veterinarian.
Fellow Duran-Tarango Dream Maker, Teresa Rodriguez, 13, said health care is her second career choice, “First is Sheriff, if not then a nurse.”
Dream Maker Selia Sanez, 15, said the program helped her decide to become an ultrasound technician and hopes to specialize in prenatal ultrasounds. Also a Duran-Tarango student, Sanez added, “I’ll take more science classes now for my future career.”
Like many rural states, New Mexico suffers from a shortage of health care providers. This shortage can impact residents’ health care treatment options and, even, shorten their life-expectancies. FORWARD NM seeks to close this gap by nurturing local students’ interests in health careers. 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.
FORWARD NM Director, Miriam Kellerman coordinates the program and said, “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. Students also tour local health care facilities, participate in lab experiments and earn CPR certification. The S.M.A.S.H. Academy is open to students in southwest New Mexico entering their Freshman year of High School.
WNMU School of Nursing Coordinator, Sasha Poole praised the graduating Dream Makers, “You are caring compassionate people who will make positive change, and the real future of southern New Mexico.”
FORWARD NM is a program of Southwest Center for Health Innovation with the support of Gila Regional Medical Center and Hidalgo Medical Services.
For more information on FORWARD NM contact Kellerman at (575) 534-0101 ext. 2114 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on the upcoming S.M.A.S.H. Academy from June 6 to 10, 2016, visit http://outreach.wnmu.edu/smash2016.