August 3, 2016; Silver City, NM: FORWARD NM, in partnership with Western New Mexico University (WNMU), Hidalgo Medical Services and Gila Regional Medical Center, recently completed three summer academies offering area high school and college level students the opportunity to expand on and develop their health career dreams. At the end of July, graduating students shared in celebration with over 150 community members in attendance at WNMU’s Global Resource Center.
The graduating academies included high school students from around the state who participated in the five-week Health Careers Academy (HCA), and college students studying for the medical (MCAT+) and dental (DAT) school entry exams. Earlier in June, the week-long Summer Math and Science Healthcare (SMASH) Academy for high school freshmen wrapped up.
This year, the summer academies were sponsored in part by the Freeport McMoRan Foundation and the McCune Charitable Foundation. The community also pitched in with over 40 various businesses, restaurants, organizations and individuals donating their time to support the students’ successful completion of the academies.
FORWARD NM Director Miriam Kellerman, said the summer academies are, “part of a five-step pipeline to prepare rural youth to enter careers in health care including the Dream Makers program, summer academies, health care resident rotations and the support of medical residents.”
WNMU Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Isaac Brundage, gave an enthusiastic and motivating speech to the graduates. He singled out four students – Laredo Schwartz, Alyssa Hernandez, Lysandra Villegas, and Karisma Rodriguez – whom he noted “hit the ground running every day,” then awarded them full scholarships to WNMU to the delight of the gathered audience.
As part of the program, HCA participants brush up on their skills for college placement test, specifically, the American College Testing (ACT). During the ceremony, Kellerman announced that HCA students had achieved the highest gain on their ACT practice test scores in the history of the program, an astounding 30% increase on average test scores.
According to The College Solution Website, a one-point increase on the ACT can translate to up to $24,000 in scholarships and significantly raise a student’s chance for admittance into the college of her or his choice.
Lead faculty for the HCA, Holly Nummerdor praised the students for their “tremendous tenacity and the ability to succeed” which led to their high gains on practice tests. Also, she urged the academy graduates to “accomplish your dreams.”
The HCA graduates presented Nummerdor with a prosthetic leg, fitted with a cast that the students had created and signed. The graduates also serenaded the audience with an instrumental performance of their infamous “Chicken Alfredo Song.”
The HCA graduates were Brianna Cabrera, Emily Durkin, Kristina Glasscock, Alyssa Hernandez, Clorissa “Clover” Holguin, Gabriella Hughes, KC Mares, Ariana Medina, Shaun Montoya, Karisma Rodriguez, Marissa Rodriguez, Emmarie Ryan, Laredo Schwartz, Connor Sherman, Trinity Shipley, Mariah Merie Hartwell, Kelsee Underhill, Alexia Valdez, Lysandra Villegas, and April Zambrano.