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‘A Day as an NMSU College Student’ for Las Cruces fifth graders

The entire fifth grade at Sonoma Elementary School in Las Cruces will be thinking about college soon – about 8 years early – when students from the elementary school spend a day at New Mexico State University on Friday, March 9.

Students walking around campus
Fifth graders from Sonoma Elementary School will join NMSU students at New Mexico State University Friday, March 9 for “A Day as an NMSU College Student.” (NMSU photo by Karrie Lucero)

“Our goal at the elementary level is to instill a love for learning,” said Melissa Galaz, principal of Sonoma Elementary School. “’A Day As an NMSU College Student’ is a tremendous opportunity we are providing our fifth graders to experience higher education and all that college-life has to offer.”

“We hope this program will expose more than 100 local fifth graders not just to ideas about what they might like to study, but also expose them to a college experience that creates a lasting memory,” said Dacia Sedillo, NMSU associate vice president for enrollment management.

“‬Children and their families need to understand that a college education is a possibility for them, and that it is within their reach. Building a greater college-going culture in southern New Mexico has the potential to positively impact the entire community, not just one student or even one family.”

The students will board the busses at the elementary school and arrive at NMSU’s Jacobs Hardman Undergraduate Learning Center auditorium at 9 a.m. and after a welcome, they will walk to different buildings around campus and participate in sessions on computer science geology, plant and environmental sciences and the Creative Media Institute’s film and digital arts. The fifth graders’ college experience also will include getting to talk with NMSU students from multiple majors as well as faculty from the mathematical sciences and communication departments, tours of classrooms and dorms as well as lunch at Taos Restaurant. The event will wrap up after lunch with a question and answer session.

“Many youth in our community may not have the opportunity or ability for their parents/guardians to support them through school,” said Anne Hubbell, NMSU communication studies professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, who coordinated the event.

“But it is possible for these youth to still come to college and change their lives. I see these kids' faces every day and I want to help give them options, ideas, hope and through this program we can make a step in that direction.”

Sonoma’s counselor Patty Delgado and parent volunteer Monica Estrada thought of the idea and contacted Hubbell who collaborated with them to make it happen. Hubbell reached out to various faculty members across the university, the College of Arts and Sciences, NMSU Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and the Provost’s office.

“We have this amazing university in our backyard and so many kids have no idea what a great opportunity this could be for them,” parent volunteer Monica Estrada said. “My idea was to give fifth graders a feel of what it's like to be a college student and create that excitement for them that I remember feeling when I was a freshman at NMSU.”

Hubbell described NMSU’s STEM programs, the Young Women in Computing program and others that already provide area high school and middle school students with exposure to the college experience. Hubbell explained this event includes all fifth graders at Sonoma, not just a small group of gifted students. She hopes it will encourage these younger students who may never have thought about college to learn more about what it is like to be a college student and what NMSU has to offer the community.

“We want this field trip to raise awareness of post secondary education opportunities with students at the elementary level,” said Patty Delgado, counselor at Sonoma elementary. If with this field trip we can get one 5th grader to really be excited and pursue higher education, then this field trip was a success.”