Experiencing a college campus for the first time can be a major milestone for students, and a new program at New Mexico State University is providing youth with that opportunity. The Aggie Next Step College Experience hosted 20 students from Cliff and Truth or Consequences middle schools for three days in early December.
The program is designed to help youth in 8th through 12th grades develop personal, academic and career skills necessary for a successful transition from high school to higher education or career. Aggie Next Step is facilitated through NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. State 4-H and Youth Development Agent Newt McCarty said he was pleased with the program’s debut.
“You learn so much when you pilot something, and we have some great ideas for future visits,” McCarty said. “For us, being able to highlight so many great departments and programs across campus and all the connections we made and how willing everyone was to participate and make it a great experience for the visiting students was inspiring.
“Career exploration is a continuous component of Aggie Next Step helping youth discover career and degree paths complementing their personality, strengths, skills and interests with the intent to reduce the time and cost of attaining a fulfilling career,” McCarty said.
Students experienced life on campus with meals in the Taos Dining Hall and activities across colleges and departments such as Fire Science and EMT programs at Doña Ana Community College, Aggie Innovation Space, athletics and the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Tommye Allsup, school counselor at Cliff Middle School, said the Aggie Next Step program was a beneficial experience for the entire 8th-grade class.
“As the school counselor, I felt this was a wonderful opportunity for the students to have exposure to different postsecondary learning options and to begin thinking about their own future plans,” she said “The students were greeted like VIPs upon our arrival with music from the band, Pete’s Outlaws, as well as from some of the Aggie cheerleaders. That momentum was carried throughout our visit.”
“Since returning home, I’ve had multiple conversations with students that went on the trip about their plans, some of who are already planning on attending NMSU or DACC,” Allsup said.
For more information about Aggie Next Step, call 575-646-3026 or email email@example.com.