The Aggie Academy Mini College program started off with a bang. By the end of the first week, participants were launching rockets on New Mexico State University’s Las Cruces campus as part of the 2022 Crimson Summer Institute for the TRIO Upward Bound Gadsden Independent School District/Las Cruces Public Schools Program.
Following two years of virtual programming, the Aggie Academy returned with an in-person, 30-day program from May 31 to July 14 where TRIO Upward Bound participants are being introduced to lesser known majors and careers. The Aggie Academy will feature topics such as STEM; information systems and technology; geography; food science; horticulture; entomology; hotel, restaurant and tourism management; dental hygiene; and emergency medical services along with sessions on life skills, international awareness and learning all about NMSU.
“The Aggie Academy is geared to excite, energize and motivate TRIO Upward Bound participants from Gadsden, Santa Teresa, Las Cruces, Mayfield and Organ Mountain high schools with educational possibilities beyond their dreams,” said Rosa De La Torre-Burmeister, TRIO Upward Bound GISD/LCPS program director.
German Moreno, professor in Doña Ana Community College’s Mathematics and Statistics Department, directed the first topic, two days focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The sessions included building and launching rockets, which he called a complete success.
“The student teams did an amazing job working together. Each rocket launch was an affirmation that they had accomplished something pretty spectacular,” Moreno said. “The students walked away with scientific knowledge, hands-on experiences and collaboration skills. This is the kind of thinking that is necessary in the 21st century.”
A DACC faculty member since 2006 working to improve student outcomes, Moreno is an advocate for STEM education. Currently, he is working on developing a partnership between the community and rural school districts to improve the STEM and STEM Educator Pipeline.
“The most important thing for educators to do is to hold their students to high expectations,” Moreno said. “These students deserve no less from their mentors.”
Introducing the participants to a wide variety of careers and majors would not be possible without the numerous campus collaborations and partnerships, De La Torre-Burmeister said.
“This team is fabulous. Their efforts to motivate our high school students to pursue higher education after high school is unparalleled,” De La Torre-Burmeister said.