Participants in the DreamMakers program tour NMSU's Equestrian Center. (Submitted photo)
New Mexico State University
Children are often asked what they want to be when they grow up. Now, New Mexico State University’s DreamMakers program is teaching those children how their dreams can be accomplished through education. Approximately 80 students, parents and family members converged on the NMSU campus this week as the program started its 10th year.
The DreamMakers program provides middle school children from New Mexico pueblos, Apache tribes and the Navajo Nation an opportunity to stay on the NMSU campus for two weeks while they participate in activities that include campus-wide tours, math and science classes, college presentations and field trips.
“The program is meant to inspire young people to begin thinking about their academic future and recognize how their scholastic training applies to issues relevant to their home communities,” said Joe Graham, director of Indian Resource Development at NMSU.
During their stay on campus, the participants get to hear from experts in several disciplines from different NMSU colleges and also get a chance to go on field trips that include the Mescalero Tribal Fish Hatchery and Carlsbad Caverns.
The math and science classes taken by DreamMakers participants are facilitated by recent NMSU graduates who help the children build their skills by participating in hands-on activities like building a bridge out of craft sticks, then testing its strength.
The children also participate in a computer class that focuses on improving research skills. These skills are applied immediately as they work on group projects which are presented at the end-of-program banquet. The students choose topics related to science or math and have done presentations on subjects like plant biology and energy resources.
“We’re not only planting a seed for them to go to college, we’re exposing them to new people and places and watching them grow,” said Jeanelle Chavez, director of the program. “Many students often end up honing their social skills as well and by the end of the program they’re helping each other and seem more balanced.”
Chavez said she has seen participants return to and graduate from NMSU and has spoken to many parents who comment that the DreamMakers experience was memorable for their child. Both Chavez and Graham said they hope the children will continue to be inspired and have a lasting impact on their communities.