Rio Rancho Roundtable leaders agree on how to keep the best and brightest young minds right here in New Mexico: Put them to work!  Read more here…

How these leaders would stop the brain drain in New Mexico

Educators from the Albuquerque metro area agreed that in order for students to stay in New Mexico, they need to be engaged with businesses and employers early on.

That means internships, shadowing days, tours around offices and even paid summer stints.

The opinion came from a diverse group of educators who presented at NAIOP’s Rio Rancho Roundtable meeting this morning at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center. The roundtable included representatives from the University of New Mexico, Rio Rancho Public Schools, New Mexico Innovation Laboratory, Central New Mexico Community College and Jobs for America’s Graduates.

Dr. Laura Burton of the University of New Mexico West said its campus offers curriculum-based projects to keep students engaged with community issues.

For example, Burton said students worked with the Sandoval Health Collaborative to create a health booklet that the collaborative liked so much, it plans to pilot the booklets in schools.

“The students came up with the idea that the health collaborative hadn’t thought of, and now it’s being implemented. There’s a lot of fresh ideas students can bring to the table,” she said.

One student from the program, Sage Herbert, spoke about her experience working with Sandoval Health Collaborative. She said she agreed to participate in the project thinking it would boost her resume, which she had originally planned to send to Colorado employers but has decided to stay.

“Over the last year I’ve realized there’s a lot of change that needs to be done in Sandoval County and in New Mexico, so I’m staying in New Mexico and planning to continue work with the health collaborative,” Herbert said.

A similar program is happening at the high school level. Beth Pendergrass of Rio Rancho Public Schools said its DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) program, which encourages entrepreneurship, connects 300 of its high school students with local businesses. Those students participate in shadowing professionals, and Pendergrass asked more businesses to participate in the program with the school district.

The roundtable of educators also asked businesses to engage students with real life business projects.

The Central New Mexico Community College is kicking off an IT apprenticeship program this semester, which aims to pair students with businesses that need IT help, whether that’s coding, health information technology or other IT needs.

Samantha Sengel, CNM’s chief community engagement officer, said local businesses could have students handle their IT needs rather than hiring an out-of-state contractor to do the work. The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions is doing just that, hiring students in CNM’s IT department to build and code a new internship portal.

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