NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Search News Center Articles

Workshops with the pros: NMSU Journalism department welcomes Sierra Middle School students

Bella Rodriguez still has a few years before she starts high school, but the sixth grade Sierra Middle School student is already thinking about college, considering a career in journalism. She recently learned more about what journalism has to offer when she and her classmates took a field trip to New Mexico State University.

Sierra Middle School student Jonah Arzapalo learns about the tools and features of Photoshop during a field trip the sixth graders took to New Mexico State University. (Photo by Isabel Rodriguez)

?I think this has been a solid outreach to the community and a good event for the department,? said journalism professor Mary Lamonica. ?Hopefully the students will consider NMSU when they?re thinking about college.?

For several semesters, the NMSU journalism department in the College of Arts and Sciences has offered local high school and middle school students a sneak peek at the type of classes they can look forward to should they decide to major in journalism and mass communications at NMSU.

Students visit the university campus and interact with working professionals from various media backgrounds. They also have the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities and ask questions about the different careers.

Lamonica has organized many student visits to the department, which have included sessions with Nick Miller, News22 news director and former KTSM news anchor; Fred Martino, KRWG assistant executive director of university broadcasting; and Bob Nosbisch, retired senior program specialist at NMSU and former KRWG-FM broadcaster.

?This outreach is part of the mission of a land-grant university,? Lamonica said. ?We enjoy working with local teachers and students, and the students seem to love it. It benefits us too.?

Most recently, the department welcomed approximately 60 sixth-grade students from Sierra Middle School, which offers a film and broadcast magnet program.

The students were divided into groups and each had the opportunity to participate in three interactive workshops.

Jonathan Butz, NMSU librarian taught a graphic design lesson, while Darren Phillips, chief photographer for University Communications talked about his career in photography, and Lamonica and Lourdes Cardenas, journalism professor, gave a news writing workshop.

Sixth grader Davin Lee said he enjoyed learning about each of the different careers, but his favorite was the session with Butz, who introduced the students to Photoshop and taught them the basic principles of design. Then he allowed them to explore the software?s various features.

?What I really like to drive home is emphasis to practice every day,? Butz said. ?It?s just like exercising. You?re going to improve if you do it every day. I hope they keep working at it.?

The Sierra Middle School students help manage Sierra Falcon News, a WordPress site affiliated with the school?s official Website. The content is published by film and broadcast students and includes local news, sports, entertainment and more.

?When they do their writing it?s published,? said Jason Day, Sierra Middle School film and broadcast teacher. ?It seems to have them more energized about the writing process when they know it?s going to be available for anyone to read.?

The magnet program offers students opportunities to learn about TV, radio and digital journalism, as well as podcasting, filmmaking, broadcast and photography.

?They?re generating a list of questions and field notes as they come out,? Day said. ?We gauge their attention to what they?re learning here with the quality of questions they have. When we go back, they share what they thought was interesting and were confused about. From there they can do a further investigation of what NMSU can offer them in the future.

?It opens up a dialogue to make NMSU more accessible to them. It?s a recruiting tool and it?s also an opportunity for our students to see where they can take journalism curriculum if they choose this as a study. Having a relationship between our school and NMSU is creating more opportunities for kids and it helps our program become stronger, too.?

Rodriguez said she?s thinking about NMSU and a career in investigative journalism.

?I?m really building up an interest in it,? she said. ?I think the most challenging thing is being able to pull it off. It might seem easy to do, but in reality it might be difficult. You have to plan it out.?

To learn more about the Sierra Falcon News, the students? Website, visit http://sierrafalconnews.wordpress.com.