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New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation program impacts students, state

Since 1993 New Mexico State University has helped change the lives of students in the state through the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation. The alliance is a partnership between 27 higher education institutions in the state and is funded by the National Science Foundation.


Two men and a woman sit at a table and talk.
New Mexico State University College of Engineering Dean Ricardo Jacquez, center, meets with engineering students Luis Barrera and Kathrine Sweebe in his office in Goddard Hall. (Photo by Darren Phillips)

New Mexico AMP was created to increase the number of bachelor?s degrees awarded to minorities traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Ricardo B. Jacquez, project director of New Mexico AMP and dean of the NMSU College of Engineering, was honored at NMSU?s Scholarly Excellence Rally Friday, Nov. 21.

?Our charge is to encourage students to enroll in college and pursue STEM degrees, to stay in school and complete a STEM degree, to go on to graduate school and get master?s and Ph.D.?s and become well-educated to become strong members of the technical workforce not only in New Mexico but around the country and actually on an international scale as well,? Jacquez said. ?The program was designed and implemented to provide educational opportunities for the citizens of New Mexico: young people who aspire to be engineers, who aspire to be scientists, and it aims very specifically at the underrepresented communities.?

The alliance has been a tremendous success in New Mexico with the number of STEM degrees awarded to minority students more than doubling since the program?s launch. In 1993, 253 minority students earned bachelor?s and 21 years later, 665 minority students received degrees. During that span, the percentages have grown from 24 percent to 44 percent of minority students receiving STEM degrees.

?When we first started the program, we never envisioned that we would exist for 20-plus years the way we have,? Jacquez said.

A goal of the program is to encourage students to not only earn undergraduate degrees but to also pursue graduate degrees. Jacquez said getting students engaged in research has the biggest impact on their desire to acquire advanced degrees.

?This program is important because it provides educational opportunities for students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to go to college,? he said. ?For example, I?m a first generation college student and we serve a lot of first generation college students.

?New Mexico AMP provides the incentive in the way of motivation ? why do a STEM degree, why be an engineer ? as well as the financial support, scholarships, research assistantships to work with faculty and mentoring,? Jacquez said. ?We not only get them in, we help them stay in and get good experiences, learn on the job, and go on to graduate school and go on to great careers as engineers and scientists.?

Along with assisting students, New Mexico AMP has had a significant financial contribution to the state. On average, STEM degree graduates earn $23,000 more annually than non-STEM degree holders.

NMSU Regents Professor of Economics James Peach analyzed the data on how New Mexico AMP has made a difference in the state. He found substantial figures.

?His modeling efforts indicate the workforce that stays in New Mexico makes an annual contribution of more than $33 million a year in payroll,? Jacquez said. ?That contributes to an additional 285 jobs, non-STEM type jobs, that generate another $9-plus million per year. Collectively, there is about $43 million to $44 million annual income generated as a result of the STEM graduates from the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation program.?