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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU summer program encourages Native American students to earn degrees

Native American high school students were on the campus of New Mexico State University July 8-29 participating in a computer science summer program.

The Native American Computer Science Program hosted 20 high school students introducing them to college life and the computer science field. Program Coordinator Alicia Morales said the program has a goal of encouraging Native American students to earn degrees in computer science.

"As of right now there are no Native Americans that we know of who hold doctorates in computer science, so our long term goal is to change that," Morales said.

During the three-week program students lived in NMSU dorms and took classes in computer science, math and English. Students also attended field trips to places such as Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, Elephant Butte Lake and the International Space Center in Alamogordo.

"One of the biggest benefits to the students is being taught by college professors and the confidence it builds in the students," Morales said. "Students leave the program with a sense that they can do college-level work."

Students are chosen for the program based on letters of recommendation, personal letters of interest, their grade point average, and the math and science classes they have taken. The program encourages students to work with their high school counselors during the school year so they can take the right math and science courses needed for success in a computer science program.

The program, funded by the National Science Foundation, brought together Native American students from Farmington High School, Espanola Valley High School, Gallup High School, Mescalero Apache High School, Laguna Acoma High School and St. Bonaventure Mission School in Crownpoint, N.M.

Chris J. Minnick
Aug. 4, 2000