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Home » Uncategorized » 2023 Teen Academy of Health Sciences celebrates graduation

2023 Teen Academy of Health Sciences celebrates graduation


Friday, July 21, 2023; Silver City, NM: Last week, students from the Teen Academy for Health Sciences (TAHS) graduated from the program with medical experience, knowledge sharing from Silver City’s healthcare professionals, and wonderful memories of their visit to medical schools in Las Cruces.

Silver High School sophomore, Carmen Medina joined the academy for its practical hands-on medical education, “I want to help people. The Teen Academy certified me in cardiopulmonary resuscitation – CPR.  I want to continue my family’s tradition of being in health care – my grandma was an emergency medical technician, and my uncle is a flight paramedic.”

Medina was awarded the TAHS certificate of exemplary participation by Academy instructor Kalah Carrasco, “Carmen was very observant and asked excellent questions overall. It’s good to see someone paying such close attention.”

Teen Academy of Health Sciences students with infant manikin used to receive pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training. The academy students from (left to right) (back row) Xolymar Franco, Destyni Martinez, Yselle Franco, Makayla Anaya, Carmen Medina, with medical students, Sumi Shrestha and Lillie Ely, and Mia Cordova, and Academy instructor Kalah Carrasco; (front row) Leilani Marquez, Jessica Palomarez, and Brooklyn Lopez.

The intensive three-week summer academy was made available free of charge to students by partnership with Western New Mexico University (WNMU) and the Frontier and Rural Workforce Development New Mexico Area Health Education Center (FNM AHEC).  This was the first time TAHS was offered in a hybrid model with online classes plus weekly hands-on laboratory learning.

The academy is designed to introduce high school students to the vast possibilities of healthcare careers to pursue thereby “growing our own” professional workforce in New Mexico which suffers a severe shortage in medical providers.

Between 2017 to 2021, the state lost 30 percent of its primary health care providers according to the New Mexico Health Care Workforce Committee. This gap in the healthcare workforce leads to long waits for doctor appointments for residents or, worse, forces them to travel long distances to access needed care. Particularly hard hit are the rural southwest counties of the state – all of which are designated Health Professional Shortage Areas – places lacking physicians, nurses, and specialty doctors to adequately serve the population.

The Academy is part of a larger statewide effort to guide rural students into healthcare careers – and studies have shown that once students earn their professional degrees, rural residents tend to return and serve the small communities where they grew up.

Cobre High School senior, Leilani Marquez had heard good things about the academy from classmates and decided to attend this summer. She was thrilled to tour the Native Air Ambulance – the lifesaving helicopter that transports patients to care facilities.

“We were able to intubate a ‘patient’, and I received my certification in CPR,” Marquez said of the experience that has put her firmly on the path to a career in diagnostic medical sonography while the academy earned her dual enrollment credit from WNMU. Receiving dual college credit is a requirement for a high school diploma in New Mexico.

Director of FNM AHEC Baudelia “Bala” Salgado said, “The academy focuses on how students can start of a career in health science that suits their personality and interests.”

The highlight for many of the students was a field trip to Las Cruces to tour the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine and the dental assisting and hygiene program at Doña Ana Community College.

Sisters Xolymar and Yselle Franco attended the academy together and both want to pursue healthcare careers – and appreciated the chance to visit the state-of-the-art facilities at the regional colleges.

Silver High School freshman, Yselle said, “I want to be a neo-natal nurse, so I thought the academy would be a good place to start. I was able to learn CRP for babies!”

Silver High School junior and older sister, Xolyman wanted to learn what possible healthcare profession fit into her future. “I wanted to visualize what more there was than a dental hygienist. It was great to hear about professional’s personal experience in school, including their struggles and successes in the medical field,” Xolyman said.

FORWARD NM AHEC is a program offered by the Center for Health Innovation (CHI-PHI), the Public Health Institute of New Mexico.

CHI-PHI Director of Workforce Programs, Gena Trujillo said, “The Teen Academy for Health Sciences is a great program and gives students to window into the possibilities to a career in health care which is needed in our state.”

Trujillo and Salgado are working to expand the Academy, and hopeful the new hybrid format will allow more participation throughout the region, especially after the successful participation this year of Azriel Villa from Pecos Connections Academy.

Cobre High School TASH graduates included Leilani Marquez, Destyni Martinez, and Jessica Palomarez.

TASH graduates from Silver High School were Mia Cordova, Xolymar Franco, Yselle Franco Brooklyn Lopez, and Carmen Medina.

For more information on FNM AHEC contact Salgado at (575) 597-0030 or email: or visit: http://chi-original.local/forward-ahec.