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Home » Uncategorized » Summer Academy a SMASHing success

Summer Academy a SMASHing success


June 24, 2016; Silver City, NM: In the Harlan Hall Science Laboratory, an exuberant group of teens gathered for their next adventure into science at Western New Mexico University (WNMU). Today, they studied disease and infection as part of a rigorous week-long Summer Math and Science Healthcare (SMASH) Academy, one of three free summer academies offered this year by FORWARD New Mexico.

SMASH students hard at work in the WNMU Lab.

SMASH participant Niklas “Nik” Neave, 13, a freshman at Lordsburg High School, found the Academy’s focus on math challenging. Neave said, “I liked the tour of the WNMU campus; I’ve never been to a university campus before.”

SMASH Academy immerses high school freshmen in the different aspects of health care while brushing up on essential academic skills for pursuing medical careers. FORWARD NM with the participation of Western New Mexico University, Hidalgo Medical Services and Gila Medical Regional Services along with many other local sponsors make possible SMASH, and two other summer academies, to assist in closing the health care provider gap that rural New Mexico suffers from by “growing our own.”

This year, the summer academies are sponsored in part by the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation and the McCune Charitable Foundation.

By nurturing local students’ interests in health careers starting in junior high school and ferrying them through the academic process as well as working closely with colleges and universities to increase the number of regional students who enter and graduate from health related disciplines, FORWARD NM hopes successful students will return to the region to practice medicine.

Studies have shown that rural students who enter the health care field, are and more likely to return to their roots to practice their chosen profession to the benefit the entire community.

Lead S.M.A.S.H. instructor, Ryan Holguin was impressed by the caliber of the students gathered from around southwest New Mexico. “They are well rounded students and very versed in math and science. Also, they are open to new ideas.”

Holguin added, “This year the students’ have very diverse healthcare career interests: social work, mental health, veterinary science, and even surgery.”

Misty Saiz, 14, is one of the students interested surgery. A freshman at Deming High School, Saiz said the summer academy “was challenging. It helped me more than I expected.” Saiz said the laboratory on human anatomy was her favorite and perfect for her chosen career in surgery.

Silver High freshmen Victoria Morales, 14, said “We’ve had lots of hands-on-learning and toured WNMU and the Hidalgo Medical Services Clinic.” Morales is considering studying to be a veterinarian.

Johnnalee Biddle, 13, and Bristan Lockett, 14, both Silver High freshmen, enjoyed the bacteria lab where students took swabs of their mouth and wiped it on a Petri dish to see what microscopic organisms grew.
Lockett plans to be an orthopedic surgeon and said, “Communicating with the other participants at the Academy helped me with my bedside manner.”

For more information on FORWARD NM contact Kellerman at (575) 534-0101 ext. 2114 or email: For more information on FORWARD NM visit