dream makers rsThe graduating Dream Makers Club 2018 completed a year-long exploration of possible health care careers. The 29 graduates include students from clubs from Silver City's Aldo Leopold Middle School and La Plata Middle School, and Deming's Red Mountain Middle School.Silver City, NM: When a teenager says, "I want to be a doctor," how seriously do you take their statement? FORWARD New Mexico not only takes teen's aspirations of a career in health care seriously, they sponsor clubs at junior high schools throughout southwest New Mexico to support such lofty goals. Last week, 29 middle school students graduated the aptly titled Dream Makers Club surrounded by their families and peers at Western New Mexico University's Global Resource Center.

The Dream Makers Clubs take middle school students from Grant and Luna Counties on a year-long whirlwind adventure through the career opportunities available in the field of health care. Along the way, the teens get acquainted with therapy horses, visit research laboratories and climb into the pilot's seat of a helicopter air-ambulance.

The Club has chapters in Deming's Red Mountain Middle School, and Silver City's La Plata Middle School and Aldo Leopold Charter Middle School. Educator Maia Chaney sponsors the club at Aldo Leopold Middle School while Shon Larm leads the Dream Makers at La Plata Middle School.

La Plata Middle School Dream Maker, Gabrielle Sanchez might only be in the 8th grade, but she knows that her future career is in health care, "I really want to be a nurse and work with people. The Club made me realize more of what I want to do with my life." Sanchez was honored as one of the three Outstanding Club members, along with Sophiana Read from Aldo Leopold Middle School and Fabio Reyes from Red Mountain Middle School.

Hidalgo Medical Services' Family Medicine Resident Dr. Susan Bauer, DO., spoke to the graduates and praised them for "taking this huge first step to have a career in health care, and exposure to all these careers is important because you realize now how limitless health care is."

University of New Mexico (UNM) Office of Diversity Program Specialist, Teresa Madrid addressed the students and urged them to "become the health care workers you desire to be and be successful in your educational goals."

FORWARD NM Program Specialist and Dream Makers Coordinator, Baudelia Salgado said, "There is a severe shortage of health care professionals in our area. Programs like the Dream Makers Club foster students' interest in health care. Studies show that rural students are more likely to return to their roots and practice in their chosen profession. We hope we can encourage these students and support them along their path, so they can achieve their goals, and return to our area."

Aldo Leopold Dream Maker, Sophiana Read was uncertain of her future career, but saw the club as an opportunity to broaden her knowledge of health care. "I learned a lot about health care, especially the forms of health care you don't see or necessarily think about. I think Dream Makers was an amazing experience."

Bauer summed up the importance the clubs, "All these careers are needed to work here so your family and kids have someone to treat them. It warms my heart that you will all be successful and go home at night with an incredible sense of pride and purpose. In healthcare, we are blessed that we get to help people every day. Our efforts impact people in a way that ripples beyond ourselves. I hope we can continue to support you in your goals and continue to support you to achieve your dreams."

CHI Board member, State Representative Rudy Martinez attended the graduation. Martinez said, "These students have taken another step towards furthering their education to become health care providers. Congratulations to all the students that completed Dream Makers."

The Dream Makers Clubs are sponsored through a partnership with the UNM Office of Diversity and FORWARD New Mexico, a program of the Southwest Center for Health Innovation (CHI) located in Silver City.

From La Plata Middle School Dream Makers graduates included: Brianna Atwater, Savanannah Aguirre, Gabrielle Sanchez, Keira Montoya, Danica Valencia, and Azlynn Stailey.

Dream Makers from Aldo Leopold Charter School included: Morgan Chaney, Mia Estrada, Charla Hardesty, Heather Hillyer, Kinan Lopez, Tiffani Novak, Sophiana Read, Lillith Snyder, Angelica Sosaya, and Isabella Wacondo.

The Red Mountain Middle School Dream Makers included: Kayla Dominguez, Gavin Grattan, Daniela Jimenez, Xochitl Jimenez, Aron Krockgether, Valerie Pacheco, Lillian Renteria, Fabio Reyes, Ishan Shura, Mia Soliz, Serenity Schultz, Marisol Valerio and Miranda Vasquez

The natural path for these Dream Makers is to attend the upcoming Teen Academy for Health Sciences offered by FORWARD NM. Offered in June, the free three week-long academy focuses on science studies and is held at Western New Mexico University in Silver City. The academy is open to incoming high school freshmen to incoming seniors in southwest New Mexico.

For more information on the Dream Makers Clubs or the Teen Academy for Health Sciences contact Salgado at (575) 597-0030 or email: bsalgado@swchi.org.

FORWARD NM seeks to enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventative care, by improving the supply and distribution of healthcare professionals through community and academic partnerships. To accomplish its mission, FORWARD NM sponsors Dream Makers Clubs at regional middle schools so students can the experience the diversity of careers in the medical field. Dream Makers participate in hands-on labs, visit with health care professionals, tour local health care facilities. FORWARD NM, in collaboration with other local partners, sponsors summer academies to support the success of high school and college students pursuing careers in health care. Additionally, FORWARD NM coordinates undergraduate and graduate medical students' summer residencies and internships in the southwest New Mexico. For more information, visit swchi.org/forward-nm/.

About the Southwest Center for Health Innovation (GENERAL ORGANIZATIONAL INFORMATION)
The Southwest Center for Health Innovation (CHI) is a nonprofit focused on bettering community health in underserved and underrepresented populations. CHI empowers groups and individuals at a local, state and national level to determine the future well-being of their communities through the development and implementation of innovative policies, strategies and evidence-based models. Founded in 2015, CHI is headquartered in Silver City, with additional offices located throughout New Mexico. For more information, visit www.swchi.org

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