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Mayor touts benefits of ABQ’s dual-credit program

Mayor Richard Berry, left, talks about the city’s Running Start for Careers dual-credit program at a news conference Monday morning at CNM. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Mayor Richard Berry, left, talks about the city’s Running Start for Careers dual-credit program at a news conference Monday morning at CNM. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With the upcoming school year rapidly approaching, Mayor Richard Berry is encouraging businesses and high school students in the Albuquerque area to participate in the city’s Running Start for Careers dual-credit program.

Through the program, juniors and seniors can earn both high school and college credit while gaining deeper insight into potential career paths. This fall, the program will offer nine Central New Mexico Community College courses in six different industry trades: film, construction, health care, financial services, medical lab sciences, and hotel and tourism, all taught by industry professionals.

“It gives (students) a real world glimpse into industries they may be interested in,” said Andrew Mathis, executive director of RSC. “It helps them determine sometimes that they don’t want to do a particular job. It can also light a fire and help them see the correlation between their school work and what that means in the real world.”

During high school, Carolyn Montiel, 18, was certain she wanted to go to nursing school, but that all changed this past year when she enrolled in a health careers course.

In RSC courses, students have the opportunity to go on various site visits and it was on a site visit to the University of New Mexico’s athletic department that Montiel decided she wanted to work in athletic training.

“Finding out exactly what I wanted to do was really great, because imagine going through the whole nursing program and then finding out that it wasn’t what you wanted to do,” she said. “It was definitely a step ahead.”

Berry, at a news conference Monday, said he thanks the business community for stepping up and providing the industry-taught curriculum. However, he has asked them to consider offering more internships to students.

“We know for a fact that when we give students internship opportunities, not only do they take their school work and apply it to the real world, they also learn what it’s like to work inside an organization,” he said.

Berry conceived the idea for RSC when he was a state legislator in 2007, after talking to students from Valley High School and asking them what would make their high school experience better. RSC was officially launched in 2012.

The program results indicate success. According to CNM President Kathie Winograd, 98 percent of students enrolled in the program graduate from high school and 96 percent continue on to college.

Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Luis Valentino said it’s important to expose students early on to the career opportunities available to them.

“This program has really provided the launching pad for many students where they can begin to see themselves in different careers, in different fields,” he said.

Students interested in receiving dual credit can call 311 for more information about RSC. Businesses interested in participating can contact the Mayor’s Office at 768-3000.

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