(See this article in the Las Cruces Sun News)

Las Cruces, NM- The SUCCESS! Partnership is proud to announce the launch of the SUCCESS! Partnership Alumni Network, a new initiative that will help local high school students apply to college and build successful careers by connecting them with alumni from Dona Aña County. The Network will draw on the support, expertise, and experience of area alumni to help current students raise and fulfill their academic and professional aspirations.

SUCCESS! Initiative Director David Greenberg said the Network would play an important role in delivering educational equity for young people across Dona Aña County. “We’ve built the SUCCESS! Partnership Alumni Networkaround a simple premise: Doña Ana students can benefit a great deal from engaging with successful alumni. Successful alumni want to give back to their community by engaging with current students. By bringing both sides together, the Network hopes to build new educational and career opportunities for young people in our community.”

Students will use the newly created Network website to identify alumni whose experiences they would like to learn more about. Administrators of the program, including Advanced Education Services (AES) facilitators and educators at local high schools, will help to schedule, monitor, and ensure the quality of interactions between students and alumni. These interactions will take place via Skype, Google Hangout, phone calls, and guided chats on the Network website. Alumni will also visit high school classrooms to speak about their experience and offer guidance to students when they come home.

Las Cruces High School (LCHS) has agreed to serve as a pilot school for the new initiative, and a core group of educators from the school have played an essential role in getting the project off the ground. AES Facilitator Kristi Salgado underscored the power of the Network, and what it will mean to her students.

“When working with aspiring college students at LCHS, they will ask me questions about life at colleges away from Las Cruces and what day to day work is like in different careers,” Salgado said. “I can talk all I want, but at the end of the day, it is far more inspiring to hear from a graduate of George Washington University what their experience was at a college in Washington DC. It is far more encouraging to have a real civil engineer say ‘I started at LCHS just like you and this is what I did to get to my career goal.’ This Alumni Network will provide a central resource for us to match current students with LCHS Alumni who are eager to give back to the LCHS Community and encourage students to pursue their dreams.”

Participating alumni have earned degrees from top universities in New Mexico and across the country, and are working in fields ranging from software engineering, to law, to medicine, and government. All express a strong desire to give back to a community that has proven so important to their own personal development.

Former Las Cruces High School student Daniel Balke said alumni feel a strong desire to help current LCPS students succeed. “The response we’ve received from alumni has been incredible,” Balke said. “From Austin, to Washington, to Tel Aviv and beyond, Doña Ana grads want to give back to a community that has helped them thrive. By participating in the Network, alumni can turn their shared commitment into action, helping current students set and achieve ambitious goals for their future.”

The Alumni Network is one part of the broader SUCCESS!~ Partnership, a collaborative effort between Ngage New Mexico, the United Way of Southwest New Mexico, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces Public Schools, and other community organizations to enhance the opportunities available to all young people in Doña Ana County. SUCCESS! has been particularly aggressive in reaching out to and supporting students living in poverty, and those efforts rest at the heart of the Alumni Network initiative.

Sylvia Bustillos, a teacher who heads Las Cruces High School’s Engaging Latino Communities for Education (ENLACE) program, said the Network would help her students expand their sense of what is possible for their education and careers. “A lot of the young people who enter our program come from families in which no one has gone to college,” Bustillos noted, adding “The Network will allow our ‘first generation’ learners to connect with and learn from alumni who came from similar backgrounds and have gone on not only to college, but to graduate school and extremely successful careers.”

Network organizers will introduce the program at a SUCCESS! Partnership high school graduation event on Tuesday, September 29, from 4:30-8:00pmat Centennial High School. Students, families, educators, and all other members of the community are encouraged to attend. For more information on this event, or to RSVP, please call 575-521-1957 or emailRSVP@ngagenm.org To learn more information about the Alumni Network, please visit connect.successdac.org. More information on the SUCCESS! Partnership can be found at www.successdac.org.