We Have a Lot to Look Forward to…Just Ask the Kids

There’s something special about young people full of hope and aspirations for the future.

That special-ness was on full display at the Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Middle School Recognition event in April. In what was an incredibly uplifting night, the Chamber’s signature education event packed out the auditorium of Doña Ana Community College’s East Mesa campus to celebrate an amazing group of students.

The highlight of the event was the voices of students as they, one-by-one, shared their plans for the future: doctors, engineers, armed service members, welders, nurses, writers, veterinarians and more. They also had the chance to point out the family and friends are supporting them along the way.

These young people are New Mexico’s True Talent! And middle school is such an important transition point. These youth are coming into their own, growing in knowledge and responsibility. Career aspirations this early are powerful, shaping choices and forging a part of students’ identities, as they focus on the ultimate finish line of a career…which may become the first of several over the course of their lifetimes.

That night painted a great picture of what this community is doing more broadly, as we understand that our collective future rides on these young people. They will build the New Mexico we get to live in in ways we can’t even imagine today.

So how can we help them reach their destinations? For parents and families, it’s vital that they have everything they need to transition from the drivers of their children’s decisions to navigators riding alongside them every step of the way.

All good navigators need a map from the “you are here” point to the ultimate destination, but some parents may not feel they have that map. In fact, the families in Lynn Middle School recently identified their top need was information to help support their students in planning for the future, including preparation for high school and beyond.

To help meet this need, The Bridge of Southern New Mexico and its network of community partners who make up the Workforce Talent Collaborative recently launched an on-line resource for equip students and their families with some tools to help them on their journey. The site, NewMexicoTrueTalent.org, is just in its infancy (as our plan is to really grow the site and make it even more informative), but already students and families can find helpful and free on-line tools to learn what’s available and help them get pointed in the right direction. There are even career pathways for eight higher-wage, higher growth industries in Doña Ana County that are currently being targeted by economic development.

Just some of the tools on the site provide answers to questions like:

  • What career might fit you best?
  • How much would the careers you are exploring pay?
  • How much should I earn to have the life I envision?
  • How do I get ready for some of the careers that are in our county?
  • Where is the best place to get the college certification or degree I’ll need?

Parents and their children can explore these tools together…and it’s not just the kids who benefit. Parents are New Mexico’s True Talent, too! They can learn more about career opportunities and educational options available to them, all while becoming stronger navigators for their children.

Equipped with a better understanding of different educational options, families can become well-informed consumers of education, increasing the likelihood their students will complete a college credential and reach their career dreams, all while increase their earning power and likely reducing (or even eliminating) student loan debt.

Armed with hope, aspiration, and the tools they need to reach their goals, the future of young people in Doña Ana County is shining brighter than ever before!