Category Archives: Life After NMMI

NMMI Scholars Program: Building the Citizen Leaders of Tomorrow

By: LTC Kalith Smith, Director of Toles Learning Resource Center

Several years ago, I was tasked with setting up a program for talented and driven students at New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI). It was a daunting task. How do you take a curriculum that has been vetted and improved over the course of 125 years and make it even more challenging? To read more about the program we developed, click here.

We determined the key issue was building a student’s ability to think critically across the spectrum. Challenging to be sure, but what we identified as the skill that our most successful alumni possess was being able to try new things, and, regardless of success or failure, build on those results and do it while creating, living and breathing teamwork. This was recently highlighted as Laura Entis (2017) wrote about what Fortune 500 executives are looking for in their employees: team players who can dream big and work with others to achieve a goal ethically and keep moving forward no matter the obstacles. Our challenge, in short – how do we develop the citizen-leaders that will guide the nation in the coming century?

Creating an environment where students would learn to follow rules and learn the importance of the structure that is a constant at military school while challenging themselves academically is tough. A team comprised of all the Department Chairs developed the curriculum that would be somewhat flexible, dependent on the Scholar’s intended thesis topic. A student would have to take the necessary courses, but they could accelerate their studies in a subject area of interest. The team keyed in on utilizing the summer for students to continue to challenge themselves. We decided to accelerate English so all of the students who enter the program after their 9th grade year will work incredibly hard over the summer to complete sophomore English, then enroll in junior English as 10th graders. This initial test of will is necessary for students to determine if this challenging curriculum is right for them.

For the second summer, we needed a program that would push students to consider not just what was in a textbook but the roots of our knowledge. To question everything and consider better alternatives, students needed to learn how Western thought was derived. Answering the question of how we ended up here as a civilization seemed crucial in considering where we were going. The decision was made that St. John’s College’s Great Books Program would provide the groundwork, as students could choose an academic topic that interested them and find out what the entire timeline of thought on the topic considered. Recently St. John’s College was singled out in American higher education in being “contrarian,” helping students to think differently, to not just fall into the trap of believing what they are taught, but to learn the fundamentals of how we think. As noted in the New York Times (Bruni, 2018), Walter Sterling, the Dean of the Santa Fe campus noted:

Your work and career are a part of your life…Education should prepare you for all of your life. It should make you a more thoughtful, reflective, self-possessed and authentic citizen, lover, partner, parent and member of the global economy.

As fate would have it, success breeds success. As NMMI considered how to build a more global student body, we were presented with study-abroad opportunities that are unique and provide not only an immersion experience overseas but an immersion experience at some phenomenal boarding schools. The Scholars are poised to be the first to take advantage of these new opportunities, as their hard work and tenacity have been proven over two summers of intellectually challenging offerings. In creating our future citizen-leaders, NMMI believes in the power of our global community, and studying in another country provides an experience that cannot be replicated.

The class of 2018 saw the first two students complete the entire Scholars Program, including completing challenging coursework and writing a thesis. Each student related their area of interest to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. This culmination of the Scholars Experience is key to being “freed” from a way of thinking that all too often in American education is locked into learning as it is needed for a test versus breaking free from the confines of the traditional model and pushing yourself farther. In the hands of these young people, the future of the American Experience is bright. As we always have, we choose to break free of our confines and imagine the possibilities. I can only imagine the shadows that the Founding Fathers saw on the wall, but they signed the Declaration anyway. How trying were the times of Lincoln, but the Emancipation Proclamation was made and its wake fundamentally changed our nation. How challenging were they days of Dr. King, but he saw a future where we would all be, “free at last”.

The next great American leaders are in our classrooms, practice fields and dining halls today. We don’t know the challenges of the future, but we do know that, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” Winston Churchill. We are still a home to tomorrow’s leaders and these young cadets have the foundation to change the world.

To help support future Scholars through the NMMI Foundation, please contact Kris Ward in Development at 575-624-8158 or wardk@nmmi.edu.

NMMI Receives High Marks from AdvancED Assessment

School Cited Again for Continuing Educational Excellence

New Mexico Military Institute received accreditation for the maximum period by AdvancED, the largest community of education professionals in the world–a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts rigorous, on-site reviews of a variety of educational institutions and systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential. “While our (AdvancED’s) expertise is grounded in more than a hundred years of work in school accreditation, AdvancED is far from a typical accrediting agency. Our goal isn’t to certify that educational institutions are good enough. Rather, our commitment is to help these institutions continuously improve.”

Of 31 Institution ratings across three Domains (Leadership, Learning, Resource), NMMI received 0 (zero) findings of “Needs Improvement” and 23 findings of “Exceeds Expectations.” NMMI was cited for three Powerful Practices: 1) Commitment to NMMI’s Strategic Plan; 2) A strong, formalized system of supportive adults dedicated to student success; and 3) effective and efficient use of resources in support of NMMI’s mission. Powerful Practices reflect noteworthy observations and actions that have yielded clear results in student achievement or organizational effectiveness and are actions that exceed what is typically observed or expected in an institution.

 AdvancED performed their review of NMMI early in 2018 and released their findings recently with, “It was evident throughout the review that continuous improvement was valued as a driving force for NMMI.”  Furthermore, “The (AdvancED) Team recognized that the New Mexico Military Institute is a magnificent guided testing site to carry out the institution’s mission and vision.  It is emphatically poised for even higher levels of excellence.  Centering future growth on the actions in this review has the potential to propel the institution to its desired internal level of excellence and distinction, making it a sustainable, replicable model across the world.”

Accreditation is not a one-time event. AdvancED-accredited schools must commit to continuous improvement every year and be re-accredited every five years. Accreditation is intended to protect schools, employers, and students. It guarantees that a particular high school is teaching its students at a level that is acceptable nationally.

Thus, when students acquire an NMMI diploma, they can be assured that colleges will accept it and recognize NMMI’s inherent educational value. Similarly, when colleges accept students, they can be assured that an NMMI cadet/scholar has received a quality education from an accredited school.

Located in Roswell, New Mexico, the New Mexico Military Institute offers a rich history and tradition of educating tomorrow’s leaders through a program of strong, challenging academics, leadership preparation, and character development. Known as “The West Point of the West,” NMMI remains the only land-grant co-educational college preparatory high school and junior college in The United States. Serving the educational needs of an international student population, the Institute has strict admissions standards that yearly result in an enrollment of approximately 1,000 students who come from more than 36 states, 2 US territories (Puerto Rico and American Samoa), and 33 foreign nations.

NMMI grants High School diplomas and Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees. The Institute’s emphasis on qualities of honor, integrity, and responsibility, contributes to its unique educational philosophy. Leadership training is provided to all cadets at the college level, through the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program, and at the high school level through the Junior ROTC program. The ROTC Program offers college cadets the opportunity to receive a commission in the U.S. Army through the 2-Year Early Commissioning Program. Cadets may pursue commissions in the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines through the Service Academy Preparatory Program.

NMMI graduates prove successful in every field of endeavor, business, industry, public service, education, the professions, or careers in the military. National statistics and surveys of graduating classes show consistently that 95 percent of NMMI graduates go on to complete a four-year degree at outstanding schools such as Penn State, Stanford, Rice, Cornell, University of Texas, Arizona State University, University of Colorado, and the nation’s Service Academies.

Happy Holidays from NMMI!

On behalf of everyone at New Mexico Military Institute, we wish you and your family a very joyous holiday season and a Happy New Year!

Diversity at NMMI is Shaping My Future

By Cadet Rafael Valles

College years provide more than just academics, but opportunities for students to have exposure to other backgrounds and cultures. The world is an extremely complex, everchanging place, and entering a diverse and inclusive learning environment is very important for me and other applicants that hope to attend New Mexico Military Institute. I am a Puerto Rican/Mexican-American (tricultural) bringing my social values and diverse ideals. As a Hispanic student, I realize how important diversity is; for example, New Mexico Military Institute’s diverse culture, allows me to create long lasting friendships and insight on the importance of cultural diversity. The Corps of Cadets here at NMMI is no joke as it is  ranked #1 in diversity by Boarding School Review. The characters and personalities I found here are completely different compared to other schools that I have attended. The relationships I have created here are unique, and each person I have met has a special quality about them that has allowed me to acknowledge both their character and culture. I can truly say that while attending a university, diversity plays a huge role in one’s life.

When seeking diversity on campus here at NMMI, I looked at many opportunities to express myself and find a community with others. I felt that the opportunities available to me from the different cultures and backgrounds at NMMI made me realize that different views and ideas can be positive and meaningful in many different ways.

My goal is to become a U.S. Army commissioned officer, because I want to serve my country and become a better leader. Being involved in the Early Commissioning Program (ROTC Program), I experienced diversity in working with ROTC cadets from around the world. Here at NMMI, I noticed that the various leadership styles being used in ROTC has its own repertoire of social values and techniques. I found this to be an impact of my leadership in showing me the assortment of skills used to view and solve objectives differently. Another great honor I gained from diversity is being bilingual and utilizing it in the Admissions Office, recruiting/ assisting future cadets from around the world. Not only that, but being the Regimental S-2 Provost Marshall Officer, interaction among many Spanish speaking cadets gained me more respect, credibility, and authority around the corps. Having all these experiences, coming to understand how the range of students interact in a college creates a specific work culture and environment that follows the ideals of NMMI’s honor code: Duty, Honor, and Achievement.

Diversity has helped to shape my future for an ever changing and dynamic education, and effort invested in my leadership will reflect upon my lifestyle for years to come. NMMI is very diverse across all factors. Passing my wisdom and knowledge to my longtime friends here at NMMI, I will continue to learn and prepare myself and others for the demanding role I hope to soon undertake in my life, and I can only thank NMMI for it.

 

 

 

How I Manage My Time at NMMI

By Cadet Marco Varela

It all starts with a mentality. There is little time to stand around and decide what to do next, there is always something to do and it pays to know what it is. NMMI sets you up for success by issuing a planner to write down everything your homework and tasks. However, there are alternatives. I personally prefer Google Calendar because it syncs across any device that I log onto, it sends me reminders, and it gives me a visual representation from which I can create a plan.

When I start the day, I maintain a routine of showering and grooming, cleaning my room, and reviewing my plan for the day. This includes checking my calendar, my email, and any post-it notes on my desk. It is crucial to begin with a direction in mind of how I want to run the day. By knowing due dates and the tasks of the day I know what to focus my valuable free time on. It is important to address that even with a plan and efficiently utilizing free time, some tasks may require even more time to accomplish. For example, my senior year of high school at NMMI I had a portion of my capstone paper, which determines of you graduate, due in the morning. It was 2200 and all I had was my works cited. I decided to go to bed and wake up at 0230 considering that I work better in the “morning.” Fortunately, I did well on that paper and graduated as Salutatorian, but my point is that even with an organized method there is still always room for improvement. Furthermore, sacrifices are necessary to succeed.

NMMI will test your abilities in multiple occasions. It will quite a determined attitude to accomplish tasks successfully. Being organized in the planning of my time helps me be successful and I believe it is worth trying for any cadet.