CNM student speaks out about Whole Foods incident

By Rene Thompson Editor-in-Chief | Photo by: Rene Thompson

LBryan Balizaniberal Arts major Bryan Baldizan went to work at Whole Foods on Wyoming Boulevard the last Thursday of May—just like any other day—but he left feeling discriminated against when he was told he could no longer speak Spanish with store co-workers or customers of the store while he was on duty, he said.

After more than 15,000 people signed a petition on MoveOn. org and delivered it to the Whole Foods headquarters in Austin, Texas last week, Whole Foods’ policy is now being reevaluated and reworded to allow Spanish speaking in their stores, according to the press release provided by Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb.

Part-time Spanish instructor Emil Crawford said Spanish goes back to the sixteenth century here in New Mexico, and the first Europeans to enter the state were from Spain, there is a long history of Spanish in this state.

“Today, according to the most recent census almost half (46 percent) of New Mexico residents identify themselves as Hispanic with half (26 percent) being Spanish speakers, so I think this policy is essentially telling a whole segment of the community that they are not welcome, even though it’s supposedly only applicable to employees. You have to wonder why or how they would be able to speak to their Spanish-speaking customers, so it definitely left me under the impression of being suspect,” he said.

Baldizan said, “The whole situation first started with a team meeting we had, and in that team meeting our supervisor informed the whole team when she said, ‘Sorry guys, there is no more speaking Spanish on the clock.’ As soon as she said that she passed out a little paper giving us the English only rule, and when she showed us that, I was like there is no way this could be reality; this was just too ridiculous.”

There are actually quite a few people at his store who do speak Spanish, but they did not raise the issue as he had, Baldizan said.

“So after the initial meeting, one of the other employees who speaks Spanish who I work with stepped aside with management and a group of employees were there, and she asked what about the two Tibetan ladies that speak in their own language, and this is where we were giving her chance to explain and she said, ‘We’re not worried about them and we are only focused on Spanish speaking individuals,’” he said.

Baldizan said that he and his co-worker talked with everybody in upper management and that they were told the same thing by everyone: that it was corporate policy and all stores are given the same guidelines, so he decided to write a letter to explain his feelings on the situation.

“The response to that letter actually was that they pulled us up to the office; they did it one at a time and my coworker didn’t want to talk to them, so she told them, ‘Listen guys, anything you need to know is in that letter,’ so she comes back down and they bring me up, and I cooperated with them. I had a kind discussion with them and I told them what my grievances were, and they said they were going to conduct an investigation,” he said.

Baldizan said he had  never been in trouble at his job before this incident and that he has always been a model employee there.

“I just raised an issue and I did it completely respectfully and calmly and so did my co-worker. I think she handled herself well under the circumstances,” he said.

Baldizan said they kept asking his co-worker to go speak with management again.

“She kept denying them and she asked them to stop harassing her and she said, ‘this needs to stop. I know my rights,’ and that’s when they suspended her,” he said.

Baldizan said he was in shock and he asked her if she was serious when she told him she was suspended because at this point he felt things were getting out of hand.“And all of sudden store leadership comes up to me and says we need to talk to you for a second, and I asked why they needed to talk to me and if they were going to suspend me next? They told me no one got suspended. I said to them, ‘I saw you guys do it to her just right there,’ and so they were like we need to have a private conversation with you, so that was when they suspended me too. There wasn’t any documentation or any reasons for the suspension and they didn’t have us sign anything,” he said.

The next day Baldizan says he got a call from the corporate office who explained that they wanted to offer him his job back and they scheduled another meeting the following day.

“So I went in and asked what their investigation found, and at this point is where they started to basi­cally deny all claims, and I asked them if they were going to conduct an inves­tigation into the side con­versation that happened afterwards and they said no, which is huge because that was when she was tar­geting Spanish-speaking individuals even more so than with the original statement in the meeting. So I took a couple days to decide if I wanted to go back and work there, because it was really chal­lenging for me,” he said.

Baldizan is still work­ing for Whole Foods for now, but feels these poli­cies need to be addressed.

“So I went back and I told them that I don’t accept their investigation and I gave them some specific reasons why, and the main one I brought up was before they con­ducted their investigation on the 17 employees, they suspended my co-worker and I in front of the whole team, and that’s kind of intimidation and fear, because they just saw two employees speak out and get suspended,” he said.

He said he was there every day after that voicing his opposi­tion to it, to everybody that would listen.

Baldizan said he told management, “‘the way you guys are handling this is just wrong; for one there had been no open communication,’ and I had to go up to them telling them my side and concerns, and every time I did I would just get the same comments,” he said.

Baldizan has voiced his opinion of this incident with only two journalists so far and has already felt the backlash.

“After we came back to work they pulled my co-worker into the office and told her that this was her final warning, so I didn’t want to get her fired; she’s been there for 13 years. She’s a hard worker and she has a family she has to support, so I didn’t want to bring any more trouble for her,” he said.

The Latino com­munity is large here and Spanish is pro­tected by the New Mexico Constitution, so Baldizan thinks it is important that he stands up and fights for the right to speak Spanish here in New Mexico, he said.

“The way it affects us is that it really takes away from the value of this being such a diverse state. That’s big, because there are so many dif­ferent cultures that are represented here in New Mexico,” he said.

Baldizan said he has had customers who have come up to him who did not know English, so he thinks it is really impor­tant to have people who can communicate in other languages, and being bilingual is usually an asset to most companies.

“But instead, we were treated like nuisances and actually criminals when they forcibly walked us out of the store after they had suspended us,” Baldizan said.

There was a lot of grief about how employ­ees were speaking Spanish, he said.

“They told us that it made employees feel uncomfortable because they didn’t know what we were saying, and they thought we were talking bad about them. But in reality the conversations we had were just regu­lar conversations, it was really just me asking how she was doing and what she was going to do that day, like friendly conver­sation you would have with co-workers, it was just in Spanish,” he said.

Baldizan said he got a lot of support from co-workers who disagree with what is happening and the way things were handled.

“Regardless of the sit­uation, I think it’s great that people are out there voicing their opinion from across the nation and all walks of life, and there’s going to be people who agree with me and people who don’t agree with me,” he said.

Baldizan also wanted to set the record straight when it comes to his fellow co-workers urging people not to blame people who work for the company.

“I’ve heard a lot of sto­ries about people bashing the employees who work there and that needs to stop because this isn’t their personal policies and this is not their fault. They’re there to work and make a living, so I think it’s important for people not to take their frustra­tions out on the employ­ees because it’s not their fault that the company has ridiculous policies, and there are people fighting to change that,” he said.

Since all the news stories have surfaced, the backlash regarding Whole Foods has the company actually look­ing into their policy, but whether they are going to change it remains to be seen, he said.

“Either way though, I’m going to continue to have an active voice to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone after me, which was my main goal,” Baldizan said.

Store Team Leader Shelley Bertsch at the Carlisle Boulevard and Indian School Road loca­tion said that they have never heard of, nor have ever attempted to enforce this policy at her store location, explaining she is also a Spanish speaker.

Whole Foods Press Release Statement

Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb just posted this statement titled “Our Revised Team Member Language Guidelines” on his blog, which includes the following:

First, we sincerely apologize that a section of our handbook regarding Team Member interac­tions in the workplace was not clearly written, and for any misunderstandings or offense it has created. Its intention was to foster inclusion, not exclusion. Second, our senior leadership team has reviewed and changed the wording of this section and will ensure that this new wording and, more importantly, the intention behind it is reviewed and discussed at the next Team Member meeting at every store and facility throughout the company, which will be within 45 days’ time.

Last week, we were contacted by LULAC-New Mexico, and we have sent them a copy of our original and revised language for their feedback. We were also contacted by the ACLU in New Mexico and are communicating with them. And, we have been contacted by ProgressNow New Mexico via members who delivered a petition asking us to change our language guidelines. We will continue to have conversations with these organizations.

Bridging borders: The Good Samaritan

By Adriana Avila, Senior Reporter | Photo by: John Tyczkowski

Good SamaritanThe trails to the American Dream are hazardous, but one man is easing the journey for some immigrants.

Ted Martinez, CNM president from 1988 through 1995, said he travels to the Mexican border to offer help and supplies to undocu­mented immigrants for a few days each month.

Martinez is involved with the Tucson Samaritans and the Green Valley Samaritans who travel across the Arizona border near Nogales, Mexico, he said.

“What Samaritans are trying to do is locate places where we think migrants are coming through, leave water and food, because most of them don’t know how treacherous it is,” Martinez said.

The Samaritans give aid to the campesi­nos, average farm workers and other trav­eling migrants in dis­tress, he said.

“Most of them are simple campesinos. They come from Guatemala, El Salvador and southern Mexico and they have no idea what they’re get­ting into. I’ve met some who haven’t crossed yet, and I tell them, ‘It’s very, very dangerous, crossing. You’re risking your life.’ Of course, they’re will­ing to take the chance. That’s how desperate they are,” he said.

The Samaritans travel deep into the trails to drop off supplies for the undocumented immigrants faced with harsh travel conditions, he said.

“What the Samaritans do is that they send out teams every day, to certain parts of the border, pre-positioned locations, and then they go back and check, maybe every two weeks. We’ll leave maybe 15 bottles of water; those one-gallon water containers. The Samaritans take these plastic containers, like for pickles, and we put food, primarily things that won’t perish, and clothes items,” he said.

With the help of coyotes, paid border guides, migrants travel the trails but most do not make it to the finish, he said.

“A lot of people cross with coyotes, and there’s 10 to 12 people; if one gets injured they leave that person behind and often they’re not found and they die in the desert,” he said.

Unfortunately the Samaritans often do not find these migrants. This year around the Tucson area, almost 100 people have not been found and are presumed to have died, he said.

Martinez and the Samaritans search the desert to help struggling migrants find their way to safety, he said.

“The Samaritans go out in groups of four, made up of usually a medical person, at least one person that speaks Spanish and one person that drives the four-wheel-drive. We go out into the desert, and leave our vehicle, and we go to these locations where the migrants are known to be crossing over the trails,” he said.

If the migrants are in critical condition, Border Patrol is called to trans­port them to hospitals or to on-staff medical teams, he said.

Those who are look­ing for the way, but have been deported, go to El Comedor, which is run by the Kino Project to help migrants cope with deportation and offers shelter and a meal twice a day.

Martinez visits the camp once a month to talk with some migrants, most of whom still plan to cross to search for a better life, he said.

Wearing what they were when detained, the deportees Martinez has met usually arrive at the camp without shoe­laces, belts, or forms of identification or of communication.

The Kino Project is run by Jesuit priests and American volunteers, most of whom are stu­dents, he said.

Martinez was involved with the Peace Corps before becoming CNM presi­dent and has worked with the Salvadoran refugees in Belize for a literacy program when he retired in 1995.

“So now in my old age, I guess that’s why I’m trying to do something to help some people from dying. The coyotes take them halfway, demand more money. They have none, and then get abandoned. Often what they’ll do is, after the person has died, the coy­otes will call their family if they have some rela­tives in the states, and say, ‘You know, you’ve got to send us more money’ when as a matter of a fact the person is deceased. I’ve heard many stories from people who tell me these things, and it’s just heartbreaking what’s going on,” he said.

CNM to reduce loans, increase work-study

By Daniel Montaño, Staff Reporter

Editor’s note: It is important to note that everyone’s financial aid situation is different on a case-by-case basis. Students should call 224- 3090 to schedule an appointment with a finan­cial advisor to discuss any financial aid concerns.

Starting in the fall 2013 semester, Financial Aid is restrict­ing access to loans and increasing the award for work-study stu­dents, said Joseph Ryan, associate director of Financial Aid.

Due to an increase in defaulted student loans, Ryan said that CNM will only be offering student loans to sophomore students with 30 or more cred­its, and the only loans offered will be subsi­dized, which are loans that don’t accrue inter­est until after the stu­dent has finished school. Unsubsidized loans that begin accruing interest immediately will not be offered to any students at all, he said. That does not mean, however, that loans will not be avail­able to students.

If students wish to receive loans but does not see any offered on myCNM, students will then have to sched­ule an appointment to meet with a financial aid advisor in order to have loans granted to them, he said.

“We’re just trying to educate our students more about what student loans are, and trying to help them see that there are other things they could be doing that could help them cover their expenses without taking a student loan,” he said.

CNM is also reduc­ing the amount of unsubsidized loans stu­dents can take out— by $2000 in most cases, Ryan said.

Students taking developmental courses or lower level college prep courses will not be eligible for any unsub­sidized student loans whatsoever, unless they are enrolled in a coordinated entry pro­gram, such as Nursing or Diagnostic Medical Stenography, Ryan said.

The changes to unsubsidized loans

come by way of a fed­eral student aid program CNM is participating in and are being put in place to reduce defaulted stu­dent loans, he said.

“CNM is going to be taking part in the Department of Education’s Experimental Site Initiative. They allow schools who take part to modify how they partici­pate in federal financial aid. CNM is taking part in an experiment that deals with ‘over-borrow­ing’,” Ryan said.

While access to loans has been restricted, the award for work-study has gone up from $7500 to $9000 per year, Ryan said.

The increase in the work-study award was approved in order to cover a raise given to work-study employees in the spring 2013 semester, which Ryan said had led to problems with some work-study employees.

After the raise went into effect, some employ­ees actually surpassed the $7500 allotted to them, and were either unable to work for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends July 1, or were forced to forgo some or all of their loans in order to continue work, he said.

“It shouldn’t happen next year, we’re taking a ballpark estimate with the $9000 and we built in a buffer which should get us through, but we’ll look at it closer to the summer (2014) term and see where we’re at with all of our students,” he said.

Because the award for work-study has gone up, Ryan said that some work-study students might not be able to take out the full amount of loans that have been awarded to them.

Students will have to look at their ‘award over­view’ section in the finan­cial aid tab on myCNM and pay close attention to the amount listed under ‘initial need,’ he said.

If the amount listed minus the total of loans and grants accepted by the student is less than $9000, Ryan said that the student might not qualify for a full work-study award.

“What happens a lot of times with work-study and student loans is that they kind of counteract each other, so if you want work-study you have to take less in loans, and if you want higher loans than you might not be eli­gible for work-study. It’s hard to get both at the same time,” Ryan said.

Students do have, and have always had, the option to take out a lower amount in stu­dent loans in order to qualify for a full work-study award, he said.

Students also have the option of taking a reduced work-study award, which would translate to lower hours worked per pay-period and thus less money per paycheck, but Ryan said that students should focus on working more so they can avoid paying back loans and interest.

“I would always encourage students to take less student loans and more work-study because that way you’re working and earning money as opposed to borrowing money with interest that you would have to pay back with the loan. So I think that’s always the smarter bet to make,” he said.

The change in how student loans are handled is coming as a response to the amount of student loans issued at CNM that have gone into default, that has jumped from around 13 percent in recent years to “the mid 20s” in the past year, Ryan said.

There is a penalty for any school that has a high default rate for multiple years, including institu­tional suspension that would cause the school in question to lose federal funding, and Ryan said that CNM is trying to avoid any penalties before they happen but that CNM will always support its students in need.

“The Department of Education has made it clear that we cannot deny a student a loan. If they want a loan we will give it to them if they have eligi­bility for it,” he said.

For more information, or to schedule an appoint­ment with a financial aid advisor, call 224-3090.

2013 to 2014 Financial
Aid changes:

Subsidized loans only offered to sophomores or higher
Unsubsidized loans not offered at all Eligible students not offered loans
must speak to an advisor to get loans

Students taking college prep courses not eligible for unsubsidized loans

Maximum unsubsidized loans reduced by $2000 per year

Work-study award increased
by $1500 a year

Where are we, Arizona?

By: the CNM Chronicle Edi­torial Board

One of the best things about the state of New Mexico is the cultural diversity, including the cultures that take pride in their native tongues and regional dialects.

In the article, “Student speaks out about Whole Foods incident” the Chronicle talked to student Bryan Baldizan about his experience with cul­tural and lingustic discrimina­tion in the workplace.

Baldizan is a bilingual citizen, offering more than many people can in the form of commu­nication. Speaking in English and Spanish, he uses his ability to com­municate with dif­ferent people, and to remember who he is and where he comes from, which would usually be considered a benefit to most employers.

Whole Foods has disappointed many with this complete disregard for a cul­ture so important to New Mexican history.

New Mexico respects and recog­nizes Spanish as a big part of our estab­lishment as a state. Schools offer bilingual classes, we hold events and activities centered on cultural history, and many families know the importance of keeping these tradi­tions alive.

English is not the only American way. The American way is full of dif­ferent paths and different success stories. Embracing diversity makes our nation stron­ger, and encour­ages people from all backgrounds to rise up to success, in the work place and out­side of it.

Our country does not have an “official” language, at least not at the federal level. The contention here is that these work­ers are not allowed to casually speak Spanish to one another. It’s not as if they don’t know English; they do. The importance of heritage, tradition and diversity needs to be recognized, especially in the workplace.

Letter To The Editor: In response to Volume 19 Issue 4 Editorial

I read with interest the recent editorial “Mental Health Needs to be Addressed in this Country,” but I would like to point out a few inaccuracies.  First of all, you mention that in the 80’s, the “skyrocketing petty and violent crimes even caused the state of California to consider involuntary commitment laws after this massive change by our government”, referencing the Reagan Administration’s policies on mental health facilities. This is not entirely accurate.  The State of California passed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act in 1967 which authorized involuntary detention for up to 72 hours for treatment and evaluation, followed by a possible involuntary civil commitment for up to 14 days. This law also authorized the police to pick up an individual whom the court had ordered to be evaluated in a mental health facility, which could, and frequently did, result in civil commitment for up to 14 days and longer.  Later, when Public Law 106-310 (42 U.S.C. § 10801), the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act (1986) was passed, mental health facilities in the entire nation were forced by federal law to observe and protect the legal rights of individuals with mental illness.
Another inaccuracy which I think was not intended but needs to be pointed out is the tone of the editorial.  It seems to suggest that persons with mental illness are dangerous and violent, citing the “multiple killings” at the college in  Santa Monica on June 7th, and the statements that…”the incidence of mass killings is going up…”, and “mass killings have become a more common occurance throughout the country.” Not all mass murderers are mentally ill…nor are all persons who are mentally ill mass murderers.  The vast majority of people with mental illnesses are not dangerous and do not engage in violent behavior. Often they are the victims, not the perpetrators of crime. The linking of violence with mental illness is an unfortunate stigma that is very resistant to change. 
While it is true that we as a nation have done an abysmal job in providing care for our mentally ill citizens, I was gratified that you did not suggest that all persons with mental illness need to be hospitalized. Your article was correct in stating that “no one wants to pay for the proper attention of people who are mentally ill.”  You are correct in you assertion that mental health is an issue that has been ignored for far too long, although I think it would be more accurate to say that mental “illness” is an issue that has been ignored for far too long. 
Jim Johnson


Bringing the canvas to the campus

By: Adriana Avila Senior Reporter | Photo by: Rene Thompson

ArtTemporary art is coming to Main campus. Fine Arts instructor Danielle Miller said the Arts Practices I course is creating art that can be shared in unusual places around the community.

While the class does focus on traditional art, it also covers contemporary and specifically forms of temporary art, such as art installations and land proj­ects, which take art out of the classroom and into the community where it can be shared in an unex­pected way.

“Part of what this type of art work tries to do is to put art out into the community in a way that people stumble across it instead of going into a gallery where you know you’re going to see a work of art,” Miller said.

Temporary art is meant to be somewhere for a moment and disap­pear right after. It gives a little bit of art, one piece at a time, to the community so people are surprised when the works are dis­covered, she said.

One of the class assignments was to create an urban canvas around the North building on Main campus by putting small colored pieces of paper around the exterior of the building with tape or icing so that they could easily be removed with no damage, she said.

“The assignment sheet said that it needed to be within walking distance of the classroom. It could’ve been off campus but it just had to be somewhere where we could walk to as a group so we could talk about and look at the art work that the stu­dents created. As long as it didn’t deface any property or block any movement for people,” she said.

Historically, tempo­rary art has been prac­ticed for some time and Miller’s class studies the various types of tempo­rary art in comparison to the more traditional types of art, such as paintings that are meant for gallery viewing, she said.

“It’s something that if you were going to install permanently anywhere as an artist you would want to make sure that you have all of the proper permissions in place. But these little temporary things that people could do are sort of meant to be ephemeral, to be there one minute and to go away the next,” she said.

The artwork that stu­dents in the class create are not in any way acts of graffiti or vandalism but projects focused on the idea of spreading art to those who may not have an opportunity to view art elsewhere, she said.

“At heart, these proj­ects are really meant to be not destructive. They weren’t destructive from the very source, they weren’t meant to be destructive, so if graf­fiti has that sensibility or association of being destructive then that’s not what these pieces are about, at all. I think the pieces were meant to be very playful and the students had an experi­ence of doing something unusual that was really interesting and a really different way to share their art work with the community,” she said.

A protocol for tem­porary art to be placed on campus is in the works, and Miller wel­comes the idea of sharing the art with students for longer than a couple of class meetings, she said.

“I think it would be great if we can make that happen because I think it does allow more people on campus to see the proj­ects and have that experi­ence; so if we can do that eventually, when a proto­col gets made for that, I think that would be great. Students put a lot of time and effort into these so it’s nice if they have the sense that people are able to see them and they don’t have to just put them up and then take them down

M.E.Ch.A unites chicano students

By Daniel Montaño Staff Reporter | Photo by:  Juan Gonzalez

M.E.Ch.ACNM’s chapter of el Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan is look­ing to enroll new mem­bers who want to make a positive change for higher education and the Chicano community, said Juan Gonzalez, Psychology and Chicana/o Studies major.

M.E.Ch.A is a student organization that pro­motes higher education, unity and empowerment of Chicana/os, the CNM Chapter of which can be reached via their Facebook page, which can be found by searching “M.E.Ch.A de CNM” on Facebook, or by email at mechacnm@, Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez is one of the founding members of the CNM chapter of M.E.Ch.A, and said that before he moves to UNM in the fall 2013 semester, he is looking for any stu­dents, Chicana/o or oth­erwise, who are willing to work to promote culture and higher education to help build the M.E.Ch.A organization.

“In 2013, M.E.Ch.A is not just Chicanos, it’s anybody who sees all these struggles, who knows what’s going on, and wants to help their communi­ties,” Gonzalez said.

M.E.Ch.A provides students a place where they can get support from fellow students, people who are going through the same things they are, he said.

M.E.Ch.A has gained a reputation since it was first created in the 1960’s as being a protest organi­zation, but Gonzalez said that in the new age of M.E.Ch.A, it has grown into a community-cen­tered activist group.

“A lot of people remember M.E.Ch.A. as ‘the protestors’ and all that, so a lot of people kind of look at us a little bit weird. But we can pass our resources along. We know a lot of people. We’re building a com­munity for people coming into the state or people who have any struggles,” he said.

When M.E.Ch.A was first established, it lobbied for Chicana/o studies, bilingual education and other similar programs, but now M.E.Ch.A looks to support any person or group looking to promote peace, cooperation and equality, Gonzalez said.

M.E.Ch.A revolves around the idea that through community and collective action, people can make a posi­tive impact together by helping and giving support to one another, Gonzalez said.

“We have some really good people here in Albuquerque, so we work together as a com­munity to help people out,” he said.

M.E.Ch.A was cre­ated in the late 1960’s and came out of the Chicano civil rights movement, said Ramiro Rodriguez, one of UNM’s representatives to the Centro Aztlan region of M.E.Ch.A.

The Chicano movement had many aspects—Farm work­ers rights, voting and political rights, land grants—and M.E.Ch.A came from the union of several separate stu­dent organizations that were working on rights for education within the Chicano movement, said Rodriguez.

“The objectives of M.E.Ch.A. became pro­moting higher education, our cultura and our story. We believe that playing a part in our story and in higher education is the avenue for changing our society. Our themes are usually education, activism, and el cultura,” Rodriguez said.

M.E.Ch.A is a national organization that is separated into 10 different regions com­posed of local chapters, based in universities and colleges, and local clubs based in high schools, Rodriguez said.

The first M.E.Ch.A in Albuquerque was in a middle school, but now has chapters at UNM, CNM, New Mexico Highlands University, Eastern New Mexico University and clubs in high schools statewide, Rodriguez said.

“Every year we have a national conference. I’ve attended this year’s and the year before. This year was in San Diego and the year before was in Phoenix. Some other things we do are like the national conference, we have regional meet­ings, statewide meet­ings, retreats, there’s the national Cuento where you get to talk to all the other Mechistas,” he said.

For more informa­tion on M.E.Ch.A, visit

STEM UP gives Science, Technology, Engineering and Math students a leg up.

By Jamison Wagner, Staff Reporter

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Undergraduate Pathway program, or STEM UP, is a collaborative effort between CNM and UNM to assist stu­dents in STEM majors, said Susana Sarmiento, Program Coordinator.

For CNM, those majors are: Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Physics and Nutrition, she said.

The goal of STEM UP is to help students suc­cessfully get their associ­ate degrees in one of the STEM fields at CNM, and then to assist the transi­tion over to UNM so students can continue on and get their bachelor’s degree, she said.

STEM UP helps stu­dents by providing tutors and peer mentors for the STEM fields, she said.

The peer mentors are current CNM stu­dents enrolled in one of the STEM fields who are paired up with new stu­dents to mentor them through the degree pro­gram, she said.

“The mentors will help by guiding the students as they take the same classes with them. The mentors hold study sessions; the mentors help them with getting connected with resources for STEM stu­dents. Since the mentors are very much involved in the program and knowing what STEM UP is doing, they can help students find resources out in the community they might otherwise miss,” she said.

The mentors con­tact the students on a bi-weekly basis to check on progress, whether it is by email or by inviting the student to a workshop, or even just sitting down with the student for coffee between classes, she said.

“Since the mentors are students going through the same challenges as the members of the program, they can help the students by guiding them through the problems they may face,” she said.

Students in an eli­gible program of study who want to get involved can contact one of the program’s two academic advisors, Douglas Atler or Nina Gardea, she said.

“The advisors will then meet with them so they can fill out our application. They will be given a passport which says the student will meet with an advisor reg­ularly, meet with their peer mentor, meet with a tutor and attend dif­ferent workshops. What we do from there is sign off items as the student fulfills them so they can show active participation and be eligible for a last semester scholarship at CNM,” she said.

The program got started through some talks between CNM and UNM on wanting to collaborate more in getting students to UNM for their four-year degrees, she said.

“The grant oppor­tunity was offered by the U.S. Department of Education and we got that grant two years ago,” Sarmiento said.

When the program started, peer mentors did a lot of study groups, said Alex Cordova, Physics major and peer mentor. The program now offers individual tutoring but overall the study groups have been more beneficial for the students, he said.

“My experience as a peer mentor has been awesome so far. I have had a lot more one-on-ones with my mentees this semester and I think as word gets out about the program, more people will be interested in meet­ing with us as peer men­tors,” Cordova said.

Sarah Thompson, Physics major, said she is optimistic about the pro­gram’s ability to help her get through her degree programs and transfer to UNM when she is ready.

“I think I should prob­ably have been more involved in the last few semesters as this pro­gram will likely help me to save my Math degree,” Thompson said.

This program is also a great opportunity for getting Native American students not only through their degrees, but to help prepare the students the professional environment, said Dorothea Bluehorse, co-advisor for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.

“I really do encourage that the student organiza­tions continue with their study sessions. The Math League, the Chemistry Club, I think those are really great opportunities for our students to engage and be proactive in extra-curricular activities and I am hoping to collabo­rate with STEM UP and the Math, Science and Engineering department to make things happen,” Bluehorse said.


Academic Advisors:

Douglas Atler

Located in the Academic Advisement Office in the Student Service Center, Main Campus.


Nina Gardea

Located in the L Building,

Room 200, Main Campus

Upcoming Events:

  • Fri. June 28: Workshop Financial Literacy 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. MS Building, Room MS 301
  • Wed. July 3: Montoya Campus 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Fri. July 12: UNM Walkabout 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Wed. July 26: STEM UP at CNM Westside 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Dragons, and Jedi and elves, oh my! CNM Science Fiction & Fantasy Club

By Jamison Wagner, Staff Reporter | Photo by: Jamison Wagner

SF&F ClubThe Science Fiction and Fantasy Club is currently based out of the CNM Westside campus, but the club officers are discussing how to expand it to all cam­puses, said Lori Mehl, club adviser.

The club meets off campus at Kaboom Test Labs, a comic book store, every Monday at 3 p.m. to play Dungeons & Dragons. Students interested in joining should drop by one of the meetings, she said.

“We are really excited about the idea of getting a CNM Science Fiction and Fantasy Club at Main campus, one at Montoya and so on,” said Mehl.

In the fall semester, instead of Dungeons & Dragons, the club will be switching to various other events like board games and a SF slam around Halloween, where club members will be reading classic SF horror novels, said club treasurer and Liberal Arts major Christopher Martinson.

“Now in the future we are think­ing about doing a film festival, attending SF and Fantasy conven­tions for literature, movies and pop cul­ture,” said Mehl.

Playing Dungeons & Dragons has gotten students to put some of their classes to use, including classes in Anthropology, Political Science and Statistics and Probability, said Martinson.

“We like to incor­porate disciplines our members have an interest in. Some of the students in our club are involved in Anthropology and so they are helping to develop the charac­ters backstories and how their culture evolves. We have our art students working creating miniature figurines of the char­acters,” he said.

Mehl teaches a sci­ence fiction literature class at the Westside campus every spring, and shortly after the SF literature class got going three years ago, Mehl was approached by students who wanted to form a club for SF and Fantasy, Mehl said.

“The first semes­ter I taught the class, the students proposed we consider putting together a science fic­tion and fantasy club. I was very excited about this,” she said.

Some of the club members are work­ing on character por­traits of the group’s Dungeon & Dragon characters, said Martinson. A group portrait of the charac­ters should be done by fall, he said.

The club is also working on develop­ing a newsletter so people can stay up to date with club events, and have also commis­sioned a logo, banner and signage from one of the local student artists, he said.

“The artist is still working on the designs for us, and it will incorporate the CNM logo but still screams science fiction to people,” Martinson said.

The plans to expand the club to other campuses are still in the early stages and the club will likely need additional faculty sponsors at each campus, Mehl said.

If faculty or stu­dents want to help with starting a new SF and fantasy club at other campuses, they should contact club advisor Lori Mehl at lmehl@cnm. edu or Christopher Martinson, club treasurer at crmar­ for more information.

SF & Fantasy Club Meetings:

Summer semester every Monday at 3 p.m.

Located at: Kaboom Test Labs comic book store

10250 Cottonwood Park Road, Suite E Albuquerque NM 87114