If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.~John Quincy Adams
Despite three decades of effort focused on increasing college retention and graduation rates for students from underrepresented minority groups and other high-need areas, strong evidence for effective programs is often localized or not well understood; a situation that limits replication and scaled implementation (Castlman & Page, 2013; Johnson et al., 2013). As a result there is a continuing need to gain a deeper understanding of what works, for whom it works, and why it works in order to invest in components that can be scaled. The National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise identified a number of innovative, ‘high-impact’ practices (HIPs) in higher education. Learning gains included “deep approaches” to learning, which encompass integrating ideas and diverse perspectives, analyzing and synthesizing ideas, applying theories, and real-world application of learning. (College Learning for the New Global Century, 2007, AACU; Kuh (2008).
This past month I experienced validation on the importance of investing in future leaders and a fruitful ‘high-impact’ practice. The New Mexico Leadership Institute is a comprehensive scholarship program that targets H.S. Juniors who have a desire to be future leaders as well as be engaged within their communities. They must attend two summer leadership academies, one at New Mexico State University (before H.S. Senior Year) and the other at the University of New Mexico (before college). Meanwhile, they must identify a community mentor and problem in their community they want to research and develop a community-based participatory research project to find a solution.
The New Mexico Leadership Institute was founded by Dan and Katherine Burrell with a commitment to delivering the next generation of young leaders in New Mexico, nurturing skills that will set them apart from their peers across the country and reduce the State’s Brain Drain. The objective is to provide exceptional high school leaders from across New Mexico with the financial resources, global awareness and professional networks required to succeed in a competitive and knowledge-based economy. In partnership with the University of New Mexico (UNM) and New Mexico State University (NMSU), the objective is to develop future leaders who have demonstrated a high aptitude for leadership, creativity, resourcefulness and an entrepreneurial spirit.
The myriad of New Mexico’s (NM) scenic landscapes and rich cultural history unique to this area has been the reason for NM being known as the ‘Land of Enchantment.’ However, from 2006-2011, the mass exodus of highly talented and trained New Mexicans has increased…leading to a Brain Drain. For the past academic year, New Mexico Universities have seen an 8.3% decrease in college enrollment compared to 1.9% at the National level.
The New Mexico Leadership Institute is an innovative 5-year program to address the ‘Brain Drain’ targeting New Mexico high school juniors. The goal of NMLI’s program is to graduate these students from high school, support their transition into one of New Mexico’s universities and have them graduate in four years with the skills and knowledge they need to obtain employment in New Mexico.
With one of the highest high school drop-out rates in the country, low college matriculation and graduation rates, and with many of the State’s most talented young leaders leaving for opportunity elsewhere, New Mexico is struggling to reach its economic potential. NMLI’s curriculum, created through a collaboration with UNM, NMSU, and the Center for Creative Leadership (“CCL”), a globally recognized firm in leadership research and training, is designed to address these challenges in a comprehensive way.
The program has just recruited it’s 3rd cohort and with an 88% retention rate in college, we are excited to see how these scholars ‘flip into the future’ through their engagement with their communities.