There was plenty of excitement amongst Native American students from Twin Buttes High School when the entire school took a field trip from Zuni, N.M. to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque recently. For many, it was their first time to a major college campus.

“One of the major goals of this grant is to recruit students from Zuni to come to UNM to become teachers, then return to Zuni to teach students there,” Krebs said. “Providing opportunities for students from Zuni to visit the campus, to attend a musical performance at Popejoy, to meet representatives like Daniel Begay from American Indian Student Services, and to learn of all the opportunities available at the University of New Mexico, enables them to see their dreams unfold.  The funds from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation have provided this opportunity for students from Zuni.  We will also host a group from Zuni High School for a campus visit in early May.”

“This was a great opportunity to take our students to a college campus and to get a feel for campus life,” Twin Buttes Principal Roberta Tayah said. “We are glad the University of New Mexico has partnered with us and uses the ZETAC grant (in part) to provide this opportunity to our students. We hope students take a look at the opportunities UNM has. We are very grateful.”

The grant project, titled “Zuni: Engaging Teachers and Community (ZETAC)” is designed to enhance the educational attainment of children in the ZPSD by focusing on continuing education, professional development and recruitment of teachers in Zuni to empower a community of learners in the northwestern New Mexico pueblo. The collaboration between UNM’s College of Education involves working with the Zuni Public School District (ZPSD) to support teacher preparation and professional development and is part of a $596,000 grant provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to UNM last year.

“ZETAC is a unique program that provides teacher assistance,” Tayah said. “It’s a wonderful program that allows employment in the private sector while taking coursework at UNM. We’re just one school though. We wish we could do a tour with middle school kids and other high schools to give them an idea of college life.”  

It started at Popejoy Hall with a musical performance of “Infinitus,” a classical music, hip-hop, jazz, beat-boxing string trio. Students learned about the identical but distinct parts of a canon, differences and similarities in movements of a theme and variations, the imagery and mood of a Scottish lament, all through a variety of musical styles.

“It’s exciting to get away from school for the day,” said sophomore Vanessa Hattie, who wants to be an ultrasound technician. “The concert was fun. I never thought I’d get to see something like that.”

“It was very exciting,” added sophomore Lacie Eustace, who aspires to be a veterinarian one day.

That was just the beginning for the approximately 45 students and staff from the school located in northwestern New Mexico. After the concert they were given an informational presentation by Sr. Student Program Advisor Daniel Begay and American Indian Student Services (AISS) on admissions, financial aid and scholarships.

After lunch at La Posada, the faculty, staff and students were led on a campus tour by student volunteers from the admissions office. Stops along the way included the Indigenous Nations Library Area in Zimmerman, the SUB, classrooms in Mitchell Hall, AISS, and of course the Duck Pond.

“UNM is much different than a regular school,” said Hattie, who would be the first to attend college from her family. “It’s pretty cool.”

“We want to go to college to pursue a higher education,” said Eustace. “That’s what we want to do. The field trip gives us an idea of what college life is like.”

That dream was only enhanced after experiencing a day at UNM.