Intensive English students participate in a closing ceremony recently. Many of these international students will seek degree study at UNM.

The University of New Mexico Center for English Language and American Culture (CELAC) recently honored its largest group in the 36-year history of the intensive English program, with 236 students representing 28 countries. As the spring semester approaches, CELAC program is transitioning more than 25 international students to full time degree study at UNM, which is about 50 percent of its recent graduates who have attained the required English proficiency score for admission. An additional eight students have applied and are awaiting a final admissions decision for the spring.

Mary Anne Saunders, special assistant to the president for global initiatives, said, “As we continue to expand our international reach and develop our relationships abroad, we are finding that many partners express great need for intensive English programs. The CELAC program often serves as a first point of collaboration and brings students in at all levels to prepare them with the academic English necessary to pursue their dreams of an education in the U.S.

CELAC’s high quality program offerings and supportive alumni help build the UNM brand abroad.

Paul Edmunds, director of CELAC and interim director for the Global Education Office (GEO) sees the program as a key part of the University’s international student recruitment efforts.

“Our intensive English program is an ideal introduction to UNM. While participating in the program, CELAC students are immersed in the campus culture and often speak of how much they enjoy being a part of UNM’s community," Edmunds said. 

CELAC students live in campus housing and access campus resources such as the libraries, the Language Learning Center, the Student Health Center and Johnson Gym. Recently, CELAC began hosting degree fairs with participating UNM schools and colleges to market UNM academic programs. Some of the students with advanced English language skills are able to concurrently take CELAC courses and up to six credit hours of regular academic coursework before transitioning to full time degree study. CELAC has expanded its program offerings to include three online courses in Academic Reading, Academic Writing and TOEFL Preparation in collaboration with UNM New Mexico & Extended Learning.

Vanessa Vander Galien, CELAC academic manager, said, “CELAC students think of themselves as Lobos already. As a result, UNM becomes a top option for degree study because they are already familiar with campus life here and they love it.”

Edmunds said he anticipates the CELAC program will continue to grow and attract groups looking for short-term, specialized programming. Recently, CELAC received 96 students from Mexico for a one-month immersion program as part of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative between the U.S. and Mexico.