March 18, 2005

Contact: Luke Frank, Senior Public Affairs Representative, 505/272-3679

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Health Sciences Center's Marlene Ballejos and Mary Thomas recently were recognized by UNM's College Academic Programs for their contributions to UNM's Freshman Academic Choices Program and undergraduate education at UNM. The two received certificates as well as the title: "University College Teaching Fellow" in recognition of their accomplishments.

Mary Thomas, coordinator for the School of Medicine's (SOM) Program Advisement for Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, and Marlene Ballejos, supervisor, Student Admissions in the SOM admissions office, were honored at the University College Appreciation Luncheon for their innovative work in developing progressive programs to matriculate freshmen into the university system and draw those interested into the Health Sciences.

The Freshman Academic Choices Program is designed to welcome new students to the University and guide them through their first semester academically and otherwise, according to Dan Young, associate director of New Student Programs, University College. Specialty academic and support programs currently are available for about half of UNM's incoming freshmen.

Thomas and Ballejos have been instrumental in attracting students to medical and health careers through Freshmen Interest Groups and Experiential Learning Programs, Young asserts. "Mary and Marlene developed programs that were very much needed," he says. "They created the ‘Exploring Health Sciences' program, which is an extension of their student advisor roles, but much more intense. There, students are exposed to problem-based learning and given the opportunity to explore other academic areas in the Health Sciences.

"The following year, they developed an Experiential Learning Program offered in the spring semester," Young adds, "which solidifies students' relationship with the University and further nurtures their interests in Health Sciences."

These programs are seminars attached to certain core classes that assist new students in developing academic interests while offering course credits toward a degree.

"We introduce freshmen students to our programs, but also teach them good students skills, like time management, study skills, experiential learning, and even clinical rotations," says Thomas. "These are great programs to acclimate new students recently thrust into a new environment, which ultimately aids in student retention."

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center provides added value to health care through leadership in providing innovative, collaborative education; advancing frontiers of science through research critical to the future of health care; delivering health care services that are at the forefront of science; and facilitating partnerships with public and private biomedical and health enterprises.
Contact: Luke Frank, 272-3322