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The New Mexico Military Institute’s elite Scholars Program

Image courtesy of New Mexico Military Institute

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled” – Plutarch

While the colorful city of Roswell, New Mexico, is known for its tales of Unidentified Flying Objects, there is so much more to this friendly settlement than myths and mysterious sightings. The New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI), for example, forms a fundamental pillar of the Roswell community, presenting a rich history and tradition of educating the leaders of tomorrow through a strong and challenging program, enriched with leadership preparation and character development.

Recognized as “the West Point of the West,” NMMI currently stands as the only state-supported, co-educational college preparatory high school and junior college in the United States. Built on a firm military tradition, NMMI goes beyond the needs of the international student population, imposing a selective admissions process that results in an annual enrolment of around 1,000 students, hailing from 43 diverse U.S. states, the District of Columbia and 13 foreign nations.

NMMI graduates boast a proven track record of success in virtually every sector, be it in business, industry, public service, education, the professions or a career in the military. In fact, graduate surveys conducted by the School have shown that 95 percent of NMMI graduates go on to complete a four-year degree at world-renowned institutions like Pennsylvania State University, Stanford, Rice, Cornell, the University of Texas, Arizona State University, the University of Colorado and Service Academies across the nation.

So how does NMMI ensure its student population is readily equipped with the knowledge, depth, skill and self-confidence to conquer such juggernauts of international higher education? Well, true to the fashion of the Military Institute, this is achieved through unique, comprehensive, expertly executed and academically rigorous programs like the NMMI Scholars Program.

“Since 1891, NMMI has been charged with providing an outstanding education to students from New Mexico, the United States and around the world,” notes the NMMI. “The Scholars Program builds on the educational excellence of NMMI by encouraging talented students to gain a broad knowledge base, and understanding the interaction and interrelationships between diverse academic disciplines.”

The Institute’s Scholars Program is ultimately about academic impact, urging students to expand on an in-built culture of greatness. Specifically tailored for high school freshmen, the exclusive Scholars curriculum at NMMI allows a specially-selected group of around 20 students to take college-level courses and submit college coursework alongside regular classes, working towards an Associate Degree at the same time as their High School Diploma.

“The NMMI Scholars Program identifies a pool of talented cadets whose potential enables them to follow a rigorous and guided pathway through the NMMI curriculum,” the Institute notes, all while building on the principles of leadership and fitness that are central to military academia.

To be accepted onto the prominent Scholars schedule, students must achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.5, with at least one year’s residence at the Institute already under their belts, and must also have achieved at least two direct teacher recommendations. Students can apply to the Program immediately after their mid-term grades, and are required to submit a personal essay as part of their application. In the essay, students must outline the subject they plan to explore as part of their Program thesis, or ‘Scholar Seminar’ – a fundamental part of the NMMI Scholars curriculum –as well as select a Program Mentor who will work by their side for the duration of the project.

While the majority of classes are taken from NMMI’s traditional high school curriculum, the Scholars Seminar is dedicated to the production of the thesis; a student-led project, tailored to the unique interests of the individual. Over the course of their senior year, the Scholar will examine a broad range of philosophical texts relevant to their chosen topic, and the understanding gained from this in-depth inspection is formulated by the student (with a little help from their mentor) into a structured and insightful piece of academic research – or thesis.

“Cornerstone of the Scholars Program in the cadet’s choice of mentor,” the Institute explains. This faculty member will help guide the student through the process of understanding literature related to their field. Thus, if a student’s Senior Thesis covered an area of science, the student would choose a mentor from science. The mentor then works with the guidance counselor, Scholars Program Co-Ordinator, and Senior Seminar Professor to guide the Scholar’s path.”

So NMMI’s Elite Scholars Program is not only unique, but also undoubtedly advantageous in an academic sense. With such high levels of experience in leadership and education, the School’s faculty are expertly readily able to identify students who display the intellectual capability, desire and vision necessary to attain a High School Diploma and Associate Degree in less than six academic years. That, in itself, is an amazing feat, and one that will be recognised by future employers, as well cutting-edge providers of higher education, for the lifetime of each participant.

“The foundation for the military model is the tenets of a liberal education, to develop the whole person, mind, body and the spirit/soul,” the NMMI concludes. “It entails education, training, and the experience to practice both. The Scholars Program expands that learning for a select group of cadets to make them better able to lead and succeed in a growing interdependent society.”

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Image courtesy of New Mexico Military Institute

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