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Las Vegas New Mexico Community Foundation Awards Grant to Highlands

January 12, 2021

photo of Shantini Ramakrishnan 

Shantini Ramakrishnan

Las Vegas, N.M. – Middle and high school students in New Mexico will learn about successful scientists and science careers in the state through a video, thanks to a grant from the Las Vegas New Mexico Community Foundation.

The New Mexico Highlands University Foundation received the $1,000 grant, which will be used to create the video project, “I am STEM New Mexico.” STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

“The video will focus primarily upon Northern New Mexicans, emphasizing the importance of representation in science,” said Edward Martínez, who wrote the grant for Highlands. “These narratives will provide the student audience with approaches to work through and overcome specific challenges related to racism, discrimination, injustice and family struggles.”

The “I am STEM New Mexico” video will be hosted on YouTube channels for Highlands and New Mexico MESA. MESA stands for Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement, a precollege educational program.

Martínez is a former natural resources management professor at Highlands who works on special projects for Highlands University President Sam Minner. Martínez said Shantini Ramakrishnan will administer the grant at Highlands. She is the program manager for the new Conservation Science Center @ HU and generated the idea for the grant.

“When we look at STEM fields, minorities and women are underrepresented,” Ramakrishnan said. “When we talk to middle and high school students about pursuing STEM careers, it’s important for them to see people who look like them and share similar backgrounds and histories.

“The “I am STEM New Mexico” video will showcase local narratives that are relatable to our student population in middle and high school. The video will be accompanied with student worksheets and reflections that explore science identity and a sense of belonging in STEM fields,” Ramakrishnan said.

The Las Vegas New Mexico Community Foundation was established in 2017 with a vision statement of, “Help Las Vegas Thrive.” According to its website, the foundation’s mission is “To attract and develop resources to broadly serve the greater Las Vegas community and its residents through giving, programs and policies.”

“We’re grateful to the donation from the Las Vegas New Mexico Community Foundation for allowing us to pilot this “I am STEM New Mexico” video series. We look forward to an ongoing partnership with this community foundation,” Ramakrishnan said.