ENMU hosts high school juniors at annual preview

Yoayaid Rodriguez and Alejandra Acuna are high school juniors who drove from Hobbs to participate Saturday in Eastern New Mexico University's annual Junior Preview Day.

"We'd kind of like to know more about the college," said Rodriguez.

"I'm interested in studying criminal justice," said Acuna, "and they have a lot of great programs here."

Prospective students, parents, professors and ENMU student presidential ambassadors gathered at the campus union building in the ballroom to listen to University President Steven Gamble.

"Our mission is to provide the best educational experience we can to the students that come to us," said Gamble. "We try to take each student and treat them as an individual, not just a number, and help them realize whatever potential they've been given."

Jillian Holbert: Portales News-Tribune

Brent Small, director of financial aid at ENMU, explains funding options to potential students Saturday at Junior Preview Day.

After being introduced to Vic and Tory, ENMU's greyhound mascots, and learning about the events of the day, parents were separated from students to learn about the options for funding and student aid.

With a rough economy and the possibility of New Mexico losing Lottery Scholarships, parents eagerly jotted down notes on the financial aid options available at ENMU: grants, scholarships, and loans.

"We are going to do the best we can to fund any differences if they cut the lottery, at least for the freshman and sophomore year of school," said Cody Spitz, director of enrollment services. "We can't make any promises but we're going to do our best here at Eastern to do that for at least the first two years."

Not everything was about the financial consideration of going to ENMU though.

Many prospective juniors, like Aaron Lopez from El Paso, Texas, just wanted to get a feel for the campus.

"I've heard that they have a pretty good criminal justice program here," said Lopez, who would not be the first of his family to attend the university.

"I came here," said Terri Lopez, Aaron's mother and ENMU alum. "I liked that it wasn't overwhelming. We knew everybody; everybody knew each other. The class size was good. We knew our professors. It was safe and there was always stuff to do on campus."

Before heading off to the dinning hall for lunch, the juniors had an opportunity to chat with various departments. ENMU students studying fields from music to business to social work did their best to convince juniors to apply to their programs.

The psychology and political science department shared a booth and enticed juniors with free candy.

Danielle Holmes, a senior studying anthropology, said, "Our department is great because we have a wide field of study. There are tons government jobs available if you want to work as an archaeologist, especially in the southwest and some universities will let you teach if you have a master's degree and you can work in applied anthropology at a nonprofit organization."

Ultimately, junior preview day was about exploring options for the future. Julia Montano, a junior from Los Alamos, said, "I'm here to just look at a college for now. I'm still investigating."

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