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Partnership creates opportunities for local students

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Dr. Michael Morehead (Photo: Courtesy photo)

LAS CRUCES – On an average day at the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, visitors will see medical students hustling between classes and huddled in study groups. They might also find students much too young to be enrolled in medical school. That’s because numerous outreach initiatives are getting children as young as elementary school interested in careers in medicine.

Hearing excited young voices in the halls is music to the ears of BCOM’s Associate Dean for Administration, Learning, Evaluation and Outcomes Dr. Michael Morehead. An educator since 1971, he realized early on that educational success extends far beyond the classroom. “My personal philosophy is that we must involve the community to improve educational outcomes,” he said. “As a lifelong educator, I’ve always focused on creating linkages between schools and public agencies that want to create more and better opportunities for students and families.”

Morehead holds a bachelor’s in education, a master’s in educational administration, and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Missouri in Columbia. He has taught at the middle and high school levels and served as an administrator in secondary schools. He worked in administrative roles at two higher education institutions before coming to NMSU where he spent 22 years, the last seven serving as the Dean of Education. He joined BCOM in 2015.

Morehead’s dedication to forging bonds led him to working with the prenatal to career education initiative called the SUCCESS Partnership and Ngage New Mexico, a community-driven nonprofit focused on improving educational outcomes in Doña Ana County. Serving as a member of the partnership’s Leadership Circle, Morehead engaged faculty from NMSU’s College of Education to help facilitate the integration of the Childhood Reading Alliance and the Early Childhood Education Coalition into the community.

Morehead said, “Ngage is truly a leader in building the collaborations necessary to our community’s educational success. When I moved to BCOM, I knew I wanted to continue working with the partnership because their goals line up closely with those of the college.”

BCOM’s primary mission is to improve healthcare in the Southwest region of the United States. The vision is to create not only more physicians, but physicians who are personally invested in the community and understand the local culture. Instead of trying to entice doctors to move here, BCOM aims to turn students already from the local community into health care professionals.

Morehead said, “At BCOM, we want to create more opportunities in the workforce and also make elementary, middle, and high school children aware that they can work in the health care profession and can become a doctor if that is their dream.”

Outreach initiatives aimed at the youngest of students launched nearly simultaneously with the opening of the school in August 2016. Numerous student groups, ranging from elementary to university level, regularly tour the campus where they get a chance to talk with medical students and see the high-tech learning tools in action.

Clubs organized by the medical students have launched programs like DO for a Day, where undergrad students interested in attending medical school are paired with a medical student to learn about their experiences. They also meet with admissions representatives and attend actual medical school lectures. Another group formed Sin Limites, a mentoring and tutoring program that works with students from MacArthur Elementary.

BCOM faculty are doing their part too, creating programs like the Medical Explorer Post, a program that gives high school students hands-on, health career related experiences. Another faculty member is offering low-cost ACT and MCAT prep camps to help any student hoping to pursue higher education reach their goals.

One of Morehead’s current projects is working with the SUCCESS partnership and the Bridge of Southern New Mexico to develop a model for a more efficient and seamless transition from high school to college, both in career and tech. He’s also working to integrate BCOM with the partnership on the same level he got the College of Education involved while working at NMSU.

He said, “When the educational community works together with business and community leaders, there’s no doubt that opportunities improve for our students in the region, and that’s really the ultimate goal.”

For more information about BCOM, visit https://bcomnm.org/.

Jessica Salopek, For the Sun-News

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