ESPANOLA — Northern New Mexico College’s (NNMC) High School Equivalency Program (HEP) has been ranked the best in the nation in 2017 —the second consecutive year for Northern — according to a newly released report by the Department of Education.
“This is proof without question of sustained excellence,” NNMC President Dr. Rick Bailey said. “To reach the pinnacle of national success for the second year in a row validates the caliber of our HEP program, the commitment of our educators, and the quality of Northern New Mexico’s students.”
Northern’s HEP students achieved a 92 percent graduation rate; the national average for graduation from HEP is 65 percent. The program also excelled with 97 percent of graduates entering postsecondary education or training, upgraded employment, or the military. The national average is 83 percent. These two measurements led to an overall performance rating of 94.5 percent, which is the highest among the 50 High School Equivalency Programs operating nation-wide.
“Being number one again, against all these institutions that have large amounts of resources is simply incredible. I am so lucky and privileged to be part of our students’ educational journey and success, and to have the opportunity to give back to the community,” said Shari Jobe, Director of the High School Equivalency Program at Northern.
“We owe our success to our extremely hardworking students, our dedicated and compassionate staff who provide a home for the students, and to the support we receive from the College,” Jobe added.
HEP is a federally funded program that helps migratory and seasonal farmworkers or their immediate family, who are 16 or older and not currently enrolled in school, to obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma.
Northern’s HEP serves 80 students a year who seek to attain their High School Equivalency Credential (HSE) after having their education disrupted for a variety of reasons.
Students go through a 5-week intensive course where they study math, reading, writing, social studies and science, before taking the HiSET exam, a rigorous test two thirds of graduating high school seniors cannot pass.
Students also undergo a 2-week college and career transition course where they practice key success skills such as applying to colleges, applying for grants and financial aid, writing resumes and conducting mock interviews.
“Our High School Equivalency Program team have done a great job with their students. HEP is a program that transforms lives and demonstrates the value of Northern New Mexico College in this community,” said Dr. Ivan Lopez, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.
“Clearly there is no link between poverty and aptitude,” Dr. Lopez added. “This is an incentive for the rest of the College to continue its hard work in service to our students and community.”
“Since hearing this great news, dozens of people have asked me for the secret to our success,” said President Bailey. “Quite simply, we are blessed with passionate, dedicated educators and motivated, committed students.”
“They are the reason this program is so successful. The educators give their heart and soul to the program, and our students know they are in good hands. It just doesn’t get any better than that. I am prouder of them than I can say,” Dr. Bailey added.
Northern New Mexico College is a minority-serving institution, offering bachelor’s, associate, and certificate programs.
The college primarily serves rural communities within a 40-mile radius of its campus in Española, New Mexico, within one of the most underserved regions in the state.