ARMAS in Education Center

Achieving in Research, Math, and Science

Spotlight / Federal Grant

Photo: Margaret McKinney / NMHU


Pablo Sedillo, field representative for U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, talks with Highlands University science faculty, ARMAS staff and students about a new U.S. Department of Education grant that continues the successful Achieving in Research Math and Science program at Highlands.

ARMAS  Program Awarded New Federal Grant to Continue Services to Science, Math Students

New Mexico Highlands University’s Achieving in Research Math and Science program, ARMAS, received a new Hispanic Serving Institution U.S. Department of Education federal grant that allows the successful program to continue to serve science and math students. Highlands will be awarded $274,000 from the DOE in the first year of the five-year grant. Pablo Sedillo, a field representative from U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s staff, met with the university’s science faculty, ARMAS staff, and students Sept. 22 to announce the grant award.

“You’re doing great work at ARMAS,” Sedillo said. “It’s an integrated program that creates opportunity for science students in Northern New Mexico to successfully complete their baccalaureate degrees. “Senator Bingaman is a strong supporter of science, technology, engineering and math education, and has sponsored successful legislation in this regard,” Sedillo said.

ARMAS works to increase the number of Hispanic students from Northern New Mexico who graduate with degrees in math and science related fields. Highlands opened its ARMAS center fall semester 2009. The program welcomes all students.

Since it started, ARMAS has offered supplemental instruction for gateway science, technology, engineering and technology courses, or STEM; academic coaching; a computer lab; access to course textbooks; seminars and workshops; scholarship and internship help; educational resources, and more.

The ARMAS program is generating successful outcomes for STEM students, with an important focus on supporting students in entry-level STEM classes.

Data compiled by the university’s Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness shows that in its first two years, of 203 freshman with STEM majors, 40 percent, participated in ARMAS services. These students had significantly higher GPAs than STEM freshman who didn’t access ARMAS.

For all science students at Highlands, 82.5 percent of ARMAS students either graduated or were still enrolled at Highlands Spring semester 2011, as compared to 53.8 percent of non-ARMAS students.

“ARMAS is a central hub where students can come to get help with science,” said biology professor Sarah Corey-Rivas. “It’s a supportive community that provides help for students who are struggling. ARMAS is especially important for first-generation college students because it provides consistent, ongoing support.”

Corey-Rivas said that this semester in her introductory biology course, Adrian Vigil, a supplemental instruction leader from ARMAS, attends each class and mediates three study sessions every week for students in this critical gateway course for science majors.

“Adrian is helping guide students in how to study more effectively,” Corey-Rivas said. Initial funding for ARMAS came from a $2.2 million U.S. Department of Education grant that ends in December.

Highlands University natural resources professor Edward Martinez is the principal investigator for the first ARMAS grant and will continue to direct the new grant, which also funds a parallel program at Luna

Community College.

“This new grant allows the continuation of ARMAS core services, as well as articulation efforts with Luna,” said Elizabeth Ratzlaff, ARMAS coordinator. “It also funds some new outreach activities with local high schools.

“The success of ARMAS is a result of the dedication and hard work of the staff, including academic coach Dorothy Bales, internship coordinator Mabel Suarez, and center specialist Monique Esquibel. We also have nine wonderful students who are working this semester as supplemental instruction leaders,” Ratzlaff said.


© 2012 ARMAS in Education Center