The first week of school I had the opportunity to be on a student panel for Center for Academic Excellence & Leadership Development. You can find CAELD in the Honors College which has just recently moved to the new Anderson School of Business building off of Las Lomas. However, the organization isn’t just for Honors College students which is just one reason I cannot give this resource enough praise.

The whole thing is really made happen by Kiyoko Simmons. She is ultimately an advisor that 1) truly cares about anyone who makes an appointment and comes in and 2) seemingly single handedly carries out their mission. The main objective of the whole thing is to help UNM students prepare to have the best shot at graduate school admittance, professional opportunities, and highly competitive scholarships such as the Truman, Goldwater, Udall, Fulbright, and Gates Cambridge

First off, I cannot recommend reaching out to Kiyoko enough. I attribute some of my greatest opportunities to her. Even after my first meeting with her, I got a position in a research lab on campus and an interview with Sandia National Laboratories as a freshman. She even drew my attention to this job as a student blogger. The more and more I go see her, the more and more I get crazy awesome opportunities and so inspired to pursue these highly competitive scholarships.

Because of all of that, I was so honored to be a part of this panel. We met in one of the ballrooms in the SUB. The students were there before I got there. There was a keynote speaker and then a brief overview of the possible opportunities these students should have their eyes on going through undergrad. The other panelists and I got there just in time for the food. There was a Mediterranean buffet for everyone that was super good.

 Isaiah Romo, Brendon Grey, Eric Putney and Kianna Holian were the other students on the panel with me. These students are all really awesome and accomplished people. I was beyond grateful to have the chance to sit next to them in such a setting. Each one of them had tried and some had gotten the scholarships above. I was the youngest on the panel and hadn’t even been old or experienced enough to try for the scholarships (so I was even more blown away I was asked).

From Left to Right: Isaiah, Brendon, Anna, Eric, and Kianna

It was also a little funny to be such a newbie still since many of the students who came to the orientation were incoming freshmen. I didn’t and still don’t completely know how much my advice helped but I had a pretty good line of attendees after the event to ask me questions. It’s sort of cool to see some of them in the halls in the dorms since I still live on campus.

We all had advice for the students ranging from staying organized, studying hard, and taking advantage of opportunities right at your doorstep while still taking time for yourself. One thing I know we all completely agreed on though, was how important it was to our successes to have reached out and built up a relationship with Kiyoko. At this point, I know she not only wants the best for my professional career but also cares about me as a person which is so cool to have in an advisor.

If you are a UNM student, I highly recommend making an appointment in Lobo Achieve as soon as possible to meet with her and see what amazing opportunity she can send your way.