Challenge program offers freshmen a head start

This year, 39 students were granted admission to CSM on the stipulation that they pass the Multicultural Engineering Program’s annual four week program called Challenge. Challenge gives students an opportunity to prove they should be at Mines by completing a rigorous series of classes before the fall semester begins.

“Challenge was a huge life changer. It prepared me for Mines and helped me make many friends who I can relate to. At first I was iffy about the whole idea but I don’t regret any second of it,” said Jimmy Nguyen, who went through Challenge in 2011. A few other Challenge students expressed hesitancy before going through Challenge. “I was on edge about the idea especially since I would be leaving Texas. However, Challenge turned out to be better than I could possibly imagine,” said Chris Matthews.

The Challenge classes are intense review for some and introduce new concepts for others. MATH100 reviews concepts from algebra, geometry, and trigonometry with introductory topics in calculus. CHGN111 covers topics from Chemistry I and II and includes a lab. “It gave me the opportunity to see what a college class would be like,” Brooke Kelly reflected. For ‘Challenge’, the students have a heavy load of homework each day, exams at the end of each week, along with the lab reports.

During the four weeks, the students also took trips to IBM, Bureau of Reclamation, Ball, and CSM’s Edgar Mine. One Saturday afternoon was spent doing community service, while another was spent on a ropes course which helped the students bond and form their own community.

This summer, the students hailed from four different states, many different ethnic backgrounds, and 41% were female. They spent all four weeks living in Weaver Towers, eating at Slate, and taking courses to get a taste of college life.

Stephen Candelaria said, “Challenge for me was an absolute and utter blessing. The opportunity to come to school a month early and to get a taste of what Mines academics is really all about was a huge benefit for me just to know what I was getting in to. To come to school now and already have a huge network of people was such an advantage because I already felt at home when I got on the Mines campus. It gave me that solid foundation that I needed for academic success and I got to meet a whole heap of people who ended up becoming my closest friends that I consider like family.”

The Challenge students felt like family by the end of the experience, making chemistry jokes and having prank wars. As for the adjustment to rigor of fall classes, Nohemi Almaraz said, “It is going well so far, but I am still learning to manage my time.”



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