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University of New Mexico’s Student Support and Services Center on Saturday, Dec. 9. 

The Graduation Project empowers returning students to continue their education

The Graduation Project is a program at the University of New Mexico dedicated to bringing senior students back to complete their degrees. Students who qualify for the Graduate Project are returning to complete their first bachelor’s degree after at least a semester break.

Graduation Project Director Corine Gonzales said the project looks to provide support and assistance for students looking to return and complete their program.

“Our mission is to help bring back students who are very close to completing their degree … We also follow through and provide onboarding assistance and transition experience to help them come back and complete their degree,” Gonzales said.

Graduation Project Coordinator Leandra Barreras said the Grad Project aims to help through one of the most difficult aspects of returning to school: getting started.

“The goal is to make the students return (with) a smooth process, starting your application, requesting degree audits and showing any warm handoffs to any advisors, or any resources that they may need,” Barreras said.

Choosing to return is already a difficult decision that many students struggle with, Gonzales said. One of the biggest objectives the Graduation Project seeks to fulfill is to make students remember that they are seen and heard.

“(We do) what we can to assist the students in returning and let them know that we haven't forgotten about them. We're here to assist them,” Gonzales said.

The Grad Project spends its time figuring out what will be best for each student and creating  plans based on individual rather than collective solutions. Student needs are so varied that it is important to take those into account when considering what will work best for a student, Barreras said.

“It's based on circumstantial situations. And so I think just having that holistic approach and asking those questions allows us to provide options and opportunities that they might not know about,” Barreras said.

The Graduation Project looks to help students return despite obstacles and to remind them that they are not alone on their journeys through school, Gonzales said.

“The decision to commit and return to school is already admirable,” Gonzales said. 

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Detroit Kallunki

 Detroit Kallunki is a senior reporter with the Daily Lobo. 

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