An update from Rebecca, who graduated in May with CCPA and sociology degrees:

The Taos summer program has been a great experience thus far, because it has allowed me to interact with school, work, professors, peers and my surrounding culture in manners which are both unique and beneficial.

I just graduated from SMU (working on my last college credit – a nonprofit, communications internship at Habitat for Humanity of Taos), and in my week here I have bonded more with classmates and professors than in my entire previous four years. I attribute the change to good leadership in an environment where professors favor real knowledge and hands-on learning through experience to busy work and tight regulations.

Here biology students trap the animals they dissect; art students hike the locations they wish to capture; anthropology students conduct actual digs outside their tents. The result is that students are given more freedom, learn better through action and bond more with classmates through a shared experience beyond the classroom.

My CCPA program has definitely been practical and hands-on in this manner. My classes have investigated how I can better the corporate communications and public relations within my nonprofit. This has also allowed me to build a portfolio of work to take to potential employers. So far I have created Facebook and Twitter accounts for Habitat for Humanity of Taos in addition to working on their website and written documents.

As our internships are individual, CCPA students do not have as many opportunities as other students to bond as a group. I am grateful to Professor Nina Flournoy for organizing outside activities that are not internship-related and that help us better understand Taos and its unique history and culture.

She already has taken us through the local shopping and arts in Taos and nearby areas, showed us natural sights like the gorge, helped us “mud” the San Francisco de Asis Church (much fun!), taken us to a corn celebration and the casino in the Pueblo, and gone out to dinner with us. Our plans for next weekend involve Angel Fire, fly fishing, steak, and Santa Fe – can’t wait!