Noteworthy & More!

Education-Employer Alignment Improves Job Placement, Retention, Wages

New Mexico Skill Up Network: Pathways Acceleration in Technology and Health care (SUN PATH), a $15 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, is an initiative of Santa Fe Community College and 10 New Mexico community colleges to pair the understaffed health care workforce with unemployed, underemployed or under-trained adults. The colleges collaborated with the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, New Mexico Higher Education Department and health care employers to create ways for New Mexicans to more quickly and more efficiently prepare for careers in health care, an understaffed workforce sector. SFCC served as the lead institution.

The group developed industry-recognized credentials that were required for high demand jobs in allied health, emergency medical services and health information

technology. The results are impressive: employment outcomes improved, employee retention rates increased and average earnings went up.

The program worked at filling the critical need for more trained health care workers, using the I-BEST model (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training). I-BEST quickly boosts students’ literacy and work skills so that students can earn credentials, get living wage jobs, and quickly put their talents to work for employers. Through SUN PATH, students simultaneously studied math and English along with their health care subject area to complete certificates and degrees. A Workforce Solutions job coach was available on each campus to assist in job placement.

The SUN PATH Consortium shared its final progress report recently at a statewide gathering facilitated by New Mexico First, a public policy organization, to identify strategies that more effectively align higher education and workforce services with industry needs in high-demand fields. The participants developed plans to sustain and expand successful components of SUN PATH, which New Mexico First intends to use to develop legislation to strengthen career pathways and talent pipeline systems.

The statewide SUN PATH director, SFCC’s Kristen Krell, led the consortium and its team: Dean of Science, Health, Engineering and Math and principal investigator Jenny Landen, R.N., M.S.N., FNP-BC, Carmen Gonzales, Ph.D., (former principal investigator), Program Manager Carla Slentz, Data Manager and Programmer Analyst Tricia Kattell, Administrative Coordinator Margaretmary Woodd, SFCC’s SUN PATH Coordinator Cheryl Peachey and Ted Lech, Job Development Career Coach. Project evaluators with the University of New Mexico provided comprehensive consultation, planning and evaluation services.

SUN PATH Highlights

  • Eleven colleges served 4,266 students, of which 2,792 completed the program and earned 3,125 credentials.
  • More than 600 unemployed students became employed after completing the program.
  • More than 2,000 students who were employed prior to participating received a wage increase.
  • Compared to non-participants, SUN PATH participants:
  • Completed a certificate or degree at a 34 percent higher rate.
  • Became employed after program completion at a 14 percent higher rate.
  • Earned nearly $1,000 per quarter compared to $700.

Learn more about I-BEST: Kristen Krell, 505-428-1142, or


SFCC student Mike Kimball received the first place award at the New Mexico State Fair in the fine arts exhibition printmaking category for his linoleum block print “Santa Fe Station.” The print depicts the New Mexico Rail Runner Express trains in front of the Santa Fe depot in the Railyard as passengers disembark.

The 18″ x 18″ block print was carved and printed in instructor Jennifer Lynch’s Relief Printmaking course. In addition to the blue ribbon, a cash prize was also awarded.

SFCC’s Entrepreneur Institute and the City of Santa Fe recently launched the Santa Fe Entrepreneurial Eco System Network to work with businesses and entrepreneurs to collaborate on developing effective and energizing ways to support existing, emerging and student entrepreneurs in Santa Fe.

SFCC is the only community college among the recipients of a $20 million grant that will support development of a modern electric grid. Dean Camilla Bustamante, Ph.D., is the principal investigator, working with Luke Spangenburg, Director of Biofuels Center of Excellence, Training Center Corporation and Innovation Center; Stephen Gomez, Ph.D., Faculty, Science and Sustainability, and Ondine Frauenglass , lab technician, Biofuels Center of Excellence.

SFCC will receive more than $597,400 in federal funds over a five-year period.

Students in the PILAS paid internship program ’s orientation meeting with the internship coordinator. From left: Manche Babanek (business), Suzette Ungard (film), PILAS internship coordinator Ya’el Chaikind, Jane Bias (media arts) and David Plonski (water technology). Employers and students who would like information about next semester’s program should call Chaikind at 505-428-1418 or email