NMLI invites applications from high school students who have strong academic records, plan to attend UNM or NMSU, are passionate about building their leadership skills, addressing national/global issues, and becoming agents of change.

The program is open to high school juniors and enrollment is limited to 30 students.  Interested high school juniors should apply though their high school guidance counselor or complete an application here.  NMLI scholars who complete the program will receive a $15,000 grant towards the cost of their education.  The program will provide students with the academic guidance, financial resources, global awareness, and professional networks needed to succeed in a competitive and knowledge based world.


NMLI’s Scholars are invited to apply the fall semester of their junior year of high school. If accepted after a rigorous application and interview process, they will be invited to join our program the spring semester of their junior year, after which they begin an intensive one-year leadership training program that includes two summer academies and a 12-month “challenge” period. The next four years of the program is heavily focused on keeping students on a path towards graduation and employment. NMLI Scholars are awarded automatic acceptance into either UNM or NMSU when they enter the program, depending on their designated preference.

Summer Academy One

The program’s first summer academy is held at NMSU and focuses on self-development. The week begins with training in effective communication – influencing others, listening to and learning through others, and forging synergy through collaboration. This is followed by the Scholar focusing on self-management, coping with pressure and adversity, setting and achieving goals. The ultimate objective of the first academy is to assist each Scholar to take control of their own future, and to build and develop relationships that further the Scholar’s interests and those of their community and state.

Specifics of the first week’s curriculum include:

  • Recognize conflicts and adversity that may impact their graduation from high school and college
  • Create relationships with fellow participants and community leaders
  • Demonstrate appreciation for different cultures and perspectives
  • Develop effective communication skills
  • Practice leadership skills and positive behaviors
  • Learn about the history, diversity and uniqueness of New Mexico
  • Identify academic and career resources in preparation for college
  • Manage time effectively and set meaningful, achievable goals
  • Recognize the impact of events on a local, regional and global level
  • Develop practical skills for collaborating and group decision-making

Summer Academy Two

The program’s second summer academy is held at UNM and focuses on the twin themes of college preparedness and seizing opportunity in New Mexico. NMLI Scholars will participate in a variety of sessions designed to facilitate their seamless transition from high school to university. Even more, these sessions educate Scholars on what UNM and NMSU have to offer them academically, socially, and professionally in order to help them connect the dots between their individual career goals and specific university competencies.

In the second summer academy Scholars also receive training in “seizing opportunity”, which educates students on the current and future drivers of the New Mexico economy. The focus of these sessions is to breakdown misperceptions and biases about career opportunities in New Mexico and to help young leaders understand how to seize opportunity in the state after graduation. While a Scholar’s professional and career goals may well evolve during the course of their education, the idea is for the Scholar to think about how their professional objectives dovetail with the professional needs of the state, its economy, and its employers.

Specifics of the second week’s curriculum include:

  • College Matriculation & University Offerings
  • Understanding New Mexico’s economic opportunities
  • Integrating your academic aspirations with New Mexico opportunities
  • Building your support systems
  • Team work and not “ultra-competitiveness”
  • Importance of networking
  • Introduction to political leadership
  • Policy Change
  • Understanding Technology
  • Knowing who you are and building on your strengths.

Senior Year Challenge

Between these two academies, students are required to complete a 12-month “challenge” program that is designed by the student and their university faculty mentor. These “challenges” occur monthly and are intended to focus Scholars on pushing their boundaries, expanding networks, raising awareness, and pursuing areas of personal interest. While each “challenge” program is unique, they often include assignments that involve community service projects, engagement in the local economy, and public policy issues.

Upon completion of the summer academies and senior year “challenge,” NMLI Scholars graduate from the program and continue their education at NMSU or UNM. Once there, the NMLI program remains a major component of their education and support system. Each graduating cohort enters university as a unit, each Scholar has an assigned faculty mentor, and all Scholars are supported by the NMLI on-campus administrator.

College Challenge

Scholars are required to maintain and complete the following over their 4 years in college:

  • Required to register for and complete a minimum of 12 credit hours of coursework each semester
  • Maintain a 3.0 grade point average
  • Participate in mentoring new NMLI Scholars as they enter the program as high school juniors
  • At least one summer internship in the public or private sector
  • Participate in at least one campus student organization

Scholarship Award

Scholars who complete the first year curriculum (the two summer academies and challenge program) are awarded a $15,000 scholarship over four years ($3,750/year) which can be used to defray the soft costs of education, such as living expenses, books, travel, and other miscellaneous expenses. The primary goals of the grant are to incentivize students to select 4-year universities, to keep them in school and on a path towards graduation, and allow students to participate in at least one summer internship.

The NMLI scholarship award is removed if the student does not meet the program requirements listed above in the section on curriculum.

Internship Program

NMLI encourages each Scholar to participate in at least one, but hopefully two internships during their college career.

The internship program is designed to accomplish a number of objectives:

  • Enhance the Scholars’ connection with local businesses and government leaders
  • Serve as an opportunity for each Scholar to research businesses and government agencies that are linked to the professional career path they are following
  • Serve as an educational experience, providing direct access to and work experience in the Scholar’s chosen field
  • Serve as a platform for the practical application of the Scholars’ educational experiences to real world situations

Mentorship Program

Through their partnership with NMLI, both UNM and NMSU have committed substantial resources to the NMLI program. In particular, both universities have designated faculty members and a program administrator to serve as mentors to the NMLI Scholars during the summer academy, challenge program, and throughout the Scholar’s academic career.

Mentors are intended to become a major component of the scholar’s support network over the 5 year life of the NMLI program and will play a key role in guiding their academic, internship, and career decisions.

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