Western New Mexico University Adult Education Services is being revitalized and looking to become more responsive and adaptable to the local and regional workforce by Colton Bjerke, who is now steering the programs.
Historically known for providing free high school equivalency exam preparation, WNMU Adult Education Services also offers English as a second language classes and digital literacy instruction for free.
And, Bjerke is working to expand services to include integrated education and vocational training plus civics education for migrants. While most services have lately been offered online, Bjerke is working to bring face-to-face courses and tutoring back to southwest New Mexico citizens at the university’s Silver City and Deming locations.
The self-paced high school equivalency exam preparation WNMU offers is course-based and designed to allow people to start at the level that makes the most sense for them. Students who go through the program and earn their GED or Hi Set credential are invited to walk in a WNMU commencement ceremony.
“My hope is that we see more people enrolled in WNMU Adult Education Services and see the positive outcomes for themselves. Specifically, I would like to enhance direct pathways for students hoping to pursue degrees and certificates from WNMU,” Bjerke said.
New to WNMU, Bjerke has worked in higher education for over a decade. “After being trained to be a high school English teacher, I made the decision to shift into higher education in student support services,” he said. “I most enjoy working with adult populations, which I learned in five plus years serving in community college settings including as Campus Dean for Student and Academic Affairs.”
Bjerke most recently comes from Socorro. “After spending a few years managing a federal grant at New Mexico Tech, I made the decision to pursue roles that would allow me to more directly work with adult learners and contribute to their efforts in changing their lives.”
Providing worker training and equipping local citizens with the skills to increase their employability and efficiency contributes to a strong regional economy and a robust workforce. “I am excited about opportunities to contribute to the university’s efforts to integrate into and positively impact the greater community by re-establishing strong adult education programs throughout our five-county service area,” Bjerke said.
More about the range of free adult education services is available at aes.wnmu.edu.
Photo caption: Colton Bjerke (pictured), as the new WNMU Adult Education Services Manager, plans to restart face-to-face high school equivalency exam preparation courses and expand worker training programs.