Symposium looks to tackle New Mexico's 'brain drain' | KOB 4
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Symposium looks to tackle New Mexico's 'brain drain'

Morgan Aguilar
November 29, 2017 07:04 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- For years, New Mexico business leaders, academics and politicians have been talking about the "brain drain" concept. It's the idea that some of New Mexico's brightest minds are taking their ideas out of state to get graduate and post-doctoral degrees, and to find jobs.

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"They're good, smart people, they're well-networked nationally and internationally," said Maggie Werner-Washburne, a biology professor at the University of New Mexico.

Werner-Washburne has been helping New Mexico students succeed for 30 years. She has a database of 500 former students she keeps in touch with as she tries to figure out how they can achieve their goals and live closer to family at the same time.

"For me, I'm going to cry because it's, you know, really bringing the families back together," she said.

Werner-Washburne is tired of seeing students -- particularly those educated and talented in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) -- take their skills elsewhere when they would rather be in their home state of New Mexico. In August, she came up with an idea.

"I realized this summer that if I left the university go to on to do something new, that if we didn't introduce these former students from New Mexico and they're from all over New Mexico, to the economic and government and academic leaders in the state, that it would be as if they were never here," she said.

Werner-Washburne has organized a symposium to bring together highly-educated professionals and skilled workers from New Mexico to meet with business leaders next month. She said she has heard local business leaders say New Mexico doesn’t have a highly-educated, technical workforce because that simply isn’t true.

"It means a lot to me," she said. "These students are incredible and I know them individually. And they've done great things, and they're leaders, and we've worked really hard with them. And we stay in touch with them for 20 years after they've left New Mexico and, you know, I just want to see them be part of the future of this state.”

The NM Educated Workforce in STEM (NEWS) Symposium is December 20-21. Click here to learn more and register to attend.

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Morgan Aguilar

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