Four New Mexico State University students are portrayed in the documentary "Our Time is Now" that airs on KRWG (Channel 22) at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, and follows lives of six rural New Mexican students as they finish high school, struggle with personal challenges and follow their dreams.
Low graduation rates and poverty are obstacles for education in New Mexico. When looked at through the eyes of rural New Mexican students, a dynamic and more complex set of personal stories surface, including deep family ties, perseverance, cultural traditions, bridging worlds, personal struggle and success.
"Our Time is Now" follows the students as they navigate through numerous difficulties facing rural students: Waylon Castillo (Torreon) is Navajo and lives without running water or electricity and helps provide the basic needs for his family; Jimmy McFarland (Farmington) faces the challenges of poverty and lives with a family torn apart by addiction; Juan Mendez (Portales) balances his English-speaking school and his Spanish-speaking home; Mitch Estevan (Acoma) stays rooted in her Pueblo traditions as she works hard to be the school's valedictorian; Vicky Garza (Deming) lost her mother and must hold down a fast food job to help support her family; and Tiqua Speir (Deming) must separate from the stability of her fifth-generation farm family.
"The film is very inspiring, and I feel it can help the university community gain an appreciation for the challenges students face on their journey to higher education," said Terry Cook, NMSU's assistant vice president for student affairs and enrollment management.
All four NMSU students are sophomores. Garza is majoring in social work, Speir is focusing on education and McFarland is pursuing a degree in music. The trio attends the Las Cruces campus, while Estevan is enrolled at the Grants campus.
"Our Time is Now" involved 80 students from five high schools in filmmaking and storytelling workshops during their junior year of high school.
The film was produced by Littleglobe's "Turn the Lens," a community filmmaking engagement program. "Our Time is Now" was funded in part by the New Mexico Higher Education Department and Gear Up NM Documentary Film Initiative, a collaborative statewide filmmaking project bringing forward stories within New Mexico's public high schools.