How This CNM Student is Thriving Even Though She’s Never Stepped Foot on Campus

Takayla Montoya started at CNM during the COVID-19 pandemic and has excelled in her online classes
January 28, 2021

If you asked Takayla Montoya where the library is on CNM’s Main Campus, she couldn’t tell you. But that’s not because she’s bad with directions. Instead, it’s because she started pursuing her degree at CNM in the 2020 Fall Term during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s been taking a full load of classes and thriving, but never had to visit campus. 

“Organization and discipline have been important, but online school has actually been great for me,” says Takayla, who’s studying Biology.

Some of Takayla’s classes are pre-recorded. To ensure she attends those classes and stays on track with her homework, she sets a tight schedule. She’s also not shy about emailing the instructors with questions.

“I was surprised at how quickly the instructors respond,” she says. “And I’ve always felt like CNM is a judgment-free zone. There are no stupid questions.”

Other classes are held via Zoom and Takayla says that they’re so well organized that she’s enjoying difficult subjects including Calculus. 

Online school has also allowed Takayla to live at home in Socorro where she grew up. Living at home helped her save on rent or commuting costs and she can still work her job at a local insurance company. To offset other school costs she applied for and won a series of CNM and external scholarships.

Right now she’s part of the Suncat Scholars program, which is for first-time, full-time freshman. Perks of that scholarship include up to $400 in assistance with required textbooks each term, support with tuition and fees, a possible $300 performance payment at the end of each term, priority registration, and a dedicated Suncat Specialist that’s helped guide her through her degree in Biology.  

Takayla says her Suncat Specialist, Melissa Gonzales, has been particularly helpful in ensuring she stays on track. Melissa regularly reaches out to see if Takayla needs any assistance and will help ensure Takayla graduates on time, or even early.  

"Takayla is highly dedicated to her education," Melissa says. "Her sense of purpose, combined with her education will help her to reach her goals and ultimately serve her community and the world in a very meaningful and positive way."

When she graduates, Takayla plans to enroll at the University of New Mexico where she’ll finish her Bachelor’s in Biology. Then she plans to apply to UNM’s Physician’s Assistant program. Thanks to a dual credit human anatomy class Takayla took in high school, she’s always known she wanted to go into medicine. 

“I want to specialize in pediatrics because I think that will be the most rewarding,” she says. “And I also like that a PA has a nice work-life balance.”