FARMINGTON — The commons area at Piedra Vista High School was abuzz with collegiate ambition Tuesday evening as area students and their parents learned about higher education.

The Financial Aid and College Entrance programs at both Piedra Vista and Farmington high schools hosted the Four Corners Regional College Fair.

Through the program, counselors and staff at the high schools offer assistance and provide resources to students during the college application process. Grants from BP America and Merrion Oil and Gas fund the programs.

School districts in the area were invited to attend the event in an effort to encourage students to learn more about opportunities for higher or post-secondary education, said Piedra Vista FACE counselor Natalie Stark.

"Going to college is a huge financial investment for a student," Stark said. "Some students are fortunate they have financial support from their parents. Others are 100 percent on their own with funding their education. Knowledge is power. It'll help them prepare for the steps needed."

Colleges and universities from Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico had tables set up to answer questions, and there were also recruiters from the armed services. Representatives from San Juan College's Financial Aid Office and the New Mexico Educational Assistance Foundation were on hand to answer questions about scholarships and college financing.

Shandi Thompson, a field representative for Santa Fe University of Art and Design, talks to Tesa Vaughan, a senior at Piedra Vista High School, during the
Shandi Thompson, a field representative for Santa Fe University of Art and Design, talks to Tesa Vaughan, a senior at Piedra Vista High School, during the Four Corners Regional College Fair on Tuesday at Piedra Vista High School. (Augusta Liddic/The Daily Times)

Julie Jones attended the fair with her daughter, Kaylen, a senior looking for a school in New Mexico with a nursing program. Specifically, Kaylen Jones said she went to the fair to find "something that would be appropriate for what I want to do and scholarships that I could obtain through the university."

Julie Jones said she hoped to learn about colleges the family wasn't aware of that offer nursing programs and are close to home.

"I just want the best college that will suit her needs," she said, referring to her daughter.

Junior Martin Erives picked up a handful of literature about colleges while also learning more about the University of New Mexico and its engineering program. Erives said a number of other schools also caught his eye.

"What got me interested, too, is Adams State University," he said of the school in Alamosa, Colo. "They have really good things like they lower tuition fees for New Mexico residents, and I really like Colorado."

Erives said the event helped him understand what he needs to focus on in the last two years of high school.

"It's opening more what I have to do and what I have to do to prepare myself to get the thing I really want," Erives said.

Area students will also attend a college fair today at San Juan College.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.