FARMINGTON — Staff at San Juan College's Transfer Center have organized a week-long event to educate students about transferring to other colleges and universities.

John Tohtsoni, director of the Fast Forward program, said this is first time the college has hosted Transfer Week, a series of events to inform students about transferring to four-year colleges.

"Our hope is (Transfer Week) grows bigger and bigger every year," Tohtsoni said.

Fast Forward is a grant-funded program at the college to help Native American students graduate with an associate degree in arts or science and then transfer to a four-year college to earn a bachelor's degree or higher.

The program is open to all San Juan College students.

The Transfer Center is working with the Native American Center, the Hispanic Latino Center, the Veterans Center and Enrollment Services to host workshops, panels and a Transfer Fair today.

From 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today in the upstairs student lounge, college representatives from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Texas will provide information about requirements for transferring to another school.

"I think it's an opportunity for a student to really seek out answers they need in order to earn their bachelor's degree," said transfer specialist Christine Wood. "We'll be holding workshops during the same time to help focus in on their specific questions."

On Tuesday, a panel of San Juan College alumni who earned or are earning their bachelor's degrees spoke to about 10 students in the Student Center about their experiences. Staff from around campus and others offered advice about graduating with an associate degree and going to a four-year school to receive their bachelor's or master's degrees.

San Juan College student Janet Martinez is looking into pursuing early childhood education. After listening to the panel, she said she plans to job shadow and complete other research before committing to the degree program.

"I learned to shadow people to see if that's what I really want to do," Martinez said.

Tohtsoni said he hopes more students learn transferring doesn't mean they have to leave the area. New Mexican Highlands University and the University of New Mexico have Farmington campuses, and there are many online degree options from colleges across the country, he said.

"It's still a struggle to get that information to students that they can get their degree locally," Tohtsoni said.

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.