A question I have been asked for almost 30 years is, “What sets NMSU apart from other universities?” During this period of time, my answer has not wavered. NMSU has a faculty of world-class researchers that cares about undergraduate teaching and is committed to involving students in cutting edge research programs. There are few other institutions of higher education at which opportunities to work hand-in-hand with the faculty are so plentiful and meaningful.
The transformational impact of our programs was brought home to me this week as I listened to Elena Davidson, one of our Conroy Scholars, describe how well NMSU had prepared her to compete for an internship at Google, not only through classroom learning, but through participation in programs such as Young Women in Computing. Elena’s passion and affection for NMSU uplifted the entire room, and I only wish more faculty and staff could have been there to better grasp the impact we have on the lives of our students.
Of even more personal consequence to me was the phone call I received from Amanda Muñoz, a former student, during this year’s spring break. Amanda called me to let me know that she had just successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Amanda was managing a Family Dollar Store in Las Cruces when we first met more than a decade ago. A student in my introductory biology class, her strong performance in class caught my attention, and I encouraged her interest in science and research. Eventually, she worked in my laboratory and in the laboratory of Maria Castillo, where her passion for scientific research could really take hold and open a new world of possibilities.
Amanda’s success, of course, is due largely to her own talent, drive, and perseverance. But as with Elena Davidson, NMSU provided an environment in which she could deeply explore her interests and discover a path to fulfillment.
Elena and Amanda are just two of the thousands of students who have had their lives transformed by NMSU. These students and their stories inspire all of us and, woven together, create a rich tapestry that adorns this university.
With all best wishes,