Alumni Connections

Crossing the Aggie finish line

Earning a degree is the unifying goal of every college student. Yet, a study by the National Student Clearinghouse shows a mere 57 percent of students actually graduate. No singular issue serves as the root cause of the trend, but an initiative at New Mexico State University aims to solve one – financial barriers.

In the last few years, donors to the NMSU Foundation have started scholarships that support Aggies in the final semesters of their degree programs, including the Martin Degree Completion Scholarship, the RAYVETS Scholarship for veterans, the RN-BSN Scholarship for nursing students and the Aggie Finish Line Scholarship – which has awarded students more than $34,000 since the 2017-18 academic year.

Angel Mendez

 

While these students face different circumstances, a financial edge is the constant need among them. Meet some of the recent Aggie Finish Line Scholarship recipients:

"I am the first college graduate in my family. College has been my opportunity to be an example for my children. They have seen how hard it is to go to school and work full-time but that anything is possible when you set your mind to it."

Tawnya M. Hall

"As a full-time student living on my own, it can sometimes be very challenging to pay off school before the semester starts. I also work a couple jobs to pay bills, and I have a mother and two sisters I really love and care for. I will use this scholarship to pay my schooling so that I may move on to complete my degree."

Alejandro Corral Salas

"I’m a Mexican international – originally from Durango, Mexico. NMSU is my start to a new beginning, and after May, I will pursue a master’s degree and become a United States citizen. This is my biggest goal, so I can help my home country in Mexico and see my family again."

Abraham Inzunza

"When I graduated from high school in 2011, I had the dream of one day becoming a pediatric or neonatal nurse. At the time, I was a new mother to my son. I knew completing this goal would be a tremendous challenge for me. Having my childhood dream be so close to a reality is truly an amazing feeling."

Yvonne Hernandez

Posted by grel in Fall 2018

Defending the line, saving lives

From taking play calls in Aggie Memorial Stadium to, now, answering calls for emergencies, two New Mexico State University alumni agree that time on the football field as an Aggie prepared them for a line of duty.

Jeremiah Lay ’02, a former NMSU defensive end and current Las Cruces Fire Department battalion chief, finds firefighting as a way to help others and continue the teamwork atmosphere that he experienced inside Aggie Memorial Stadium. 

“I was used to working with a team playing football, and it is no different in firefighting. Everyone has their role and function,” Lay says. “Our academy style is also very militaristic with a lot of structure and physical fitness. Obviously, the physical fitness of football helped out a lot and so did the teamwork, which is a necessity in the fire service.” 

Lay also credits the education he received from NMSU as an agricultural economics and agricultural business major for aiding him in his career of service. 

“NMSU has helped me out a lot with my position as a battalion chief,” Lay says. “The modern fire service is really data-driven, and some of the skills I learned in economics, marketing, management and finance I use daily. It’s not all kicking in doors and fighting fires, it’s also figuring out what to do in regards to allocating funds and establishing ways to respond to emergencies efficiently.”

Joel Navarro ’91, also a former NMSU defensive end and now battalion chief at the Phoenix Fire Department, agrees that the similar atmospheres and the chance to make a difference played a role in him joining his fire station.     

“I am also a paramedic,” Navarro says. “When you can make a difference or impact someone else’s life, their families’ or save their lives, and then you have that person come visit you a week or two later - it’s really cool. Those are the moments you really appreciate what you do and what you’ve learned.”

Melissa Rutter ’17

Jeremiah Lay ’02

Joel Navarro ’91

Posted by grel in Fall 2018

A Champion of Women

Hair, heels and happy smiles – from the outside looking in, the Miss USA competition dons the crown on the country’s most beautiful women. Yet, a new face to the contest this year changed the stereotypes, adding champion of women to this list of what it takes to win.

After taking on the title of Miss New Mexico USA in January 2018, Kristen Leyva used her new spotlight to lift up three of her pride points – female engineers, the New Mexico State University Aggies and her mother, Jo Leyva. Kristen Leyva, a 2016 College of Engineering graduate, now works as a mechanical engineer for Raytheon in Las Cruces, a company specializing in building defense solutions for the U.S. Department of Defense. 

In an industry seeking more female and racial diversity, Kristen Leyva understands the critical role she plays in inspiring others. But, her mother inspired her first. After graduating from NMSU in 1999, Jo Leyva worked as an engineer at NASA and mentored NMSU students.

“Being a first-generation college graduate, a single-mom and a female engineer, my mother defied odds and prospered far beyond them,” Kristen Leyva says. “It was during this time that I believe she became a true testament for what it means to not only be a strong, independent woman but also an inspiration for many.”

Just two months before Kristen Leyva’s graduation from NMSU, her mother passed away after a long battle with cancer. On that day, Kristen Leyva vowed to carry on her mother’s legacy to inspire others toward careers in engineering.

Two years later, she finally found her stage. As Miss New Mexico USA, Kristen Leyva represented her state in the national competition in May 2018. Though she didn’t win the ultimate crown, she did leave with countless memories and a new opportunity to use her story to encourage others. Kristen Leyva will continue visiting schools and speaking at events across the state, and this fall, she met the very first product of her efforts to perpetuate her mother’s work – a recipient of an NMSU scholarship she started in March 2018 in honor of Jo Leyva.

“As an alumna, it’s important to me to give back,” she says. “My mom was raising two girls on her own during her time at NMSU, and I was bouncing around from hospital to hospital with my mom during my time. None of us know what the person next to us is going through or how they’re making it to class each day. I hope that with this scholarship, students will never have to compromise or put their dreams on hold.”

Hair, heels, happy smiles and a champion of women – that’s Kristen Leyva, Miss New Mexico USA. 

Angel Mendez

Kristen Leyva started an NMSU scholarship in honor of her mother Jo Leyva (left) who inspired her and many others to overcome stereotypes and pursue engineering.

Kristen Leyva, Miss New Mexico USA 2018, on stage in fashion by Sherri Hill during the opening of The MISS USA® Competition at George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on Monday, May 21. The Miss USA contestants have spent the last few weeks touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the Miss USA crown airing on FOX at 8:00 PM ET live on Monday, May 21, 2018 in Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

Posted by grel in Fall 2018

Alumni Successes

Adair Margo ’83

Alumna Adair Margo ’83 is one of three recipients of the 2018 American Spirit Medallion awarded in June by the National WWII Museum.

Bestowed upon individuals who, through their work and philanthropy, exemplify the highest standards of integrity, discipline and initiative, the American Spirit Medallion also recognizes the individual’s unselfish contributions to their community, state or nation. 

Margo was recognized for her tireless work to promote and preserve the legacy of Tom Lea, an El Paso artist whose work conveyed his memories and visions of the battles and campaigns of World War II.

She described Lea as “the only wartime artist who conveyed the truth of war… the only one that depicted rounds being fired or soldiers being wounded.”

Margo, who is currently the First Lady of El Paso, Texas, has spent her career advocating for the arts and championing their significance in helping build relationships within and across multiple cultures throughout the region.

Daphne Griffin

Adair Margo (center) received the 2018 American Spirit Medallion for her work safeguarding the legacy of Tom Lea, an El Paso artist. She is pictured with James Courter (left), immediate past chairman of the board, and Stephen J. Watson, president and CEO at the Museum.

Math teacher Melanie Alfaro was surprised to receive New Mexico’s 2017-18 Milken Educator Award. She won a $25,000 prize for her work inspiring her students and helping to improve their math skills.

Melanie (Maynes) Alfaro ’02

Melanie (Maynes) Alfaro ’02, received the prestigious Milken Educator Award. Of the 44 honorees for the 2017-2018 academic year, Alfaro is the only recipient in New Mexico to receive the national award, often referred to as the “Oscars of teaching.” 

Since 1987, the Milken Family Foundation has honored early to mid-career teaching professionals across the country for their achievements and their ability to inspire students to achieve more in the future.

Alfaro, a former Aggie basketball player and member of the Athletics Department Hall of Fame, is a sixth-grade math teacher at Deming Intermediate School. She received the award in recognition of her efforts to improve math literacy. Deming has jumped two letter grades and 16 percentage points in end-of-year math assessments in the past few years, and Alfaro’s students lead the sixth grade in math proficiency.

Daphne Griffin

Beth DeLucia Schulze ’84

When Beth DeLucia Schulze was in high school, she wanted to be an astronaut and visit the moon. Today, she’s part of a team at Lockheed Martin who is assisting NASA with its Moon to Mars directive to send astronauts to Mars, starting with missions around the moon.

Schulze, who graduated from NMSU in 1984 with a degree in physics, is a software systems engineering manager at Lockheed Martin Space, specifically for the Orion spacecraft – the world’s only deep-space, crew vehicle. Orion is also a part of Lockheed Martin’s Mars Base Camp concept, which once in orbit around Mars, could provide astronauts with a home away from Earth and a platform for conducting critical Mars science and landing site selections.

Schulze and her team are responsible for Orion’s software systems. Scheduled for an un-crewed launch in 2020, Orion will travel beyond the moon and back and usher in a new era of space exploration.

Daphne Griffin

Beth DeLucia Schulze will soon help send astronauts to Mars as part of Lockheed Martin’s work with NASA and the Orion spacecraft – the world’s only deep-space, crew vehicle.

Posted by grel in Fall 2018

Pistol Pete invades social media

Prior to the 2017-18 athletic season, New Mexico State University athletics and MyWeb GP, LLC announced a partnership allowing Aggie fans to spread their love of the Crimson and White with Aggie-centric emojis.

NMSU fans can now show their Aggie pride with customized Pistol Pete emojis on social media, texts and other messaging apps as they cheer on the Aggies. The customized emojis were designed by renowned artists from Marvel, DC Comics, Universal Studios, Disney and Blue Sky.

“While emojis have been around for a while, they remain very popular and this innovative new vehicle is one more way to spread the Aggie brand nationwide,” NMSU Director of Athletics Mario Moccia says. “We are excited to join over 30 schools in participating with MyWeb on this unique program.”

The Pistol Pete emojis are available in the Apple Store, and can be found by searching “Ree Stickers.” A portion of the emoji set will be available for free while the remainder of the set can be purchased for a one-time nominal fee of $1.99.

An Android version was expected to be available this fall.

John Vu 

Posted by webcomm_admin in Fall 2017

No limits. No boundaries.

NMSU rolls out bold new marketing effort 

New Mexico State University is hitting the region hard, looking for the next generation of Aggie students while also connecting with Aggie alumni.

NMSU’s Marketing and Communications office launched an updated marketing campaign earlier this year to target potential students in New Mexico, El Paso, Arizona, Colorado and Southern California while also building Aggie pride with alumni. The campaign involves advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, television, radio and billboards. It also includes promotions in Google search results as well as in movie theaters, malls and airports around the region. 

 

The advertisements feature bold crimson and white elements, large text and the mountainous desert landscape that surrounds Las Cruces. A special promotion, “I am an Aggie,” will also feature successful alumni as well as current NMSU students preparing to be future leaders. 

This fall, enrollment of first-time freshmen at NMSU is up 11.3 percent from the same time last year. That marks the university’s largest increase in first-time freshmen in more than 17 years. Additionally, community college transfers at NMSU are up more than 17 percent. 

Justin Bannister ’03 ’13

Posted by webcomm_admin in Fall 2017

Vintage Aggies

Super-fan Betty Meerscheidt let her fun flag fly – bloomers and all 

A fixture at New Mexico State University games, Betty Meerscheidt was known to Aggie fans for waving her giant NMSU flag, which included a pair of red bloomers with black lacy fringe, from her seat behind the scorer’s table at the Pan American Center.

In the beginning, Meerscheidt would wave the flag frequently at both basketball and football games, but things changed, and she became very selective.

The flag also made appearances at rivalry games in Albuquerque, despite glares from opposing fans. “Our mom was such a grinner and had such an infectious smile – who was going to take that away from her?” says Marilynn Morris, Meerscheidt’s daughter. “She would smile her way out of anything.”

Janette Brunt, another of Meerscheidt’s daughters, recalls even the smallest fans enjoyed the Aggie emblem.

“Little kids would visit mom and wave the flag, and she had a marker and they got to sign the flag.”

Morris admits that, as a teenager, her reaction to her mother’s spirited display was more of a cringe.

“For me growing up, I didn’t like the flag,” she says. “When you’re in school and your mom is waving bloomers … I stayed as far away from her as I could. It was too much attention for a kid.”

Tiffany Acosta 

Betty Meerscheidt, seated with her husband, Stuart, waves her well-known Aggie flag at a New Mexico State University basketball game in the Pan American Center. Meerscheidt cheered on decades of Aggies until her death in 2004. Stuart passed away earlier this year.

Posted by webcomm_admin in Fall 2017

Turing tragedy into triumph

Memorial scholarship created for Giving Tuesday boosts students and their families

New Mexico State University’s first-ever Giving Tuesday event on Dec. 1, 2015, was a huge fundraising success, but that occasion was tinged with sadness for many at the university who had lost their friend, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences graduate Hannah Farbo, just the week before following a tragic auto accident.

Farbo’s parents and her best friend, Colleen Payne, took some comfort in establishing a scholarship in her honor to benefit students who shared her passion for horses and New Mexico agriculture. They created the Hannah Farbo Memorial Endowed Scholarship with an initial $13,000 in funds gathered from friends and family for Giving Tuesday, and matched dollar-for-dollar by the NMSU Foundation to create an endowed fund.

The scholarship is already making an impact in the lives of three students in the College of ACES who have received it so far. The first recipient, Alexandria Claycomb, a junior from Albuquerque majoring in animal science, said receiving the scholarship meant the world to her and her mother.

“I was honored to receive such a special scholarship created in loving memory of a successful, admirable, beautiful girl who was taken too soon,” Claycomb says.

The scholarship helped Claycomb’s family by offsetting tuition costs at a crucial time, when her mother, Giovanna Eisberg, was in school herself, working toward her Ph.D.

“I am now proud to call my mom Dr. Eisberg,” Claycomb says. “Thank you for not only granting me a scholarship, but one that truly touched my heart.”

Amanda Bradford ’03 

Best friends Colleen Payne, left, and Hannah Farbo celebrate their NMSU graduation. Farbo passed away in 2015, and Payne worked with Farbo’s parents to established an endowed scholarship in her memory.

Posted by webcomm_admin in Fall 2017

Ignite Aggie Discovery

On behalf of the NMSU system and its students, thank you!

With your generosity, our Ignite Aggie Discovery campaign has raised more than $81 million so far toward our goal of $125 million.

21,851

DONORS & ORGANIZATIONS PARTICIPATING

$5.89million

FOR STATE-OF-THE ART FACILITIES

$21.89million

TO SUPPORT STUDENT SUCCESS

$47.23million

IN FUNDS THAT MAKE AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT

$33.9million

DONORS & ORGANIZATIONS PARTICIPATING

$5.07million

FOR AWARD-WINNING FACULTY & STAFF

$21.08million

IN ENDOWMENTS THAT HAVE A LASTING IMPACT

$12.74million

IN COMPETITIVE PRIVATE GRANTS

Your support makes it possible to Ignite Aggie Discovery across the entire NMSU system.

Find out how you can make a difference. Visit us at ignite.nmsu.edu.
Questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you! Send us an email at alumni@nmsu.edu.

Posted by webcomm_admin in Fall 2017

Social Media Corner

Posted by webcomm_admin in Fall 2017