Pete’s Corner

Aggie women benefit from new support

As an Aggie women’s basketball fan, Smoky Torgerson ’68 enjoys the adrenaline rush from watching the team earn come-from-behind victories. NMSU recorded its fourth Western Athletic Conference Tournament Championship in the last five years in similar fashion with a double overtime win over UT Rio Grande Valley in March 2019.  

Torgerson and her husband, Alan, became involved with the women’s team through her sister, Linda Schroeder. In that time, the couple, who reside in Albuquerque, has gotten to know head coach Brooke Atkinson and the team and wanted to help fund the team’s lounge renovation after seeing the facility. 

During the 2018-2019 season, the lounge was upgraded with new flooring, new lighting, new furniture, including a desk area, a refrigerator, painting and graphics. 

“Because they have a smaller audience, they have a smaller budget, so they have to really watch every penny they spend,” Torgerson says. “Anytime an alum can help somebody out in an area they aren’t going to have the funds to cover, I think it’s important for them to step up. When they succeed at New Mexico State University, they are going to go out and succeed beyond New Mexico State University and then come back and give back to New Mexico State University themselves. It’s a nice cycle to begin and nurture.”

In 2016, the Torgersons and Schroeder made a gift to the Aggie swimming and diving team for the Wanda Glass Family Swimming and Diving Locker Room, which was named after Torgerson and Schroeder’s mother and included a lounge and coaching staff offices at the NMSU Aquatic Center.

The newest athletic team on campus, the NMSU women’s soccer team, also has benefited from philanthropy to improve its facilities. 

After spending many afternoons watching their daughter, Micaela, play for the Crimson and White, Anton ’82 and Jayne Milavec wanted to help the team, and in 2017, they provided the funds for a new sound system at the soccer complex. 

“We need good facilities to have them feel like they are competing against other schools at an equal level,” Anton says. 

A year later, the Las Cruces couple donated funds for a new shade structure that provides a permanent home for the game-day operations staff at the soccer complex. 

Through generous donations from many NMSU alumni and friends, the Aggie women’s facilities are transforming and helping the programs reach new heights.

Tiffany Acosta

After seeing the NMSU women’s basketball team lounge, Smoky and Alan Torgerson wanted to help fund a renovation. During the 2018-2019 season, upgrades such as new flooring, furniture and lighting enhanced the space.

Sisters Smoky Torgerson, left, and Linda Schroeder unveiled the sign for a new swimming and diving team facility named after their mother, Wanda Glass, in 2016.

Anton, left, and Jayne Milavec were honored at a NMSU women’s soccer game in 2018. The couple has helped to improve the NMSU soccer facilities with a pair of gifts for a new sound system and a new shade structure for the soccer complex.

Posted by grel in Spring 2019
Preserving Aggie History

Preserving Aggie History

With a storied history that includes feats, such as an NCAA Final Four appearance and an undefeated football season led by eventual NFL players, a new collaboration between the New Mexico State University Athletics Department and NMSU Library is preserving that history. NMSU alumni, former coaches and Aggie fans will have access to an abundance of materials soon. 

NMSU Athletics Director Mario Moccia and NMSU Library Dean Elizabeth Titus spearheaded the effort to create the Aggie Sports Archives.

“The Aggie Sports Archives are a remarkably comprehensive collection of records documenting the history of athletics and student-athletes here at New Mexico State University,” says Dennis Daily, associate professor and University Library, Archives and Special Collections department head. “We’re happy to have teamed up with the Athletics Department in order to preserve the memory and proud legacy of student-athletes at NMSU.”

While the NMSU Library has collected materials from the Athletics Department for several decades, in early 2017, the University Archives staff began to assess a large collection of records from Athletics Department storage and transfer the appropriate records to the University Archives to ensure their long-term preservation, Daily says. 

About 250 linear feet worth of materials including important historical information, such as former players, coaches and staff files along with game statistics, programs, media guides, press releases, news clippings and tens of thousands of photographs, were collected from storage. 

“Since that time, we have been organizing the files, re-housing them into archival containers and creating comprehensive inventories,” Daily says. “We have made substantial progress on the collection.” 

The goal is to complete the preservation processing during the fall semester and to begin digitizing the collection later this academic year for public access.

“The most challenging aspect is definitely the size of the collection—collecting, arranging, describing, preserving and digitizing materials are all very time and labor intensive,” says Kim Gianfrancesco, digital projects librarian. “I know that alumni have a lot of interest in our collections, and it’s very rewarding to be able to share these materials with them.”

Tiffany Acosta

While supplies last, the 2019 NMSU Library calendar is available. The calendar illustrates the traditions of NMSU athletics with photos of the past and present. To order a calendar, email aerica@nmsu.edu or call 575-646-1508.

Posted by grel in Fall 2018

Top surgeon’s experience at NMSU shapes her teaching and mentorship now

If you asked pediatric surgeon Rebeccah Brown at age 6 what she wanted to be when she grew up, she’d say “a doctor.” She could have said “a professional basketball player” or “a saxophonist in a jazz band.” After all, basketball is her first love, and she attended New Mexico State University on a music scholarship.

But growing up in her New Mexico home, Brown ’86 helped her mother care for elderly family members.

“My mom wanted to be a doctor, and she passed that desire on to me,” Brown says.

When she began applying for college, her family had limited resources. She and her mother searched for whatever scholarships and grants they could find. She received academic scholarships, grants and a music scholarship to NMSU, where she studied biology and chemistry.

Encouraged by her teacher in a basketball class her junior year, Brown tried out for the women’s basketball team. She made the team as a walk-on under head coach Patrick Knapp.

“Rebeccah gave her heart and soul to the team, and she was a phenomenal walk-on,” Knapp says. “She was an outstanding teammate, and everyone loved her.”

Brown says she developed a new respect for the student-athlete.

“I was taking about 18 hours of pre-med classes, and I was struggling to do that,” says Brown, a 1984 High Country Athletic Conference All-Academic Team Member. “Physically exhausted, you still have to come home and study every night.”

But Brown knew she was going to be a doctor and not a professional basketball player.

She didn’t play basketball her senior year and focused on academics instead. She graduated with honors from NMSU with bachelor’s degrees in both biology and chemistry and was selected as the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Senior. She received her doctor of medicine from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and is now a professor of pediatric surgery at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The desire to give back and provide others the opportunities she was afforded led her and her husband Dan O. Jones – also a New Mexico native – to establish an endowment in the NMSU Department of Chemistry. “

Had I not had scholarships and grants, I would not have been able to accomplish all that I have,” she says. “I’m very grateful.”

Scholarships weren’t the only key to her success. Brown credits mentorship for her acceptance into medical school.

“Being the first in my family to go to college, I had no idea how to get into medical school,” she says. “One of my professors took me under his wing and guided me through the steps I needed to take. I followed his advice, nailed the interviews and was accepted into medical school.

“I now teach residents and fellows, and I mentor students who want to be doctors or surgeons,” she continues. “As I do so, I always reflect back to my own mentor at NMSU and aspire to be just like him.”

Kristie Garcia ’07

Dr. Rebeccah Brown is a professor of pediatric surgery at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Aggie alumna was also a walk-on player for the women’s basketball team during her time at NMSU.

Posted by webcomm_admin in Spring 2017