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NMSU Alamogordo courses sparked passion for higher education

When Stephanie Hernandez’s husband died in 1998, the young mother of one was devastated.

Not knowing exactly what she had in mind for her life, Hernandez ’02, ’03, ’06, ’19 enrolled at NMSU Alamogordo, where she was introduced to a career in business and cultivated a passion for higher education.

Hernandez is Alamogordo’s assistant city manager and speaks highly of the benefits of having NMSU Alamogordo in her hometown.

From being a widow with a child, to happily married with five children, she earned associate and bachelor’s degrees in accounting and economics, and master’s degrees in economics and educational leadership. She is now pursuing a doctorate degree in educational leadership and administration with an emphasis on government.

“I may work for the city now, but higher education has always been my thing,” says Hernandez. “I try to get as many people as I can to just take a class, even if they don’t keep on going to obtain a degree.”

The way forward for Hernandez took her and her daughter to Las Cruces, where Hernandez could continue her education while supporting her child. After earning her bachelor’s degree in accounting, she worked in NMSU’s budget, accounting and Foundation departments for 20 years while completing her other degrees.

“A community college provides so much more than what people realize,” she says. “It is a valuable asset that provides a huge service to the community in many ways.”

Besides bridging the gap from high school to college, community colleges provide certificate training as the region’s economic development shifts.

“I never want to downplay certification programs, because they are so important,” Hernandez says. “There are certifications, not tied to a college degree, that are important in the community, such as auto mechanic, and, probably, are more valuable in some instances because of the community’s need.”

Hernandez has established an endowment in her maternal grandparents’ name, Pomposo G. and Josefina R. Misquez Endowed Scholarship, for first-generation college students attending NMSU Alamogordo as an additional way to encourage others to continue their education.

In honor of her husband, Cruz Hernandez’ 20-year service in the military, the couple has established the Perfecto Ben “Chico” Segura and Cruz Hernandez Veteran’s Endowed Scholarship at NMSU. Segura was Cruz Hernandez’ boxing coach.