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50 years in the making: Las Cruces grandmother fulfills dream

Susan Stoltzfus ’21 accomplished a lifelong dream when she completed her college education, which she started more than 50 years ago at NMSU. The grandmother from Las Cruces celebrated her long-awaited graduation in May 2021, surrounded by family who gathered together to watch NMSU’s virtual commencement ceremony. 

"I've done this for my children and my grandchildren. I want them to know they should pursue their dreams. I want them to reach for the stars,” says Stoltzfus, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history. “Anything is possible if grandma can graduate at 72."

Stoltzfus and her family have ties to NMSU that date back to the early 1940s. Her parents, Lonnie and Gerry Beyer, met in a chemistry class while attending NMSU. Stoltzfus first attended NMSU in the fall of 1967 to pursue a degree in education but stopped when her first child was born in the summer of 1968. 

Stoltzfus decided to finish her college education in 2013 and first took classes at Doña Ana Community College. She transferred to NMSU’s Las Cruces campus in 2017 to study history.

"I was a little fearful,” she admits, “but one of the reasons I went back was because I believe if you don’t use your mind, you lose your mind."

Stoltzfus looks back at her most recent time at NMSU with great affection and says she remains friends with many of her professors. She particularly enjoyed engaging with her classmates.

"One of the coolest things was the acceptance from students. I always felt like I fit in, and I have been treated graciously and respectfully by all students,” she says. “When they figured out that I made good grades, they wanted me on their teams."

Stoltzfus now joins a long line of family members who are all Aggies. Her husband, Joel Stoltzfus ’78, three of her children, Lorin Seager ’89, Lani Hofacket ’02 and Ryan Stoltzfus ’05, and two of her grandchildren, Taylor Gobble ’14 and Jessica Paxson ’14, earned NMSU degrees. Seager also served NMSU for 12 years, working as an accountant and later as the university controller.

Stoltzfus, who became a great-grandmother in summer 2021, took a break from school in fall 2021, but she may pursue an advanced degree program in public history at NMSU in the future.

"Right now, I am very proud of completing my bachelor’s degree,” she says. “I’m very thankful to my husband and my family for all their support. We are an NMSU family for four generations and counting."

Susan Stoltzfus graduated in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in history, completing the college education she started more than 50 years ago.