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Alumni successes





Victoria Bañuelos ’08 ’17

As an NMSU academic adviser, Victoria Bañuelos was named one of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars Region 2 Chapter Advisors of the Year in April 2022. Bañuelos is the pre-health professions adviser, program coordinator for the Osteopathic Medicine Pathway Program and an academic adviser for physical sciences and engineering majors in NMSU’s Center for Academic Advising and Student Support. She also volunteers as chapter adviser for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars at NMSU. 

“I’m very honored to have been chosen, but honestly the officers for the organization do so much on their own that I really am just a supporting role,” she says. 

Bañuelos joined the National Society of Collegiate Scholars as an undergraduate. 

“Not only do you focus on scholarship, leadership and service, but you also develop great relationships and are given many great opportunities,” she says.  

“I love that my conversations with students, regardless of whether it is a five-minute conversation or an hour-long conversation, is impacting not only their academics but their futures as members of society,” Bañuelos says. “I get so proud when I see a student that I advised as a freshman walk across the stage or tell me that they were admitted to medical school.” 

Tiffany Acosta

Ferdinando Fioretto ’11 ’16

As society evolves, algorithms are replacing some of the decisions usually made by humans. Ferdinando Fioretto wants to ensure those algorithms make fair decisions.

Fioretto’s research is examining the fairness of algorithms used in various domains of our society, such as federal fund allocation, energy systems, criminal justice, loan approvals and ranking systems like those used in employment decisions. 

“The relationship between privacy, accuracy and fairness is complicated,” says Fioretto, an assistant professor of computer science at Syracuse University. His research works towards disentangling this relationship to devise algorithms that can guarantee the privacy of individuals without excessively sacrificing the accuracy of the data and the fairness of the decisions made.

Fioretto received dual doctorates in computer science from NMSU and the University of Udine in Italy. For his research, he has received numerous awards in both Italy and the United States.

Jessica Brinegar

Woods Houghton ’78 ’82

Woods Houghton was inducted into the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Hall of Fame in July 2022. Houghton worked at NMSU for more than 45 years and retired in 2020. He spent 30 years as the Eddy County Cooperative Extension Service agent, nearly six years as the DeBaca County Extension agent and nine years as a research specialist at NMSU’s Las Cruces campus. 

Houghton says he was surprised and honored to receive the prominent award, which includes a detailed and rigorous nomination process. 

“When I was selected by NACAA it was very humbling,” Houghton says. “New Mexico has a lot of really good County Extension faculty, who do outstanding Extension education programs. So, to receive this award is also a recognition for New Mexico Extension programs.” 

Houghton valued the relationships he built during his time at NMSU. 

“I see 4-H youth who are adults now, ag industry people and other faculty at NMSU and other land-grant universities,” he says. “They are farmers, ranchers, ag consultants, ag chem representatives, veterinarians and even a couple County Extension faculty. Together, we changed the world in a small way, to be just a little better than we found it.”

Tiffany Acosta