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Higher education was transformative for the Sanchez family

As the first in their families to go to college, Ernest J. Sanchez ’67 and Bernadette Sanchez ’92 ’03 created the foundation for their children. 

After spending four years in the Air Force, Ernest Sanchez attended NMSU and pursued his bachelor’s degree in mathematics while he was a cooperative education student at White Sands Missile Range. 

“It is obvious that my choice to attend NMSU paved the way not only for my success, but for the success of my entire family,” he says. 

Ernest Sanchez retired from WSMR in 1993 after more than three decades of government service. During his career, he received three Special Act Awards from WSMR and was nominated to the WSMR Hall of Fame twice. 

After the couple married in 1969 and then had three children, Bernadette Sanchez began working on her degrees. A Crimson Scholar, she earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Bernadette Sanchez was a member of the Bilingual Fellows Program at NMSU and the University of New Mexico before spending 14 years as an endorsed bilingual teacher in the Las Cruces Public Schools and Gadsden Independent School District. 

“None of this would have been possible if we hadn’t attended NMSU, through the grace of God,” Bernadette Sanchez says. “That’s how important NMSU was to our family. It offered a whole new opportunity for us.” 

The Sanchez children followed in their parents footsteps. 

Ernest Sanchez Jr. ’95 earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Currently the chief operation officer of Cinnafilm, Inc., Ernest Sanchez Jr. co-founded the software engineering firm with two NMSU engineering graduates. Cinnafilm specializes in complex image processing for the broadcast and motion picture industry. 

Arlene Peña ’97 has worked in the over-the-counter pharmaceutical industry for two decades after earning her bachelor’s degree in microbiology. Presently, she is manager of research and development for Church and Dwight Co., Inc. as the technical lead for Zicam.

As the youngest child, Stephanie Sanchez ’09 ’12 occasionally accompanied Bernadette Sanchez to courses at NMSU. Today, Stephanie Sanchez is a professional opera singer after earning a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in music. A mezzo-soprano, she will join West Edge Opera in Berkeley, California, as Flosshilde/Fricka/Erda in Richard Wagners “Legend of the Ring” in August 2024. 

“Whether it was STEM, arts or education, NMSU provided all of us the tools to become leaders in our respective fields; and when combined with our hard work and drive, it was a recipe for tremendous success,” Ernest Sanchez says. “We are proud to be Aggies.”


Five members of the Sanchez family.

Five members of the Sanchez family –  Ernest Sanchez Jr. (from left), Bernadette Sanchez, Stephanie Sanchez with husband, Peter Morgan, Ernest J. Sanchez and Arlene Peña – have earned seven degrees total from NMSU.