Christine Eber spent the last 35 years opening her mind to the suffering of people of Chiapas, Mexico, first as a volunteer, then as a graduate student and finally as an anthropology professor at New Mexico State University.
Now a retired professor emerita, she continues the work today.
After spending decades writing scholarly works about the Tsotsil-Maya people of Chiapas, Eber, wrote her first novel about their struggles and their faith titled ‘When A Woman Rises.’
“I believe that my novel is more likely to lead people to want to visit Chiapas than my academic books or articles ever did,” Eber said. “And I really do want people to go to Chiapas, to make friends there, perhaps to get involved in some kind of project or at least go back home inspired to do something to make the world a more egalitarian and just place.”
The novel, published by Cinco Puntos Press in El Paso, will have a book launch from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, September 28 at Casa Camino Real Book Store in Las Cruces.
In the forward to Eber’s book, author Diane Rus describes Eber as practicing love in the Mayan sense of the word as described by a character in the book – listening deeply, not giving up on each other, helping each other, respecting each other and feeling each other’s pain.
“It was clear to me that there were things I couldn’t say in my ethnographic writings and the novel was an effort to help push myself to understand their lives better and help others understand the Maya people better,” Eber said. “The novel really liberated me to say a lot of things I wanted to say in my writing in an engaging way.”
In the novel, Magdalena from Chenalhó, Chiapas tells the story of her daughter’s best friend Lucia who has been missing for ten years. Magdalena recounts the girls’ dreams of becoming teachers.
They both join the Zapatista movement, supporting democracy, land reform and the rights of indigenous people. The women’s stories
reveal how culture, poverty and rigid gender roles impact their lives.
“My novel shows how Maya people live in different conditions from those of most readers but aren’t necessarily any less intelligent or capable of taking leadership roles or anything else,” Eber said. “They just haven’t had the opportunities.”
Eber is a founder of the nonprofit ‘Weaving for Justice,’ a volunteer group in Las Cruces helping three Maya women’s cooperatives. “We’re involved in trying to find fair trade markets in the U.S. and to help raise funds for scholarships for Maya youth to go on to high school, college and post graduate studies.”
New Mexico State University has been awarded a $3.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation to prepare students for careers in computing and provide scholarships for academically talented community college students in the computer science field who need financial help.
NMSU is the lead institution in partnership with New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and four community colleges to fund NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program.
Huiping Cao, NMSU associate professor of computer science is the principal investigator for the project and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Enrico Pontelli, Dongwan Shin, associate professor and department chair of computer science at New Mexico Tech, and Sara Hug, a research associate with the Alliance for Technology, are co-principal investigators.
“The goal of the grant is to help the students not just with financial support but develop professional skills, particularly in the area of cyber security,” Pontelli said. “This is one of the most competitive and fastest growing fields in the area of computer science.”
NMSU has partnered with Doña Ana Community College, the NMSU Alamogordo campus, and the NMSU Grants campus, while Tech has partnered with Eastern New Mexico University’s campus in Ruidoso.
“An important aspect of this grant is to help students transition from community college to a four-year program,” Pontelli said. “So a lot of the scholarships are reserved for community college students with the understanding that, after one year in community college, they will transfer to a four-year program at either the NMSU main campus or the Tech main campus.”
Pontelli said he hopes the grant will make the students who apply for the scholarships more competitive in the job market.
“There will be a rubric by which the applicants will be scored and the top students will be selected to receive scholarships,” Pontelli said.
Students who are either heading into a community college program or who are heading for a four-year program are welcome to apply.
The grant is for five years and success will be based on how many scholarship recipients have completed their computer-science degrees and are entering the workforce in a related field.
Pontelli said he expects to award around 22 scholarships a year for three cohorts of students.
“So it’s not just a one-time thing,” Pontelli said. “Once they are selected, they won’t have to worry about getting a job while they work on their degrees.”
Pontelli said he hopes the results of the five-year grant will give evidence that the program works, encouraging companies in the computer science industry to fund more scholarships for computer science students and that other industries will do the same for students in different fields.
“I see this as creating an infrastructure that will grow over time once it is proven,” Pontelli said. “The good thing is NMSU has been investing a lot of effort in the area of cyber security, we have a lot of initiatives in place. A degree program in cyber security is going through the approval process now, which means people see the value of this degree program.”
Pontelli sees the NSF award as a major step in positioning NMSU as a leader in the state in the area of cyber security training and research.
“We have a track record of success and we have good people, Pontelli said. “All these initiatives together demonstrate that the NSF believes in NMSU, that this is an institution where we can make these initiatives successful.”
New Mexico State University has been recognized as a top tier university for the sixth time in the last seven years according to the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges for 2019 National Universities rankings.
“This recognition reflects NMSU’s continued status as one of the best universities in the country,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “Our focus on the top-level priorities of improving student success, elevating research and creativity and amplifying our outreach and economic development will help us improve our scores well into the future.”
This year, NMSU is tied for 221 with University of Texas-Arlington, California State University-Fullerton, Dallas Baptist University and Benedictine University (Illinois).
Additionally, NMSU ranks tied for 126 in top public schools, tied for 132 in undergraduate engineering programs and tied for 199 in undergraduate business programs.
The methodology for the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings was modified this year and are based on outcomes (35 percent), faculty resources (20 percent), expert opinion (20 percent), financial resources (10 percent), student excellence (10 percent) and alumni giving (5 percent).
For a complete list of the U.S. News & World Report rankings, along with the methodology, please visit www.usnews.com/colleges.
Nearly a year to the day Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, devastating the U.S. commonwealth and its people, a New Mexico State University assistant professor shared some of the preliminary findings of her study on the mental health of aid workers who are still working to help residents.
Ivelisse Torres Fernandez, an assistant professor in the Counseling and Educational Psychology department at New Mexico State University’s College of Education, is a native of Puerto Rico. Shortly after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico,
Torres Fernandez began fundraising efforts to help Puerto Ricans in need of food, water, batteries and other goods. She also began a yearlong study in March focusing on the mental health of those who not only provided aid to storm victims, but who were also victims of Hurricane Maria.
“I started to collect data and it was hard to do, because there was not going to be a perfect time to do it. The emotions are still raw,” Torres Fernandez said. “The emotional wounds this horrible storm left are intense.”
Hurricane Maria was a Category 4 storm when it hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017. It is regarded as the worst Atlantic hurricane since 2004, and on August 28 Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello raised the U.S. territory’s official death toll from 64 to 2,975 after an independent study, according to the Associated Press.
Torres Fernandez made her third trip to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria in July, and said although she is seeing progress, it has been ‘painfully slow.’ So far, Torres Fernandez has completed her first round of interviews, talking to 15 people including first responders, healthcare workers, community leaders and private citizens who have assisted in relief efforts. Out of the 15, 10 have been women. The first group ranged in age from 18 to 71.
Torres Fernandez is planning to conduct a second round of interviews, mainly with mental health professionals.
“I’m asking them what it was like to have been impacted by the storm and having to provide emotional support and psychological help to others. How did they cope,” Torres Fernandez said.
One surprising thing she learned was that in helping others, aid workers healed themselves. By providing support and assistance to those who are still experiencing depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and post-traumautic stress disorder, it has helped them cope and find some relief.
“On a personal level, that’s how I’ve been healing,” said Torres Fernandez. She was not in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria but her family, who still live on the island, experienced the storm and its after-effects. Torres Fernandez said residents are still suffering from anxiety whenever it rains, and anxiety has been heightened during this year’s hurricane season.
Torres Fernandez said that by talking to mental health professionals next, she hopes to take a closer look at whether they are experiencing compassion fatigue and whether they have adopted any self care strategies to help them cope. She also wants to explore other consequences of the hurricane such as health issues that occurred after residents were forced to rely on canned food for survival, and the limited access to quality health care.
In talking to her first group of interviewees, Torres Fernandez found that although aid workers were emotionally impacted by the experience, adopting a positive outlook has helped them through tough, emotional times.
One woman told me, “We are broken, but we are not defeated. We will rise again,” Torres Fernandez said, her eyes welling with tears. “This speaks to the resilience of the people of Puerto Rico. Keeping a positive outlook on life makes a difference.”
Participants also raised concerns about the federal aid response versus the local response. Although participants positively rated the response at the municipal level, the majority of participants believe both the federal and local government didn’t do a good job, Torres Fernandez said.
The concerns about the federal and local response has led residents to distrust federal and local agencies, and to adopt more significant hurricane preparation measures such as storing enough food and water to last two months, and to buy significant amounts of batteries and power generators.
Before starting her research, Torres Fernandez spearheaded donation efforts to collect clothing, food, batteries, school supplies and money to benefit Puerto Rico.
To date, those donations have helped students in three schools and the residents of an assisted living facility, along with several residents in rural areas.
New Mexico State University alumnus and accomplished painter George Mendoza donated 26 pieces to a Manhattan hospital for permanent display.
The Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital will unveil the display, called ’26 Visions,’ on September 17.
The hospital has significance for Mendoza, as it was where he was diagnosed with macular degeneration as a teenager. Mendoza, originally from New York City and who is legally blind, says what vision he has is like “looking through a kaleidoscope.” He uses this interpretation of the world “to create fantastical and colorful images.”
On September 19, Mendoza, also the author of several books, will have a book signing at Blue Stockings Bookstore in New York.
Mendoza also has been working with three students in NMSU’s small business consulting class who are using his visit to get experience pitching for New York media. Tiffany Tudor, Kevin Ramirez and Harrison Groom are reaching out to television stations to encourage news outlets to interview Mendoza while he is in New York.
His first book, ‘Colors of the Wind,’ is a biographical picture book. Mendoza is also a champion runner and competed in the 1980 and ’84 Olympics for the Disabled.
Mendoza lives in Las Cruces because he loves the light here. He is also the author of the ‘Wizards Fight Funny’ trilogy. His books can be found on Amazon. He has another display of paintings, also called “Colors of the Wind,” that is a traveling exhibit for the National Smithsonian Affiliates.
As classes get underway at New Mexico State University , five NMSU computer science students ranging from sophomores to seniors are spending the fall semester at Google in San Francisco.
It’s the second year of a pilot program initiated by the tech giant. This year, they selected students from three Hispanic Serving Institutions to take classes at Google for a semester and benefit from the Google culture.
Last year, the company invited students from Howard University, among the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to learn at the Google campus.
“It’s like you’re going to school in the workplace, said Enrico Pontelli, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who negotiated NMSU’s participation in the project. “It’s the best of both worlds merged together. It’s a very interesting design. I haven’t seen it anywhere else. This is a first.”
It’s like a regular semester, Pontelli explained. The students will take courses as they would otherwise but those courses will be attached to a project they are given by Google. They also will have Google mentors and access to professional skills training and interview sessions with other company’s representatives.
Marco Salazar, a sophomore computer science major who is interested in pursuing a career in video game development or artificial intelligence, is looking forward to the experience.
“I expect a rigorous training in the classes that I have signed up for, which is to be expected from an industry leader like Google,” Salazar said. “I understand that many of the projects we will be working on will be team-based the way it normally is in industry. We will have an expert professor teaching us, and a Google employee mentoring us for each of our classes. I expect this to be an invaluable experience that will greatly help me in the future.”
Kay Sweebe, a double major in computer science and mathematics, plans to spend time networking as the group tackles Google projects as part of the program.
“I’m specifically interested the problems we face currently with big data in our society,” Sweebe said. “A couple classes I will be taking at Google are Algorithms and Machine Learning. Both of these classes have implementations within big data to help solve some of the problems we currently face with large data sets.”
Another double major in computer science and mathematics, Vensan Carbardo, a sophomore at NMSU, has lived in New Mexico most of her life and hopes a semester at Google will expand her horizons.
“I hope that, by participating in this program, I can start getting more accustomed to being outside of my comfort zone. I don’t believe that sticking to safe and familiar routines is beneficial for anyone; especially computer scientists, and I expect that this program will help me become more comfortable with approaching problems in new and unfamiliar ways.”
Pontelli says the company is looking to diversify its workforce and find the best employees by reaching out to minority serving institutions. Three of the five NMSU students attending the Google pilot this semester are women. NMSU’s Young Women in Computing program, which has engaged thousands of middle and high school girls in learning computer science over that last 10 years, has created a pipeline of female computer science majors for NMSU.
Pontelli is impressed by the way Google has incorporated the learning experience into their company culture.
“First of all they’re going to be immersed in a learning environment that is much richer because they are going to be with students from different universities with faculty from different universities to teach within Google,” said Pontelli.
“And the students’ connection with Google is going to be developed. It’s going to be a great learning experience. The skills they’re going to get, not just the technical skills, but also the professional skills, the job interviews, the teamwork, understanding the culture. You can get some of that with an internship, but this is better than an internship.”
Jacob Espinoza, a senior computer science major, likes the idea of getting access to learning at Google without the pressure of a regular internship. “Artificial intelligence interests me the most and I think my experience at Google will give me a greater insight as to the developments in the field.
“Google has been one of the leaders in AI over the past few years as evidenced by projects such as their self-driving car program and the Google Assistant. Being at Google, I am sure I will see both the advances and the challenges that face the AI field today.”
Arianna Martinez, a junior computer science major who wants to work at Google or Amazon as a software engineer, is grateful she was among the handful of students selected for the Google pilot. “I expect to gain hands-on experience and knowledge from Google engineers that I wouldn’t get anywhere else. I hope to make friends and learn so many new things while I’m there.”
As well as meeting new friends, the students will be connecting with NMSU alumni who already have jobs at Google. Natasha Nesiba, is part of that Google welcoming committee for the NMSU group. She received a scholarship from Google as an undergraduate but turned into a scholarship for another student and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at NMSU.
“We want this to continue and grow. It’s important that the students must have a great experience,” Pontelli said. “But we need to make sure we pay them and we need to figure out how to finance sending the students there and where they will live.”
When the students return after the semester at Google, they will share what they’ve learned with their peers at NMSU next semester. Pontelli is hopeful the program will continue to expand each year and become sustainable in the future.
“The people from Google are good to work with, very collegial, very open,” Pontelli said. “I do trust them, theyre sincere in what they’re trying to do. I think they really want to make a difference.”
Eight New Mexico State University students and four NMSU faculty and staff members traveled to New Delhi, India, for the Women Economic Forum.
The WEF is a week-long global conference, “to foster empowering conversations, connections and collaborations among women entrepreneurs and leaders from all spheres of life,” according to its website.
NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Dean Rolando Flores spoke at the conference and said it was a “transformational experience.”
“There is a lot to learn from the people of India. They are extremely friendly, and they really value American education,” he said.
All of the NMSU delegates presented at the conference, and many gave up to three different presentations on diverse topics related to their areas of expertise. Flores gave three presentations at the WEF and discussed with leaders about possible student exchanges and linkages with India in the future.
“The goal is that all ACES undergraduates, by the time they graduate, have had an international experience beyond the immediate U.S.-Mexico border proximity,” Flores said.
About 2,000 women from more than 120 countries were at the WEF, making it an inspiring experience for NMSU students.
For NMSU graduate student Mary Catey, this experience fueled a new passion. Through hearing people’s stories about how they have made a positive impact in their communities by meeting others” needs, Catey realized the importance of serving others.
“It’s easy to sit there and be inspired, but I’m holding myself accountable. I’m going to do something for my community,” she said.
Catey plans on serving the people of Las Cruces. She said it will be good for the community, but also for herself.
“So many people talked about their experiences helping and how it has changed them as a person, and I want to feel that, too,” she said.
NMSU graduate student Anita Rodriguez said this experience was life-changing because of the wonderful people she met.
“It was very empowering to hear many stories from the heart about obstacles in women’s lives and how they overcame them,” she said.
The students and staff had three pre-conference days of cultural awareness experiences and immersion.
The group went to visit and learn about historical and cultural monuments and spaces in Agra and New Delhi.
Rodriguez’s favorite moment of the trip was when the group was at a rest area on their way to see the Taj Mahal. There was a father and son outside a gift shop on the side of the interstate. The father was playing an instrument while the son danced. They were dressed in bright colored outfits and looked very happy. Rodriguez reached out to give the boy a tip, but instead of grabbing the money, the boy clasped her wrist and led her to dance along with him.
“When the little boy grasped my wrist, it was as if his joy and love was passed on to me and I felt like it broke down walls that I had built up around my heart. That brief encounter changed me for the better, from that moment on,” Rodriguez said. “The tourist attractions were great, but there’s nothing like the people of India and the amazing women we met at the conference.”
This was NMSU’s first year participating in the conference. The trip was led by Flores, Manoj Shukla, professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Claudia Trueblood, operations officer for the College of ACES, and Angelina Palumbo, director of NMSU Education Abroad and Aggies Go Global.
Trueblood and Palumbo started working with the students in November 2017 and Trueblood will continue to work with them through the fall semester. As a group, they will be making several community presentations about the students’ experiences, what they learned and the importance of international opportunities to encourage other students to travel abroad and open their horizons.
“The College of ACES wants to provide participating students the opportunity to broaden their horizons, to share what they know and are passionate about, learn from others and strengthen their leadership skills,” Palumbo said.
The College of ACES, through its Aggies Go Global program, is beginning to plan the participation of another group of students in the 2019 WEF conference.
Ride for the 4-H Clover, an annual, weekend motorcycle excursion hosted by New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences’ Cooperative Extension Service to benefit 4-H youth programs, will return Aug. 24-26 for the sixth year.
Motorcycle riders and non-riders are invited to participate in this year’s ride, which will venture through eight towns and five counties -more than 400 miles altogether – in northeastern New Mexico.
The route covers an area of the state that features both forests and portions of the Great Plains region, and is known as a destination of lakes, rivers, state parks and national monuments, and storied stops along Historic Route 66.
At each planned stop, participants will learn about programs in NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service – the university’s non-formal, educational outreach component that has a presence in all 33 counties in New Mexico – and meet 4-H youth members who will discuss their current projects.
The vision of former NMSU Regent Mike Cheney, Ride for the 4-H Clover started in 2013 as a campaign to build awareness for NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service and help support its 4-H programs, said Associate Dean Jon Boren, the director of NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service.
“Our mission is to improve the lives of New Mexicans through research-based information, Boren said. One of our flagship programs for the Cooperative Extension Service is the 4-H program.”
More than 40,000 New Mexico youth – one out of nine children in the state – are involved in 4-H programs offered by NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service and gain knowledge and skills in the areas of agriculture, science, citizenship and healthy living, Boren said.
“The focus of this ride is to really enhance awareness of the Cooperative Extension Service and, more importantly, the 4-H programs,” he said, adding, “Any funds that are generated go directly back into the 4-H programs.”
Each year, the ride route covers a different region in New Mexico, showcasing Extension offices and 4-H programs in that area. This year, the route starts in Las Vegas and ends in Mora. Along the way, participants will make stops in Tucumcari, Clayton, Raton and Angel Fire.
A day before the ride begins, an evening reception for participants will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Best Western Plus Montezuma Inn & Suites, 2020 N. Grand Ave., in Las Vegas.
The following day, Aug. 25, an opening ceremony will take place at 7 a.m., also at the Best Western Plus Montezuma Inn & Suites, before participants depart for Tucumcari at 8 a.m. In Tucumcari, the group will visit the Quay County Fairgrounds, 2000 Camino Del Coronado Road, for about an hour before heading north to Clayton at 11:30 a.m. The group plans to refuel in Logan.
It is anticipated that the group will arrive in Clayton around 1:30 p.m. to visit the NMSU ACES Clayton Livestock Research Center, 15 NMSU Lane, where lunch will be provided.
At 2:30 p.m., the group will depart for Raton, the last stop of the day, and refuel in Des Moines. The group will stay overnight in Raton at the Best Western Plus, 473 Clayton Road. That evening, the group will reconvene from 6:30-8 p.m. for dinner at the Raton Convention Center, 901 S. Third St.
The next morning, Aug. 26, the group will depart for Angel Fire at 8:30 a.m. At 10 a.m., the group will stop at Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park, 43 Country Club Road, for a 45-minute break, and then depart for Mora at 10:45 a.m. In Mora, the ride will wrap up with lunch and an official conclusion at the NMSU ACES John T. Harrington Forestry Research Center, 547 N.M. 518.
Registration for the ride is now underway. The $75 fee includes the reception in Las Vegas, lunches in Clayton and Mora, and dinner in Raton, as well as a commemorative pin and shirt. Lodging is not included, but group hotel discounts are available.
All proceeds benefit the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences’ Cooperative Extension Service 4-H youth programs.
For additional information or to register for the ride, visit the webpage or call Monica Lury at 505-983-4615.
New Mexico State University’s College of Education has recently merged the departments of Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership and Administration, and Special Education into a single School of Teacher Preparation, Administration and Leadership.
NMSU officials say this consolidation will better prepare master educators, administrators and leaders for public, private and governmental institutions.
In 2016, the College of Education received a $252,000 planning grant from the Kellogg Foundation to begin the process of transforming the college.
According to a news release from NMSU, the mission of the School of Teacher Preparation, Administration and Leadership, or TPAL, is to “support and advocate for equitable education for all, especially historically marginalized and multicultural/multilingual communities and students with exceptionalities. This is accomplished through teaching, scholarship, public service, the preparation of teachers and leaders, and collaborations across the disciplines and with constituents.”
Betsy Cahill, who is interim associate dean of academic affairs and co-director of TPAL along with associate professor and Stan Fulton Endowed Chair in Education Azadeh Osanloo, said there are plans to begin a search for a school director sometime next year. For more information on TPAL, visit their website.
“We received the Kellogg Foundation grant and hosted guest speakers and discussed how we should best restructure the college, and that evolved into one result: one large department made up of Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership and Administration, and Special Education,” said Cahill. “It absolutely made sense because we should all be in this together. It’s a natural fit.”
The Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, the Kellogg Foundation works with communities to create better conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.
New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences will host its first-ever Sustainable Agriculture Field Day Thursday, June 28.
The field day will highlight many of the ongoing research projects at the Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center that support sustainable agriculture in New Mexico.
Information will be provided that will interest large and small commercial growers, home gardeners, and members of the public who appreciate and support the state’s agricultural base. A diverse group of ongoing research projects will be presented, including weed control in chile using mustard seed meal, biochar and pinto beans, irrigation efficient pecans, heat tolerant tomatoes, guar and jujube fruit trees.
The event is being sponsored by the western region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. WSARE is a United States Department of Agriculture program that provides funding for research and education projects supporting agriculture that is profitable, environmentally friendly and beneficial for communities.
The event will be from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the NMSU Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center.
The event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be provided. For more information or directions, contact the Leyendecker Center at 575-646-2281
Guest Columnist May 15, 2018NewsComments Off on NMSU Volunteers Share Experience from Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Colombia
New Mexico State University is helping post-conflict Colombia get back on its feet through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Farmer-to-Farmer program, and now volunteers are sharing their stories.
The F2F program “promotes sustainable economic growth, food security and agricultural development worldwide,” according to its website.
The F2F program is sending 10 volunteers to Colombia from January until June 2018. Thomas Dominguez and Michael O’Neill are the program’s second and third volunteers to go and visited Colombia in March.
Michael O’Neill, retired NMSU Professor of Agronomy in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences:
Q: How did you learn about the opportunity to volunteer?
I first started working with the University of La Salle on a joint proposal with NMSU in 2014. I led an NMSU student and faculty exchange group to Colombia in November 2014 to foster cross-cultural experiences and teach at the La Salle Utopia project, an agricultural campus in Yopal, and at the main campus in Bogota.
In 2015, a reciprocal student and faculty exchange group came from the La Salle Utopia campus to the NMSU campus in Las Cruces for a similar educational and cross-cultural experience. In 2016, I returned to La Salle to teach a three-credit course in World Food Security for their International Summer Academy.
In March through April of 2017, I went to Mali in West Africa on a Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer assignment with Common Pastures, a non-governmental organization, working with womens groups to identify strategies for increasing the productivity of small ruminants, which are primarily the responsibility of women.
Since I had worked for over two decades in international agricultural research and development, primarily in Africa, had a strong relationship with La Salle in Colombia, and was familiar with the Farmer to Farmer program, I jumped at the chance to apply for this F2F project when the application announcement was issued in December 2017.
Q: What did you do while in Colombia?
In addition to meetings at the Salva Terra headquarters over the two weeks, we visited Salva Terra organic garden operations with homeless men and LGBT community members and a Green Belt terraced garden in Medellin. We also visited a Salva Terra research garden and fertilizer tea production facility in the Arvi National Park and several school and community gardens in the Montes de Maria area of northern Colombia.
We had meetings in Bogota with representatives from the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center and with the Director of the University of La Salle International and Inter-Institutional Programs Office. We also traveled to the Utopia project campus in Yopal to meet with students and faculty to get a better understanding of the potential role that the campus could play in an enhanced education and research extension system.
Q: What was your favorite part of the trip?
What impressed me the most was the determination and tenacity exhibited by Salva Terra management and personnel to address the issues of rural poverty, food insecurity and environmental degradation through organic gardening and capacity development in areas torn by drug war trade. I was also pleased to meet agricultural agents working for, or collaborating with, Salva Terra projects in rural areas who were graduates of the University of La Salle Utopia campus in Yopal. It was extremely gratifying to learn that the students we visited in 2014 had graduated and found ways to be associated with Salva Terra and put their education to use.
Thomas Dominguez, NMSU County Extension Agricultural Agent for Santa Fe County Cooperative Extension Service:
Q: What did you do while in Colombia?
I met with the host, Salva Terra Foundation, to understand the function, management and operations of the foundation with regard to delivery of agricultural information and training to small farmers. I also met with University of La Salle Agricultural researchers to understand how research is targeted and pushed out to producers, shared with other researchers funneled into and through Utopia project, and met with Utopia project researchers to understand how research is developed as part of curricula for training prospective graduates and junior field agents.
Q: What was your favorite part of the trip?
The chance to work with a group excited about starting an extension methodology in a country post-conflict. I could imagine the feelings of extension personnel in 1862 and 1914 in this country with the beginning of Extension and the land-grant university system. That is what Colombia is going through now in 2018.
Q: Why would you recommend for other people to volunteer with this program?
It’s a very exciting opportunity. Lots of hard work but very satisfying and exciting to be a part of something greater than yourself. Also,
Extension and Agriculture Education is a way to advance a country’s economic and cultural prosperity.
There are still seven more volunteers that will go to Colombia. The volunteers include professors, extension agents, one graduate student, and researchers who specialize in certain areas, such as water research.
New Mexico State University’s Board of Regents announced the selection of Dan Arvizu, Ph.D., as the university system’s next chancellor and John D. Floros, Ph.D., as president of NMSU.
The Regents described this as an opportunity to take the university to the next level, and by dividing the responsibilities among two leadership positions, to create a unique atmosphere for success.
Arvizu presently serves as senior adviser to the Emerson Elemental practice of Emerson Collective. In 2015, he retired as director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Floros is dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension at Kansas State University. He has led the development of the college’s strategic plan and guided the college to record student enrollments, retention and graduation.
The selections were announced during the May 11 Board of Regents meeting.
Regents Chair Debra Hicks said the Regents focused on finding a leader who is innovative, strategically investment-oriented, decisive and a respected visionary.
“They need to have the ability to assess and leverage all campuses,” she said, and put in place plans “that will place this institution on a trajectory to a sustained, successful future.”
She said the new leader must be able to “engage a diverse community of multiple stakeholders with regard and respect to shared governance, build effective, cross-pollinated teams and external partnerships, remove the silos and break through traditional barriers, and create a culture of innovation and collaboration. They must produce meaningful and measurable outcomes that enhance the well-being of the citizens of New Mexico and beyond.”
“I am immensely proud as an Aggie to be coming home,” Arvizu said. He said he has been in communication with Floros, who was unable to attend the meeting, and said the two are aligned in their thinking about moving the university forward.
Arvizu read a statement from Floros.
“I am deeply honored and delighted to be given this tremendous opportunity by the Board of Regents to lead as the new president of NMSU as it plays a vital role in the state, the nation and, increasingly, the world beyond our national borders,” Floros said. “Dr. Arvizu and I have many ideas and we have discussed those. Before we put them in place, we would like to listen to our faculty, to our staff and to our students. We would like to discuss those ideas with our administration and leadership teams and then prioritize that based on those discussions into an action plan.”
Arvizu is set to start on May 21. He succeeds current Chancellor Garrey Carruthers, who has led the university since 2013 and will retire on July 1.
Arvizu previously served as chief technology officer and STEM Evangelist at Emerson Elemental. Emerson Elementals mission is to restore and strengthen the symbiosis between humanity and nature. Arvizu’s current roles include advising on organizational strategy, reviewing investments and conducting technical due diligence for Emerson portfolio technology companies, and supporting strategic initiatives with Emerson’s network partners. He also currently serves as a Precourt Institute Energy Scholar and adjunct professor at Stanford University.
Arvizu has had a long, distinguished career in advanced energy research and development, materials and process sciences, and technology commercialization. He started his career in 1973 at Bell Labs, and after four years transferred to Sandia National Labs, where he spent the next 21 years, 14 years in executive roles. In 1998 he joined CH2M Hill Companies, Ltd for six years, his last two years as a CTO.
In January of 2005 he was appointed the eighth director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, and became the first Hispanic lab director in the history of any of the 17 U.S. DOE’s National Labs. He retired in December of 2015, and is presently director emeritus.
In 2004 Arvizu was appointed by President George W. Bush, and subsequently in 2010 reappointed by President Barack Obama (twice confirmed by the full Senate), to serve six-year terms (2004-2010; 2010-2016) on the National Science Board.
Arvizu has a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from NMSU and a master of science and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.
Floros became dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension in July 2012. Since then, he has led the development of a College of Agriculture strategic plan for Vision 2025, guided the college to record student enrollments, retention and graduation, and nearly 100 percent placement.
As director, he steered K-State Research and Extension – an entity with faculty and staff in five colleges: Agriculture, Arts & Sciences, Engineering, Human Ecology, and Veterinary Medicine – to record extramural funding, with research expenditures of more than $105 million.
Under his leadership the College of Agriculture established the first ever NSF-supported Center on Wheat Genomics; and four new Feed-the-Future Labs from USAID on wheat, sorghum and millet, postharvest loss reduction, and sustainable intensification, for a total investment of more than $100 million in five years.
Floros’ research work spans the application of chemical engineering science, applied mathematics and industrial statistics to the field of food science, food process engineering and food packaging.
Floros served as professor and head of the department of food science at Pennsylvania State University from 2000-2012. He also served as a professor at Purdue University from 1988-2000 and worked as an international industry consultant for more than 30 years.
He earned his Ph.D. in food science and technology from the University of Georgia. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food science and technology from the Agricultural University of Athens, Greece. Floros is a native of Greece.
Guest Columnist April 10, 2018NewsComments Off on NMSU Named to Top 20 Among 2017-2018 Best Online Colleges
New Mexico State University has been ranked in the top 20 as one of the most affordable online universities according to College Choice.
With 50 universities nationwide being recognized, NMSU ranked 19th and is the only university in the Southwest to be recognized in the top 20.
“We’re always excited when the rest of the nation learns about what we know, that NMSU has a great education at an affordable price. That’s one of our key strengths,’ said Greg Fant, NMSUs deputy provost. “It shows that NMSUs recent efforts collaborating with the NMSU Alamogordo Community College to better align 100 percent 2+2 bachelor’s degrees are paying off.”
College Choice is a national voice on university rankings and resources. They used their own proprietary methodology based on combined stats from reliable national databases with metadata aggregation from a wide array of other university ranking and review sites. College Choice does not accept payment to bump up a university or change a ranking.
College Choice looked at the average net price for schools along with program features and attention-grabbing features.
NMSU’s average net price was listed at $10,213. College Choice discussed the university’s 2+2 online bachelor’s degree, along with master’s and doctorate programs as well as several graduate certificate programs.
NMSU offers over 35 programs such as online bachelor’s degrees in Sociology, Business Administration, Criminal Justice; online master’s degrees in Education Administration and Agriculture and Extension Education as well as several graduate certificate and K-12 educator licensure and endorsement programs.
Susie Bussmann, director of Distance Education, said when people are planning to go to school cost factors a lot into what school they are choosing.
“When people are searching for an online degree one of the things they consider is affordability. They want to get the most value for their dollar,” Bussmann said.
Staff Report March 15, 2018NewsComments Off on NMSU Online Public Health Masters Program Named Among Best in Nation
New Mexico State University has been named as having one of the best online Masters of Public Health degree program in the nation by Top Masters in Public Health Degrees, a national rankings website.
The program was ranked 16th out of 50 in the U.S. According to Laura Kilmartin, the online relations specialist for the website, the ranking considered tuition, student to faculty ratio, and national recognition.
“Top Masters in Public Health Degrees” mission is to share expert knowledge on the best possible Master’s in Public Health programs available in the United States,” Kilmartin said.
The website noted that the Masters of Public Health program at NMSU, housed in the College of Health and Social Services, has a student to faculty ratio of 16 to 1. The program is a 42 credit hour program that offers two concentrations: community health education and health management, policy and administration. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
“We are thrilled to have our MPH degree program recognized on a national level,” said Donna Wagner, dean of the College of Health and Social Services at NMSU. “The MPH degree is a very popular degree among students. With an MPH, students have a wide variety of professional opportunities to serve their community, state and nation. The faculty in the MPH program is top notch and actively involved in state health activities as well as national professional organizations. Students who are interested in public health and health policy issues get a jump start on their careers by pursuing the MPH degree.”
All Master of Public Health degree programs offered at NMSU are designed to accommodate working professionals while providing high-quality instruction. The graduate program began in fall 1996, received initial accreditation in 2000, and full accreditation in 2003 through the Council on Education for Public Health.
The program is also a member of the Council of Accredited MPH programs and the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Fellows Program.
Author: Adriana M. Chavez -NMSU
Guest Columnist February 27, 2018NewsComments Off on Participants Needed for NMSU-Based Program for Hispanic Mothers with Cancer
Conexiones, a cancer education program based at New Mexico State University, is looking for Hispanic mothers recently diagnosed with cancer to participate in a study that will help evaluate the program’s effectiveness.
The program, originally called Enhancing Connections, was developed by Frances Marcus Lewis of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The program teaches diagnosed mothers self-care skills and parenting and communication skills to assist their children in coping with their mothers cancer, and has been found to help reduce anxiety and depression in both mothers diagnosed with cancer and their children.
Over the past two years, Rebecca Palacios, the program’s co-principal investigator and associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, has been collaborating with Lewis to adapt the program for Hispanic mothers. In 2016, a preliminary study was conducted to see if there was a need for such a cancer education program in the border region.
“We discovered there was a huge demand for this program when we interviewed diagnosed Hispanic mothers. They reported struggles in communicating about cancer with their children and worried about the short- and long-term impact their cancer might have on their children’s emotional well-being,” Palacios said.
“This program is particularly important for Hispanic women, because past studies have found that Hispanic women tend to experience more cancer-related distress and depression than other racial/ethnic groups. We also know that when a diagnosed mother experiences very high levels of distress her children are more likely to experience high levels of distress as well.”
Palacios said because the program was originally developed for and tested with non-Hispanic women of middle to high socioeconomic status, “we knew we had to adapt the program in order for it to be effective with our border population. We had to make sure the program was culturally relevant and understood by Hispanic mothers. Once we finished adapting the education materials, we translated the program to Spanish.”
After adapting the program for Hispanic mothers, researchers presented the program, renamed Conexiones, to Hispanic women in order to get their opinions and feedback on the program.
“While the overall feedback was very positive, they did recommend using warmer language and avoiding excessive use of the word ‘cancer’ during the educational sessions,” Palacios said. “We used these recommendations to further modify the Conexiones program so that it would be a good fit for the border population.”
In order to qualify for the program, participants must be Hispanic women diagnosed with early-stage cancer (stages 1-3) in the past eight months. She must also be a mother to a child ages 5 to 17 and live in either Doña Ana or El Paso counties. While the program is offered in both English and Spanish, the diagnosed mothers must be able to read and write in either language.
NMSU researchers are hoping to recruit 50 participants for this study.
The Conexiones program consists of five education sessions delivered across a period of eight weeks. All sessions are delivered entirely by telephone to accommodate diagnosed mothers who may be feeling too ill or weak to travel to an intervention site. Each session is about an hour long. Participants will also be asked to complete two questionnaires, one at the beginning of the study and one at the end. Each questionnaire is about 45 minutes long.
Palacios said there are several benefits to participating in the Conexiones study. In addition to the potential therapeutic effects of the program, participants will receive a $10 gift card for every session they complete for a total of $50 in gift cards. Participants will also receive a $25 gift card for each of the two questionnaires they complete, for a total of $50 in gift cards. All participants in the study will also receive a resource booklet listing various cancer resources and services in the borderland.
To learn more about the study or to check whether you are eligible to participate, call Palacios at 575-646-4309 or Karoline Sondgeroth at 575-646-5065. If you know someone who may benefit from this program please refer them to Palacios.
Palacios said the study is an attempt to bring more evidence-based cancer education programs to serve Hispanics in the border region. The program is funded by U54 NMSU/Fred Hutch Partnership grant from the National Cancer Institute.