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Home | Tag Archives: NMSU (page 2)

Tag Archives: NMSU

NMSU doctoral students develop guide for coping with self-isolation

What was originally a way to say farewell to members of a New Mexico State University Counseling and Educational Psychology group counseling practicum has turned into a helpful guide for people still trying to cope with the mental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three CEP doctoral students – Ellen Ijebor, Cory Cascalheira and Shuo “Coco” Wang – developed the “Self-Isolation Survival Guide: Getting Through the Pandemic” after the university announced it would temporarily close campus facilities to the public, and that all courses would adopt an online-only format. The guide lists tips for stress management and self-care, dealing with grief and loss, and maintaining mindfulness, as well as several mental health resources.

“We actually had this assignment (in NMSU assistant professor Na-Yeun Choi’s class) where we were talking about creating some clinical topics that could benefit the students and the clinicians at the same time,” Wang said. “We were also doing groups with undergraduate students, and I remember we were talking in class that based on what is happening right now, students will need a lot of information on how to deal with this quarantine.”

Wang said she had heard from students who expressed difficulty in finding the motivation to concentrate on their coursework, while others struggled to balance work, home and school life while in self-isolation.

“We wanted to create something that can help the students, and at the same time we also think this can be helpful to use as well,” Wang said.

Cascalheira said when some of the student counseling groups moved to an online format, many of them found it difficult to log on because they didn’t have a comfortable, private space or they had internet access issues.

“We were really trying to figure out how can we say goodbye to them ethically,” Cascalheira said. “This was one way we could do that.”

Choi said that while the guide was meant for a specific group of people, it evolved into something that could be of value to the entire community.

“When this quarantine happened, they couldn’t say goodbye, so we talked about how we could benefit group members but they (the doctoral students) took it to a whole other level. It almost became like a survival guide for every student, and we felt that it might be beneficial to send out to the whole community,” Choi said.

Ijebor said that as she, Wang and Cascalheira worked on the guide, they were inspired to include information that would apply to a variety of people, not just students they worked with.

“As we started creating it, we just got so many ideas,” Ijebor said. “Even though it’s for students, there are so many students from different walks of life. We wanted to do something that encompassed all their struggles and identities. I think that’s why it became so applicable to a lot of people.”

The guide is available by clicking here.

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

*For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU’s spring graduates prepare for virtual commencement ceremony

New Mexico State University’s spring commencement is going to look a little different this year. Instead of graduates hearing their name being called, walking across the stage at the Pan American Center in their caps and gowns to accept their degrees and celebrating with endless pictures with their friends and families, they will be walking across their living room and celebrating with friends and family over video calls.

Although the ceremony will be in a different location because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the accomplishments of the graduates are still something to celebrate.

“I would encourage each of the graduates to celebrate on what was supposed to be graduation day with those that they are with or do something that day that makes them happy,” said Lanie O’Hea, who will take part in the virtual commencement. “Spend the day not worrying about what the future holds, but reflecting on the hard work, dedication and perseverance that brought them to this moment and know that it is those same qualities that will support and drive them upwards into the unknown future.”

The virtual commencement ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on May 16, 2020, and will feature graduates from all levels. Professional readers will virtually read the names of the 726 graduates who RSVP’d and the ceremony will feature speeches from NMSU’s president, chancellor, and Alumni Association, and a quarantine rendition of the Aggie Fight song from the NMSU Pride Band.

Gabrielle Martinez, NMSU’s graduation and curriculum data specialist, said the planning for the 2020 commencement ceremony starts the minute the 2019 ceremonies end and that hundreds of staff, students and faculty volunteers look forward to seeing the graduates on this significant day.

“In these uncertain times, with many events unable to continue as planned, deep down I knew we had to find a way to honor this day and our graduates’ many accomplishments,” Martinez said. “Each day and each semester that goes by, I know students put in a lot of time studying and engaging with the campus community in order to graduate.

“I love to see the culmination of their hard work at commencement with all our proud Aggie friends and family,” she added. “While the energy we feel at commencement cannot be replicated, I hope that graduates will continue to share their smiles, stories and successes online this year.”

O’Hea ,who will be receiving her master’s degree in communication studies, said it was very easy to feel sad about missing the opportunity to walk the stage for her master’s degree.

“Even though my graduate degree has only taken me a year and a half, it has been by far more work, effort and tears that have been put into it than my undergrad degree,” she said. “I was lucky enough to have parents who pushed me to walk the stage for my undergraduate, but I did that for them. The commencement this spring was going to be for me. That’s what makes this hard for me.”

Regan Nentwhich, who will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in animal science with minors in chemistry and business administration, said she was excited to celebrate this accomplishment with her family and show them around Las Cruces, but wouldn’t want to put her family at risk with the virus.

“I have no animosity towards the situation and I remain hopeful that I can walk in December with some of my other friends and celebrate with them,” Nentwhich said. “But it is in the best interest of everyone to remain home and have a virtual graduation. I definitely wouldn’t want my grandmother to be put at risk and attend just to see me walk across the stage.”

O’Hea said she feels selfish for being upset because the world is going through much greater things than walking across a stage, but she tries to focus on the positive she sees in the community.

“What’s keeping me positive is that our leaders in our community are doing everything they can to keep us safe. I have hope in the future because of them,” O’Hea said. “Less people are being affected because of this decision by our leaders and I appreciate that. Because at the end of the day, I care more about the world’s health than walking across a stage.”

Renay Scott, vice president of student success, said she understands that COVID-19 has impacted traditional celebrations for this important milestone.

“NMSU wanted to make a virtual commencement available as one way to celebrate until December, when we invite students back to celebrate during a traditional celebration,” Scott said. “The lack of a traditional commencement does not nullify the importance of the amazing accomplishment that each of our graduates has achieved.”

Nentwhich didn’t end up getting her cap and gown, but she plans to make it work the day of the ceremony.

“I’m going to create a makeshift cap and gown and have a virtual ceremony with family and friends to celebrate. I will then probably order take out and have some wine!” Nentwhich said.

O’Hea said she will also be celebrating that day with her husband and puppy, and making thank-you videos for the special people in her life.

“I am going to get ready, put on a dress and drape myself in my regalia. Graduation was going to be a time when I was going to get to be with my family and thank them for everything they’ve done for me and their support. So, in my regalia, I am going to film a special video for each family member and my colleagues, who I could not have done this without, and send it to them!”

The ceremony will be live streamed and available on NMSU Facebook, Youtube at NMSU YouTube and on   NMSU Panopto. KRWG-Channel 22 will be also be airing the ceremony for those graduates and their supporters.

Graduates are asked to join in the celebration in real time on social media with the hashtag #NMSUGrad.

For more information, click here.

Author: Melissa R. Rutter – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU Extension Master Gardeners share tomato plants with community

ALBUQUERQUE – It may sound like a trick question: What do you do with 2,000 tomato plants when an in-person fundraiser sale is cancelled?

New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service Master Gardeners in Bernalillo County were faced with this question when the state implemented a stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, canceling the planned event after the volunteers raised 2,000 plants from seeds.

When the seeds were planted in February, the plans were for a sale the last week of April.

The tomato plants were part of the partnership between Dan Humbles, Albuquerque city horticulturist, and the Albuquerque Area Extension Master Gardener volunteers. They also planted hundreds of flower seeds. As these plants grew, their destination was planned for city parks and other city areas.

As the tomato plants sprouted, Master Gardener Kathy Clough, city greenhouse volunteer activity co-chair, began planning the annual fundraiser tomato plant sale.

“The plant sale is one of the Master Gardeners’ most significant activities as a fundraiser,” said Sara Moran, NMSU Extension horticulture agent in Bernalillo County. “It is usually held at the Albuquerque Garden Center.”

In the early days of the fast-changing response to the pandemic, plans were made to have a pre-paid drive-thru sale at the Bernalillo County Extension office at 1510 Menaul Blvd NW.

“Customers would be asked to come at a specific time according to their last name, drive through the office parking lot and their plants would be loaded into their vehicle,” Clough said.

As additional restrictions on in-person gatherings were implemented by the university administration, the drive-thru event was cancelled.

But what to do with the 2,000 plants was still the question at hand.

Clough came up with an answer – give them away.

“Kathy organized the giveaway with several programs adopting plants,” Moran said. “Kid gardening groups and Albuquerque’s Barrett House women and children shelter are a couple of the projects that took the plants.”

But there were still plants left. Three pickup truck loads of plants needed homes.

Master Gardener volunteers, who had cared for the plants, were invited to take what they wanted to share with others. But there were still more to give away.

During an April 22 telephone meeting with the Bernalillo County Community Service staff, Cindy Schlenker Davies, NMSU Bernalillo County Extension program director, shared the story about the plants in search of a garden.

Two days later, the plants were on the move from Albuquerque’s city greenhouses to the county extension office, where Bernalillo County staff members picked them up for distribution at the Grab and Go food sites on April 28 and 29.

“While the original plan did not work, we are happy to share these plants with county residents,” Moran said. “We recognize the many benefits of growing plants, and we are proud to support community gardening efforts. Who knows, some families may be gardening and growing their own tomatoes this year for the very first time.”

Author: Jane Moorman – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU team earns second-place district finish in national Solar District Cup

A student team from New Mexico State University was awarded a second-place finish in the United States Department of Energy’s Solar District Cup Collegiate Design Competition April 27.

The College of Engineering team, which was led by team captain and electrical engineering undergraduate Orland Whitney, included electrical engineering undergraduates Frank Miyagishima and Rosa Triviz, and dual credit high school student Riva Silver; electrical engineering graduate students Andres Acosta, James Pleasant II, Ada Ramoko and Randy Woodall; mechanical engineering undergraduates Shay Gregory and Kevin Lennox; and mechanical engineering technology undergraduate Adebiyi Stapp-Adeogba. The electrical engineering students are working on getting their degrees in power systems, renewable energy and smart grids, as part of the prestigious Electrical Utility Manager Program at NMSU.

“It was great to see that the hard work of students from two semesters, their creative ideas and their knowledge of topics in the areas of renewable energy and smart grid placed the NMSU team so high,” said Olga Lavrova, faculty adviser and Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering associate professor.

“NMSU Engineering places high value on student-led activities,” said Lakshmi Reddi, College of Engineering dean. “This is a great example for the student-centric focus of the college; I congratulate the student group and Dr. Lavrova, who brings her unique expertise and experience in the renewable energy and smart grid areas to advise our students.”

The competition challenges student teams to design and model optimized distributed solar energy systems for a campus or urban district. The contest began in September 2019 with 61 teams, and 35 teams were selected as finalists in December 2019. Competing in one of three districts, NMSU was tasked with finding solutions for Ball State University’s campus to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The NMSU team’s solution was to integrate solar photovoltaic and battery electric storage systems, solar thermal and thermal storage systems, along with suggestions for electrification of the campus fleet, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and implementation of artistic solar benches in several locations throughout the campus. The team also proposed using rooftops, parking lots and ground areas across campus for photovoltaic systems.

In addition to NMSU students competing, the campus was also one of the district-use cases, and Pat Chavez, NMSU’s director of Utilities and Plant Operations for Facilities and Services, was a judge for the NMSU district-use case.

Author – Tiffany Acosta – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU to host a ‘Pandemic Pop Up!’ virtual film festival

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has encouraged many to find creative ways to foster togetherness and social being.

Two New Mexico State University gender and sexuality studies faculty members came up with the idea to share films of the Feminist Border Arts Film Festival through a virtual event May 8-10.

M. Catherine Jonet and Laura Anh Williams will host a mini film fest and social justice zine exhibition, titled “Pandemic Pop Up! A Virtual Film Fest and Culture Work Exhibit.” The virtual film fest offers viewers a chance for reflection, escape, some fun and release.

Williams and Jonet organized the film festival, which is free and open to the public, to support and thank our communities. They chose these dates to honor the graduating seniors at NMSU, mothers for Mother’s Day, first responders and many others because a creative escape is needed now.

“We believe that creativity and the circulation of culture play an undervalued but important role in human survival and the thriving of societies,” Jonet said. “They allow space to reflect, to feel both on a personal level and collectively, to think and become inspired and they can provide some imaginative distance to momentarily allow us to escape and relax a little.”

The films in the “Pandemic Pop Up!” will provide different snapshots of the world before and in the early days of this new reality. The selected small collections of self-published work, also known as zines, films, and other media are separated into different programs. One program titled “Quarantine Beyond” includes films that directly reflect this moment and others that shift to a different reality.

In just one month, Jonet and Williams received more than 300 submissions. One of the featured films, Quarantsin, directed by Spanish filmmaker Chevoy Alonso, is the story of self-isolation and contemplates the uncertainty of what the future holds.

“Many of the film’s visuals are cityscapes from the perspective of someone looking through their windows onto the world in front of them,” Williams said. “Mourning one moment; fearing the next; feeling grateful another and then also reflecting on a strange sense of collective humanity because of the global proportions of the impact of the pandemic and social distancing.”

Jonet and Williams have also reshaped the parameters of the festival to include longer films and one feature-length film. One of the longer films featured will include, Mis Amigas y Yo (My Friends and I) by the Argentine film director, Belén Paladino, which creates a collective sense of observing several generations of women within a family through photographs, images, and other blurred objects.

A Dropbox link to the event will be made available on the gender & sexuality studies website that will be active May 8-10. The link will allow you to stream the selected films, read the zines and other media collected for the event.

For more information, please visit

Author: Amanda Adame – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU collaborates in webinar on food safety risk assessment for farmers

In response to the uncertainty of how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact farmers’ markets this summer, New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service continues to work with growers to help them qualify for various market opportunities.

One opportunity is for New Mexico growers to provide fresh vegetables and fruit for public school meals through the state’s Farm to School program.

“There are requirements that they must meet to qualify for the program,” said Bonnie Hopkins, NMSU Extension agricultural agent in San Juan County. “One is that the farmer has performed a food safety risk assessment of their farm.”

NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences provides training in the risk assessment process.

With the social distancing order from state officials during the coronavirus outbreak, the delivery of the on-farm and classroom training was changed to webinars and online self-study courses.

“We are presenting the first two tiers of the food safety training virtually to help farmers qualify as vendors to sell produce to public schools,” said John Garlisch, NMSU Extension agricultural agent in Bernalillo County.

“We have taken the information they would have received during an on-farm training and distilled it down to digestible bites for farmers who have never taken food safety training,” Garlisch said.

“This training is proactive,” Hopkins said. “It provides farmers with an awareness of good practices and the tools to conduct an assessment to ensure they are providing safe food.”

The online training program – a first-of-its-kind delivery for New Mexico farmers – is a collaboration between Garlisch, Hopkins, Denise Miller of the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association and Valerie Smith of La Monañita Coop.

The webinar and self-study program is provided free to New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association members. Association membership is $25, and scholarships are available.

For more information about the training, click here.

Author: Jane Moorman – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU experts offer tips to keep immune system in check, avoid weight gain during COVID19

These days, many people are staying safe at home in self-quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking advantage of entertainment-streaming apps and indulging in comfort foods in times of stress.

Two experts at New Mexico State University suggest that healthy eating, combined with physical activity, will not only keep weight gain at bay, but also help boost your body’s immunity.

“During stressful times, nourishing your body is important to fuel the body to handle needs as well as maintain your immune system,” said Karen Plawecki, food and nutrition Extension specialist for the Extension Family and Consumer Sciences department in the NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. “Stressors can often poorly influence food choices.”

Joseph Berning, professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Dance in the NMSU College of Education, said in order to maintain a highly functional immune system, people must take daily care of their bodies, including getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, daily exercise and eating healthy.

“Although it might be difficult to moderate stress in the present crisis, one can control their food and fluid intake and well as their cleanliness, sleep and exercise habits,” Berning said. “When people find themselves locked away, the temptation to eat, sit and lounge around becomes more of an attractive prospect. This combination only leads to poor health outcomes.”

So how does one stay healthy while confined in their home? Plawecki said because snacking can easily turn into grazing, especially during times of stress, aim to be proactive and plan for snacks to eat when hungry.

“Keep nutrient-rich snack foods easily available to choose readily,” Plawecki said.

She also suggested these strategies for easy access to nutrient-rich foods:

• Keep fruit that doesn’t need to be refrigerated on the counter. Wash fruit right before you eat.
• Keep fruits that need to be refrigerated stored in the front of other items in the refrigerator.
• Wash and chop or slice vegetables for snacks to be eaten within two or three days. When prepping vegetables for a meal, chop extra for snacks to save time.
• Slice cheese blocks into snack-sized portions to eat alone or with crackers.
• Boil eggs and keep them refrigerated for up to a week.
• Snacks like yogurt and nuts are quick options when hungry.
• Keep comfort foods out of easy reach.

However, Plawecki said comfort foods are allowed, as long as portion sizes are kept in mind and diners are mindful while eating, meaning distractions such as TVs and cellphones are removed while savoring your favorite meals.

Plawecki also suggests that before snacking or indulging in your favorite meal, ask yourself if you’re truly hungry.

“Physical hunger shows up in physical cues – stomach growling, lightheadedness, headaches, irritability and low energy levels,” Plawecki said. “Boredom, stress, anxiety, fear, depression and loneliness are examples of conditions mistaken for hunger.”

One way to better manage stress and anxiety is to exercise, Berning said.

“People who perform regular daily exercise live longer, experience less damaging health risks, experience fewer sick days per year, sleep better, perform better academically, decrease stress and maintain a high quality of life,” Berning said.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, people should work toward obtaining 150 minutes of moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise a week, plus two to three days a week of resistance training. But how is that possible when many state governments have mandated the closures of gyms and fitness centers?

“For cardiovascular exercise you can walk, jog, run, ride a bike or go hiking away from crowds,” Berning said. “Relative to resistance training, we have gravity. You don’t need fancy equipment. The body doesn’t know if it’s lifting a five-gallon bucket filled with water or a 40-pound barbell. The simple truth is 40 pounds is 40 pounds.”

Berning said even using your own body weight allows for endless resistance exercises. Basic examples include squats, lunges, sit-ups, jumping jacks, push-ups and stretching.

“Remember, ‘exercise is medicine’ and the best means of enhancing your immune system and fending off disease,” Berning said.

Beginning in May, the Bernalillo and Mora county Extension offices, along with NMSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences, will present the “Stress Management – Thriving in Today’s Demanding World” online workshop series from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursdays. The series will offer tips on maintaining family resilience, stress management and healthy nutrition.

For more information, click here, or contact Mora County Extension Agent Suzanne DeVos-Cole at

For more health, wellness, family life, nutrition, food and food safety resources, visit the ACES webpage.

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU to offer virtual diabetes cooking classes starting May 5

A popular cooking class series offered by New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service for adults with diabetes is moving online.

The four-week Kitchen Creations series, co-sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Health and the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service, will be offered virtually over four consecutive Tuesdays, starting at 5:30 p.m. May 5.

Participants can access classes with an electronic device or by phone at no cost. The remaining classes will be held at 5:30 p.m. May 12, May 19 and May 26.

The class series is for adults with diabetes who want to learn how to make healthy, delicious meals, said Beatriz Favela, a Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agent at the Doña Ana County Extension Office. Participants also will learn about food safety, how to plan meals, read food labels and manage carbohydrates.

“It’s hard to imagine that a cooking class can be offered online; however, we understand that in these challenging times, we must be creative and continue to offer programs to our community members,” said Favela, who will lead the classes with assistance from Janae Kraus, a registered dietitian nutritionist, and other Extension agents throughout New Mexico.

More than 1,000 New Mexico residents have participated in Kitchen Creations over the past two years. Research has shown that lifestyle changes, including healthier eating, can help manage diabetes and reduce the risk of complications, said Cassandra Vanderpool, a registered dietitian nutritionist at NMSU.

“Many people with diabetes struggle with what to eat,” Vanderpool said. “Kitchen Creations opens their eyes to a wide variety of options to enjoy healthy eating. We are pleased to offer these classes online during the pandemic so participants can learn how to successfully manage diabetes at home.”

Kitchen Creations is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To enroll in the virtual classes, contact:

• Doña Ana County: Favela at 575-202-2376 or
• Hidalgo County: Savannah Graves at 575-542-9291 or
• Lincoln County: Melody Gaines at 575-430-0490 or
• Luna County: Jennifer Shafer at 575-494-5376 or
• Sierra County: Sara Marta at 575-322-6733 or

For information about other online Kitchen Creations classes, contact Vanderpool at 575-202-5065 or

Kitchen Creations is sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Health’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Program and is offered by the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service as part of the “Paths to Health NM: Tools for Healthier Living” initiative. To learn more, visit

NMSU, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. If you are an individual with a disability who needs an auxiliary aid or service to participate, contact Favela at 575-202-2376 by April 30.

Author: Carlos Andres Lopez – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU offers free online fitness classes amid statewide gym closures

The last fitness class Tammy Gutierrez taught at New Mexico State University was on March 18. The next day, gyms, recreation centers, health clubs and spas across New Mexico shuttered by order of the state’s health secretary to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

For Gutierrez, a longtime NMSU fitness instructor with a dedicated following of exercise enthusiasts, the closure of NMSU’s James B. Delamater Activity Center was disheartening as it abruptly ceased all in-person Aggie Fit classes for the foreseeable future.

“At first, we started limiting our class sizes and went from having 20 to 30 people in a class to only 10,” she said, “but then overnight, we had to cancel our classes – which was very traumatic.”

Recently, however, Gutierrez and other NMSU fitness instructors returned to teaching their popular Aggie Fit classes in a new online format offered through Zoom, a videoconferencing platform. More than 20 fitness classes are now live-streamed five days a week – at no cost to participants, regardless if they’re Aggie Fit members or not.

“Our online fitness classes are providing a sense of normalcy for people and a sense of community and belonging during this challenging time,” said Amanda Blair, Aggie Health and Wellness Center assistant director. “That’s because participants are able to reconnect with the people they knew in their yoga or aerobics classes. So far, everyone’s been enthusiastic to see their classmates in our new Zoom classes.”

After a two-week hiatus, a selection of Aggie Fit classes moved online beginning April 6. But plans to offer online fitness classes had been well underway before the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of NMSU’s Activity Center, Blair said. These efforts, she added, ultimately aided in the quick launch of the Zoom class series.

“Online programming had been on the back burner and something we were already looking into,” she said.

The current online offerings include a mix of yoga and aerobics classes – all accessible on the NMSU Recreational Sports website via the “Schedules” tab. NMSU students, staff or faculty who want to participate in a class must first create a Zoom account and download the app on a computer or mobile device. Then, they can join a class by either clicking the Zoom links on the Aggie Fit fitness schedule or entering the meeting ID directly in Zoom.

The response so far from online participants has been largely positive, Gutierrez said.

“Because we’re offering a way for our community to stay connected and stay physically fit during these stressful times, people are so grateful,” she said.

Gutierrez and Blair acknowledge that the online classes differ from traditional classes and present unique challenges. For example, participants may not have access to free weights that some classes require, so instructors encourage them to use items they may have in their homes, such as heavy water jugs or canned goods.

But the move to Zoom hasn’t affected the quality of the classes, Blair said, and participants with all levels of experience can benefit from the workouts. Gutierrez noted that the Zoom classes give participants the convenience of exercising in the comfort of their homes, leaving behind the hassle of having to go to the Activity Center between work or class breaks.

To ensure online participants have the best experience possible, Gutierrez is placing more emphasis on her verbal instructions when she teaches on Zoom, she said.

“They’re relying on my voice to help coach them through each move,” she said, “since I’m not able to help them in person.”

Gutierrez also encourages participants in her Zoom classes to play music during her workouts – but keeping themselves on mute – to keep themselves motivated.

The current roster of Aggie Fit classes is available through Zoom until May 15. But, Blair said, plans are in the works to continue the classes through the summer and fall.

“The feedback I’ve received is good,” she said, “so I definitely envision us having a presence online and growing our offerings.”

Author: Carlos Andres Lopez – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU, DACC receive nearly $5 million NSF grant to help students earn engineering degrees

New Mexico State University and Doña Ana Community College have been awarded a five-year, almost $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The funds will support scholarships and guided pathways to help students earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering.

“The proposed project will contribute to establishing a successful two- to four-year pathway model between DACC and NMSU College of Engineering, through enhancing the current DACC-NMSU transfer model, initiating a concurrent enrollment model, providing near-peer mentoring and faculty advising, and utilizing data analytics to identify students’ academic performance in near real time,” said Muhammad Dawood, Klipsch School of Electrical Engineering professor and NMSU’s principal investigator. “The project will also undertake activities to increase the math proficiency of the scholars and enhance metacognition-based study practices, initiating growth mindset and enhancing engineering identity.”

NMSU’s College of Engineering received $3,745,040 and DACC received $1,247,737 for the “Pathways for the Successful Transfer and Retention of Engineering Students from Two-to Four-year College in New Mexico,” a collaboration that is part of NSF’s Scholarship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program, which is focused on increasing the number of low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need who earn degrees in STEM fields. The grant is believed to be DACC’s first from NSF.

The award funds need- and talent-based scholarships up to $10,000 per year, and provides guided pathways for DACC students in the Manufacturing and Engineering Program who transfer to NMSU to pursue bachelor’s degrees in NMSU’s College of Engineering.

“Thanks to NSF, this grant will not only provide scholarship money for DACC students planning to transfer to the College of Engineering at NMSU, but it will also provide both academic and student support services to facilitate the transfer,” said Joe Butler, dean of the Science, Engineering and Mathematics Division and principal investigator at DACC. “I thank Dr. Muhammed Dawood for masterminding this collaboration which will benefit students at both institutions.”

Dawood credits the award to more than two years of work between NMSU and DACC, including DACC’s Science, Engineering and Mathematics Division and Institutional Analysis along with NMSU’s College of Engineering, Student Success Center, Aggie Pathway, New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation, College of Education, Graduate School and Office of Institutional Analysis.

“I am very pleased with the efforts and the collegiality demonstrated by more than 18 individuals from these departments spanned over two campuses,” Dawood said. “This not only serves as a successful model of collaboration between the two campuses, it bodes well for the success of our students who are at the center of our efforts.

“Given the current COVID-19 environment, recruitment of the scholars into the program will be a challenge, as would be the delivery of many programmatic activities, workshops and the Math Summer Boot Camp,” Dawood said. “Efforts are afoot to not only approach and access the currently enrolled engineering-bound DACC students, but also expand our outreach to the high schools in the area.”

The program began April 1. Students and families interested in learning more about this scholarship can contact Dawood at or Butler at jbutler@dacc.nmsu.ed

Author: Tiffany Acosta – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU School of Nursing continues to tackle NM opioid epidemic with $200k grant

New Mexico State University’s School of Nursing has received a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fund a project aimed at expanding the number of family nurse practitioners in New Mexico who are trained to prevent and treat opioid- and other substance-use disorders in community-based practices.

The grant will provide funding for NMSU School of Nursing faculty members in the Family Nurse Practitioner program to develop a curriculum that emphasizes integrated mental health and primary care, with content on non-opioid alternatives for managing acute and chronic pain.

The FNP program at NMSU is delivered in a distance-education format, allowing nurses throughout New Mexico and the adjacent border region to earn degrees without relocating.

“Given the psychiatrist and primary care physician shortage in New Mexico, graduating family nurse practitioners with high-level skills in the identification, evaluation and treatment of all forms of substance-use disorder with a focus on the prevention of opioid addiction is a priority for the state and region,” said Linda Summers, chairholder of the Memorial Medical Center Endowed Professorship and director of the FNP program, who will serve as the project director.

In 2018, New Mexico reported a rate of 26.6 deaths per 100,000 people due to drug overdose, higher than the overall U.S. rate of 20.7, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners reports that across the nation, nurse practitioners account for approximately one-quarter of the primary care providers in rural communities where opioid- and other substance-use disorders have caused a public health, social and economic crisis.

“The treatment of substance use and abuse is certainly a challenge, and we find ourselves with a variety of experiences in this area,” Summers said. “One way to address this critical problem is through interdisciplinary teams that have primary care, pharmacist, mental health and substance-abuse specialists working together. This grant will allow us to incorporate into our curriculum the necessary education and tools to assure our FNP students feel confident in this role.”

Summers and her team of NMSU faculty nurse practitioners plan to create a rigorous curriculum and training program, she said, that will deliver knowledge, skills and experience to holistically address the underlying causes of addiction and prepare graduates to integrate substance-use disorder prevention, screening and treatment into their primary care practices.

Summers’ team will include Conni DeBlieck, associate professor; Elizabeth Kuchler, assistant professor; Stephanie Lynch, assistant professor; and Shelly Noe, assistant professor and director of the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program.

“The NMSU School of Nursing is well-positioned to provide leadership in integrated mental health and primary care training with our FNP and PMHNP programs and faculty who are dual-certified in both specialties,” said Alexa Doig, chairholder of the Elisa E. and Antonio H. Enriquez Endowed Professorship and director of the NMSU School of Nursing.

Las Cruces physician John Andazola and Las Cruces psychiatrist Ernest Flores, both of Memorial Medical Center, and Ray Stewart, director of substance use services at the Las Cruces-based Amador Health Center, will serve as consultants on the project, Summers said.

Summers’ project is part of a broader effort by the NMSU School of Nursing to address opioid and substance abuse in New Mexico.

Last year, the NMSU School of Nursing received a three-year, $1.35 million federal training grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to expand the number of mental health professionals in New Mexico who are trained in interprofessional settings to effectively prevent and treat opioid-use and substance-abuse disorders in community-based practices.

For more information about the NMSU School ot Nursing, click here.

Author: Carlos Andres Lopez – NMSU


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Arrowhead Innovation Fund’s associate fund manager named 2020 ’31 Under 31′ venture capitalist

The investment world is diversifying its real-world portfolio by increasing its diversity, and one of Arrowhead Innovation Fund’s own is being recognized by HBCUvc as one of the “31 Under 31” to watch in the world of venture capitalists.

Carlos Murguia, Arrowhead Innovation Fund associate fund manager, was recently named to the prestigious list. He is responsible for overall fund operations, including the development and implementation of business support programs and industry ecosystems to help startups maximize growth and success.

HBCUvc supports and aids members of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions to learn about venture capital and technology entrepreneurship. Their “31 Under 31” list provides a fuller picture of who is coming up the ranks in venture capital today, and how diverse the class is in terms of race, ethnicity, geography, and role.

“HBCUvc’s ’31 Under 31′ list is a dynamic group of venture capitalists,” said Chelsea Roberts, who coordinates Partnerships & Community Engagement at HBCUvc. “The value in being recognized really lies within the HBCUvc network through peer learning, access to deal flow, and having 30 other people in your industry who look like you and thus understand what it’s like to walk in your shoes.”

Roberts added, “There aren’t many other lists that look like ours, all people who identify as black and Latinx changing the culture of innovation and bridging access to capital, we see that as an advantage. Carlos is one of our graduates to enter venture capital immediately following graduation.”

Murguia recently completed the HBCUvc fellowship, a program that provides fellows with venture capital skills training, mentorship and the opportunity to build professional relationships with seasoned investors and entrepreneurs.

AIF has commitments from New Mexico’s Catalyst Fund, a “fund of funds” to support New Mexico companies, and from the NMSU Foundation, as well as a $300,000 grant through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies program, and other private investors.

“After getting a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering, and with New Mexico State University identifying as a HSI, I recognized that I needed to have a global view of what was happening in the venture capital world to make sure that different groups – groups that are sometimes overlooked – have the same shot at start-up financial growth for their businesses,” Murguia said.

“AIF is proud to have Carlos recognized by HBCUvc,” said Beto Pallares, AIF’s fund manager. “The training he’s done with their organization is something he’s been able to bring back to enhance our ability to scout and serve under-funded businesses in our region. His success is a model for others to aspire to and showcases the opportunities that southern New Mexico is offering to the rest of the country.”

AIF stands at $2 million in commitments and is looking for companies with entrepreneurs fully committed to growing and scaling their company, and who are seeking between $25,000 and $150,000 in investment toward their total seed round fundraising target.

For more information about AIF,click here or contact Murguia at or 575-405-1042.

Author: Cassie McClure – NMSU

NMSU Regents approve 3% tuition increase, state budget contribution still uncertain

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents has approved a 3 percent increase in tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year for NMSU’s Las Cruces campus. There was not an increase in tuition for NMSU’s community colleges.

University leaders said the revenue was needed to support additional student scholarships and because of continued uncertainty with the state’s budget contribution to the university for the coming year.

“It is unfortunate that we have to make a decision on tuition without a clear picture of the level of financial support we’ll receive this year from the state of New Mexico,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “Under any scenario, however, a tuition increase was going to be necessary.”

New Mexico is an oil exporter and its state budget relies heavily on the price of oil. Due to multiple economic factors around the world, the price of oil has dropped dramatically over the past several weeks.

Even with the increased tuition rate, NMSU’s net price – the amount students pay to attend the university, minus scholarships and financial aid – continues to be the most affordable in the state and among the most competitive in the nation.

“We have received some very student-centric guidance from our Board of Regents,” Arvizu said. “They have made it clear how important it is for us to keep higher education accessible for our students. That’s why all of this additional revenue will go back into scholarships for our students.”

Even with the tuition increase, the university still projects a deficit for the coming year. The size of the deficit will depend on how much funding the university receives from the state Legislature, and will be addressed through careful financial stewardship.

Author: Justin Bannister – NMSU


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NMSU graduate lands job analyzing data for HIV/AIDS research

Susie Valenzuela’s knack for crunching numbers has taken her from New Mexico State University all the way to the University of Washington, where she recently launched her career as a statistician working to advance the prevention, detection and treatment of HIV infection and AIDS.

“My first day on the job was March 16th, and it’s just been an amazing experience so far, despite everything going on right now,” said Valenzuela, a first-generation college student who grew up in the rural southern New Mexico community of Chaparral and briefly lived on the island of Maui in Hawaii after high school.

Valenzuela earned two degrees from NMSU, including a master’s degree in applied statistics in December 2019, before relocating to Seattle in March to join the University of Washington/Fred Hutch Center for AIDS Research, one of 19 research centers in the United States funded by the National Institutes of Health to support multidisciplinary research aimed at reducing the burden of HIV nationally and globally.

“This position fulfills Susie’s career goal of applying statistical knowledge to important medical research,” said Chris Sroka, an applied statistics assistant professor at NMSU who worked with Valenzuela on her master’s thesis. “I think this is another success story for our program, and it demonstrates that our graduates can successfully compete for statistical positions at the national level.”

Valenzuela’s journey to Washington state started with a fondness for math, an interest that eventually led her to NMSU, where she first pursued a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with an emphasis in actuarial science, a program that prepares students for a mathematical career in insurance and risk management.

“I was looking at three universities, and NMSU was the only one that offered a degree in actuarial science,” she said. “So, that kind of sealed the deal.”

But she also had another reason for wanting to attend NMSU. “I needed to stay closer to home,” she said, “because I was caring for my mom, who at the time was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.”

By 2017, Valenzuela earned her first degree from NMSU, having worked tirelessly to balance being a full-time undergraduate with caring for her mother and working between classes to make ends meet. It was a challenging time, she said, “but I absolutely enjoyed school.”

She added, “I really enjoyed my teachers. I think the teacher either makes or breaks a class. And I was very fortunate to have really good instructors throughout most of my college career.”

After graduation, Valenzuela set forth on a path leading to the field of applied statistics.

She first considered pursuing a second bachelor’s degree, this time in computer science, after concluding that a career in actuarial science wouldn’t have been as fulfilling as she wanted. But one of her math professors, Tony Wang, encouraged her to look into NMSU’s applied statistics graduate program in the College of Business. After meeting with the program’s director, Robert Steiner, she became interested in the field and started the two-year program in August 2017.

Valenzuela’s first class with NMSU associate professor Charlotte Gard, a biostatistician whose research centers on cancer risk prediction and health disparities, left a lasting impression on her, she said.

“Dr. Gard just blew my mind,” Valenzuela said, “because I didn’t know that as a statistician, you could do things like that. That’s when I realized how important statisticians were and how their work can apply to so many different things.”

In spring 2018, at Gard’s request, Valenzuela applied for a summer internship at the Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She was offered the position and started working that summer at Fred Hutch, where she received her first professional experience as a research statistician. She also was fortunate enough to connect with Sarah Holte, her current supervisor at the Center for AIDS Research, with whom she stayed in contact with after her internship.

By fall 2019, Valenzuela completed the master’s program and her thesis, which centered on disparities in breast cancer screenings along the U.S.-Mexico border, and that December, she graduated with her second degree from NMSU.

“My family was proud of me,” she said, “because they saw all my hard work pay off.”

In January, she learned of an open position for a research consultant/statistician at the Center for AIDS Research and quickly applied. The following month, she interviewed for the position and, soon after, she received an offer for the job. She accepted and began making plans to relocate to Seattle.

“I am thrilled for Susie and excited to see what the future holds for her,” said Gard, who also worked with Valenzuela on her master’s thesis.

In her new role, Valenzuela assists primary investigators from the University of Washington with data analysis on research related to HIV/AIDS, she said. She’s also currently working on a project that’s looking at HIV infection rates among couples in Kenya.

“I’ll have multiple projects that I work on like that,” she said.

For more information about NMSU’s applied statistics graduate program, click here.

Author: Carlos Andres Lopez – NMSU

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NMSU provides internet access options for students across the state

The New Mexico State University system’s students are among the millions of students nationwide from elementary school through college whose schools and campuses have been partly or fully closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While they are observing the social distancing mandate to stay at home, they are also continuing their academic progress, so NMSU’s Information and Communication Technology department and Cooperative Extension Service are stepping up to ensure students across the state have the technology and internet access they need to complete the semester successfully.

For some students, staying at home has brought many unexpected challenges.

“We don’t know what distractions or obligations the students are dealing with in their stay-at-home situation,” said Donald Conner, associate dean and director of academic programs for the College of College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. “These issues could impact their ability to receive the course material and concentrate on their studies.”

One way NMSU is providing support to help students finish the semester successfully is by offering additional access options for internet service.

“We know that some of our students do not have the resources for online learning at home,” said Norma Grijalva, NMSU’s chief information officer. “We are working to provide solutions to help them gain access.”

For students without their own computer at home, NMSU is offering laptops that can be checked out. Wireless internet hotspots and limited computer lab access are also available to students at the Las Cruces campus, in accordance with social distancing and heightened cleaning procedures. The NMSU Albuquerque Center, located at Central New Mexico Community College’s Montoya Campus, is also offering access to its computer lab.

NMSU’s ICT department will soon deploy a virtual computer lab that students may access online.

“In addition, we have identified Parking Lot 19 as work-from-car area for students needing access,” Grijalva said. The lot, between the Rhodes-Garrett-Hamiel and Garcia residence halls on the Las Cruces campus, is accessible from Locust Street, on the northeast side of campus.

For the many rural areas in New Mexico where internet access is less reliable or accessible, NMSU Cooperative Extension Service is offering students a solution.

“We had some feedback from a fairly limited number of students concerning their internet access in rural areas,” said Conner. “We posed the question to our county Extension offices about whether their Wi-Fi could be accessed.

“Most, not all, of the 33 county offices do have wireless that can be accessed from outside the building,” Conner said. “Once again, I am impressed with our Extension folks. They worked to make some technology changes so the students have access.”

The access to wireless internet at the county Extension offices is not limited to College of ACES students.

“We have offered this access to any NMSU student living in rural areas without internet access,” said Rolando A. Flores, dean of the College of ACES. “We are all Aggies and as such we want to help our students to complete this semester under these unique circumstances.”

A list of internet service providers that are offering discounted services is posted on NMSU’s resources page.

Author: Jane Moorman – NMSU


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