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Angel Benavidez

"The university’s social work professors are inspirational."...more

Student Success at Highlands University

Student Success at Highlands University


What are students doing at New Mexico Highlands University? In short, everything! Because of Highlands University’s small class sizes and individual attention from professors, our students get an exciting, quality education at a great price.


New Mexico Highlands University environmental geology senior Adam Brister received a $3,000 scholarship from the New Mexico Geological Society. News story

New Mexico Highlands University wildlife biology student Wacey Cochise traveled to Washington, D.C., in November during Native American Heritage Month to receive recognition from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for his conservation work at the Mescalero Tribal Fish Hatchery.
For the past two summers, Cochise, who is Mescalero and Chiricahua Apache, worked at the tribal fish hatchery on his reservation through a Native American Youth Conservation Corps position. News story

Two New Mexico Highlands University media arts students, Veronica Black and Amy Wilson, received $2,500 fellowships fall semester, thanks to the Seabury Foundation and a full match from the university’s foundation.

As a Highlands student, Black worked on numerous real-world multimedia projects, including producing videos for the New Mexico History Museum and the Marian Koshland Science Museum in Washington, D.C. She has also presented her work at the International Museums and the Web Conference.

Wilson transferred to Highlands in 2008 to compete on the university’s rodeo team as a barrel racer and breakaway roper and pursue her degree in media arts. News story

Tiffany Neeley performed with students from across the globe on Nov. 29 at the United Nations. Neeley first performed ta monologue on Oct. 17 at a joint production of the Gaza-Monologues by the United World College – USA, Highlands University and the Nat Gold Players community theatre group. On the same day, the Gaza-Monologues was performed worldwide by theatre groups in 50 cities and 30 countries, with the Las Vegas, N.M., production one of only three in the U.S. News story

New Mexico Highlands University business student Jewell Esquibel helped increased Las Vegas business participation in Second Saturday Artwalk through a work-study internship with MainStreet Las Vegas.

During fall semester, Esquibel worked as the coordinator for Second Saturday Artwalk. Since 2008, more than 75 local artists have participated in Artwalk by teaming up with local galleries, retail shops, restaurants and other businesses to attract locals and visitors to historic downtown Las Vegas. News story

New Mexico Highlands University sociology senior Crystal Montoya presented her research along with her professors at the National Women’s Studies Association annual conference Nov. 11 – 14 in Denver.

Montoya and Highlands University sociology professor Erika Derkas conducted a joint research study that is featured in a panel Derkas heads at the conference titled, Creative Expressions, Cultural Constructions and Politics: Women and Food Practices. News story

Media arts student Melissa Marquez designed five panels and other key elements of the "Play it Louder," Alexander Girard exhibit in the Governor’s Gallery at the New Mexico State Capitol. News story

Highlands biology graduate Tania Ruiz made a major step towards achieving her lifelong goal of becoming a doctor when the University of New Mexico accepted her into medical school May 10. Click here to view short video interview (13mb)News Story


Yolie Elias and Crystal Montoya will participate in the leadership conference at the University of Maryland, College Park, June 3 – 5. They are the only two students in the state that American Association of University Women New Mexico selected to receive the scholarship. News Story


Richard Ashu has been accepted into the geology doctorate program at the University of North Dakota, which is nationally recognized for its strong geophysics program. Ashu secured three grants to help fund his master’s research at Highlands, a study of geophysical characteristics of the Galisteo Basin to help assess its hydrocarbon potential. The basin is in a region south of Santa Fe, N.M. News Story


Adam Fuselier and Adam Clark were hired for archaeology positions in Oregon in the highly competitive U.S. Forest Service Student Career Experience Program. News story

Five Highlands University students graduating May 9 with master’s degrees in psychology are headed for Ph.D. programs across the country. Left, Sheri Nsamenang, East Tennessee State University; Trevor Taylor, Florida Institute of Technology; Travis Simcox, University of Pittsburgh; Jesse Valdez, University of Northern Colorado; and, front, Nicholas Cuccia, Fielding Graduate University. News story

Media arts students Devyn Dennison, left, and Veronica Black recently joined several classmates to showcase their work at the International Museums and Web  Conference in Denver. News story


Michael Jackson received the Super Student Award, the highest honor Student Support Services confers.  Jackson will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in media arts and a minor in marketing. He is a familiar face on campus as a student ambassador, homecoming king, and member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. News story

New Mexico Highlands University English graduate student and experienced local teacher Juan Gallegos was accepted into the doctoral program in English at University of Arizona. News story 

New Mexico Highlands University social work graduate student Marcos Martinez was accepted into the prestigious social work doctoral program at Arizona State University. He begins his Ph.D. studies this fall with a generous research assistant position covering his expenses. News story

New Mexico Highlands University biology student Daniel Delgado is the first to study bacteria in the water of a contaminated copper mine lake near Cuba, N.M. He will present his research in May, 2010, at the prestigious annual meeting for the international American Society for Microbiology. News story

New Mexico Highlands University environmental geology student Danielle Cedillo was awarded a $50,000 scholarship from a U.S. Department of Education-Hispanic Serving Institution grant. News story

New Mexico Highlands archaeology graduate student Jason Nevins will be the first to do an in-depth study of ancient skeletal remains from the Philmont Ranch near Cimarron, N.M. News story

New Mexico Highlands University RN to BSN nursing program student Louella Read was named 2009 clinical director of the year at Alta Vista Regional Hospital, where she has worked for 15 years. News story


New Mexico Highlands University media arts students created a multi-media exhibit, "100 Years of Navajo History: Celebrating Crownpoint," which opened April 3, 2010, at the Octavia Fellin Public Library in Gallup, N.M. News story

Nicole Parra-Perez, a May 2009 elementary education/special education graduate, is making her mark at the New Mexico Legislature as an intern for the Legislative Education Study Committee. News story


New Mexico Highlands University cross country standout Laurent Ngirakamaro made a remarkable personal journey from genocide in civil war-torn Burundi in east Africa, to become a three-time NCCA All American and was in the national spotlight when CBS College Sports featured him. News story

New Mexico Highlands University environmental geology graduate student Richard Ashu was recently awarded three grants to fund his master’s thesis research in the Galisteo Basin in northcentral New Mexico. News story

Jonathon Saiz, a 2006 School of Education graduate, received his first teaching award this fall when OfficeMax selected him to receive $1,000 worth of teaching supplies for his new classroom at Armijo Elementary School in Albuquerque. Jonathon is a first-year special education teacher. His principal and head teacher nominated him for the OfficeMax award. Jonathon is completing his master’s degree in curriculum instruction from Highlands, with an emphasis in ESL. News story
Sheri Nsamenang, a clinical psychology graduate student from Cameroon, presented the preliminary findings for her thesis, “Forgiveness Across Cultures,” in July at the University of Wurzburg, Germany, during the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development 20th Biennial Conference.    Attending Highlands is a family affair for the Nsamenang’s.   Sheri’s older sister, Kila, graduated with a degree in biology from Highlands, and her younger sister, Vitavi, is studying computer science at Highlands. Sheri is researching doctoral programs in clinical psychology and hopes to someday work for UNICEF or another international aid organization. News story
Leif Percifield, May 2008 media arts graduate, produced an interactive online piece for the exhibit, “Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities,” at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe this summer. Leif also produced a digital video for museum visitors featuring an interview with Alan Ross, an Ansel Adams assistant. The museum curator praised Leif’s cutting-edge multimedia projects as excellent work that helped people understand the exhibit. After graduation, Leif landed a job as a multimedia developer at the Los Alamos National Labs. News story  
Anna Zepeda, who graduated with a major in psychology and a minor in sociology, was one of three students at the Highlands’ Farmington Center who completed a pilot research study this spring on teenage cyberbullying, a growing national problem. Anna and her two classmates from research methods will present their teenage cyberbullying findings at the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association Convention in April, in Albuquerque. Anna juggles academics with working full-time at a Farmington bank. She and her husband also have two sons, aged 18 months and three months. Anna is equally determined to eventually complete her master’s degree in counseling and work as a high school counselor. News story
Emilia Espinoza, is one of two School of Education students  to receive a scholarship from the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education. There is a high need for bilingual teachers in our state. Emilia was tapped for the honor not just for her potential to be an outstanding bilingual educator but also for her strong determination to pursue her education. She will graduate in May with her degree in education.  Emilia is a non-traditional student with three grown children. She began her studies one class at a time while working full- time at Highlands and raising her family. Emilia says that her studies at Highlands helped her re-claim her Spanish language heritage. As part of her education, she studied overseas in the university’s Spanish immersion program. Emilia says she wants to show the children she teaches that it’s important to learn a second language and be bilingual. News story
Shirley Castillo is the second School of Education student to receive a scholarship from the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Teachers. Shirley was also recognized for her potential to be an outstanding bilingual educator, along with her proven ability to be a strong role model for children in the community. Shirley has three daughters. She is proud to be the first in her family to graduate from college when she receives her education degree this May. Like Emilia, she also studied overseas in the university’s Spanish immersion program to hone her fluency. Shirley says she grew up speaking Spanish and always loved her first language. But she was reprimanded at school for speaking Spanish. Shirley wants her future students to love who they are and be proud of their Spanish heritage. News story

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