Las Vegas, New Mexico – Monique Esquibel Sena brings the same fierce work ethic she learned growing up on a ranch in Northeastern New Mexico to helping provide New Mexico Highlands students with opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math fields, collectively known as STEM.
Esquibel Sena is the STEM grants project coordinator at Highlands.
“Being the oldest of four on a family ranch taught me the value of hard work and a passion for perseverance – I bring both to work with me every day at Highlands,” Esquibel Sena said. “I draw my motivation from the awesome STEM students I work with at the university. My mission is to get to know the students in-depth, so I can in turn help them obtain the internships, research, and careers that interest them.”
Esquibel Sena works with Highlands students involved in three grants at the university:
- The National Science Foundation International Research Experience for Students (IRES) grant for $250,000 supports international student research experiences in the Czech Republic and other countries.
- The National Science Foundation Partnerships for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) grant for $3,388,925 provides chemistry, geology and computer science research opportunities for students on and off campus. It is a partnership with the University of Ohio.
- The United States Department of Agriculture Climate Change Corps grant for $366,000 is a partnership that supports students who transfer from the University of New Mexico – Taos campus into STEM disciplines at Highlands to complete their bachelor’s degrees.
“Monique plays an integral role in each of these Highlands grant programs and does a tremendous job supporting students and ensuring their success,” said Jennifer Lindline, a Highlands geology professor who works with all three grants. “She plays an important role in recruitment, research and retention at Highlands. Monique has amazing rapport with students, and also brings a depth and breadth of life experience to her work.”
Esquibel Sena isn’t new to mentoring science students at Highlands. Before starting her new position in September 2018, she was the internship coordinator at the university’s award-winning Achieving in Research, Math and Science Center (ARMAS) for nine years.
“In this timeframe, STEM grant funding at Highlands helped place approximately 300 students in paid internships,” Esquibel Sena said. “I’m happy to say I helped coordinate these life-changing internship opportunities for our students that are a springboard for science careers and graduate school.”
While working full time at Highlands, Esquibel Sena earned a bachelor’s degree in media arts and technology from the university. This fall semester, she completes her MBA.
“The tuition waiver program at Highlands for employees gave me the exciting chance to keep learning myself. I try to be a positive role model for students and give them the kind of support that was critical to me,” Esquibel Sena said.
Esquibel Sena said being a student herself led her to experience the student viewpoint firsthand, making her even more passionate about helping the students she works with succeed.
“Being a full-time student while working full time required a huge amount of time and dedication. I empathize with many of our Highlands students who also do this. And like many HU students, I’m also a wife, mom, auntie, daughter, sister, and entrepreneur,” Esquibel Sena said.
Esquibel Sena said her work at Highlands is immensely rewarding.
“My heart is filled with exhilaration when I see STEM students succeed,” Esquibel Sena said.
She said she is blessed to work with dedicated science faculty at Highlands who obtain the grants and bring a wealth of knowledge to the table for the students.