RIO RANCHO – A life defined by core values, purpose and deep passion will be rewarding, a former Cochiti Pueblo governor told Highlands University – Rio Rancho graduates.
“Our elders teach us that when we make decisions guided by our core values gifted to us, we will never make the wrong decision in our personal lives, in our relationships, for our children, and in decisions in our jobs,” said Regis Pecos, who was born and raised at Cochiti Pueblo and is a lifetime member of the Traditional Tribal Council.
“What we must remember is this: are the decisions we are making strengthening our core values or are the decisions we are making taking us further away from our core values?” Pecos asked.
One hundred thirty-three students received their bachelor’s degrees and 201 students received their master’s degrees May 12 from New Mexico Highlands – Rio Rancho, the largest of the Las Vegas university’s off-campus centers, and the university’s Albuquerque-based social work program.
“In our Pueblo teachings, we are reminded that these values are what provide a spirit within us,” said Pecos, who has spent much of his professional life advancing the interests of American Indians at the tribal, state and national levels. “They define and guide how we live, how we behave, and how we treat others. These gifts come with a deep sense of love and caring.”
In 1996, Pecos became the first American Indian to be appointed as a member of the Board of Trustees for Princeton University. Three years later, he was named New Mexico’s Distinguished Public Servant, the state’s highest honor. Pecos served as the New Mexico Legislature’s House Majority Office chief of staff from 2003 – 2013.
“In all that you will do going forward, in time, you will fulfill the same sacred trust and responsibility to plant these same seeds to those you love,” said Pecos, who received a bachelor’s degree in history and political science in 1977 from Princeton University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California – Berkeley. “They define who you are, what you do and why you do what you do. Life becomes reciprocal.”
“What kind of community do you want to be a part of?” Pecos asked. “What are you willing to do to remove or overcome barriers to contribute to a desirable outcome?
“It takes conscientious, thoughtful and dedicated people like you to contribute to creating desirable outcomes,” Pecos said. “Think about this visual: You once were a child at family gatherings running around with no worries. Now you are among those at the table talking about the problems of the world. Well, realize that you are now becoming those that your own children, your parents and your grandparents will depend on for their wellbeing.
“Your accomplishment is a gift to your children, your husband, your wife, your parents, your family and community,” Pecos said. “Whether you follow in the footsteps of a long family tradition, fulfilling expectations or a first-generation college student, we come together bound by a common thread: a passion to contribute, in some form or fashion, to improve the life of others, inspired by those who nurtured you.”