Las Vegas, N.M. – Ruthy Watson is the new director for New Mexico Highlands University’s HU-CARES, the Center for Advocacy, Resources, Education and Support.
Watson is not new to Highlands. She was an exercise and sport sciences professor at Highlands from 2013 – 2016 and coordinated the Health Education, Health Promotion and Wellness programs at the university.
“My top goal for HU-CARES is to continually provide a safe space for students to learn, grow and become the incredible adults they can be,” Watson said. “We do that through classroom presentations, workshops, seminars, outreach activities and collaboration with the main campus, the Highlands centers around the state, and community partners.”
When Watson was on the faculty at Highlands, she said she often invited HU-CARES staff to present to her classes.
“They always did an excellent job communicating on topics like consent between partners and suicide prevention. The students responded positively, saying they left with increased awareness,” Watson said.
Watson said today’s college and university students are faced with many challenges when it comes to how to be accepted, make choices, and express themselves.
“Social media and media in general aren’t always conducive to good mental health. The messages are often negative, leading to negative outcomes like unhealthy behaviors and relationships. Ideally what HU-CARES does is help students navigate issues that accompany college life, like how to form healthy relationships and understand the positive aspects of themselves. HU-CARES is about improving and empowering the lives of our students by giving them skills and tools they can use.”
Watson said she’s excited to be back at Highlands.
“I appreciate the unique diversity of our Highlands students who are from so many backgrounds and cultures. I see this as a major strength. Each one of the students contribute to New Mexico as the Land of Enchantment,” Watson said.
Watson earned her Ph.D. in public health from Walden University in Minneapolis, with an emphasis in health promotion and community health education.
“I feel like this HU-CARES job is a perfect fit to use my skills in health promotion and education as well as social services leadership. This position is a chance for me to do what I’ve been teaching about for so many years. It’s all about prevention, which is the foundation of all my work,” Watson said.
She said she wants students at Highlands to know that the door is always open at HU-CARES.
“We are a warm and welcoming environment,” Watson said.
Most recently, Watson was an interdisciplinary health services professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Previously, she taught on the faculty at Southside Virginia Community College in Keysville, Virginia, and Broward College in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, among others.
Earlier in her career, she held public health positions such as social services manager for the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Watson’s research interests include women’s health issues, health and spirituality, holistic approaches to health, and global health and disease prevention. She is published in journals such as Making Sense of Health, Illness and Disease and Happiness and Hope.
Watson presents at multidisciplinary health conferences in the United States and globally, including Sydney, Prague, Ireland, and Oxford, England. She is an active member of the American Public Health Association.