Christopher Ulibarri, a student government leader at New Mexico Highlands University, is the university’s newest student regent.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made Ulibarri’s appointment official March 13. Ulibarri’s term extends to the adjournment of the next regular session of the New Mexico State Legislature in 2021.
Ulibarri, a 19-year-old from Buena Vista, New Mexico, north of Las Vegas, has earned a 3.93 GPA to date as a triple major in political science, environmental geology and history. His expected graduation date is December 2022.
“Christopher is a courageous leader who is respected by his peers,” said Kimberly Blea, dean of students at Highlands. “Christopher has a passion for service to others and is very hard-working. This is evident by his commitment to volunteering with Amnesty International and the fact that he is a triple major.”
Blea said Ulibarri’s calm demeanor will help him handle difficult situations as a regent.
“Christopher was also a recent participant in Highlands’ Legislative Fellowship program, an experience that will serve him well in his new role as a regent,” Blea said.
Ulibarri said Highlands provided him with many opportunities.
“I wanted to become a student regent to contribute back to Highlands,” Ulibarri said. “While the other regents represent Highlands, none of them continuously work or study on campus. Being a student puts me in the unique position of representing both the student body and faculty on the Board of Regents.”
Ulibarri said the COVID-19 pandemic is driving his priorities as a new regent.
“My most immediate goal as a student regent is to help come up with solutions to the problems that Highlands faces during the COVID-19 crisis, working with both the student body and the faculty,” Ulibarri said.
Ulibarri said being a student senator at Highlands was a valuable learning experience.
“Representing other students taught me about the values students hold and how to be an advocate for them,” Ulibarri said.
Ulibarri enrolled full-time at Highlands when he was 17.
“I was amazed at just how much everyone cares at Highlands. If it wasn’t for the quality education I’ve received here, I would never have had the skills that it takes to be a student regent. Being a triple major gives me a broad understanding of the academic programs at Highlands,” Ulibarri said.
Ulibarri has taken a number of classes from Highlands geology professor Michael Petronis.
“Christopher is one of those students that come along now and again that shines very brightly above the rest,” Petronis said “He is exactly the type of person academia needs: motivated, brilliant and personable. He will be an outstanding student regent, leading the university forward.”
Outside the classroom, Ulibarri volunteers as a legislative coordinator for Amnesty International, lobbying members of the U.S. Congress on pressing national and international human rights issues.
When he’s not juggling his triple-major and other responsibilities, since 2016 Ulibarri has worked 20 to 35 hours a week in his family’s business, Ulibarri Farms Candy Shoppe in Las Vegas.
“I assist customers in the store, on the phone and online. I also built a website for our family company and am our graphic designer. I make decisions that impact our company’s future,” Ulibarri said.
Looking ahead, Ulibarri has his sights set on a legal career as an environmental attorney.
“Growing up on a small ranch with the Mora River and two acequias running through it, I learned how powerful corporate ranchers can block the river illegally, limiting water downstream. I want to be an attorney that helps people like my family and my Buena Vista community when these kinds of injustices occur,” Ulibarri said.