Highlands HU Cares director Kimberly Valdez-Blea, center, talks with junior psychology major Jacinda Woodruff, right, during the House Call Program Oct. 6 at the residence halls while economics professor Bill Taylor, left, prepares to give Woodruff a raffle ticket. Woodruff also plays at guard for the Cowgirls basketball team. Photo Margaret McKinney/Highlands University

Students in the Highlands University residence halls got a knock on the door and a warm welcome from the campus and Las Vegas community Oct. 6 during the House Call Program, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary this fall.

“The House Call Program is designed to reach out to resident students to give them an opportunity to interact with faculty, staff, administrators and community members on a more personal level,” said Yvette Wilkes, Housing Office director. “The idea is to give the students a friendly welcome and see if they have any questions or concerns we can help with. It opens the door for communication and lets students know we care.”

A highlight each year during House Call is the homemade biscochito cookies Annette Martínez delivers to students along with her husband Michael Martínez. Annette is the accounts receivable manager in the Business Office at Highlands.

“For nine years, Annette has given a little taste of home for our New Mexico students and an introduction to New Mexico for others,” Wilkes said.

For the third year local brothers Sanjay Bhakta and Krutik Bhakta have donated a moped as the grand prize for House Call. The two own the Best Western, Days Inn, and Knights Inn hotels in Las Vegas.

Troy Dennison, general manager for the three hotels, has volunteered to help with House Call for several years. He also visited students on Oct. 6.

“This is a college town, and we want to tell the students about the community and let them know what’s happening, and also that we care about them,” Dennison said.

This year the moped winner was Ryan Andrews-Armijo, who earned her bachelor’s degree in political science at Highlands in May 2015 and is now a public affairs graduate student. Andrews-Armijo is also a student regent on the university’s Board of Regents.

For three years, A’viands Food Services has donated Apple products like iPods, gift cards, and iTunes cards for House Call. New this year was an Apple watch donation.

“The generosity of all those who donate to House Call and the wonderful volunteers who give their time so willingly are what has allowed this event to take root and grow over the last 10 years. I couldn’t be more grateful,” Wilkes said.