Margaret McKinney/Highlands University
 Delyn Martínez, left, and Timothy Martínez of Highlands University’s mariachi group perform at the university’s Donnelly Library in 2010.

Las Vegas, N.M. – The New Mexico Highlands University mariachi group has a long history of award-winning excellence and will resume performing fall semester 2018.

“Mariachi music is a beloved and vital aspect of Hispanic culture in our region,” said Kimberly Blea, dean of students at Highlands. “Because Highlands is a  federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, we feel strongly that a mariachi group is important to our university’s identity.”

Blea said the long-term goal is for the Mariachi Vaqueros de Highlands to be highly competitive at the collegiate level. Vaqueros is the Spanish word for cowboys.

Martín Sena, the longtime director for the acclaimed Robertson High School Mariachi Cardenal and Memorial Middle School Juvenal Cardenal in Las Vegas, will be the director for Mariachi Vaqueros de Highlands.

“Martín Sena is well-known throughout the region for both his passion for mariachi music and the stellar reputation of his mariachi groups. His dedication to the students he teaches is exceptional. I look forward to seeing all the successes he and our Highlands students accomplish together,” Blea said.

Sena’s RHS Mariachi Cardenal has performed at Highlands events such as commencement and Fiesta de la Hispanidad. Mariachi Cardenal performs nationally and throughout New Mexico, including the National Governor’s Association Summer Meeting in Santa Fe in July 2018.

Blea said the Highlands mariachi group last performed in 2015, when it had the name Mariachi Vaqueros de la Sierra. The group performed year-round at fiestas and music conferences throughout Northern New Mexico.

“Highlands President Sam Minner’s leadership led to revitalizing mariachi at Highlands. The mariachi group is a great opportunity to engage students in campus life through their commitment to performing mariachi music. It’s very exciting,” Blea said.

Highlands University students interested in learning more about the Mariachi Vaqueros de Highlands may contact the Office of Student Affairs at