Student Lobbying Secures Funds for New Gym Equipment

Photo of student working out in campus gym

A student works out on new equipment in Highlands’ Archuleta Fitness Center

Las Vegas, NM – New Mexico Highlands students have new exercise equipment in the campus’ Archuleta Fitness Center thanks to legislative funding secured by participants in the university’s Legislative Fellows Program.

The Legislative Fellows Program, launched during the 2019 New Mexico legislative session, gives Highlands students first-hand, practical experience on how the legislative process works in New Mexico, giving them an in-depth look at lawmaking in New Mexico.

Students participating in the 2020 program secured $55,000 to purchase the new gym equipment along with gaming devices for student use.

“The fellowship had about two days to secure signatures for the capital outlay project,” said Chris Ulibarri, Highlands student regent who participated in the fellowship program. “During this time, we all had to hone our elevator pitch that would be appealing to legislators.”

Ulibarri said the legislative fellows worked with Highlands’ Office of Finance, Administration, and Government Relations to identify potential funding items that would increase the quality of life at the university and help with recruitment and retention.

“We really needed to learn how to keep up with the pace of a 30-day session,” Ulibarri said.  “There were multiple times that I had run alongside a senator or representative, giving my elevator speech and then trying to get them to sign on.”

“These students will be able to go to the gym on campus and engage in fun interactive games with their peers as a result of their efforts,” said Denise Montoya, associate vice-president for finance, administration, and government relations. “Their efforts will be seen on campus beyond their graduation date for other students to enjoy these amenities. I am certain that this group of students will continue to make a difference and have a positive impact on society.”

Montoya said the fellowship students conducted research, composed a budget, and lobbied for funding for their initiative.

Ulibarri said participating in the program gave him valuable insight into the legislative process and helped him grow as a student.

“The Legislative Fellowship Program really changed how I approached leadership roles,” Ulibarri said. “It really opened doors for me to opportunities that would have otherwise felt inaccessible.”

Montoya said she feels the students who participated in the program will continue on to make positive contributions to their communities.

“It is such a pleasure to see these student flourish throughout the program building confidence in their ability to learn and to lead serving the New Mexico Highlands University community,” she said.