Freshman Lands Fellowship, Earns Continued Internship

Western New Mexico University freshman Rechelle Gutierrez completed a paid fellowship in communications on Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s re-election campaign this spring and was invited to continue full-time with the campaign over the summer. Gutierrez is in the newly established political science bachelor's program grew up in Silver City and has always had her sights set on attending WNMU, where her mom earned a degree while raising her and her three siblings. Gutierrez said she was introduced to politics and social movements at a young age. “Both of my grandfathers are Latino rights activists.” The longtime participant in the National History Day competition at Silver High School explored her own interest in politics through creating exhibits and documentaries based on historical events. The research process, which included conducted interviews with primary sources, helped her understand how legislation develops and ultimately how various pieces of legislative...

Writer-In-Residence Wins Award

WNMU writer-in-residence wins 2021 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year for novel “Nazaré.” The magical realist story inspired by the Arab Spring of 2010-11 was called “rare and ground-shaking” by U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe...

WNMU Students Provide Free Tax Preparation Services for the 40th Year

The Western New Mexico University Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program ensured $702,633 were refunded back to the community in spring 2022 as a result of student volunteers providing provide free income tax preparation assistance to low-income, elderly, disabled, and limited English-speaking taxpayers at no cost to the community and surrounding areas. The program, commonly known as VITA, has been facilitated by WNMU for 40 years. This season, it was operated as a drop-off/pick-up service and ran from January 31, 2022, through April 18, 2022. Nine WNMU School of Business students prepared and filed tax returns including state, federal, and paper returns and were overseen by the student manager. There was a total of 413 federal returns and 412 state returns electronically submitted. The state returns were from various states including New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, and Utah. Federal refunds totaling $575,589 were refunded back to the community. State refunds...

Student Research and Professional Development Summer Program

Western New Mexico University Student Research and Professional Development (SRPD), funded through a student fee, has sponsored student research assistants and scholars this summer. The WNMU Scholars program, started in the summer of 2017, allows student to pursue their own research projects. The WNMU Research Assistant program, started in summer of 2019, allows faculty to recruit students to collaborate on their ongoing research projects. Throughout their summer experiences with individual faculty mentors, the students are invited to come together by Zoom to share in their experiences. The first of three virtual gatherings took place on Thursday, June 9, when participants offered these reflections about the program and their experiences so far. “What a great steppingstone to the future of research and to the field of social work!” reflected Brandon Broussard, a Master of Social Work student and summer scholar in Louisiana, who is preparing to contribute to his future...

Angling for Answers

Forestry-wildlife juniors Xavier Kirker and Kade Evans studied the effectiveness of different baits on different fish species as part of their WNMU Natural Sciences coursework. Over three days, the anglers tested spinners, crank baits and worms (both live and rubber). They discovered that worms increased their chances of catching a fish — a finding that they discovered relevant across all species. “It’s important to know what fish enjoy,” Evans said, “and now we do.”   Zoology junior Tori Pulliam and science/business marketing senior Danielle Barba Zoology junior Tori Pulliam and science/business marketing senior Danielle Barba both like to fish. They were experienced wish a rod and reel and guessed at some best angling practices. But they wanted to formally determine whether they’d have more success with live bait or fake bait. A #WNMU natural sciences project was just the ticket. Hypothesizing that the fish would prefer actual worms to fake...

Novel by WNMU Writer-In-Residence Named Foreword INDIES Book of the Year

“Nazaré,” a novel by WNMU writer-in-residence JJ Amaworo Wilson has won the 24th annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year. “Nazaré” is a magical realist story inspired by the Arab Spring of 2010-11. The novel was called “rare and ground-shaking” by U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, who said, “I celebrate Nazaré for its power, tenderness, and transcendence.” Amaworo Wilson is the author or co-author of over 20 books. His 2016 novel “Damnificados” was named a Top 10 book in “O” magazine and also won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the Independent Publisher Book Award, the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, and the Prix Révélation de Traduction for the French translation. Two of Amaworo Wilson’s non-fiction books saw him honored at Buckingham Palace in 2008 and 2011. The Foreword INDIES awards recognize the best books published in 2021 from small, independent, and university presses. For this year’s competition, over 2,700 entries were submitted...

Mescalero Apache Students Visit WNMU, Harvest Agave Locally

Western New Mexico University hosted young people from the Mescalero Apache Tribe in May as part of a school field trip to harvest agave, or mescal, plants on site within the local Freeport McMoRan mines. Traditionally a staple food of Mescalero Apache people, agave hearts also have spiritual meaning and are used in a rite of passage known as the sunrise ceremony, which marks Mescalero girls’ transformation into women. Preparation for the coming of age ceremony begins as much as a year in advance and includes harvesting mescal plants in peak season, the reason behind their visit to campus and the surrounding area. Ahead of the harvest, the more than three dozen Mescalero Apache youth learned more about the scientific properties of the plant from WNMU botany professor Dr. Bill Norris. They were introduced to university student life with a stay in the residence halls and evening activities, heard from representatives of the Native American Student Association, and got the lay...

Master’s Degree Graduate Moving on to Ph.D.

Partway through Andrea Robinson’s undergraduate program, she suffered a stroke. She moved closer to family, and her degree was put on hold. At some point, a doctor told her she would not finish her bachelor’s at WNMU. She didn’t. But she did finish her degree remotely, and this spring, she also graduated from #WNMU with a master’s, customizing her degree plan to suit her interest in educational psychology. The Clarksville, Mississippi, native recognized some similarities between her home town and Silver City but also noticed that there isn’t much research available on small rural towns, which essentially “make up the USA,” Robinson said. She wondered, “Is there an association between social determinants of health and academic performance in marginalized communities within higher education?” and then methodically searched for the answer. She looked at self-regulation and related metacognitive strategies to explore how where people come from impacts their...

Alumna’s Research Published in Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition

Fall 2021 graduate Natalie Wood, along with her faculty mentor Dr. Corrie Neighbors and WNMU colleagues Drs. Sam Schramski and Francisca Reyes, co-authored a paper published in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition in October. Funded in large part by the Western New Mexico University Student Research and Professional Development program, “Sociospatial Analysis of Food Pantry Access and Location in a Southwestern Frontier Community” explores the relationship between food insecurity and geographic position in Silver City. Using a survey of more than 100 respondents and desktop GIS analysis, they investigated whether distance, neighborhood and socioeconomic status have a bearing on access and use of food pantries. “A surprising result was that people who get government assistance do not frequent food pantries as often as people who don’t. You’d figure it’d be the opposite,” she said. Wood endured the “super time consuming” data configuration and...