“Morning Serenity No Longer” by Atlantis Lopez

The Western New Mexico University Undergraduate Creative Writing Contest provides students across all academic majors the opportunity to practice the art of the written word and be recognized for their nonacademic writing. A committee selects the top work in two categories: poetry and prose/play. This year’s winning poem by senior elementary teacher education major. For #NationalPoetryMonth and in honor of those taking refuge in lands foreign to them, we’re sharing an excerpt. “Morning Serenity No Longer” by Atlantis Lopez Yesterday the rain fell upon the desert land Misty morning serenity as Kabul awoke Sun bright in the sky, radiant home of my heart I wonder when the rain turned into a river of tears and blood The children who used to play with kites Soaring above the souks, now lie Asleep in the river, eyes closed forever Today, the English sea, a dark opaque kind of blue is angry waves lapping violently on the shore It reminds me of the water I had to...

New Textbook Program Relieves Stress, Supports Students Toward Success

Western New Mexico University ensures that the cost of books won’t be a barrier to student success. Required course materials like textbooks and lab kits will now be delivered as part of tuition and fees, providing students of all economic backgrounds access to these essentials at the very start of each semester. “Every student will have their textbook by the first day of class,” said Dr. Isaac Brundage, who is WNMU Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. The new WNMU program levels the playing field, reduces stress and saves students about 30% while allowing the charges to be covered by financial aid and even New Mexico’s Opportunity Scholarship. For $25 per credit hour, WNMU aims to help students stay in school longer and graduate at higher rates. Similar programs have been shown to support students in raising their grades by as much as 11%. “All WNMU undergraduate and graduate students, whether they attend online, part-time or in...

Single Mom, Aspiring Nurse Receives Support for Education

A single mother of two college students, Maria Saenz is a freshman student working on her prerequisites for the Western New Mexico University School of Nursing program while her children attend NMSU. “I always pushed my kids so hard. I want to push myself too,” she said. “I’m proud of my kids. I want them to be proud of me.” Saenz enrolled at WNMU – Deming after getting divorced and took just one or two classes a time at first. But she had already noticed her vision becoming a reality. “I want my kids to see that hard work and grit can get you to surpass dreams,” she said. After completing her FAFSA, she was notified that she would be supported in her educational journey through the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship. “When I got it, it was very nice for me. The Opportunity Scholarship helps me to finish sooner, because I can take more classes,” she...

WNMU Cultural Affairs Plans GR 55 Live During Great Race

Fifty-five years ago, Great Race was founded by Western New Mexico University students who sought creative ways of involving the entire region in a festival they conceptualized and organized purely for entertainment. Today, Great Race is the university’s longest standing tradition. It returns in 2022 with a week of student-led events revolving around the customary human-powered cart races plus two evenings of music and merriments under the stars, an addition dubbed GR 55 Live. Hosted by WNMU Cultural Affairs on Friday, April 22, and Saturday, 23, the music festival features headliners Alec Benjamin and Los Lobos. “To mark the return of the tradition generations of Mustangs have carried on, we are inviting those from near and far to come celebrate the ingenuity and drive of our student body at GR 55 Live. The festival is our way of allowing everyone — whether 1967 alumni or incoming WNMU freshmen, to revel in campus culture and dance to music by this generation’s rising...

Honors Seminar Retreat Provides Respite for Top Students

WNMU Millennium III Honors program students retreated to the Wilderness Lodge in Gila Hot Springs earlier this month. Drs. Jennifer Johnston, Eric Casler and Phil Schoenberg, who are WNMU faculty members from across the university, accompanied them for an educational and relaxing weekend. For academic credit during the retreat, Honors students gave workshops about how climate change was relevant to and would impact their field of study and future work. The student-led workshops ran the gamut from forest-wildlife to education and psychology. Students also soaked in the hot springs and went on an all-day hike. “This is an outstanding group of dedicated, hard-working Mustangs,” said Dr. Schoenberg, Director of the Honors program. “I am really proud of them.”...

WNMU Board of Regents Raises Tuition and Fees, Adds Textbook Program

The Western New Mexico University Board of Regents raised tuition by 8% and approved a 12% increase to student fees, also adding a $25 per credit hour textbook fee during their meeting Wednesday afternoon. The board also voted to permit the purchase of former St. Mary’s Church and Academy on Alabama Street in order to improve access to the acreage where the university plans to build a new early childhood center and “possibly a charter school,” according to WNMU President, Dr. Joseph Shepard. Members approved a change to the scope of the Deming Learning Center Infrastructure Project as well, citing a rise in construction costs. The board approved the third quarter financial actions report, a formality declaring that WNMU does not have any financial concerns at this point in the fiscal year. In his university president’s report, Dr. Shepard noted that the prospect of reaching his goal of increasing enrollment to 4,000 students by fall 2022 — dubbed 4k — was...

MSW Student Finishing Her MSW After TBI Changed Her Personal Perspective and Career Outlook

While many feel like different people than they were before March 2020, Alicia Figliuolo essentially is a different person than she was at the start of her Master of Social Work program. In 2016, using the benefits she earned as a U.S. Marine, Figliuolo enrolled at WNMU thinking, “Let’s go see what this rural program can teach me.” Seeing herself as unfit to be a clinical social worker but recognizing her affluent connections and sphere of influence, Figliuolo aimed to continue working in policy and go into national politics. She worked to get straight As and was on track to achieve her dreams. But in 2017, she suffered a traumatic brain injury. “My character changed. My mannerisms changed. I was dependent on my wife and my friends,” she said. Instead of finishing her master’s in 2018, Figliuolo was re-learning to walk and talk, create short term memories, and be independent. After years of effort and persistence, she was medically cleared to try graduate school...

Outdoor Leadership Degree Program Receives $343,000

The bipartisan Omnibus Appropriations Agreement for Fiscal Year 2022 ensures #WNMU a portion of the Congressionally Directed Spending for New Mexico Higher Education. The university’s Outdoor Leadership degree program is receiving $343,000 thanks to Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan, who secured $18 million to invest in college access, affordability and completion. "With today's need in mind and an eye to a brighter, more sustainable future, Western New Mexico University is developing leaders who understand the power of community, are attuned to the nuances of the outdoors being a key economic development driver, and have the tools to both leverage New Mexico's wildest assets and maintain the ecological integrity of our most precious natural resources," said WNMU President Dr. Joseph Shepard. See the complete list of higher education programs and projects that will benefit from the law here....

WNMU at Educators Rising Conference

Last month, Dr. Alexandra Neves of the WNMU School of Education engaged with teens to recruit passionate learners into the field of education at the New Mexico Educators Rising conference. “After a couple years away, it was inspiring to return to this very lively conference and meet with students who are not only in our WNMU – Deming chapter but who live all across the state,” she said. Educators Rising is a community-based movement in which high school chapters, along with teacher preparation programs at higher education institutions like #WNMU and the New Mexico Department of Education, come together to provide a clear pathway to increase teacher diversity and teacher...