Drawing I Students Make WNMU Museum Their Studio

At Western New Mexico University, which is the state’s only Applied Liberal Arts and Sciences university, students learn to ask fundamental questions like: Where did we come from? What is our purpose? How should I live? Now, in a collaboration between a beginners’ drawing class and the WNMU Museum, they are learning to ask another question: What is art? In keeping with the Applied Liberal Arts and Sciences philosophy, students are exploring the answer through connecting with artifacts that may be religious, scientific — and depending on the perspective — creative. After getting an overview of the WNMU Museum collections, they each chose a piece or grouping of pieces to draw, setting up their easels on site and bedding down in the museum, their studio for a few weeks. “This interdisciplinary project has students engaging with another discipline while developing their drawing skills, a combo designed to encourage critical thought and provoke amazement,” instructor...

Dr. Benjamin J. Cline To Present at National Communication Association Convention

WNMU Associate Professor of Speech and Communication Dr. Benjamin J. Cline is traveling to Baltimore next week to present two items at the National Communication Association Convention. He’ll discuss how he went about creating a communication program at WNMU when there was not one. And, he’ll present a paper on how Paul the Apostle used rhetoric to create a notion of “soul” that has been important in Western thinking. The information Dr. Cline will share as part of the panel could almost be boiled down to “Launching a Communication Minor in Ten Easy Steps.” He was hired for a one-year position in 2010. While his sole duties were to teach freshman public speaking, he proved himself in that role and then recruited enough students to fill communication courses that were accidentally left in the course catalog, demonstrating the market for those classes and moving to offering the whole minor online, where growth was possible. He made friends with his colleagues, who began...

WNMU School of Nursing simulation lab run by local veteran

Nursing students at Western New Mexico University learn through scenarios former combat medic and military contractor Lorenzo Saenz creates using high fidelity manikins who he can program to breathe, bleed, wheeze and sweat. The technology Saenz implements ensures WNMU is poised to integrate the big changes in nurse training methods that he believes are just around the corner. “It’s an exciting time to be in the field,” he said. A native of southwest New Mexico, Lorenzo’s military career took him around the world — from as nearby as El Paso to as far as Afghanistan. The Army veteran was a contractor working for the Australian Defense Force in Dubai when he decided to move back to the Land of Enchantment. “I missed green chile and the open blue skies and juniper,” he said. Saenz graduated from the WNMU nursing program in 2018 and worked in the Gila Regional Medical Center emergency room for a year before being recruited to work at his alma mater. “You always...

Student Veteran Works Toward Welding Degree

Welding student Luz Ponce is from Mexico and grew up in Silver City. She joined the Marines straight out of high school. “When my parents immigrated, the United States gave us so much, I wanted to repay that with my service,” she says. Luz served two years in North Carolina as a helicopter mechanic. “It was a good experience but also very strenuous, more mentally than physically. Everything had to be right or it could fall out the sky,” she says. Her favorite welding process is MIG because “it’s the only one I’m good at.” When she finishes her associate degree, she aims to land a traveling welding job. “In the Marine Corps, we were always going from place to place, so I feel like that would be more comfortable for me.” Luz works on cars in her free time. “Mostly the Japanese imports, they’re so much...

New Endowed Scholarship Supports WNMU Students Needing Second Chance

The Western New Mexico University Foundation and the family of Tadeusz Westawic signed an endowed scholarship agreement on Tuesday, August 6. The agreement establishes a fund in memory of Westawic, who believed that education should be accessible to those who were willing to seek it and to those needing a second chance. “With an initial gift contribution of $15,000, the family endowed this scholarship to help keep alive Tadeusz’ spirit of generosity, faith in education, and belief in the magic of curiosity,” WNMU Foundation Executive Director Jodi Edens-Crocker said. The new Tadeusz Westawic Memorial Scholarship is designed for non-traditional WNMU students starting or returning to college or working on a degree for a second career. Westawic, who was also known as Tom Hillman-West, taught GED math classes at WNMU, helping adults get the educations they needed to move forward in life. “He believed that everybody deserves a second chance,” said his daughter...

Samuel Davenport Created Proposal for Healthy People 2020 Community Innovations Project

Samuel Davenport was encouraged to apply for the BUILDing Scholars summer program at UTEP by WNMU Undergraduate Research Coordinator Joe Doyle and assistant psychology professor Dr. Jennifer Johnston. The sophomore psychology student and WNMU Presidential Scholar says, “They felt like through this program, I could gain a true understanding of whether psychology was the route I wanted to go.” Samuel spent the summer months in El Paso, where he was partnered with a doctor of social work and took a course in which one of the assignments was to create a proposal for a Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 Community Innovations Project. Volunteering on the nightshifts at the Opportunity Center for the Homeless, he got to know the city’s homeless population. “The Opportunity Center is the only place that takes in all individuals no matter their condition. The front desk is like the fishing net. It catches all the individuals falling through the...

Dr. Illya Medina Encourages Students To Be Proud of Their Heritage

Dr. Illya Medina came to the U.S. as a 30-year-old Ph.D. student. She now teaches in the WNMU Natural Science Department, advising exchange students from Mexico and Hispanic students from the U.S. on how to get the most out of their experiences at WNMU. As someone who migrated to the U.S. for education, she understands, “the cultural transition and the language barrier can be challenging.” Dr. Medina encourages students to be proud of being bilingual and Hispanic. “It’s an advantage. I always tell them work hard so you become better, but never be ashamed of who you are and your native language,” she says. Through the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation, Dr. Medina mentors student researchers. “I’ve encouraged one Hispanic student who wants to pursue a degree in medicine. I always tell her, ‘You need to be a doctor in both English and Spanish, because that’s going to be important for you.’ It’s more and more important to be bilingual,” she...

Michael T. Acosta Works To Make WNMU Students Feel Safe, Important

“Being a Hispanic Serving Institution means creating a hospitable environment for any student, specifically our Hispanic population, and also serving as a role model,” says WNMU Assistant Director of Mariachi Plata, Media Technology Services Manager, MEChA sponsor, piano instructor, and Staff Senate President Michael T. Acosta. “It’s about showing our students it’s OK to be successful and pursue whatever dreams they have.” To Michael, WNMU’s designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution is more than a label. He makes sure he’s always willing to get to know students and help them navigate campus life. “I like to learn students’ names as quickly as possible. I offer to help with things outside of my job duties. If they need a guide to financial aid or need somebody to walk them to the business office, I do it.” As a sponsor of MEChA, the student group that hosted last week’s Chicano Street Fest on campus, Michael helps “students to voice their opinions and...

Abe Villarreal Provides Sense of Belonging for WNMU Hispanic Students

Abe Villarreal, Western New Mexico University Assistant Dean of Student Support, is an alumnus and a current student. “I study educational leadership and love the program,” he says. “WNMU is where I grew up as a young adult, and it’s been my bread and butter for the last 11 years. I love that students have the chance to discover themselves here.” Being part of a Hispanic Serving Institution is important to Abe. “Of course, I’m Hispanic. I grew up in a border community. My roots are in Mexico. I really value that the designation puts a special focus on a community that has historically not had the opportunities for academic success. We should take that seriously and create programming to serve that community,” he says. Abe recently developed a Latino GroupMe for other Hispanic people at WNMU. “It’s creating community with a specific group of students on campus, where they can talk to each other share concerns that they might not share with others on campus....

Dr. Miguel Vicéns Contributes To Hispanic Serving Institution Designation

Western New Mexico University School of Business Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Finance Dr. Miguel Vicéns works to make WNMU’s designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution meaningful. “One of the reasons we reach out to these communities is we usually do not see college as their path,” he says. “It’s a blessing to be able to be part of that.” Dr. Vicéns takes students to Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities conference each fall. “They not only go out of town with all expenses paid; they are introduced to different organizations that specially deal with Hispanic students and interact with multinational companies one-on-one,” he says. Some of the participants Dr. Vicéns has taken to the conference have been foreign, others DACA recipients, and the remainder U.S. citizens. “I’ve had the chance to work with a variety of students in this HACU representative position. I just realized how diverse they are,” he says. Under Dr....