Mary McBrayer Wins 2022 Nurse Educator Award

WNMU School of Nursing Clinical Instructor Mary McBrayer, RN, BSN, MAIS, won the 2022 New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium (NMNEC) Nurse Educator Endowment Award to honor the late Nancy Morton. Having worked as a nurse in acute care since 2011, she has experience as a bedside nurse, charge nurse, float nurse, clinic manager and clinical educator. McBrayer began teaching at WNMU in 2020 when she planned and implemented strategic approaches that kept students on campus for hands-on lab experiences. This award recognizes McBrayer’s resourcefulness and ingenuity that ensured the continuation of clinical lab skills courses for nursing students throughout the pandemic to this point. Dr. Kimberly Petrovic, who is Associate Dean for the WNMU School of Nursing, nominated McBrayer for the honor. “She created a blueprint of sorts in which students attended lab in groups of three to six, for instance, while remaining within taped-off areas of the lab,” she wrote. “As a...

Rodent Study First Field Experience for Pair of Natural Science Majors

Zoology major Maria Conklin and biology major Chantel Griggs studied how tree coverage affects the species abundance and diversity of rodents in Grant County, presenting their findings at the spring WNMU Academic Symposium. “As the order rodentia is a very diverse group within mammals, they are equipped with many different adaptations to handle different ecological factors. Observing where different species of rodents prefer to live could demonstrate these diverse specializations,” their poster read. Testing two hypotheses (tree coverage does impact diversity and abundance; tree coverage does not impact diversity and abundance), they set up humane traps throughout the surrounding area, including in Bayard, on the Pitchfork Ranch and in Pinos Altos. Each area had 20 traps and was divided based on tree coverage. For instance, they set 10 traps 50 meters apart from each other in a tree-covered area in Pinos Altos and did the same in a mostly tree-less area one mile away....

Twisted Vine Literary Journal Spring 2022 Edition

Spring 2022 edition of Twisted Vine Literary Journal debuted this week. The student-run journal curated by the WNMU graduate writing program is committed to publishing both emerging and established literary and visual artists. Twisted Vine seeks to represent an eclectic mix of ideas and values with a particular interest in pieces that challenge or redefine expression in new and inviting ways. The student staff — Taylor A. Russo, Jennifer Hardesty, Karl Blakely and Kathleen Mariel — produced the spring 2022 issue under the guidance and direction of WNMU Associate Professor of English/Writing and Interdisciplinary Studies Program Director Dr. Heather Steinmann. “It’s incredibly encouraging to see the creative process thrive in the face of a future unknown,” said Managing Editor Russo. “A clear thematic picture emerged from the pieces submitted to our journal, which reflect a contemplative examination of our past, present, and future. The works presented throughout...

Nurse Pursues Switch to Teaching and Finds Love of Writing

Of the couple dozen submissions to the WNMU Creative Writing Contest, “The Intruder” by Nadien Chavez won first place in the prose/play category. “I’m working on two degrees at WNMU. My first is in secondary education with a focus in English language arts. The other is a degree in English Literature,” Chavez said. Clearly, she appreciates the written word. But Chavez has been a nurse for seven years. “The medical field is not for me,” she said. “I fell into nursing. Honestly, COVID-19 changed my life. I thought about what I was doing with my life, where I was going. I wasn’t fulfilled or happy in nursing, and being a teacher was always in the back of my head. I love working with kids.” She opted to make a change. “I got an associate degree from Doña Ana Community College in Las Cruces, where I live, but my boyfriend’s family is from Silver City. Some of them graduated from WNMU. I just called up one day, and the staff was really helpful. They made...

Assistant Professor of Sociology Speaks Up for New Parents

Western New Mexico University sociologist Andreea Nica, Ph.D., examines in her research how emotional intimacy relates to wellbeing across subcultures and family. She digs into the ways some communities address the rising trends and social problem of social isolation and limited meaningful emotional connection with others — both issues new parents identify with. A new parent herself, Dr. Nica recently penned an op-ed highlighting how modern society’s treatment of middle-class, dual-income families perpetuates social injustices and financial instabilities that trickle down. She sees the social ideals of middle-class parenthood being reinforced and maintained through toxic positivity, silencing and public shaming and says that these, along with the maternity healthcare system and childcare labor market, reproduce a societal problem that is socially masked. She says that while New Mexico is doing its part to ensure the proverbial village promised to new parents, further change...

School Social Worker Earns Support Toward MSW

Liz Adams has been a social worker for 24 years. She lives in Cimarron and works in a school in Eagle Nest. “I’ve worked for child protective services. I worked in a hospital as a medical social worker. I worked with adults with intellectual disabilities, and I worked for hospice. But this is my niche. I love working with kids. I enjoy working with our troubled youth. I also do groups with children who aren’t struggling, doing prevention work as well,” she said. “Cimarron Municipal Schools has four campuses in all. I’m the only on-staff school social worker.” Yet, because she holds merely a Bachelor’s of Social Work, Adams is required to be supervised by a LCSW who is also a school social worker. “It’s always been my goal to earn a master’s degree; it’s just never been the right time of life. I wanted to get her master’s from a New Mexico institution, because that’s where I live and practice and will continue to practice,” she said. “When I heard...

WNMU Celebrates Hundreds of Spring Graduates With Hybrid Ceremony

Exactly 436 students earned degrees from Western New Mexico University in spring 2022, and the Mustang community celebrated through a hybrid commencement ceremony on Friday evening. Of the graduates who received diplomas from WNMU this spring, more than 200 chose to participate in the commencement ceremony, with two thirds of those walking in person at Ben Altamirano Stadium and the other third of graduates turning their tassels over Zoom. The university awarded 87 associate degrees, 150 bachelor’s degrees, 163 master’s degrees, 73 graduate certificates, 28 certificates and 10 fast-track certificates, along with five high school equivalency diplomas. Recognized as new inductees in the WNMU Student Hall of Fame were Abigail Walter, Joaquin Delpino, Julissa Alaniz, Adrianna Darrow and Elizabeth Sorells. “The WNMU Student Hall of Fame is the highest recognition that can be earned by students and is reserved for those students who have demonstrated integrity and achievement...

Four Female Psychology Majors Accepted to BUILDing SCHOLARS

All four of the Western New Mexico University students who were accepted to this summer’s BUILDing SCHOLARS program are women and psychology majors. The research-intensive training program is funded by the National Institutes of Health and reserved for undergraduates motivated to become biomedical, social, behavioral or health science researchers. In addition to coursework and mentoring activities, students will conduct research at one of the program’s 10 partner institutions, which reserve positions for BUILDing SCHOLARS graduates to later pursue their Ph.D. degrees. “BUILDing SCHOLARS is meant to catch students right at the beginning of their college careers and help them focus their interests as juniors and seniors in order to be more prepared for grad school,” said Dr. Jennifer Johnston, a WNMU psychology professor. Saramaria Ortega, BUILDing Scholars participant The WNMU students who received the scholarship, which includes tuition for 30 credit hours and a...

Board of Regents Sets Operating Budget, Identifies Priority Capital Projects, Awards Several Emeritus Status

The Western New Mexico University Board of Regents approved a $66.9 million budget for the 2023 fiscal year and discussed upcoming capital project priorities during their meeting Thursday. Before approving next fiscal year’s operating budget, the board approved an adjustment to the current fiscal year’s budget, in light of a $571,696 difference in the ending unrestricted instruction and general funds balance and of a difference of $83,914 in restricted instruction and general funds. Last April, the board approved a $50.9 million budget, and the final fiscal year 2022 budget was $72,768,878. “There are a couple pieces to this budget,” said Dr. Joseph Shepard, who is President of WNMU. “We used $5 million in one-time money to increase enrollment, and while 4,000 students didn’t materialize, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made. This budget moves us downward in terms of our reserves because we’re moving into a second year of the 4K initiative. This budget will...

Evangeline Dominguez Returns to WNMU After Two Decades

Evangeline Dominguez began her education at Western New Mexico University 20 years ago, left when she started a family, and returned after spending the past two decades raising five children. Now pursuing an associate degree in early childhood education with the aim work toward a bachelor’s, she said. “I came back to finish what I started.” Dominguez works as a Pre-K educational assistant at Bayard Elementary School and is taking six credit hours at WNMU this spring. She said she would not be enrolled if it weren’t for the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship. “I did not withdraw correctly 20 years ago. It affected my financial aid,” she said. “I was a kid, but withdrawing incorrectly came back to haunt me. Without the Opportunity Scholarship, it’d be easy to say, ‘I’m done.’” The financial support, combined with the ability to participate in classes online, makes college feasible for her. “I’m able to work a full-time job and take care of my kids at...