Paige Pinto earned her bachelor’s in accounting from the WNMU School of Business in May and is enrolled in our MBA program now. The Native New Mexican from the fourth corners region started at WNMU directly after graduating from high school. “For me, at first going to college meant getting away from home — just like any other 17- or 18-year-old. As a Native, though, whether a person is successful in college depends on having financial and interpersonal support,” she said.
At WNMU, Paige was able to access the necessary support, earning WNMU Foundation private scholarships designated for Native American students, getting hired for student worker positions, and building relationships with mentors and advisors.
Paige worked in the WNMU Museum, stepped up to lead the university’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, served as the chapter president of Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society, and recently began a graduate assistantship with the MBA program director. Through a WNMU School of Business connection, Paige also found a job with area nonprofit Community Partnership for Children.
“I would consider myself lucky to some extent, but I have worked hard to get where I am today. This meant taking my education seriously ever since high school. That hard work eventually turned into scholarships and leadership roles,” she said. “I’ve always been one to push myself through open doors. When you come to WNMU and put yourself out there, that is when the doors really open.”
Paige said that, for some Native Americans, leaving home for school can also rouse culture shock. “I can see how that can be a huge struggle, but the silver lining to that is growth: You learn so much more about yourself and people when you find yourself in a new environment,” she said.
Being Native is being connected to the earth, said the member of the Navajo nation. “During my first two years at WNMU, I worked alongside Dr. Cynthia Bettison in the museum. Her knowledge about the history of the Mimbres people and her passion for taking care of their artifacts made me feel comfortable. I remember making connections between my tribe and its history. I believe that is what made me feel closer to home in a sense,” Paige explained.
As she works toward a master’s degree, Paige is toying with the idea of becoming a CPA. “I do like taxes,” she said. “The accounting field matches well with my personality and with what I want to do.”