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Bragging rights at UNM-Taos

By Bill Knief

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In light of 2013 being the 10th anniversary of the state legislature designating UNM-Taos a branch of the state’s flagship university, we have already seen some events worthy of celebration, or at least a little bragging.

After several years of setting aside funds, resources are being applied to student amenities such as indoor social and study areas, outdoor seating in the Pueblo Hall patio, and what will likely be one of the safest outdoor camera monitoring systems in the county, covering the bulk of the Klauer campus. We have always had an exceptional safety and security record at all college locations, but we intend to keep it that way by being proactive. The student body has grown from under 300 to an all-time high of 1,705 students last Fall, so it is imperative that we step up to the challenges of being a vital, growing institution before problems occur.

In the interests of transparency, we are also going to load up our website,, with the entire archive of UNM-Taos Reports which have appeared in the Taos News over the years. This resource of some 80,000 words and counting will be completely searchable, so that any reader will have full, immediate access to the issues and individuals that make up our community college.

This year we wanted to make graduation something special, so we started by booking the largest convention facility in Taos—the Sagebrush Inn and Conference Center. It drew upwards of a thousand attendees. One reason for the outstanding turnout was that we invited Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, Representative for New Mexico’s Third Congressional District, as keynote speaker for the evening. He graciously accepted, and even brought his mother, Carmen Lujan, to enjoy an evening in Taos while helping to honor our graduates. His message was clear:

Don’t forget the joy that you have in your heart, the way your family and friends look at you today. Don’t forget what success feels like….Do the right thing and change the world…but don’t forget to leave your imprint on the place we call home.”

Lujan urged graduates to remember where they come from. “Be proud,” he said. “I’m proud that I speak with an accent. I speak with the accent I obtained as a graduate of Pojoaque High School when I sit across the table from the President of the United States.”

We are also proud to announce that UNM-Taos student Kerri Trujillo was named the recipient of a Gates Millennium Scholarship. Kerri and her mom are residents of Taos Pueblo, and she is in her third semester focusing on a Bachelor of Science degree in laboratory sciences. She is currently the only Gates Millennium scholar at UNM-Taos, and one of only 350 Native American students in the nation to receive the prestigious award.

Asked what advice she would give to aspiring Native American students, Trujillo responded, “I’d say pursue your dreams. You’ll never know what could have been, if you didn’t try.”

And finally, it was a bit of a shock last week to hear UNM-Taos mentioned on the floor of the US Senate. Newly elected Senator Martin Heinrich and his staff had met with the leaders of numerous New Mexico solar businesses on the Klauer Campus back in February to discuss renewable resources, and in his first speech to the Senate, this is in part what he had to say:

The University of New Mexico Taos campus is a prime example of the public and private sectors working together to employ cleaner energy. Their campus is home to one of the largest solar arrays in the state—a project that was successful thanks to a partnership with Los Alamos National Labs and Kit Carson Electric Cooperative.”

In starting our second decade as a branch campus, UNM-Taos plans to continue to amaze. Otherwise, how would we know what could have been?

About The Bill Knief