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Statewide Listening Tour - Grants, Gallup & Zuni

I started this week off heading east to Grants, where I had coffee and met with business leaders, first Lt. Governor of Pueblo of Laguna, Wilfred Herrera, Jr., and representatives from the Pueblo of Acoma Education Department. Many thanks to the folks at La Ventana Restaurant for hosting us. After touring the town and having a lovely lunch with a local family, I got to experience my first real New Mexico rain storm, complete with hail!

We drove just over to the border to Window Rock, AZ to the Navajo Nation Tribal Headquarters. President Begaye and members of his cabinet, many of whom are UNM alums, shared their aspirations for furthering UNM’s partnerships with the Nation in service to our students, specifically in the areas of nursing, mechanical engineering and law.

Later that evening, I got a chance to meet with the Gallup community at a reception at our branch campus. Much of the conversation centered on how we move our students past their two and even four-year degrees, and how we can better meet the needs of their communities.

Tuesday started bright and early with a warm welcome and delicious breakfast at Earl’s and meetings with local civic leaders. I was then treated to an official tour of the Gallup branch campus by its CEO James Malm.  We had a great turnout of over 50 staff and faculty. I then met with the branch advisory board and had lunch with campus leadership.

The next stop was the A:shiwi College & Career Readiness Center in Zuni, where Executive Director Hayes Lewis, members of the ACCRC staff and UNM faculty gave me their perspective on the challenges and opportunities that exist to help students from the Zuni community earn a college education, and how we can better coordinate our resources.

I then was given the chance to meet with Zuni Governor Panteah, Lt. Governor Birdena Sanchez, and the tribal council (also some UNM alums), where we discussed the community needs relative to higher education and how we may better support those needs together. The visit to Zuni ended with a personal tour of the recently reopened A:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center, which is dedicated to the history the Zuni people.

After two days on the road, I treated myself to a famous Laguna burger on the way home, which was delicious! One more thing I just love about traveling around New Mexico is that the already stunning landscape never looks quite the same, even hours later, depending on the light and weather.

The tour continues next week at the Taos branch. Please continue to follow me on Twitter @PresidentStokes #StokesNM