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“My success in college was because I had a community around me,” New Mexico State University Vice President for Student Success Renay Scott told the NMSU Men of Color Initiative’s “Living the Dream” Achievement Ceremony May 3 in Corbett Center.
“That community is really the reason you succeed,” said Scott, who was a first-generation college student in rural Michigan. “I am here to support you,” she said.
NMSU Associate Provost for Student Success Patrick Turner created MOC three years ago “to close the opportunity gap for all students, especially men of color,” he said.
The May 3 event was MOC’s inaugural awards ceremony, Turner said. It recognized three MOC members who are graduating from NMSU this spring, including one student who had been homeless before attending NMSU and obtaining his degree.
The three graduates are Aditya Sandeep Ghalsasi, who earned a masters of industrial engineering, Alexander Warner-Garrett, masters of educational leaders and administration, and Rodolfo “Rudy” Ruacho, masters in social work.
The event was attended by NMSU interim Chancellor Jay Gogue and Provost Alan Shoho.
Keynote speaker Luke Sanchez, an NMSU graduate and former student regent who is now a student in the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
Echoing the ceremony’s theme, Sanchez said he began “living the dream” during his first shift working in a hospital emergency room.
“I loved the idea of being a doctor,” Sanchez said.
Being able to tell your story is an important part of achieving your dreams, he said, along with recognizing and saying yes to the opportunities life gives you and embracing and strengthening your community and relationships.
Joining MOC was an important part of moving from “being afraid to actually belonging here,” MOC President Raul Miramontes said.
Being a member of MOC is part of “who I am and what I want to accomplish,” MOC Vice President Joel Gonzalez Parra.
One of his goals for MOC is showing students they don’t need to mimic others or hide in the background, Turner said.
“You are awesome just the way you are,” he said.
Outstanding MOC students are “rock stars,” Turner said. MOC is helping them succeed as part of its goal of “moving the next generation into place,” he said.
Along with NMSU leadership and staff, those attending the event included NAACP Doña Ana County Branch President Bobbie Green, who was among 17 recipients of MOC “Keeper of the Dream” certificates presented by Turner. Scott and Sanchez also received the recognition.