Events | Fall 2013

Tribal advocates, health scientists address health disparities in indigenous communities

By Tonya Suther

Caleen Sisk, spiritual leader and Tribal Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, was the featured speaker at the RISE 2013 Health Disparities Symposium at NMSU’s Corbett Center Auditorium.

Public health concerns of Native Americans and environmental justice were the subjects of a two-day symposium at New Mexico State University.

The RISE 2013 Health Disparities Symposium began with an opening reception Thursday, July 11, and continued  Friday, July 12, at Corbett Center Auditorium. Caleen Sisk, spiritual leader and Tribal Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, will be the featured speaker at the event.

“The contamination or corporate usurpation of sacred/ceremonial sites, such as Mt. Shasta or the McCloud River, both sacred to the Winnemem Wintu, means the inability to practice life ways that are essential to the survival of a people,” said Jennie Luna, assistant professor of women’s studies and one of the speakers for the event.

The two-day event aimed to highlight the needs of indigenous communities and is intended to promote interest in a cutting edge biomedical research approach known as “community-based participatory research.” This type of research is based on collaborative partnerships between scientists and community members often with the goal of reducing health disparities. Community members actively participate in the full research process, from project onset to communication of results.     Read more

NMSU museum conservation students restore retablos for art exhibit

By Isabel A. Rodriguez 

Silvia Marinas-Feliner, director of the museum conservation program at NMSU, and a group of students recently renovated “The Traders” sculpture outside the Business Complex, as well as multiple retablos obtained by NMSU in the late 1960s. There will be a public reception featuring a talk with Marinas-Feliner and her students from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the University Art Gallery. (Photo by Isabel Rodriguez)

You probably know that there are art works housed in museums all over the world. What you might not know is that through the efforts of conservators, these works of art have been maintained for centuries, and that New Mexico State University offers a program through which students receive training to become licensed museum conservators.

The undergraduate Museum Conservation Program in NMSU’s College of Arts in Sciences, has been offered for more than 10 years and is one of only three in the nation.

“Conservation is the study of preservation of art or historical objects, anything that humans give value to,” said Silvia Marinas-Feliner, program director. “We learn how to better preserve objects and slow down the deterioration process in the safest way possible. There is a huge problem in museums all over the nation. Collections are not well-kept because museums do not have enough staff that have the knowledge of how to preserve the objects.”     Read more

Global health experts talk disease, child well-being at NMSU health disparities symposium

By Tonya Suther

Three experts from across the country  visited New Mexico State University to share their research at the RISE 2013 Health Disparities Symposium on Global Health Issues. The conference was held Friday, July 19, in O’Donnell Hall. A question and answer period  followed each presentation.

“As is clear from the recent worldwide spread of diseases like swine flu and West Nile virus, the health of the global community is highly interconnected,” said Kathryn Hanley, associate professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Thus, it is important to study the factors that shape global health and the strategies that have the greatest impact on improving global health.”

Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec, an assistant professor of environmental studies at Emory University, gave the first talk. “Bugs on the Move: Linking Human Mobility to Infectious Disease Dynamics,” Vazquez-Prokopec  discussed how human movement and human mobility networks contribute to the spread of disease.

Lynne Messer, an assistant professor of community health at Portland State University, presented “The Well-Being of Orphaned and Abandoned Children – A Global Health Opportunity.” In this talk, Messer  discussed the issues surrounding institution-living orphans and abandoned children.     Read more

Area students jam out during music camps at NMSU

By Samuel Horstman 

Students participate in a jazz studies workshop during a middle school band camp hosted by NMSU. (Photo by Darren Phillips)

For most band students summer vacation is a time to put away the instruments and take a break from practice. When school begins in the fall they will often face the music at their first rehearsal. The Southwest Music Academy located at New Mexico State University helps encourage students to continue practicing during the summer break with their band camps.

For seven years the Southwest Music Academy, a community based nonprofit organization, has helped enrich the music programs in Las Cruces Public Schools. Southwest Music Academy runs summer music camps in the month of June. NMSU has hosted the camp for more than 30 years.

“The camp was put together by all the middle school band directors in Las Cruces,” said Katie Tomicek, Las Cruces Symphony Association executive director and co-founder of the Southwest Music Academy. “It was a place for them to start their incoming beginners and give the student a week to play their instruments.”

Tomicek began playing in sixth grade at Picacho Middle School then graduated from Mayfield High School in Las Cruces. She has also taught private flute lessons for 18 years and played flute and piccolo with the Las Cruces Symphony for 12 years.     Read more

NMSU boosts digital literacy for girls

By Tonya Suther 

Twenty-four local girls spentpart of their summer making movies, blogging and tweeting at New Mexico State University’s second annual Girlhood Remixed Technology Camp. The three-day event for girls ages 10-13 was hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English and took place July 17-19.

“One of the primary goals of Girlhood Remixed is to work to overcome the gender, economic and cultural digital divides that negatively and disproportionately impact many of the area’s students, especially young women,” said Jennifer England, camp assistant director and third-year Ph.D. student studying rhetoric and professional communication.

At the camp, the girls engaged in a variety of digital tools and work with 20 faculty and graduate students in the hands-on computer lab to produce several digital media projects including brochures, websites and movies. Campers also had access to resources like NMSU’s Learning Games Lab, and stayed at one of NMSU’s residence halls.

“These projects  allowed girls to question and build their online ‘girl’ identities,” England said. “Additionally, campers will gain critical awareness of digital media and its role in their lives.”

Read more

Local teachers note value of NMSU writing workshop

By Tonya Suther 

Elahe Nezhadhossein, graduate assistant in the College of Arts and Sciences, writes during a Borderlands Writing Project field trip to the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park. (Photo courtesy Patricia Wojahn)

Common Core, the educational standards used by 46 states including New Mexico, placed a greater emphasis on reading and writing this year. To brush up on the latest techniques in teaching writing, 13 area teachers sharpened their writing skills at New Mexico State University’s Borderlands Writing Project (BWP) Invitational Summer Institute.

“BWP celebrates writing in the New Mexico and the southwestern region,” said Rebecca Powell, a Ph.D. student in the College of Arts and Sciences who has helped run the program for several years. “We want to help teachers see themselves as writers, because research tells us, if you’re a writer, you’re a better teacher at writing.”

At the workshop, teachers participated in a variety of hands-on activities designed to engage students in reading and writing. They wrote in journals, shared their writings, critiqued each other’s ideas and held reading circles.

“The institute provides teachers a space for renewal, critical reflection and practice with writing,” said Patricia Wojahn, associate department head and director of writing programs in the English department. “The aim is to build confidence among teachers both in their abilities to write themselves and to teach writing.”     Read more

NMSU’s Young Women in Computing offers summer sessions for middle, high school girls

By Isabel A. Rodriguez 

Middle school students work on creating a computer game at a summer session hosted by the NMSU Young Women in Computing chapter. The camp is designed to increase girls’ interest in computer science and related fields, and exposes middle and high school students to coding and different software platforms. (Photo by Isabel Rodriguez)

Vista Middle School seventh grader Alexia Hoffman is “catching bananas” at summer camp, but not the kind you eat. She is one of 74 middle and high school students developing computer games as part of the New Mexico State University’s Young Women in Computing program this summer.

Four sessions offered this summer aimed to increase female participation in computer science.

“Diversity is critical in every field, and women currently only make up 18 percent of all computing industry fields in the U.S.,” said Becca Galves, program coordinator. “Girls and women are avid users of technology, but severely underrepresented in its creation. Technology increasingly permeates every aspect of society and provides the foundation for most modern innovation. Girls’ lack of participation in this important and growing area has serious consequences, not only for them but for the future of technical innovations.”     Read more

CLABs book talk provides glimpse into a woman’s life in Mexico

By Dana Beasley

New Mexico State University’s Center for Latin American and Border Studies presented a book talk Sept. 12 at the Nason House, 1200 University Ave.

Along with special guest Anay Palomeque Carrillo, author Elaine Hampton presented her book, “Anay’s Will to Learn: A Woman’s Education in the Shadow of the Maquiladoras.” Through Carillo’s first-hand accounts, Hampton documents what it was like to be a woman living in the low-income neighborhoods of Juarez, Mexico, during its most violent times.

This study presents Carillo’s experiences in a series of narrative essays addressing the economic, social and political context of her world. At the book talk, Hampton and Carillo highlightd events in this struggle.

“As a Hispanic-serving institution located on the U.S.-Mexico border, events relating to the border and Latin America are of great relevance,” said Inigo Garcia-Bryce, director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies. “Despite our region’s deep historic, cultural and economic ties to Mexico, we often know little about events occurring to the south of the border.”     Read more

NMSU hosts discussion on immigration

By Tiffany Acosta

New Mexico State University’s Center for Latin American and Border Studies hosted a community dialogue on immigration at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, at the Nason House, 1070 University Ave.

“This is a great opportunity to learn about the current status of immigration reform and discuss the challenges facing border communities with regard to enforcement policies. The dialogue was a space to share knowledge and ideas about how to build a more just and humane immigration system,” said Neil Harvey, head of the NMSU Department of Government.

With the current national debate, “Immigration, Border Enforcement and Youth: Southern New Mexico Community Dialogue” will focus on the root causes of migration, border enforcement and the position of undocumented youth in the education system.

The bilingual community dialogue consisted of three groups, and each group focused on one topic. Each group included content experts from NMSU and the local community, and a bilingual leader to guide the conversation forward under the Great Conversation model and philosophy. At the conclusion, attendees will come together to briefly report on major themes and follow-up steps identified in each dialogue. For more information visit