In Their Own Words

Summer 2020
Ben WildBen Ahern Wild (MPA) Over the last couple of years, I have been fortunate enough to engage with the remarkable students, faculty, and staff at SPA. I am so grateful for the excellent courses and quality curriculum which they have created. And though earning a masters while working full-time is not easy, the exceptional quality of my bright and ambitious peers enriched the journey. And it must be said, how grateful I am for the support from my parents (Rick and Julie), my sister and bro-in-law (Eve and Mark), my partner (Riley) and my friends. I am excited to implement my newfound knowledge and skills throughout the rest of my career. And I look forward to supporting the program in new ways as an alumnus. It is an honor to stand alongside the many talented graduates of this program.

Spring 2020
Dinah AmoahDinah D Amoah (MHA) “fortis et fidelis semper” – Always strong and faithful! These are the words that embody my experience in UNM (SPA). It 's been a tough journey, especially coming from a background with dearth resources and little emphasis on girl-child education. I stand as a testimony of hope to many generations who believe it is possible. I began this journey with many uncertainties but with the right guidance, excellent tuition, dedication, and professionalism, I can confidently compete with the best in my career field. A special thanks to the following for believing in me and always being there for me; My family, Dr. Nicholas Edwardson, Dr. Kate Cartwright, Prof. Bruce J. Perlman, Tatiana, Angela, my fellow course mates and all the wonderful people who contributed in diverse ways to ensure my success. You all have shown me that empathy and kindness can be added to professionalism, and this lesson will be the bedrock of my future endeavors. I look forward to diligently working as a Health Administrator and furthering my academic pursuits to a Ph.D.

Spring 2020
Eunice AmoahEunice N Amoah (MPA) I would like to thank the Almighty God for all the inspiration and strength he gave me to pursue the program. I would also like to thank the School of Public Administration for the astounding support I received from the faculty and staff. It was an awesome experience in schooling and working with you. I would also like to dedicate this degree to my mother who has never stop praying for me. Finally, I would like to thank my entire family and everyone who has contributed to the successful completion of this degree. As a strong woman, I am looking forward to becoming a program manager and pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Administration in the future.

Summer 2020
Layla ArchulettaLayla Archuletta-Maestas (MPA) I am so blessed and grateful to have so many people in my life that have supported and guided me. First and most importantly, thank you to my husband, Daniel, who always reminds me of how strong and capable I am. Also, for tutoring me in statistics and acting genuinely interested in whatever I'm worked up about that particular day. Thank you to my family for loving me and being there for me no matter what, with a special shout out to my Mom, Dad, Rehana, and Farah for always being a phone call away. Thank you to Ashley, Felicia, Monica, Poqueen, and Khadijah for inspiring me with your tenacity every day! Thank you to Katie for mentoring me and pushing me to do something I was scared to do. Finally, thank you to Professors Cartwright, Edwardson, Smith, Leon-Moreta, Cahill, and all the other professors I've had over the years for giving me the tools to succeed. As I focused most of my MPA studies researching women's health-related issues in developing countries, I plan to integrate the passion I gained for this topic into my future endeavors.

Spring 2020 
Jodi BeersJodi Beers (MPA) Thank you to my partner, parents, and friends for your inspiration, endless encouragement, and support throughout this journey.

Fall 2019 
Kyle BiederwolfKyle T Biederwolf (MPA) I want to thank everyone that supported me during my time in the SPA program. To my family and friends that cheered me on, to my classmates that pushed me to be better, to the SPA administration that made it possible for all of us – thank you! Last, I want to give the biggest thank you to the professors in the SPA program. You each challenged us, educated us, and instilled pride in us about the work that public administrators do. I want to give a special thank you to Dr. Shuyang Peng, Dr. Agustin Leon-Moreta, and Dr. Zane Reeves for investing in, and putting up with, me throughout my time. I will always connect my amazing experience in the SPA program back to you three.

Spring 2020 
Cindel CardozaCindel G Cardoza (MHA) We made it! I must first and foremost thank God for the opportunity to graduate this year. Also, I would like to thank my husband Salvador for standing strong by my side during this challenging time. You have inspired me to pursue my academic goals. I would not be here without your help. Mom and Dad, thank you for your guidance and for the lifelong values and morals you have instilled in me. To my siblings, Jamie and Danny, thanks for your endless support and love. To my beloved in-laws, thanks for your encouraging words and for always believing in me. Finally, thanks to my Professors, SPA staff, SAHA team, SRMC, classmates, and friends. I am fortunate to share this moment with you all. Congratulations Class of 2020!

Spring 2020 
Stephanie CrumStephanie L Crum (MPA) Thank you to everyone who has supported me and believed in me throughout this journey!

Spring 2020 
Rose DavenportRose E Davenport (MPA) I want to thank the staff and professors of the MPA program. I have learned and grown so much during my time within Public Administration and loved studying for my concentrations in HR Management and Public Management. PAGSA enabled me to get involved with student government and I am proud that I got to experience leadership roles within this organization made up of incredible people, learn invaluable lessons, and meet life long friends. Because of the MPA Program, I am able to combine my love for the non-profit world and Human Resources. I want to thank my friends and family for supporting me during my graduate career, especially through the growing pains, tears and laughs. I also want to thank my HR work family at Presbyterian Healthcare Services, I could not have completed my program without your unwavering support.

Fall 2019 
Contreta EndwarriorContreta C Endwarrior (MHA) Ahee’hee/Yaw^ko to all my loved ones for strengthening me with your endless support, guidance, and love.

Spring 2020 
Hunter EsmiolHunter Esmiol (MHA) Diving into one of the most challenging sectors of the workforce, healthcare, UNM SPA's MHA program challenged and pushed me to grow and develop personally and professionally. I am grateful for the countless hours of preparation and instruction from our great faculty and staff. It has been an honor to learn alongside fellow MHA & MPA candidates. Your shared experiences, challenges, and achievements allowed me to gain a deep understanding of cultures, societies, and economies. We all share a united aspiration, to improve the lives of those we serve. Thank you, each of you, for inspiring me to be a better person, professional, and leader. May each of us have success in our careers and communities, making a positive impact wherever we go.

Spring 2020 
ofayemiroOmowonuola F Fayemiro (MPA) My sincere appreciation goes to the staff, faculty, and everyone that supported and impacted my life during the program. Specifically, I would like to thank Dr. Zane Reeves, Dr. Shuyang Peng, and Dr. Agustin Leon-Moreta for their support during my Ph. D applications through admission. Thank you so much. Most importantly, a big thank you to my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Fayemiro, and my brothers for their support and care during my studies. Thank you all and I love you. Above all, I thank my creator, the Almighty GOD for His love and countless blessings He showered on me during my entire stay. To HIM alone be all the glory. And to the class of 2020; chase your dreams, never stop learning and I wish us all success in our future endeavors.

Spring 2020 
Felicity FonsecaFelicity E Fonseca (MPA) I am extremely thankful for the distance MPA program at UNM that allowed me to go back to school from the rural village of Dixon, NM. I intend to use my graduate degree to continue my work in community development. Thanks to all of the SPA professors and staff who encouraged me in my studies. I want to give special thanks to Gene Henley, who offered valuable support and advice along this journey, to Professor Meilleur who encouraged me to think big early on in the program, and to my thesis committee Professors Agustín León-Moreta, Shuyang Peng, and Melissa Binder who helped me complete the giant undertaking that is a thesis. Most importantly, thank you to my kids Emma, 16, and Ulysses, 12, and my husband Brian.

Spring 2020 
Rebecca GarciaRebecca B Garcia (MHA) The last three years have flown by! I am very grateful for the wonderful MHA faculty that have guided me through the program, imparting their knowledge and experience. I have also had the pleasure of working with a great cohort and would like to thank my fellow peers for aggressive mock union negotiations and vibrant class discussions. Moving forward, I am excited to utilize my education in support of my community and look forward to engaging with my fellow graduates out in the field. As my husband jokingly said – You may now call me Master.

Spring 2020 
Sara GutierrezSara R Gutierrez (MPA) I want to thank my friends and family who have supported me throughout the years, and especially everyone who has ever looked over and given feedback on my papers and assignments. I couldn’t have done it without you! And thank you to the support team at the School of Public Administration, none of this would be possible without your guidance. Congratulations to all my fellow graduates, it was a pleasure getting to know so many of you in class.

Spring 2020 
Heather HalfmannHeather Halfmann (MPA) Thanks to the wonderful collaborations with my professors and peers during my time in the SPA program. I will be able to pursue my passion of being able to effectively work with non-profit organizations in the future.

Spring 2020 
Brendon HischarBrendon J Hischar (MPA) I truly appreciate and wish to thank the faculty, staff, and students of the School of Public Administration for making this experience meaningful. I am pleased to have undertaken this program, and it has been time well-spent. I am confident I will use the skills and knowledge gained through my participation to become a better public servant. Thank you!

Fall 2019 
Stephanie JacksonStephanie J Jackson (MPA) Dear UNM SPA Community, I want to thank God, the UNM MPA faculty, staff, alumni, graduates 2019/2020, and students who all have contributed to my education experience at UNM. Thank you for your patience, kindness, diligence, and excellence in my graduation process. May you have success and happiness in your future endeavors. Stay safe. 

Fall 2019 
Katherine KorteKatherine S Korte (MPA) I am deeply grateful for the knowledge and the friendships I gained in this program. I want to thank my husband, Tim, for inspiring me four years ago this month when he earned his MPA, to pursue my dream of earning a master’s degree and for being “Mom” when I was “Student.” I want to thank my children, Caroline, Ryan, Dillon, and Angela, because everything I do is for them and I want to be an inspiration to them. I want to thank my fellow MPA students, so many of whom became my friends. Finally, my deepest thanks to many professors who inspired me to do my best, most notably Zane Reeves, Randy Van Vleck, Steven Meilleur, Shuyang Peng, and Kun Huang. One of the best books I read in this program is called “Choosing Civility,” by P.M. Forni. In it, Forni writes, “… although it is important to win, how we play the game is even more important. Suppose we … play the game well when we play it to the best of our abilities, respecting both the rules of the game and our opponents. … We might not like the final score, but what really matters, the fact that we played the game well, following our heart and our conscience, cannot be taken away from us.” Congratulations to my colleagues and God speed. Member of Pi Alpha Alpha.

Spring 2020 
Lu LiLu Li (MHA) I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the faculty and staff in the MHA program. My graduation would not have been possible without your support and nurturing. I would also like to thank my family and friends for their continued support and encouragement during my studies. Many thanks to my classmates for their help, encouragement, and friendship. After working for many years, I walked into an important new phase of life when I joined the MHA program. The learning experience at MHA helped me grow and created a solid foundation to further my career. MHA's learning has been one of the most memorable and wonderful experiences of my life. The things I learned will not only benefit my future career but also have an everlasting impact on my personality and way of thinking.

Summer 2020 
mlopezMiquella A Lopez (MPA) "Behind you, all your memories. Before you, all your dreams. Around you, all who love you. Within you, all you need." ~ Unknown. This accomplishment is not only mine, but it is also a build of pieces that belong to my husband, family, and friends. They have not only been supportive but understanding and patient. I love you and thank you!

Spring 2020 
Jennifer LoveJennifer R Love (MPA) This has been an amazing and enlightening journey and I want to thank all of the SPA professors for guiding me through, your dedication has not gone unnoticed. To my family, I cannot thank you enough for helping push me through and enduring your own personal sacrifices so that I could meet my goal. I am extremely grateful and I share this accomplishment with you all. I also want to thank my friends and colleagues that were a constant source of encouragement. To my classmates, although this is not the way we expected our journey to end, it only validates the perseverance and drive that we all possess. I know that each and every one of you will make an impact in the communities that we serve. Congratulations!

Spring 2020 
Daniel MacyDaniel L Macy (MPA) I would like to take this opportunity to thank my parents, Glen and Deborah Macy, my siblings, Joshua and Kayley Macy, my Aunt Susan, Professor León-Moreta, faculty and staff at the UNM School of Public Administration, and my additional family and friends who have guided me along this incredible journey. I cannot thank you enough for all the support and encouragement you have given me these past few years. The knowledge I acquired leading to the Master’s in Public Administration will allow me to obtain leadership positions in accomplishing my goal of helping some of the most vulnerable people in our society. I’m incredibly excited for the future and will always remember my graduate school experience. Thank you!

Spring 2020 
Benjamin MaggardBenjamin G Maggard (MPA) I would like to thank my family for their support and patience during this time and the incredible classmates I met and worked with during this program. The MPA program has been an amazing experience for me. Going forward, I will be searching for ways to combine my MPA, my JD, and my experience with the two to find the best place for me to help improve our world.

Spring 2020 
Courtney McKinneyCourtney R McKinney (MHA) I want to thank my husband for all the support he has given me while in school. Without him, I could not have accomplished meeting my goal of completing my MHA degree. He cared for our very small children with such grace, while I went to class and did homework. He is my rock and I will be forever grateful for him. My hope is that this degree will assist me in obtaining my dream job of becoming a Hospital Administrator.

Spring 2020 
Kennedy MontoyaKennedy W Montoya (MPA) First, thank you to my parents, Ron and Ragan. Your love and support have given me all the opportunities to follow my dreams. I could not have done this without you. I would also like to thank everyone who supported me in my journey. Thank you to the people that told me about the MPA program, who helped me form my idea of who I want to be and all who have inspired me to be the best person that I could be. I am looking forward to serving the public and giving back to the community that helped raise me.

Spring 2020 
Vanessa MontoyaVanessa Montoya (MPA) As this chapter comes to an end, I want to thank my family, especially my husband and kids for all their support and patience. It has been a long journey, but we made it. I love you! Dr. Perlman, Gene, Tatiana, and all the faculty and students I was in class with, thank you for all your time and dedication to my success as a student. I will take the knowledge I have gained during the past three years as I continue my career in the public sector. I am excited to take advantage of all the opportunities in front of me, now that I have reached graduation. I look forward to the next chapter of my career.

Spring 2020 
Nathan MoquinoNathan I Moquino (MPA) I'd like to thank my parents and my family for supporting me throughout my graduate school journey. It wasn't easy but it was definitely worth it. I'd also like to thank my friends for being who they are and helping me with the school/life balance. I now am working as the Director of Indian Education and Tribal Liaison for the New Mexico Higher Education Department. I'm blessed to be in this position and I'm truly thankful for the education and experiences I've had at UNM.

Summer 2020 
Kateri MorrisKateri Morris (MPA) It was an honor to partake in the UNM MPA program and a privilege to have learned about the heart of public service, leadership, and management from faculty who have dedicated their lives in the field. I want to thank my family, friends, and colleagues for their unswerving support through my educational journey. I hope to make you all proud, in my commitment to ‘pay it forward’ in our community. Member of Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Alpha Alpha.

Spring 2020 
Elva MurilloElva A Murillo (MPA) ¡Se llego el día! This journey has spanned more than several chapters of my life; it recalls many highs, and some lows, from the past several years. This graduation immediately affects nostalgia. I want to thank my parents, for their love, support, and who have been my guides since the beginning. I am also thankful for my son and husband, who have been a source of light and courage to exemplify perseverance. Lastly, I thank Gene Henley, Dr. Steve Meilleur, and those classmates who have shared burdens and given me honest and accurate critiques – there are so many times I may have quit without you. I am so grateful to be participating in this ceremony. It marks the end of an adventure and the start of another. ¡Al siguiente capítulo!

Fall 2019 
Zlata NourieZlata Nourie (MPA) I would like to thank all my Professors at the School of Public Administration for their high-quality level of instruction and professionalism. I also want to thank Mr. Henley, our School's Director of Operations and Advisement, and Ms. Tatiana Estrada for their continuing support. This has been an amazing learning experience for me.

Spring 2020 
Larissa Omaya OkachLarissa M Omaya Okach (MPA) Thank you to my parents and family in Germany for all their love, support, and prayers. I am so grateful for all they’ve done to make this big moment happen. Another thank you goes to Laurie H. for giving me a home away from home and for always being there for me. And last but not least: thank you Jesus for everything and all that’s yet to come. For You know the plans You have for me. I will continue to trust in Him as I leave UNM behind and hopefully find my place in this wonderful city. These past 2 years and the friendships I’ve made will always have a special place in my heart. And I’m proud to say: once a Lobo, always a Lobo!

Summer 2020 
Samantha RaganSamantha L Ragan (MPA) My sister, Ashleigh, encouraged me to begin my graduate school journey and pushed me when I needed pushing. My mom has always brought out my self-confidence and will to succeed. A natural organizer at heart, I look forward to continuing my career with The University of New Mexico School of Medicine and helping UNM serve the community. “Where instinct fails, intellect must venture.” – Jim Butcher

Spring 2020
Mariah RimmerMariah L Rimmer (MPA) First and foremost, I want to thank God for guiding me through this journey. Thank you to my parents for their unwavering support and undying love. I want to give thanks to my little sisters for giving me the motivation as a young black woman to strive for athletic, academic, and professional success. I want to thank my grandparents, cousins, teammates, and friends for all their words of encouragement. There were so many times when I wanted to give up, but every single one of you were there to make sure I continued to push forward. As I transition into this next chapter in my life, I am grateful to have you all in my corner. The Marathon continues!

Spring 2020
Andrew RodriguezAndrew E Rodriguez (MPA) I want to thank my wife Elise; she was in the program as much as I was. Thank you to Susan, Eddie, and John, the best children ever. Wouldn’t have done it without support from the City of Rio Rancho.

Fall 2019
Eleanor Rogers (MPA) Finally! We are on our way as graduates. Thankful for what my professors have bestowed upon me. Most importantly, my family and my creator.

Spring 2020
Lidia RosasLidia Rosas (MPA) These past three years have been incredibly rewarding. To my family and friends, thank you for cheering me on. To my professors, thank you for guiding me through this amazing journey. Congratulations SPA Class of 2020! We did it!

Spring 2020 
Sharona SecateroSharona L Secatero (MPA) I am originally from Crownpoint, New Mexico on the Navajo Reservation. I would like to thank Antoine for encouraging me to pursue my MPA degree. Thank you to my daughter Shyanne, my mom Rosemarie, and my best friend Sheena for always being supportive of my career and educational goals.

Spring 2020 
Ray SensanbaugherRay S Sensanbaugher (MPA) I’m grateful to have completed this program just weeks after turning 50! My biggest thanks go to my wonderful wife. Her loving support has helped me accomplish this goal. We had many challenges in the last 7 years, but she kept encouraging me. I have promised her that I won’t go for a Ph.D. until I retire! And, many thanks to UNM for an outstanding program. Some of the learning reaffirmed things I knew from my professional life, other things were completely new to me, and many times the courses challenged me to rethink and reexamine old beliefs and habits. Also, Gene and his staff have been terrific. They are a phenomenal asset to UNM. Thanks again and best wishes to everyone.

Fall 2019 
dsernaDiana E Serna (MPA) Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead. 💡

Spring 2020 
Sarayl ShunkamolahSarayl Y Shunkamolah (MPA) I am happy to finally achieve this long-term goal of mine. First, I would like to thank God for the many blessings He has brought into my life. Thank you to my husband, for your incredible love and encouragement, and to my parents and family for always praying for me, reminding me to learn every day and to always work hard. I appreciate my professors and colleagues for what they have taught me. Attending classes and completing assignments helped me achieve this degree, but the days when I felt like quitting is when my loved ones supported me with their words of wisdom and guidance. This has been a great journey for me and I’m looking forward to continuing to serve Indian Country with the leadership skills and knowledge that I have gained. Thank you and congratulations Class of 2020!

Spring 2020 
ksosayancorKevin J Sosa Yancor (MPA) I would like to thank the School of Public Administration's faculty and staff for teaching me the best practices in managing the public sector. Studying Public Administration has allowed me to excel in program management in the Air Force. My future is looking extremely bright as I opted into serving the United States Space Force and will commission into its ranks next year. My aim is to lead a federal ACAT I program 10 years down the road. It has truly been a pleasure in being apart of this program and what it has taught me.

Spring 2020 
Cheyenne TrujilloCheyenne M Trujillo (MPA) It is crazy how time flies by when you are a part of something meaningful. My time at the School of Public Administration has been a blast. Thank you to Dr. Peng, Dr. Cartwright, and Dr. Baca for serving on my committee and getting me through this semester. Thank you to Dr. Perlman and Gene Henley for your support and wisdom throughout my time here at SPA. It has been a blessing to have worked and met you all. I want to thank my family, we have been through a lot but I know that without their support and love I would not be here. There are so many others who have helped me through my journey here, so I want to say thank you to everyone I have spent time with and who have helped me even in the smallest ways. Lets Go Class of 2020!

Spring 2020 
Kayla UlibarriKayla M Ulibarri (MHA) I would like to thank my family for supporting me in my education, my Dad, and my sister for always being there and especially my mother who valued education and instilled in me its importance. Thank you to my friends who have encouraged me during this journey. Thank you to all the professors and my fellow classmates who taught me and supported me in and out of the classroom. I hope to continue to serve the communities of New Mexico and find where I can do the most good.

Spring 2020 
Kristal VargasKristal L Vargas (MHA) First and foremost, I thank God for guiding me through life’s challenges and blessing me with a fantastic support system. Eddie, Mom, Ashlyn, Ryan, and Rayden, you have given up so much over the past few years so I could pursue my dreams; there aren’t enough words to thank you for all you’ve done. Holding you holds me together; I love you! Dad, I’m not sure how I managed to finish this without you. You raised me well enough that I don’t have to hope you’d be proud of me; I already know you are. Until we meet again. Family and friends: Thank you for your encouraging words, for wiping away my tears, and reminding me that I’m only human. I am eager to pursue a career in outpatient clinical operations management and eventually practice management. I’m a pioneer! Who’s coming with me!?

Fall 2019 
David VazquezDavid Vazquez (MPA) While working towards the goal of receiving my Masters in Public Administration, I received the help of one form or another from a multitude of people. For that reason, I would like to thank: The school of Public Administration's Gene Henley, Tatiana Estrada, Dr. Anthony Cahill, and Dr. Kun Huang. The National Security Studies Program's (NSSP) Dr. Frank Gilfeather, Dr. Ken Carpenter, Candace Shirley, and Jason Darensburg (retired). The Department of Civil Engineering’s Mr. Claude Morelli and Mr. Su Zhang. The staff of the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) and the Veterans Affairs (VA) vocational rehabilitation councilor Victoria A. Sullivan, And finally, the Office of Senator Martin Heinrich’s Miguel Negrete, Jason Jarvis, and Layla Archuletta. My MPA has prepared me well for work in the federal government, where I will begin working in June 2020 as a graduate fellow. My future aims are to pursue further graduate education and career opportunities in the policy areas of National Security and Defense, International Relations and Foreign Affairs, and Emergency Management and Global Disaster Response.

Spring 2020 
Amy VesperAmy C Vesper (MPA) I'd like to thank my parents for always supporting me and my dreams, my amazing professors who taught me a lot of valuable lessons, and my friends & community. It's been a journey and lots of hard work but definitely worth it.

Spring 2020 
Denise VollerDenise J Voller (MPA) Thank you to my wonderful family and friends who have supported me during my time as a graduate student. Your belief in me and every encouraging word has helped me make the most of my time in graduate school and truly appreciate it for the significance it holds. I have been fortunate enough to attend the UNM School of Public Administration and will take every experience I’ve learned and use it to directly impact the work I do. This has been a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and I will carry this feeling with me for a very long time.

Spring 2020
Sarah WilkinsonSarah Wilkinson (MPA) I have enjoyed my time in the School of Public Administration, and am particularly thankful to Dr. Shuyang Peng for her guidance and support through the process of completing my Master's thesis. Thanks, also, to Gene Henley for helping me navigate the labyrinth of forms and procedures to complete my program. The topic of my thesis, Developing Intercultural Communication and Understanding with Adolescents through Virtual Exchange, is now more timely than ever. I am very excited to apply the research and subject matter expertise I have gained in this program to my experience in the field of intercultural communication, and I am thankful for the confidence I now feel about the value of my contribution to the growing field of virtual exchange.

Spring 2020
Melissa WyacoMelissa Y Wyaco (MHA) I would like to convey my sincere gratitude to my family, friends, and co-workers for your care and support, while I was pursuing my graduate degree in the MHA program. I feel so honored and blessed to have all of you in my life, Elah'kwa. Thank you for instilling me with a strong passion for learning and for doing everything possible to put me on the path to greatness. I will never forget the important values you have passed down to me—particularly perseverance and honesty. Words cannot describe how important you all are to me. Furthermore, the knowledge and skills that I have gained throughout my schooling will have a huge impact on my career and valuable component to my development as a future Hospital Administrator.