A favorite day for Laura Gutierrez-Spencer involves talking with New Mexico State University students all day.
“They’re a joy. They make me laugh and smile, and they teach me a lot,” said Gutierrez-Spencer, NMSU’s Director of Chicano Programs.
A 21-year NMSU employee, Gutierrez-Spencer received the “A” Mountain staff award presented by Employee Council at the Founders Day picnic, April 26. The award is given twice a year to an NMSU employee who represents the university’s core values of diversity and inclusion, accountability, excellence, discovery and engagement.
Gutierrez-Spencer said she enjoys helping students navigate the university.
“A lot of our first-generation, low-income students who are very bright, probably don’t know for very good reasons how the university is organized, the rules, which it operates, both written and unwritten,” she said. “It can be very mysterious and a lack of knowledge of those things shouldn’t affect their ability to achieve in school. If they don’t have a bridge to that knowledge then it’s a real obstacle.”
As one of the people who nominated Gutierrez-Spencer, NMSU’s Black Programs Department Director Festus Addo-Yobo said “the only word I can express is ‘Par Excellence’; that is what the French say when someone or an individual has gone far and beyond in support of both colleagues and students.”
Born in Las Cruces and raised in Silver City, New Mexico, Gutierrez-Spencer attended Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, for two years, before she graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a bachelor’s degree. She earned a master’s degree from NMSU and a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico. After spending seven years as a faculty member at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Gutierrez-Spencer returned home and accepted her current position.
For more information on Chicano programs visit https://chicano.nmsu.edu.