CONTACT: Laura Gutierrez-Spencer, 575-646-4206, lgutzspc
CONTACT: Karim Martinez, 575-646-2390, karmartiz
New Mexico State University’s Chicano Programs will host its annual Hispanic-serving institution Heritage event Thursday, Sept. 20. This year’s event will focus on a presentation about Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, an early leader in multi-cultural Cooperative Extension Service work.
The Hispanic-serving institution Heritage event will be held at the Health and Social Services Annex Auditorium. The reception will be at 5:30 p.m., and the presentation will be at 5:45 p.m.
For a number of years, NMSU has held an observance of the institution’s Hispanic-serving institution status. In order to be designated an HSI, NMSU’s undergraduate full-time enrollment must be at least 25 percent Hispanic and at least 50 percent of students must be from a low-income family.
“NMSU’s undergraduate full-time student body is 54 percent Hispanic and many of our general student body are from low-income families,” said Laura Gutiérrez-Spencer, director of Chicano Programs. “The presence of our Hispanic and low-income students enables us to attract many millions of federal and other grants to our entire institution each year. This funding benefits all students as well as the general population of faculty and their facilities. It is important that our entire campus is aware of how the presence of our Hispanic student benefits our entire university in a variety of ways.”
Rolando Flores, NMSU Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, will introduce the speaker, Karim Martinez, NMSU Extension Family Life and Child Development Specialist for the College for ACES. Martinez will discuss the life of Fabiola Cabeza de Baca.
“Cabeza de Baca was an Extension agent in Home Economics for about 30 years. Her work reached culturally and linguistically diverse New Mexicans,” Martinez said. “She worked extensively in New Mexico with Spanish-speaking audiences and Native American audiences. She even taught herself two indigenous languages in order to reach Native Americans in the northern part of the state.”
Martinez has spent 14 years in the Cooperative Extension Service in both Doña Ana County and now at NMSU, unknowingly following in the footsteps of Cabeza de Baca.
“Working in a border community, I realize the importance of reaching Spanish-speaking audiences. This region has many families that speak Spanish and can benefit from Extension family health and wellness information, so I tried to provide that information when I could,” Martinez said. “I see Fabiola as being a leader in multicultural work because she worked hard to make Extension information accessible to people.”
During her presentation, Martinez also will be focusing on what the Cooperative Extension Service is and how NMSU serves the public through County Extension Offices in all 33 counties and many tribal areas in New Mexico.
“I think it’s important to know about the Cooperative Extension Services because I don’t think people understand that for land grant institutions, like NMSU, Extension is one of our missions,” Martinez said. “It’s not only about reaching students and conducting research, it’s also about getting that research-based information out there in communities to improve quality of life.”
Cabeza de Baca was also a school teacher and an activist, but would be recognized by most people as a writer who celebrated New Mexico culture and life.
“I think one of the reasons she holds a special place in people’s hearts is because she valued New Mexico culture. When you read her Extension publication, ‘Historic Cookery,’ it’s all about New Mexico food and culture,” Martinez said. “You can see her value of culture in her writings, and I appreciate that she incorporated local food into her Extension publications.”
Martinez said it’s important for people of color and women to be able to see themselves in someone who has accomplished a lot. She hopes with her discussion she is able to introduce an inspiring figure to others who may not know about her.
“It was so inspiring to me when I discovered her because sometimes when you don’t see yourself in historical figures it feels like void,” Martinez said. “Seeing people similar to yourself is especially important for women and women of color. It’s inspiring to see these early heroes or champions being recognized because then it can motivate and inspire you to continue their legacy.”
For more information about the event please contact NMSU Chicano Programs at 575-646-4206.