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FROM THE EDITOR
ANDI ENGLE IMPACTING STUDENT LIVES
BERNADETTE GRANGER A PASSION FOR SERVING
MARY HAARMEYER ECLECTIC ART IS WRITING AND CINEMA
DR. KATRINA FULLER HELPING BABIES BE BORN NATURALLY
ROSA DOPORTO MUSEUM HOSTESS ALSO LEA COUNTY LEGACY
REBECCA TITUS HUMBLE HEROINE
DR. MARY HARRIS EDUCATOR SINCE 1973 AND STILL GOING STRONG
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ABOUT THE COVER Various photos from this edition of Focus on Lea County. - The Women of Lea County Kyle Marksteiner, Editorial Director - Adrian Martinez, Advertising Photography by Various Photographers - Submitted for Use in Focus on Lea County Special Contributors: Adrian Martinez, Breanna Ellison, Staci Harrington, Jim Harris and Leah L.M. Wingert. FOCUS ON LEA COUNTY IS PUBLISHED QUARTERLY BY AD VENTURE MARKETING
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from the editor
Women Leaders I
t’s been over a century now since women were granted the right to vote and just under a half century ago that the Equal Pay Act was passed. We now have the possibility of a female president of the United States. We as women have come a long way and our leadership is on the move now more than ever.
ADRIAN MARTINEZ Guest Editor
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When you think about someone being a leader, you generally think about someone in a high position or who has accomplished much. But leaders come in many forms. In this issue of Focus on Lea County we will highlight some women from around the county that stand out and impact the lives of many as well as helping our communities in different ways. We called out to you on Facebook asking for your nominees of women leaders and you answered. We had many people send in names they believed deserve recognition, and they do. However, the space in this magazine will only allow us to feature a few of them. We will consider doing a round two with this particular “focus” and highlight some more of the great women in Lea County at a future date, because there are so many
FOCUS ON LEA COUNTY | FALL 2016
who deserve it! I hope you enjoy reading about some of the women and the work they do around Lea County.
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a couple of women whom I believe are strong leaders… I would like to first recognize our owner and leader, Lajuana Wimberly Martinez. She is the captain of our ship at Ad Venture Marketing, which is the parent company of the Focus magazines. She has always worked hard to make a difference within her family, her church, her employees’ lives and the community she lives in. She started the company in 2002 and has steadily expanded the presence of the company all over New Mexico and West Texas. She has served on the boards of numerous organizations and has proven to be a woman of great strength and dignity with high ethical standards. She is a great leader! The second leader I will recognize is Breanna Ellison. Some of you may know her for co-starting the Stop Bullying: Speak Up program. Breanna is a young lady of great character, always wanting to give her time and
efforts to help the kids of Lea County. She has expanded the program out and has incorporated it into the schools in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she was attending college. Now at the University of New Mexico, she has introduced the program into the Albuquerque community as well. As a motivational speaker, her passion is to help other young people find their way. I have always been impressed with her positive attitude and take on life. I know that she will continue to inspire people. Breanna also stepped up to help us with this issue, so I hope you will enjoy reading her stories in this issue of Focus on Lea County.
I have been with Ad Venture Marketing for 13 years, and I too have served with many organizations in Lea County. I currently volunteer my time at the Salvation Army, serving on the board and helping with the holiday programs. I am a Hobbs native and love learning about all the great people and organizations featured in Focus on Lea County and telling their stories. Take a look inside and read more about some amazing women doing great things here in Lea County!
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IMPACTING STUDENT LIVES by Breanna Ellison
Andi Engle is the
current principal at Will Rogers Elementary and has been in Lea County for 10 years now. During that time she has made a huge impact on the Hobbs school system, but the schools, oddly enough, were not what she originally had in mind.
She has always known that she wanted to help people, so she had started her post high school career thinking that she would go into physical therapy. However, it was during her time working in a physical therapy center that she started tutoring some of the younger clients, and from there everything just clicked. She knew that she wanted to go into teaching and work with
FOCUS ON LEA COUNTY | FALL 2016
people. She wanted to be able to help students grow and meet their goals. After starting her teaching career, she loved what she was doing but wanted to be able to make a larger impact. This need led her to her current position as principal. When talking about her principal position, her eyes brightened. Her favorite thing about her job is being able to develop others. You can see this through how she runs her school. When talking about her staff, she made it very clear that she doesn’t have a staff, she has a family at school. They run their school with their students in mind. “You have to be kid/ student focused,” Engle
explained. If you enter their school, you will find yourself in “hug city;” all of her students and staff come in with big smiles and positive attitudes. It is important to Engle that the students are in an environment that allows them to learn and feel comfortable. The smiles that are found on a lot of faces all around the school shows that this seems to be working. She noted that if the kids are not in a place where they can be safe and happy, they cannot learn. It is important to lead her school not only with her head but also with her heart, because that’s how she is able to make that impact. PHOTO LEFT: Andi Engle, Principal of Will Rogers Elementary PHOTO BELOW: Will Rogers Elem. in Homecoming Parade
When asked what she thought made her a good leader, she replied, “I am… very goal-oriented and mission-focused. I have so many experts in my family here at school, and I am very good at allowing those experts to use their skills in a way that will let us meet the goals we have for ourselves and our school.” She has done a great job making her school a great environment for anyone who enters it. She also makes it known that she could not do it without all of her team’s support. It is a team effort to make her school run the way that it does. Without her teachers, school staff, district and community, things would not be able to go the way that they do.
Rogers to volunteer for many different projects. Having the students help in community activities teaches the importance of giving back. It also teaches them that this is what a community does: they come together and help one another. These are skills that Engle and her school family hope their students take with them for a long time. While being a teacher and a principal may not have been her original plan, she has done beautifully. Not only is she an inspiration to her students but also to the people she works with and the community of Lea County. She is a wonderful example of what it means to be a leader!
The team effort not only makes her school run well, but it also helps her teach important skills to her students. The community partnership allows Will PHOTOS: Principal Andi Engle, as the Lobo Mascot, with her kids at Will Rogers Elementary.
FALL 2016 | A COMMUNITY MAGAZINE
A Passion for Serving by Staci Harrington
Bernadette Granger is a woman of courage and strength who undoubtedly has a passion for serving and a heart of compassion for people. Giving back to her community and helping others make their voices heard are qualities that were instilled from a young age. She was taught by her parents to stand up for what is right, to speak up for those who are unable to speak for themselves, to always speak out
PHOTOS (LEFT TO RIGHT): Bernadette Granger, speaking on behalf
of Congressman Steve Pearce at a recent event in Southeastern New Mexico. Also pictured is New Mexico Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez. • Granger leads a meeting for Congressman Steve Pearce in his Washington, D.C. office with a delegation from Roswell and Artesia • Granger in Washington, D.C.
FOCUS ON LEA COUNTY | FALL 2016
against injustice and to give back to others. Her parents taught her the benefits of hard work and lived what they taught by example. She acknowledged that giving of yourself and serving others were natural and expected in her home.
outreach programs. In the past, she has been active with Hobbs Rotary Club, Hobbs Downtown Lions Club, Lea County Women’s Network, Lea County Commission for the Arts and Hobbs Community Players. She also served as a board member for Manna Outreach. She currently serves as a Community Advisory Board Member for Presbyterian Medical Services and is also a board member for Southeastern New Mexico Community Action Corporation. Politics were always a part of her family, with her grandfather serving
“I just want my life to matter, I want my life to count and I want to make a difference.”
Granger has a passion for both community service and for politics. With her family encouraging her to ‘be the change you want to see,’ she began volunteering in high school and went on to serve on several boards and community
as the campaign manager for the first Hispanic to hold public office and her uncle serving as Eddy County Sheriff. In 2000, she did volunteer work campaigning for George W. Bush and co-chaired the Hispanic Outreach for Bush Campaign, also known as Viva Bush. From 2000-2005 she worked for the University of the Southwest helping with responsibilities for the Jack Maddox Distinguished Lecture Series. During this time, she was awarded Outstanding Young Woman of the Year by the Hobbs Jaycees. In 2005, she graduated with her Master’s degree in educational counseling and went on to work as a unit manager at the Texas Tech School of Law. In 2007, she was back in politics as she began working the legislative session for New Mexico Senator Gay Kernan, whom Granger calls her friend and mentor and feels is a picture of bravery, courage, ethics and loyalty. In 2011, she began working for a shelter for victims of domestic violence as a life skills facilitator. Then, in 2012 she went to work for Heather Wilson as a campaign staffer during her run for the U.S. Senate. She went on to work as a strategic advisor, working within the counties for the Republican Party of New Mexico from 2013 until 2014. It was then that she was hired to raise money for a fundraising and consulting firm for Diana Duran’s campaign for Secretary of State. Granger currently works with the Republican
Party of Lea County as a field representative for Congressman Steve Pearce. She feels that she has been blessed to work with Pearce and his wife Cynthia, who work so hard for the people of New Mexico and who graciously stand up for New Mexicans’ voices to be heard. In the future, she would like to run for public office where she can continue to fight for our principles and values. Her wish is to bring people together to solve problems that affect the overall quality of life where everyone benefits. When asked about her future goals, she said, “I just want my life to matter, I want my life to count and I want to make a difference.” She also feels that it is God’s grace and anointing on her life that gives her the courage to be a voice for others. Her foundation is built on Jesus Christ, who gives her the strength to stand up and help where she is needed. Her passion for helping people has been displayed through her actions in her daily life, giving unselfishly of herself to better the lives of others. She expressed her compassion for others and her beliefs when she commented, “I have been given grace. How can I not extend that to others?’ Bernadette Granger’s courage, strength, compassion and impeccable leadership skills have made her a true leader of Lea County.
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Mary Haarmeyer’s ECLECTIC ART IS WRITING AND CINEMA
O by Jim Harris
ne of author Mary Haarmeyer’s most recent writings, a film script entitled Absolute Faith, begins with two fast moving scenes: the first, in a helicopter piloted by an athletic 30-year-old man flying with a group of smoke jumpers at top speed over a hot forest fire; the second, an extremely fit 28-year-old woman racing a beat-up truck down a highway near the same fire. Over the years Haarmeyer has written dozens of movie and television scripts, and although I have not read all of her works nor have I seen all of the movies she has directed, edited, and photographed, it seems to me the opening of Absolute Faith absolutely nails the Mary Haarmeyer I have come
FOCUS ON LEA COUNTY | FALL 2016
to know over the last decade. For one thing, like the characters, the helicopter, and the truck in her script, she runs the engine of her own life at a redline high RPM. In addition, again like the handsome guy and beautiful female in Absolute Faith, Haarmeyer herself is a focused woman: absorbed, engrossed, immersed, intent, undivided and fully unbroken. That’s the way she is when it comes
to not only her writing, but also her family, friends, filmmaking, business, church and any other activity or hobbies that she happens to adopt.
PHOTO ABOVE: Lea County resident Mary Haarmeyer lives the busy life of a director and filmmaker. PHOTOS BELOW (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT): Filming in Rio Rancho • Looking over the footage during a recent filming session • Preparing to shoot a UFO chase scene in northern New Mexico • At the International Film Festival • Mary Haarmeyer working the Gen Con booth in Indiana
Many of life’s opportunities get her undivided attention, which sounds like a contradiction but is really not in her case. Haarmeyer is a woman who embraces many of life’s opportunities. You might say that at an early age, she staked out a very broad mission statement for her life. Early on, for example, she and her husband Andy decided they wanted to start and build a successful electrical contract company, and that’s exactly what they have done over the 31 years of their marriage. Another way of describing Haarmeyer is to say that she doesn’t just imbibe in the art of her life—she devours it. Her chosen art from an early age was writing. Even in elementary school she wanted to get things down on paper with words in stories. She met Andy, the love of her life, when she was in elementary school. Along her life’s journey, she has mostly been encouraged about pursuing a life of writing. That continues to be the case today after she and her husband have become the successful owners of Lovington-based Haarmeyer Electric Company, with over 50 employees. However, she has experienced some moments of discouragement after she created her film company, T-RO Films, LLC, in Albuquerque, and after she produced several awardwinning films. At a recent lunch with her, I asked if she felt like she had any constraints because she is a woman. She acknowledged that she is very much aware of the small percentage of women working in the motion picture industry today. Institutional sexism in the film industry is
definitely present, but it is not because women lack talent. She has met dozens of women with cinematic talents who are amazing at what they do and who are striving hard to break into the industry. She feels that the trend in film is changing, making way for more diversity in the industry.
Screenwriting Awards that her script had made it to the final round. Out of thousands of competitors, only ten finalists in each category were selected. By the time this article appears in print, she may have more news about Absolute Faith.
Roswell Film Festival in May, has now been accepted into five festivals. Obviously, Mary Haarmeyer’s engine never experiences a moment of idling, because she never stops.
Also, her movie Foreseeable, which I screened at the
She quickly added that the restrictions in the making of movies come from the outside, not the inside. She has chosen to be a wife and mother, a businesswoman, a contributor to nonprofit organizations in her community and a Sunday school teacher in her church. She feels strongly that she should honor the many obligations to which she is committed.
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But in addition, as she was pushing aside lunch she hardly ever finishes, she let me know that when she spoke at a recent film festival in Indianapolis, a festival of fine films and gamers called Gen Con, she was the only woman in a six-person panel discussing “Producing and Shooting Your Film.”
Reading the Absolute Faith script, I began to speculate about the handsome male helicopter pilot and the pretty female forest ranger. Haarmeyer’s husband Andy is a pilot, and Haarmeyer herself pushes the edge of the speed limit envelope traveling the highways between her businesses in Lovington and Albuquerque. Could Absolute Faith be a story that includes hints of her own life with Andy? Maybe I will ask her about that part of the script some day. In September, she was informed by the judges at the 2016 International
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FOCUS ON LEA COUNTY | FALL 2016
Helping Babies Be Born Naturally
by Leah L.M. Wingert
was Dr. Katrina Fuller’s own experience as a young mother that fueled her passion for the women and babies of Lea County. Through her own birth experience with her eldest daughter while living in Dallas, Fuller was introduced to the world of the doula. A doula, explained Fuller, is a person specially trained in providing continuing “evidence-based education and support” before, during and after the birth process. Are you anxious about what to expect during labor? The antepartum or before-birth doula is trained to help alleviate your fears and provide the information and support you need during the entirety of your pregnancy. Are your feet cold during labor? The labor doula will get you a pair of socks. Just thinking about needing a sip of water? Your labor doula is there providing ice chips. What about after birth when the baby won’t latch? A postpartum doula will come to the house and help teach you and the baby the best way to eat. For Fuller, the realization that Lea County needed doula services came in 2008. She began her business, Natural Nesters, as a breastfeeding service to help the women in Lea County to not “give up on breast feeding,” because although breastfeeding is a “natural [process], it’s learned.” However, Fuller realized an even greater need for the benefits of a doula in Lea County. “That’s when I really saw a need in the community
for the type of support doulas provide. If you don’t know better, you can’t do better.”
In addition to completing her doctorate in education, Fuller has also trained extensively with the professional organization Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association, or CAPPA, with whom she works training other professionals in lactation education. “We [doulas] work alongside doctors and midwives to provide physical and emotional support to the pregnant mother, before child birth as an antepartum doula, a labor doula and even at home after as a postpartum doula.” Over the last decade, there have been numerous case studies from Boston, Massachusetts to Tampa, Florida on the effectiveness of doulas and the increased positive birth outcomes. According to the Journal of Perinatal Education, women who chose to use a doula “had better birth outcomes. Doula-assisted mothers were four times less likely to have a low birth weight baby, two times less likely to experience a birth complication involving themselves or their baby, and significantly more likely to initiate breastfeeding.” As the word spreads about doulas and the immense support they provide grows, Fuller remains enthusiastic about her profession. “I provide evidence-based education for the families of Lea County,” Fuller said. “I have had clients as far away as Carlsbad and Roswell. [I am] training other professionals
PHOTOS: Dr. Katrina Fuller, pictured with her family, enjoys helping the babies of Lea County. • Dr. Fuller is the owner of Natural Nesters. Photos by Tinley Photography
and working with a statewide initiative for breastfeeding and [I am working] to achieve a ‘baby friendly’ designation for New Mexico’s maternity hospitals.” Clients generally find Fuller through word of mouth, her website (naturalnesters. com) or on Facebook (search for Natural Nesters). One of her clients, Celest Waechter of Hobbs, continues to praise the support she received from Fuller years after the birth. “I did a lot of research,” Waechter remembered. “It was my first baby, so I did a lot of reading. I was impressed with the positive birth outcomes from having a doula.” She was not disappointed in her choice of Fuller as a doula alongside the medical professionals also involved in her antepartum care. “She was a godsend,” Waechter enthused. “She did an interview with me to see what I wanted in my birth experience and what my needs were. When I was in labor she ran to her house for things I might need, she took pictures and even made a picture book. She brought comfort and calmness to a chaotic time.” Waechter even returned to Fuller after the birth of her child for additional lactation consultation. “My baby
wouldn’t latch. Katrina came to the house and fixed it in seconds.” “Any support a woman can get [in the birthing process] is important,” Fuller iterated, “and [lactation consulting] helps with basic lactation, positioning and other challenges for both mother and baby.” Fuller smiled as her youngest daughter zoomed into the room. “The best part of my job,” she admitted, “is that it allows me to work from home and be involved in my children’s lives.” Turning to her daughter, she asked, “What does mommy do for work?” “You help babies be born and breast feed,” answered the young girl as she scooted back out of the room. Indeed, that simple statement summed up perfectly the entire objective of a doula’s job.
FALL 2016 | A COMMUNITY MAGAZINE
Museum Hostess Also Lea County Legacy by Kyle Marksteiner
Rosa Doporto has a legacy every bit as rich in Lea County history as the museum in which she serves. Doporto, 72, is the hostess and administrative assistant at the Lea County Museum in Lovington, but much like the neat row of locallypublished history books arranged behind her desk, her own life story is both compelling and a wonderful way
FOCUS ON LEA COUNTY | FALL 2016
to learn more about the area.
She had been a board member with the museum for four years prior to her “recruitment” as an employee. When Jim Harris, the museum’s director, called to pitch the job to her, she originally thought he was just running names past her as a board member.
She had a prior commitment, but Harris asked her to think about it before telling him no. Harris followed her to the Lion’s Club meeting that day and made her an offer she could not refuse. She has worked at the museum for around three years now. “I’ve learned so much more than I could imagine. This is perfect. It keeps me on my toes,” she suggested. The Lea County Museum is a sprawling complex that takes up a good chunk of downtown Lovington. Beyond the two story main building, there are pioneer homes outside, a sports hall of fame and an entire additional two story portion of the museum across the street. Few facets of Lea County history are left unturned. Her office is located in the museum gift shop. The Lea County Museum
PHOTOS: Lovington resident Rosa Doporto works as hostess at the Lea County Museum. She came to Lea County when she was 14 and began working when she was 16 at the Teatro Azteca, a Spanish-language movie theater.
is open Tuesday through Saturday. She was born Rosa Trujillo in Brownsville, Texas, moving here with family members when she was 14. “My uncle had just opened a tortilla factory and restaurant,” she reminisced about the 1959 trip. “Back then, you just got in the car.” El Charro Mexican Food Industries still exists in Roswell, and family members still live in the building where the Lea County factory was once located. Doporto spent her early years taking tickets at the Teatro Azteca, a Spanish-language movie theater located on South Eddy Street in Lovington. The theater was owned by B.F. “Andy” Moore. Her current co-worker, Harris, wrote of her experience selling tickets and running the concession stand: “The Azteca showed the same movie twice on Saturdays, and a new movie would show starting at noon on Sundays. Working in the concession, she saw long lines waiting to buy hot dogs for twenty-five cents. She sold candy bars, cokes, chips, pickles and ice cream. She had trouble keeping ahead of the folks anxious to get their hands on the popcorn, the sounds of its popping and its aroma wafting through the theater.” She spent a significant portion of her career working for Lea County Electric and its sister companies, beginning as a cashier and working her way up through the payroll department. During her final few years with Lea County Electric, she helped interact with the public. “In the last five years, they’d need ‘my tongue’ to do translating,” she shared. “So I’d come out to the front. I really enjoyed the public part of it.”
She had also served for four years as a teacher’s aide and often thinks that had some things been a little different, she would have gotten her teaching degree. “Things happen for a reason,” she reflected. “Our lives have courses that we follow.” She has been very active in local service groups. She’s been a member of the local Lion’s Club since 1933 and served as the club’s first female president. “I did that for three years,” she added, joking, “They said I hadn’t done it right, so I’d have to keep repeating it.” She was elected as district governor for Lions International in 2009. Locally, she was a charter member of the local LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) effort and a charter member of the Hispanic Heritage society, among many other organizations. Her current job at the museum involves a mix of public interaction and bookkeeping. “You know, as a board member, we kind of took things for granted,” she admitted. “It was not really until I actually started working here that I saw the guts of the museum. It makes me so proud to be a part of this community.” The Lea County Museum is a living entity with a scope well beyond the items on display. The museum has a printing press that has issued 14 books, for example, and Harris began a summer concert series that has become incredibly popular. But one of the museum’s true treasures is, without a doubt, its people, and any worthwhile trip should certainly include a few minutes of visitation with Rosa Doporto.
by Breanna Ellison
ebecca Titus is a long time Lea County resident who was born and raised in Hobbs. At first glance, you might have no idea of the multiple roles this kind, family-oriented woman has within the community. As she herself put it, she wears “many, many hats.” Her main priority, however, is her family. She said her husband and two children are her motivation for all the many things she does as well as her faith. In fact, she declared, without those two things, she probably would not be where she is today. She makes sure to have plenty of time for activities at Crosswinds Community Church. She and her husband volunteer regularly in the youth ministry in order to make it a family affair. They also make trips
FOCUS ON LEA COUNTY | FALL 2016
to the sand dunes, and enjoy many other fun getaways for the family. She affirmed, “I do it all for them (her family),” so she makes sure that none of her other obligations overshadow the time that she needs to devote to her loved ones. However, this does not stop her from giving a huge amount of time to everyone else! She started her public service career by working with lawyers as a paralegal and victim coordinator. It had been her goal to become a lawyer when she was younger; however, after working closely in the legal system with other lawyers, she
decided that was not her passion. She did love the work that she had been doing and decided instead to teach. She has been with PHOTO ABOVE: Rebecca Titus and her family at the Stone Fun Run. PHOTOS BELOW (LEFT TO RIGHT): PIE Board, Fitness Fury Class, Stone Fun Run
New Mexico Junior College as a professor for thirteen years now, teaching students who are enrolled in the criminal justice program. Titus also owns an exercise facility called Fitness Fury. When asked how this started, she explained that weight had always been a topic in her home growing up, and she decided about five years ago that she wanted to be healthier. She didn’t want her daughter to ever look at herself and worry about her weight or body image, so she wanted to set the example to be healthy and fit. Soon friends began working out in her home, which led to Fitness Fury. Since turning her passion into a business, she has been able to make a huge impact on those who take her classes and benefit from her encouragement. As if being a professor and owning a business was not enough, Titus also finds the time to sit on multiple non-profit boards. She works with MyPower, Inc., the United Way, is the Relay for Life co-chair and is a member of the PIE (Parents
in Education) board at Stone Elementary. When asked how she juggles it all, she simply replied, “Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. It is all about what you make with it.” She admitted that most of these volunteer projects were things that she had originally been approached to help with, but each of them has become a passion, and they all hold a special place in her heart for various reasons. MyPower, Inc., for example, was huge because she wants her daughter to grow up seeing strong independent women. The United Way allows her to give of herself to various deserving causes all at once, which was a huge bonus for her. Relay for Life is special because she has many friends who have been affected by cancer, including one who passed away right after high school graduation. Then, of course, the PIE board allows her to give back to her children’s education and help the schools they attend. Titus is breathtakingly humble about it all. When asked if she has had to
make any sacrifices in order to do all that she does, she responded with a yes and a no. Her time is stretched thin, but she has learned how to balance it, because, in her opinion, “If not me, then who? Everyone is busy. That is not an excuse not to do it. I want to constantly give back, because you never know when it will be your time to go. I want to leave a legacy that my children will remember and be proud of.” When asked how she felt about being a leader in Lea County, she smiled and admitted, “That isn’t how I see myself. I am much more of an encourager than a leader.” It is clear to see why she made the cut for “The Women Leaders of Lea County.” Her kindness, good heart and drive to help others and better her community makes her a wonderful role model and the perfect leader. Anyone who has had the pleasure of coming in contact with her can see this, and the Lea County community is better for all she does!
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DR. MARY HARRIS
Educator Since 1973 and Still Going Strong by Kyle Marksteiner
Dr. Mary Harris has spent a great deal of her life either teaching, teaching about teaching, administrating teaching or being taught herself. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
decades into the past. In fact, she’s been a teacher and educator since 1971, where she began a three-year stint as a fourth grade teacher at Kemp Elementary School. Harris and her husband, Jim, moved to Lea County when he took a teaching position at New Mexico Junior College.
“I guess I’ve been in education all my life,” Harris admitted. “It seems like either as a student or as a teacher,
“I thought maybe I’d stay home,” she confessed. “But then I put in a job application that same day.”
PHOTO: Dr. Mary Harris has been an educator since 1973. Presently,
she is the dean of education at the University of the Southwest in Hobbs.
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somehow it has become my avocation as well as my profession.” Harris currently serves as the Dean of the School of Education at the University of the Southwest in Hobbs, but her role as an educator dips several
Harris returned to elementary school education in Hobbs and also began
as dean for 11 years. That being said, she’s moving out of administration at the end of this school year.
working in special education. At around the same time, she earned her master’s degree in special education from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.
“I will say that I’m ready to focus on other responsibilities with the university such as the office of special services,” she added. “As much as I enjoyed being dean, I’m ready to hand it over to someone else and focus on my first love of helping people with special needs who just need a little help to succeed.”
In 1998, she became a full-time faculty member at the College of the Southwest—now the University of the Southwest. She also began working toward her doctorate through Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, completing the program in 2004. “It was a unique, hybrid doctoral program where I didn’t have to have a full-time residence,” she explained. “It worked out perfectly.”
In her anticipated role next year, Dr. Harris will teach special education courses at the undergrad and graduate level while also working directly with special needs students enrolled at the university. “That’s what I like to do most,” she declared. “Help people empower themselves. By golly, I’m here to help them in any way I can.”
While Harris declared that she originally had no plans to move into management, she was invited to become dean in 2006. It was an opportunity to learn and grow, she noted, and she has now served PHOTO: Dr. Mary Harris, pictured with her husband, Jim.
Harris described the University of the Southwest as a non-denominational place of growth that follows Christian
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principles “to prepare young men and women for a life of leadership.” The university offers a more personal touch than larger campuses, she shared, and she could not ask for a better faculty or staff. There have been a few changes to the field of education since 1971, among them the increased reliance on on-line classes or distance education, most notably at the collegiate level. It’s clearly an issue to which Harris has dedicated a significant amount of thought. “I truly enjoy working face-to-face with people on a personal and relationship type level,” she admitted, “but I really like distance learning, because I feel it is an opportunity to provide the college experience and education to people who would otherwise absolutely be unable to earn a degree because of work or caregiving responsibilities.” Online learning can be made very personal, she noted, and she strives to develop relationships when she is working in a virtual setting. Whatever the drawbacks, online learning winds up solidly in the plus corner, because it “provides accessibility that really fits with my philosophy of helping people,” she shared.
PHOTO: Dr. Mary Harris, pictured with her husband, Jim, and son, Hunter Hawk
served on the board with St. Helena Catholic School and has assisted the MyPower, Inc. organization since its inception. “I’ve seen it grow from just a small handful of young women to many schools, even in other towns beyond Hobbs,” she beamed. “We want to help young girls and young women make good choices in their life and be strong, independent thinkers.” Harris enjoys reading, travelling, dogs and spending time with her husband, Jim, with whom she shares many similar interests. They have one son together, Hunter Hawk Harris, who teaches online with the University of the Southwest and owns a cycle shop. Jim Harris, now director of the Lea County Museum, is himself a retired educator. It’s probably safe to say that education runs in the family. “I just continue to enjoy serving students and other people at the University of the Southwest,” Dr. Mary Harris concluded. “I like trying to make a difference in people’s lives.”
When she isn’t busy serving as dean, Harris keeps herself occupied volunteering on the educational front. She’s been a career-long member of the National Education Association, and she said her involvement in that organization has always been important to her. She’s
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PUZZLES Women’s History Trivia • Victoria Claflin Woodhull was an American suffragist who was described by Gilded Age newspapers as a leader of the American woman’s suffrage movement in the 19th century. Woodhull was nominated for president of the United States by the newly formed Equal Rights Party on May 10, 1872. • In 1931, Jane Addams was the first woman from the U.S.—and only the second woman ever—to win the Nobel Peace Prize. • The first women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. It followed two days of debates when 68 women and 32 men signed a Declaration of Sentiments, which outlined the agenda for the women’s rights movement. • In 1904, Lizzie Magie invented a game called The Landlords Game, a forerunner of Monopoly. • In 1916, Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to the United States House of Representatives. As the first female member of Congress, she was sometimes referred to as the Lady of the House. • In May of 1932 Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. • In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to graduate from medical school and was a pioneer in educating women in medicine. • The 19th Amendment, ratified on August 18, 1920, prohibits each state and the federal government from denying any citizen the right to vote because of that citizen’s sex. • Madeleine Albright was the first woman to become Secretary of State. She was appointed by President Bill Clinton on December 5, 1996. • On May 5, 1809, Mary Kies was the first female recipient of a patent granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which was for a technique of weaving straw with silk and thread. Information taken from multiple sources including funtrivia.com and wikipedia.
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Try to wrap your mind around a few of these puzzles, taken from Rinkworks.com. 1 • A high school has a strange principal. On the first day, he has his students perform an odd opening day ceremony: There are 1000 lockers and 1000 students in the school. The principal asks the first student to go to every locker and open it. Then he has the second student go to every second locker and close it. The third goes to every third locker and if it is closed, he opens it, and if it is open, he closes it. The fourth student does this to every fourth locker, and so on. After the process is completed with the thousandth student, how many lockers are open? 2 • You must cut a birthday cake into exactly eight pieces, but you’re only allowed to make three straight cuts, and you can’t move pieces of the cake as you cut. How can you do it? 3 • There are several chickens and rabbits in a cage (with no other types of animals). There are 72 heads and 200 feet inside the cage. How many chickens are there and how many rabbits? 4 • A toy store ordered 7 small bags and 18 large bags of identical marbles. When the marbles arrived, it was discovered that the bags had broken during shipping, and all 233 of the marbles were rolling around loose in the box. How many marbles were supposed to go in each of the small bags and how many were supposed to go in each of the large bags?
Answer 1 • The only lockers that remain open are perfect squares (1, 4, 9, 16, etc.) because they are the only numbers divisible by an odd number of whole numbers; every factor other than the number’s square root is paired up with another. So the number of open lockers is the number of perfect squares less than or equal to 1000. These numbers are 12, 22, 32, 42, and so on, up to 312. So the answer is 31. Answer 2 • Use the first two cuts to cut an ‘X’ vertically into the top of the cake to create 4 pieces. Make the third cut horizontally through the side of the cake, which will divide the 4 pieces into 8. Think of a 2x2x2 Rubik’s cube. There are 4 pieces on the top tier and 4 more just underneath it. Answer 3 • The cage holds 44 chickens and 28 rabbits. Answer 4 • The small bags of marbles contained 5 each while the large bags contained 11 each.
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