The first time I saw Albuquerque was during winter break of my senior year of college. My 3 year old son and I drove east from California in an aging pickup truck to check out the University of New Mexico
as a possible place to spend a few years while I attended graduate school
The two of us had been to New Mexico numerous times, but always stayed in the northwestern corner of the state - visiting sites on the Navajo Nation
where my son’s paternal grandparents, a hydrologist and a medical mycologist, had worked and lived many years ago.
We spent a scant 24 hours driving around Albuquerque and UNM in 1992 – the campus was quiet during the break, but I liked the architecture; the street names in Spanish reminded me of home and the bare contours of the mesas and mountains appealed to our eyes. People were kind to us, chatting with my son and me as we explored the Duke City and tried sopapillas
with honey for the first time.
I became a UNM graduate student, then a research assistant and a teaching assistant, an instructor, and finally an alumnus
. Some point later I started working for the university as a consultant. I’ve worn many hats at UNM, but this past week I donned a new one.
I’m now a UNM parent.
Last week I helped haul clothes and books and electronic gear into a UNM college dormitory, attended an orientation for families
of freshmen, and
started to recover from sticker shock at the cost of textbooks at the campus bookstore.
I also spent a fair amount of lumpy-throated time sitting and reflecting in my son’s empty and clean-ish bedroom, along with our family pets, who have claimed this newly quiet space as their den.
Lobo parent orientation was designed to allay our fears, to guide us through red tape, to give us a list of names to contact and faces to associate with the names, and to orient us to our new role. There was even a nifty little session titled “Redefining your Relationship”, where we learned, among other things, not to make surprise visits to the dorms.
Even though I have been associated with UNM for more than a decade, I learned a few things.
1. The Lobo Cheer
: Everyone’s a Lobo – WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! (They don’t teach this to graduate students – or maybe I was in the library
when they did).
2. That intense helicopter parents
are called BlackHawk parents. (As a faculty member at another university, I have encountered this scary species from time to time. Each encounter leaves me praising the powers-that-be who implemented FERPA
3. That the ADA compliant visual and audible fire alarms work quite well! We were rushed out of three different buildings, SUB
and La Posada
, in a span of less than 3 hours last Friday.
4. That UNM has a parent-relations office
5. That, contrary to my progeny’s assessment, I am NOT the most technologically backwards parent in Albuquerque. Many parents are unfamiliar with Twitter
, and clickers
. (My apparent generational techno-savvy fails to impress my offspring, who never pass up an opportunity to mock my technological ineptitude, a prerogative of youth).
Today is the first day of school at UNM.
While I could have given my son the spiel I give all to each of my college students on the first day of class, I figure that he's had a lifetime to absorb Mom's rantings about the importance of education and pursuing your passion(s).
Instead, I have given my son the following advice:
1. Green chile stew is served during Welcome Back Days
– check out the schedule.
2. Work hard, play hard.
3. Get involved
with an organization
or start your own.
4. Each semester, take at least one course that makes you stretch outside of your comfort zone. (This
might be a good place to start).
5. Don’t wash your new cherry and silver
Lobo shirt in the same laundry load as your tighty whiteys
To all members of the UNM entering class of 2012 - have a great freshman year!
(And especially to ARB and his best friend MAA...)