Medic, engineer, computer scientist, administrator

Peñasco alumni pursue goals with degrees from UNM-LA

Staff report
Posted 6/7/17

Among the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos graduates on May 12 were four Peñasco High School alumni. All four graduated with honors. Patrick V. Medina Jr.The summer before his senior year of high school, Patrick V. Medina Jr. obtained a job …

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Medic, engineer, computer scientist, administrator

Peñasco alumni pursue goals with degrees from UNM-LA

Posted

Among the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos graduates on May 12 were four Peñasco High School alumni. All four graduated with honors.

Patrick V. Medina Jr.

The summer before his senior year of high school, Patrick V. Medina Jr. obtained a job at Los Alamos National Laboratory working with a technician. When he graduated from Peñasco High School in 2014, he decided to pursue his studies at UNM-LA.

Medina mentioned how much the small class sizes were a benefit, allowing extensive time for individual work with the instructor. Additionally, he said, "Lots of my friends came here. I always run into people I know on campus."

Having completed his associate degree in pre-engineering in December, Medina now works full time as a technician at LANL, where he builds fiber-optic boxes for experimental applications.

Anthony R. Sanchez

Anthony R. Sanchez, also a 2014 Peñasco High School graduate, began studies at New Mexico Highlands University and then transferred to UNM-LA. He works at LANL and said, "LANL was really helpful about letting me set my work hours around my class schedule."

Sanchez is a technician maintaining test equipment at the lab. He said his group members encouraged him in his studies, talking to him about classes.

He completed an associate degree in pre-engineering and has transferred to UNM-Albuquerque, where he is studying mechanical engineering. Sanchez enjoys working with computer-aided design and is interested in design.

Kimberly Vigil

A 2011 graduate of Peñasco, Kimberly Vigil attended UNM in Albuquerque for one year. Now a single mother with two young children, Vigil says providing a good life for her children is her motivation.

Vigil lives in Peñasco and feels fortunate that her mother can take care of the children, which allows her to go back to school with the financial support of a Pell Grant. While in a nursing program at UNM-Taos, she discovered her affinity for computers and transferred to UNM-LA. She was pleased that credits transferred easily between the two branch campuses.

After completing an associate degree in computer science, Vigil is now applying for a position at LANL. "I'd like to be a systems administrator because I like working with hardware," she said.

Steven Angelo Vigil

Steven Vigil graduated from Peñasco High School in 2015 and enrolled at UNM-Los Alamos right away to pursue an associate degree in fire science technology. The small classes at UNM-LA appealed to him - that and the fact that "professors know you by name," he said, according to information prepared by the college. Vigil took some of his classes online and commuted from home for the face-to-face classes.

At UNM-LA, classes for the fire science program are taught by current professionals from the Los Alamos Fire Department. Vigil found that hearing about real-life experiences from these instructors made the classes more exciting. Getting hands-on experience in an ambulance simulator was a highlight of the course. Vigil plans to pursue his bachelor's degree at UNM-Albuquerque, with a goal of becoming a physician assistant in emergency medicine or possibly a helicopter flight medic. Ultimately, Vigil hopes to obtain a position with the Los Alamos Fire Department.

As a branch campus of the University of New Mexico, UNM-LA offers 21 associate degrees and a variety of certificate programs, serving students from throughout Northern New Mexico. Kathryn Vigil, student enrollment director, shared, "It's always a pleasure to work with ambitious students and help launch their careers. Congratulations to these graduates!"

For information about UNM-LA, visit losalamos.unm.edu or call (505) 662-5919.

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