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NMSU wins Partners in the Americas Grant, will host Universidad de La Salle President

New Mexico State University and Universidad de La Salle in Bogota, Colombia, partnered to win one of nine innovative grants from the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative last month.

As a result of the grant, NMSU will host ULS President Hermano Carlos Gabriel Gomez, June 21-24. Gomez, also known as Brother Carlos, will give a public presentation ?Project Utopia? at 4:30 p.m. Monday, June 23, in Corbett Center West Ballroom.

Gomez developed the Utopia Project, which is designed to help youth, who have been displaced by the drug war, a career as agricultural engineers. The project graduates its first class this month. In addition, Gomez is currently the president of the worldwide International Association of La Salle Universities, a global network of 60 universities.

?Brother Carlos is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met,? said Cornell H. Menking, NMSU associate provost for international and border programs. ?I have worked with his university for close to five years, and have watched his leadership transform their university. But he and his project are not only interesting to me. The Utopia Project is gaining notice in the region and in the country of Colombia. They have won major national and regional peace and development awards and the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, called a full cabinet meeting on the rural Utopia Project campus and announced that he wanted to fund a replication of the project tenfold.

?But for Brother Carlos, it?s a personal passion to serve the people of his country,? he said. ?It is part of his mission as a member of the Lasallian order, a group of Catholic brothers devoted to making education accessible.?

NMSU?s Office of International and Border Programs spearheaded the program for the university and the grant ?Leaders Innovating for the Reinvention of an Agricultural Sustainable Region in Peace? will fund student and faculty reciprocal exchanges to help address irrigation challenges affecting the Utopia Project.

Mick O?Neill, agronomy professor at the Agricultural Science Center at Farmington, will lead the technical team from NMSU. Daniel Smeal, college professor at the Agricultural Science Center at Farmington, and Blair Stringam, college associate professor in plant and environmental sciences, will assist O?Neill, while Kristian Chervenock, with the office of education abroad, will help with student mobility.

NMSU and ULS were awarded the grant by the United States Department of State, Partners of the Americas and NAFSA: Association of International Educators at the inaugural 100,000 Strong in the Americas capacity building workshop. President Barak Obama created the 100,000 Strong in the America initiative to increase educational exchanges in the Western Hemisphere and to strengthen U.S. relations with countries in the Americas through student mobility.

For more information on the 100,000 Strong in the Americas, visit www.nafsa.org.