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Graduate appreciates research opportunities while a student at NMSU

An international research project proved to be a highlight for a student who capped her undergraduate experience at New Mexico State University by being honored as a top student.


Portrait of a woman
New Mexico State University graduate Sativa Cruz. (NMSU photo)

As the spring 2016 semester came to an end, Sativa Cruz was chosen as the Outstanding Senior from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, due to her outstanding involvement while a student at NMSU.

While pursuing a bachelor?s degree in environmental science, with a minor in sustainable development, Cruz was very passionate about her degree and being involved in many organizations and research projects.

While studying one of the most challenging majors in the College of ACES, Cruz was able to graduate with University Honors and a resume full of leadership and research experiences.

Cruz served as a National Institutes of Health Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) Fellow, a 2013-2014 College of ACES Ambassador and president of the Environmental Science Student Organization her freshman and sophomore years. She also worked in the Nature Center at the Museum of Nature and Science in Las Cruces, along with many other leadership experiences.

?Through these experiences I was able to develop my leadership skills and connect with other students who are also trying to promote the same things,? Cruz said. ?My college experience would have been very different; without leadership and not being so involved I would have just had a traditional school experience.?

Cruz worked hard to achieve high standards academically throughout her college career. Aside from her good grades, she was the Honors College?s Student of the Month in January 2016, was a Sundt Honor Scholar and was awarded with a $6,000 Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) student grant to conduct research in drip irrigation systems.

With the student grant she received, Cruz was able to return to Colombia where she had previously traveled. Through this grant she was able to install an irrigation system, look at current climate conditions to develop better irrigation systems and help teach students how to install irrigation systems.

?This project has allowed me to participate in an international research project focused on developing resilient resource management strategies,? Cruz said. ?It has taught me that projects of this sort can represent larger, bigger aspirations such as educating for peace through training young leaders in agricultural engineering.?

After graduation, Cruz returned to the University of La Salle?s Utopia campus in Casanare, Colombia, for three months to work on an irrigation project and teach English. She saw that there was not an irrigation system in place but that there was a plan, so, with the help of a small fund, the infrastructure is now in place. She said this international research was difficult, but it was also very humbling that people believed in what she was doing along with herself.

Cruz also got the chance to work at the Laboratory of Peace where students come from rural Colombia to learn how to become agricultural engineers.

Cruz has since returned to the U.S. and is pursuing a graduate degree in Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University. Cruz said she believes that this area of study is a very important extension of her undergraduate degree received from NMSU.