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NMSU student overcomes boundaries to graduate in May 2008

At age 41, Itzel Patricia Rosales will graduate from New Mexico State University with a bachelor's degree in secondary education with an emphasis in Spanish from the College of Education and a bachelor's degree in Spanish from the College of Arts and Sciences on May 10.

Rosales, originally from Juarez, Mexico, came to the United States in 1985, after getting married. She couldn't work because she didn't speak English and didn't have the appropriate papers. Rosales instead stayed home for 11 years and took care of her three children. However, she said she had always wanted to attend college.

In 1996, Rosales received permission to work and began her first job at Memorial Medical Center cleaning laundry.

"It was hard work and I realized I didn't want to do it all of my life," she said.

Rosales remembered her father telling her how important it is to have an education, so she could support herself, so in 1997 she began to learn English. She received high praise from her ESL teacher.

"She said she would usually curve the grades in her classes, but she couldn't because I got a 100 percent," Rosales said.

With that encouragement, Rosales began to attend Dona Ana Community College in 1999 as a part time student. It was during this time Rosales realized that college was where she wanted to be. Even though she had to start from zero taking English 105 and pre-algebra, Rosales worked hard and received the highest grade of her class on her first exam.

Rosales said it is hard for her to start classes as an ESL student because she was worried the professor would embarrass her, but it never happened.

"I never felt discrimination from my professors because they always were willing to help me and encourage me," Rosales said. "My teachers treated me like I spoke English and it helped my self-esteem because I was like an equal."

By 2004, Rosales was attending NMSU and
became a full-time student in 2006 majoring in secondary education in the College of Education. She said she decided on education because she was a natural teacher and her mother, who was illiterate, was her first student.

"My mother was my first inspiration to become a teacher even though she never learned to read and write," Rosales said. "Because of her I wish that everyone can have the opportunity of an education."

Rosales is finishing up her student teaching in Spanish at Las Cruces High School. She likes teaching because it allows her to help others, even those that don't ask for help.

After graduation, Rosales wants to continue her education and pursue a master's in education; she also would like to obtain a second license in math. She said she wants to work here in Las Cruces.

Rosales encourages everyone to pursue their goals no matter what people say and also to have discipline by working and studying hard.

"Your value is according to what you know, not only that you come to college and got degree, but that you know your stuff and are an expert in your area," Rosales said.

Rosales said she had to make several sacrifices to obtain an education, such as working double shifts and missing out on family activities. However, she said it was worth it because now she has been able to find out who she really is.

For the 2008 spring semester, 1,497 undergraduate students and 599 graduate students have applied to graduate. More than 1,200 students will participate in the two commencement ceremonies held at the Pan American Center.

The first ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. for the Colleges of Agriculture and Home Economics, Business, Engineering and Extended Learning. The second ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. for the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education, Health and Social Services.

Ed and Harold Foreman, who were born in Portales, N.M. and donated $1.5 million to the College of Engineering in 2005, will receive honorary degrees from NMSU during the commencement ceremony.