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Mother and daughter graduate together from NMSU May 10

A mother and daughter, both majoring in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, will graduate from New Mexico State University May 10, a first for the department.

Stella Lucero and daughter Veronica Cordova in their cap and gown. The two will graduate from New Mexico State University's school of HRTM on May 10. (Courtesy Photo)

Stella Lucero and her daughter Veronica Cordova took two very different roads to NMSU and graduation.

After graduating high school, Cordova entered NMSU as an education major. She later decided to change her major to HRTM because of her love of restaurants.

"I wanted to do something that I would want to do for the rest of my life and that would make me happy," Cordova said.

After working for the Las Cruces Public School system for 25 years, Lucero retired. She then decided to go back to school and attended Dona Ana Community College. After receiving two degrees from there, Lucero decided to attend NMSU.

"After seeing what Veronica was doing I became interested," Lucero said.

The mother and daughter even took a few classes together, including Senior Capstone. Veronica interned in Hot Springs, Ark., where she catered concerts. Lucero had an internship with NASCAR and also received the Leadership of Excellence award from the school of HRTM.

The mother and daughter did face hard times in their college career. After entering into the National Guard, Cordova was sent to Iraq in February 2005. Lucero's mother, with whom she was very close, passed away in 2006.

"I didn't want to continue with my education after that, but Priscilla Bloomquist really pushed me to stay," Lucero said.

Bloomquist is a professor in HRTM.

By fall of 2006, Cordova was back from Iraq and had reentered NMSU. At that time, Lucero and Cordova made an agreement to graduate together in honor of Lucero's mother and Cordova's return from Iraq.

"I worked really hard to graduate with my mother," Cordova said. "I was a full-time student, taking 18 credit hours every semester to get it done."

In honor of their achievement, the university has arranged for Lucero and Cordova to receive their diplomas at the same time during graduation.

"It will be a good Mother's Day gift," Cordova said.

Lucero and Cordova said their experience at NMSU has not only brought them closer together, it has also given them a great education.

"We got a quality education at NMSU," Lucero said. "The school of HRTM offers great professors and networking opportunities. The school just keeps getting better and better."

After graduation, Cordova will begin training with the franchise Buffalo Wild Wings, which will come to Albuquerque and Las Cruces. As for Lucero, she will finish her work with the Pete V. Domenici Legacy project and would like to get involved with New Mexico tourism.

For the 2008 spring semester, 1,497 undergraduate students and 599 graduate students have applied to graduate. More than 1,300 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.