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NMSU 'Doing What Counts' campaign creates more than 300 new endowed scholarships

An increase in scholarship endowments is just one of the huge successes New Mexico State University is celebrating at the close of the NMSU Foundation's first comprehensive campaign, the largest undertaken by the university to date.


"By permanently establishing more than 300 endowed student scholarships, the quality of education and the lives of our current and future students has been forever transformed," said Riis Gonzales, vice president of development for the NMSU Foundation.

Several of the 323 new endowed scholarships added during the "Doing What Counts" campaign will benefit non-traditional students, meeting the needs of the student population and furthering the goals of the university.

"We're finding more and more non-traditional students have been enrolling at NMSU," said Diane Calhoun, director of scholarships and stewardship for the NMSU Foundation. "In the past, many traditional scholarships were geared toward students who went straight to college after graduating from high school, but so many of our students have a different story to tell."

Many NMSU alumni identify with non-traditional students, having once been "non-traditional" as well. They are requesting that their scholarship gifts go to students with a similar background or who face similar challenges, Calhoun said.

Created during the campaign, the Wolslager Foundation Scholarship and the Ross and Lydia Lopez Minority Undergraduate Scholarship are examples of two such scholarship funds.

NMSU alumna Patty Lopez established The Ross and Lydia Lopez Minority Undergraduate Scholarship in honor of her parents. The scholarship is designed to help high school students from certain towns in northern New Mexico begin their college education in electrical engineering or computer science at NMSU.

"The idea was a bridge scholarship to help the students who may not otherwise have been able to attend college that first semester because of a lack of funds. A scholarship and a laptop computer give them the opportunity to be successful with their studies, lessening the need to work while in school," Lopez said. "It's an honor to receive a scholarship. To the student it says someone believes in them and is willing to invest in them, and it enhances their potential educational success."

The Wolslager Foundation has been supporting non-traditional students through scholarships at NMSU and NMSU's Dona Ana Community College since 2005. The Wolslager Foundation awards 70 scholarships to students at both campuses each year.

Joshua Rivera, a radiology student at DACC, said receiving the Wolslager Scholarship has helped him continue his education and follow his dreams.

"The scholarship has helped tremendously with my schooling," Rivera said. "Because of the internships I am doing, I have to work a lot of hours without pay, and the scholarship has helped with my expenses and the materials I need for radiology school."

Rivera said seeing the impact the scholarship has had on him and other students has given him the desire to help others through the field of medicine and possibly through a scholarship fund of his own one day.

"I greatly admire what Mr. Wolslager and other donors like him are doing," Rivera said. "It makes me want to help other students in the same way someday."

The endowed scholarships established during the "Doing What Counts" campaign will provide financial support to more NMSU students than ever before, Calhoun said. In fact, during the 2009-2010 academic year, $2.5 million in scholarship money was awarded to the university through gifted funds.

"The creation of that many new endowed scholarships shows that our donor base understands the importance of supporting students," Calhoun said. "It also is important for people who love this university and what it stands for to get to see that their gifts are being appreciated and have such a big impact."

Since the campaign's initiation in October 2005, more than 28,000 individuals have contributed at least one gift to the campaign. "Doing What Counts" is the most ambitious fundraising endeavor undertaken by the university and has already exceeded expectations. The original goal of $150 million by December 2008 was met so early in the effort, the NMSU Foundation Board of Directors decided to revise the goal to $225 million and extend the campaign to December 2010.

"Completing this campaign is a tribute to all of our partners, students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. The NMSU Foundation is proud to be a part of this partnership, and thrilled at the success of our record-setting fundraising campaign," Gonzales said. "Together, through the 'Doing What Counts' campaign, we have made an NMSU education more affordable and more accessible for all future Aggie generations."

The NMSU Foundation will celebrate the successful "Doing What Counts" comprehensive campaign as part of its biannual Board of Directors meeting held in conjunction with the university's Homecoming, Oct. 25-30. For more information, visit http://www.foundation.nmsu.edu/.