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NMSU Student Regent Ready To Wrap Up Studies, Service on Board

LAS CRUCES - Bolstered by scholarships and her accomplishments as a New Mexico State University student regent, Felicia Ybarra is ready to finish her schooling and her term.

New Mexico State University student regent Felicia Ybarra prepares for her final semester as a regent, and as an undergraduate. (09/08/2004) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

Ybarra was named a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute 2004 scholar, which includes a $2,500 award. She is one of 40 undergraduates nationwide to receive the award, and the only recipient from NMSU. The award is given to Latino students who have been involved in public service in their communities.

She is one of six undergraduates in the U.S. to receive the 2004 Shop America Alliance Scholarship from the Travel Industry Association of America, a $3,000 award. The award is given to a deserving college student in hospitality, retail or tourism.

Ybarra, a senior majoring in hotel, restaurant and tourism management, said she was surprised and excited to receive the awards, which will help her finish her last semester.

Her most rewarding accomplishment as a regent has been "just being able to make an impact on a university of this size." She's proud of the change in university policy to offer benefits to employees' domestic partners and has enjoyed representing students. She never imagined she'd be involved in the search for a new university president or have her name on the plaques of new buildings approved for construction during her term.

"That's the 'wow' factor," she said. "To know that I was one small, miniscule part of that is something I revel in every night when I go to bed. It still doesn't seem real."

To smooth the transition to the next student regent, Ybarra is making sure students are ready to apply, and working on background materials for her successor.

For Ybarra, the position was challenging and rewarding.

"You have to be able to have the confidence level to speak up," she said. "You don't want to do it at first. It's daunting."

The next regent can reshape the position.

"It's as big a job as you want to make it," she said. "It can consume you."

For Ybarra, graduation probably will mean joining the workforce, though she doesn't rule out graduate school. Either way, she plans to stay involved in community service.

Attending NMSU has had a big impact on her life.

"I have gotten more out of my university experiences than I ever expected to," Ybarra said. "It has enriched my world so much."

Her classroom and board room experiences provided many unexpected insights.
"You can't put a price tag on that," she said. "It's been invaluable."