You Are Moving Where?

 Faith Edwards RN, PhD

You are leaving a tenured position at a university to work at a two-year junior college in Las Vegas, New Mexico?  Isn’t that hypocritical? These were questions colleagues asked as I departed the university for a small town in rural New Mexico.

I wondered about hypocrisy. Arriving at Luna Vocational Technical Institute (LVTI) I soon realized the importance of an associate degree in nursing. It provided a way out of poverty for many and filled a need for nurses in rural New Mexico.

This academic adventure lasted twelve years and posed challenges. To meet challenges my initial goals, were recruiting faculty and increasing the national exam pass rate of a failing program.  With time, work and perseverance, faculty were hired and the passing rate increased. There was one unfinished goal and that was finding my replacement. Meeting this goal would take time as New Mexico is a Land of Manana.  It was important to me that a Hispanic woman take my job as she represented the demographics of New Mexico especially Northern New Mexico.

That woman was Bea Hurtado RN, BSN. When approached regarding teaching she said no. I told her, I was patient and when ready had a job as faculty. Three years later she accepted a faculty position. Five years later, University of New Mexico, started an outreach graduate program in nursing for rural New Mexico. Bea enrolled in the program and graduated two years later.

People questioned as to why I wanted to give “my job” away as salary was great and the reputation of the program was excellent. I wanted to give it away because I had done what I was suppose to do and a Hispanic Women would be a strong role model for those seeking nursing.

In 1997, I move back to the Midwest. Bea accepted the job as Director of Nursing. For me, the program was right where I wanted it to be. It was reputable and a Hispanic woman took my job. Fast forward to 2020, Bea is in the area, teaching in a BSN program and connected to LVTI. Though not the director of the program any more, she left her mark…and it is a good one.

Today, I am back working at a community college and know as I did in 1997, arriving in New Mexico, that I was not hypocritical. It feels good to have come full circle back to a community college.