DACC recognizes Archuleta with honorary degree
Former city councillor remains active in the community
By Jaylene McIntosh For the Las Cruces Bulletin
A multitude of colors emerge from the desert each May in the form of academic regalia as students walk across the stages of their respective educational institutions to accept an academic degree.
Whether it’s a high school diploma, college certificate or specific degree, education is the basic springboard from which a myriad of pursuits can be launched.
This month, Doña Ana Community College will introduce nearly 1,300 graduates to the local work force.
“DACC graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills required to open doors to new opportunities,” said Margie Huerta, DACC president.
The role of DACC in the local community has always been to make higher education accessible and affordable, thereby building a knowledgeable and skilled work force.
One individual who understands this role is lifelong Las Cruces resident Dolores Archuleta, who will receive an honorary associate degree of business management during a special pre-graduation recognition ceremony Tuesday, May 9. Archuleta was among four nominees, and was selected for the honor because of her personal success and unwavering commitment to the local community.
Archuleta began working at McBride Clinic as a nurse’s aide upon her eighth-grade graduation. During Archuleta’s high school career, McBride Clinic closed, and she continued to work as an aide at the new Memorial General Hospital.
During her time as an aide, Archuleta, along with 14 fellow nurse’s aides, was recommended for a new, two-year Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program through the University of New Mexico. She continued to work her shift while attending the program. Archuleta graduated Oct. 19, 1953, at Memorial General Hospital as part of the first LPN graduating class in Las Cruces.
Archuleta said nursing was her first love, but she was introduced to new opportunities at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR).
While working at WSMR, she saved money to take classes at New Mexico State University in the evenings and Saturdays, with the goal to earn a degree in business. She took classes for two years.
“I was one of those non-traditional students, married with children,” she said. “I feel that my initiative to continue my education contributed to my selection as a management analyst intern for the Department of the Army. Up to then, the Army only hired male analysts.”
She said four individuals – all women – were selected for the three-year appointments, which included training two and three weeks at a time at the U.S. Army Engineering Activity Center in Rock Island, Ill. She said the appointment was very interesting and rewarding.
Archuleta offers the following advice for non-traditional students looking to return to school: “(Don’t) worry about age. Some instructors feel non-traditional students do better because of the sacrifices they are making to get an education.”
Archuleta has always valued education and recalls her connection to DACC began in 2001, upon her election to the Las Cruces City Council.
“We were told over and over again that (the city) could not bring jobs to the community because we didn’t have a trained work force for the positions,” she said. “Many of our high school graduates were not continuing their education because they were either not encouraged at home or didn’t have the money, or simply didn’t think a college education was necessary.”
Archuleta has witnessed firsthand the growth of DACC and expansion of program offerings to meet the needs of the local economy. Today, DACC offers 38 academic and career programs, with new offerings on the horizon.
To future college students, Archuleta said, “If you haven’t already, start planning your education beyond high school. We live in a wonderful and diverse community that needs you to make it better. Keep in mind, you can be anything you want to be.”
Through her community involvement, Archuleta has witnessed the effects of DACC students who have entered the local work force.
“They appear confident and very professional,” she said. “DACC has a great future in Doña Ana County because of what it has to offer, and the expansion of DACC throughout the county makes it easier for students to attend classes without having to drive a great distance to do it, which is extremely helpful to single moms with small children.”
Archuleta was born of Pueblo Indian decent. She and her husband, Archie, have three grown daughters.
Her community involvement includes eight years of service on the Las Cruces City Council, including four years as mayor pro-tem. As a councilor, and because of her nursing background, she was appointed to the negotiating team, which included two county commissioners and the mayor, to negotiate a hospital lease with Province Healthcare to take over the failing Memorial General Hospital. Because of her insistence, a diabetic community coordinator position was included as part of the lease.
She is active with several nonprofit organizations in the community, including the Honor Flight Board, Veterans Wall Committee and Amador Hotel Foundation, and is an active member of the Cathedral of Immaculate Heart of Mary as a lector, Eucharistic Minister and Parish Council member.
Archuleta continues to be recognized for her efforts to help local veterans. She organized welcome home celebrations for all the New Mexico National Guard members from the community deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2005, she was the recipient of the American Legion Post 10 Bronze Medal of Merit. In 2008, the New Mexico Army National Guard presented her with their highest civilian award – the New Mexico Medal of Merit. In 2008, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States recognized her for “furthering the aims and ideas of the veterans,” and in 2009, the Marine Corps League, Perro Diablo Detachment No. 478, honored her with a life membership to the league. She was recognized in April 2010 by the State of New Mexico Veteran Services for her research on “Call for Photos” of the Vietnam Veterans in southern New Mexico, and in 2013, the Special Forces Association, Chapter LXXX, honored her with an! Honorary Life Membership. She continues to serve as the chairperson of the Veterans Memorial Wall at Veterans Park, and although the war in Afghanistan continues, she reviews documents for eligibility of veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom to be included on the wall.
Since 2006, DACC has awarded an honorary degree to seven recipients who have experienced significant success in their personal lives, generously contributed to the progress and development of DACC, demonstrated a strong commitment to the local community and continue to inspire others to emulate such standards of excellence, integrity and commitment to enhance the public good.
Jaylene McIntosh, M.A. is the director of development at Doña Ana Community College. DACC Corner appears every other week in the Las Cruces Bulletin. For more information about DACC and its many student offerings, log on to www.dacc.nmsu. edu or call 527-7500.
Dolores Archuleta will receive an honorary associate degree from Doña Ana Community College Tuesday, May 9.