Alumni Spotlight

January 27, 2017

We are starting the New Year with a heartening Alumni Spotlight.

Maggie Toulouse Oliver is this weeks recognized Alumni and New Mexico’s newly elected Secretary of State. Maggie answered some questions regarding her time at UNM and gives some powerful advice to students today.

1.  How has having a Spanish degree from UNM helped you?

"As someone who has built a career educating and mobilizing voters in New Mexico, my Spanish degree has helped me serve those individuals in my community who are not fluent in English or who are more comfortable being informed about and making important decisions  - such as how, when and where to vote - in Spanish.  It is important for me to be able to effectively communicate with all of my constituents and, thankfully, I have been able to do that thanks to my degree."

2.   A favorite memory at UNM or S&P Department.

"I was extremely lucky to have taken a discussion class on New Mexican literature with professor Tey Diana Rebelledo.  Prof. Rebolledo happened to have a close relationship with renowned New Mexico author and former Spanish professor Sabine Ulibarrí, who has since passed.  Prof. Ulibarrí read to us from one of his most famous books, "Mi Abuela Fumaba Puros," which we had been reading in class.  I felt lucky to have had a chance to hear Prof. Ulibarrí read to us in person and to answer our questions.  He was a New Mexican treasure."

 3.   Advice to current and future students.

"This is the time to learn what you want to learn.  Don't let anyone tell you that the time you are spending inundating yourself with as much information about the things you care about is a waste of your time.  After college, when so-called "real life" begins, there will be enough demands on you to find a career and make your way in this world.  I have found that, while what I learned in college has served me well in my career, I also don't have the time now to immerse myself in the wide variety of things I am interested in.  Take the time now, while you can.  Invest in yourself. "

4.  Anything you’d like to add about the issues our community has faced post-election.

"I know that many people in our community have concerns or fears following this most recent election.  I want to encourage folks who are fearful to use this opportunity to become more involved than they have been before.  Our voices are our best weapon against injustice.  Many people do not use their voices because they are afraid they will be discounted or unheard.  Not using your voice guarantees that it won't be heard.  Using it will, at a minimum, help to build your own inner strength and power, and you may also end up affecting the change you want to see in the world."

Thank you, Maggie, for your participation in Alumni Spotlight with the Spanish and Portuguese Department. Many congratulations on your success and your continued achievements.